Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
"In book one of this bestselling series, sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm. The sisters learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files. The girls are the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, and their new hometown is filled with Everafters (as magical folks like to be called)—some good and some very, very bad. When a mysterious Everafter sets a giant loose on the town, it’s up to the Sisters Grimm to save the day."*
I read this book on the recommendation of one of the guys in my writer's group. He's a children's librarian so he knows his stuff. He recommended it based on the fact that I am writing a story that skewers traditional fairy tale characters. That said, I enjoyed this book but mostly at the end when it got revved up and really moved. Up until then it was a slow tedious climb of introducing characters and explaining things and blah blah blah. I wish the whole book could have been as good as the ending was. Perhaps I will give the second book a try. Now that Buckley has all the introductions out of the way perhaps he can write the ripsnorting yarn that I would like to read.
*Source: powellsbooks.com

Sunday, June 24, 2007

12 Year Old Artist Akiane

Weekend Update

It's been a busy one. On Saturday, Sarah had a baby shower for a couple of girls at work at our apartment so I made myself scarce and went in to work for a couple of hours. When I got home, the estrogen level was still a bit too high for me so I cloistered myself into the studio until the levels returned to normal. Even our two male cats found hidey holes.
Saturday night we went to a dinner party thrown by our friends Dale and Moira. They definitely do it up right. The food was great and the company was even better. It was nice to catch up with some folks that we don't see too often due to multiple services at our church.
After church this morning, we swung by the coffeehouse where I will have my show in August. They have lots of wall space considering the small size of my art. I hope I can fill the space. We then killed some time at Third Place Books and then headed to the church picnic. We arrived too early and there wasn't really anyone there that we knew. We did run into Joan who apologized for having to head home because her hubby Marshall was sick. Bummer. We waited and waited and wondered if anyone we knew from church was going to show up. I know we've been going there a year but we only know a small pocket of people. Before too much longer folks from our pocket started showing up and we ended up having a good time. The weather was on again/off again with clouds and sun. It threatened rain but didn't start until we got home just a bit ago. It was actually hailing a little bit too. Weird.
A funny thing happened at the picnic. I was asked several times if I had brought chicken fried chicken sandwiches. This is a result of the part I played in the Christmas play last year. Toward the end of the picnic Delores approached me and pulled the whole chicken fried chicken thing again. She then proceeded to tell me that she had dropped her husband Greg off at the Shoreline Art Festival so he could see my art. Well, my art wasn't at that festival. He got that mixed up with the show I'm doing at the coffeehouse in August. So we call him and I ask him if he's found my art yet. He said no and then I told him if he did to please grab it because it wasn't supposed to be there. He walked a few blocks from the festival to the picnic and we all had a good laugh about it. I'm flattered that he went to all that trouble just to try and view my art. Thanks Greg.
We're now back home resting and preparing to start a new week. Weekends are too short...especially when they're busy.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

"Hank Medress, whose vocals with the doo wop group the Tokens helped propel their irrepressible single "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to the top of the charts and who produced hits with other groups, has died of lung cancer. He was 68."*

I have great memories associated with this song. Back when I was in high school, I was part of the puppet ministry we had going on at my church. I did it for many years...even a bit while I was in college. We did some internal stuff at church but mostly we travelled to other churches and performed. We even toured once, going to the Atlanta area for a trip to Six Flags and some performances in the area.
One of the songs we used to do was The Lion Sleeps Tonight. I was always the lion. It was a pretty easy song for me. All I did was sleep through the song and then wake up at the end and chase all the other puppets away. It was a whole lot of fun. To this day I think I could sing nearly every part on that song.
As it is in life, all good things must come to an end. One day at youth camp our pastor decided that was as good a time as any to tell us that he was disbanding the puppet ministry. He never liked puppets but we never knew exactly why. So, the puppets lanquished for a while and we tried to resurrect them a few times. During college, my friend Kevin and I rebuilt the puppet screen and I did some work on the puppets that were falling apart and we did a few shows at some college events. It fizzled after a little while.
Years later, when I was in seminary, I came home to chaperone a summer camp at my home church. They asked if I could teach a puppet class at camp. I did. We used the same stage and puppets that we used when I was in high school. The kids were great that week. I let them make up skits and I picked a heavy metal version of Nothing But The Blood for them to perform. I made little puppet drums and guitars and the kid who was doing the lead singer part nailed a kind of Axel Rose dance. It was awesome. The skit was a parody of Cujo (we had a St. Bernard puppet) where the puppet gets eaten at the end. I let the kids perform the song and the skit at the talent show. The adults hated it (as usual) but the kids loved it.
So, there you have it. The memory of one song sparks a brief retelling of my history with puppets. Now you know more about me than you ever cared to. That's what you get for reading this blog.

*Source: The Associated Press

Art Stuff

Well, the traffic has slowed back down on my gallery site. I had hoped the momentum would continue for longer but, alas, it has not. I've looked for other sites to submit my work to but haven't found any. I'll keep looking when I have time.
The show at the coffeehouse is looming larger over the horizon. I have much to do. The biggest hurtle is actually finishing some more collages and then buying frames for them. My goal was to have all new stuff for this show so that friends who showed up wouldn't see the same stuff from the ArtWalk. I'll probably be able to make that goal but the frames will give me a financial kick in the butt. Here's hoping I sell at least a couple of pieces in the next couple of months.
As of right now, I have about 23 pieces framed and on display somewhere in Seattle. When the August show gets up and running I will probably have about 24 more pieces hanging around at various places including the 4 I am sending to Pensacola for the alumni show. I think that's pretty good.
My friend Jeff called me prolific the other day. I was flattered but I didn't agree with him wholeheartedly because when I think of prolific I have an image of some other friends of mine who seemingly produce vast amounts of high quality work. I guess they are my standard for prolific. If I am not willing to accept the tag of prolific I will at least accept consistent.
In addition to all I've mentioned already I have sent out inquiries to a few other galleries and sent artwork to Juxtapoz magazine for inclusion in their Reader Art feature. I know they are backlogged by about 2 months but at least they are polite enough to email you when they put your stuff up.
So, that's my art news for now. I think I needed to write this just to get it all straight in my head. I'm thankful for the opportunities but I am apprehensive that it might all go away. I'm trying to figure out ways to keep the momentum going. I'm glad that my making art doesn't revolve around getting my stuff out to the world. Whether I'm seen or not I will continue to do it. Making art makes me happy. I think that maybe that should be enough?

Friday, June 22, 2007


Y: The Last Man - One Small Step by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
After a mysterious plague wipes out nearly every male on the planet, Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand find themselves the last surviving males.
Volume 3 finds Yorick and company trying to rendezvous with the landing of 3 astronauts, 2 of which are male. A run in with the female Israeli army causes some problems and, of course, the plot thickens. I find that I am somewhat interested in this story. It's not a rabid obsession or anything. It's great that the library has the whole run of the story. I certainly wouldn't invest money in it. It's not something I would revisit over and over.
The last story in the book, illustrated by guest artist Paul Chadwick (of Concrete fame) is strange. It involves a travelling troupe of actors (actresses?) who decide to do a play about the last man on Earth. The art is only so-so and the story is slightly entertaining. I think it sets up some future events and characters but I won't know that until I read further.
I keep wishing that they would get another inker. Marzan's inks are lifeless. They have no personality. I know I keep harping about the art but it's a graphic novel. It's all about words and pictures. Good words, weak art makes for a watered down product.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Girl Genius Vol. 1 by Phil and Kaja Foglio
"In a time when the Industrial Revolution has become an all-out war, Mad Science rules the World... with mixed success. At Transylvania Polygnostic University, Agatha Clay is a student with trouble concentrating and rotten luck. Dedicated to her studies but unable to build anything that actually works, she seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the University is overthrown, a strange "clank" stalks the streets and it begins to look like Agatha might carry a spark of Mad Science after all." *
This is not the greatest graphic novel I have ever read but it was entertaining. The reason I was drawn to it was because it's illustrated by Phil Foglio. I remember Phil from the 80's and his illustrated version of Robert Aspirin's Myth Adventures. Who knew he was still around doing comics? I didn't. So I thought I'd give it a try. It whet my appetite enough that I will continue reading. (there are 5 volumes so far) The first was in sepia tones but the newer ones are in glorious color. If the story doesn't get any better at least I can feast my eyes on Phil's unique cartoon stylings.

Beaches, Blisters and Buses

Late yesterday afternoon, Sarah and I headed over to Golden Gardens for a little walk. I'm having a little problem with my right foot (blisters) so I taped them up and wore socks with my sandals to protect my feet. Sarah hates it when people wear socks with sandals so it's amazing that she agreed to be seen with me.
As we entered the parking lot, I saw a brightly colored bus covered in religious gobbledy-gook. I made some comment about the Partridge Family being in town while my wife, being the smart cookie that she is, parked nearby so I could take pictures. I started to take photos of the bus when all of a sudden this lady appears with a bucket and says, "Would you care to make a photo donation?" I politely said no and left. I should have argued that the gospel is supposed to be free and all that jazz but these folks were clearly loony. One message on the bus said that the Pope has homosexual tendencies. He's a snazzy dresser for sure but I just figured he was metrosexual.
We took our walk and watched the tide come in. There were alot of people out there. When the weather's nice, Seattlites head outdoors. There must have been a regatta happening because there were a lot of sailboats on the water. I'll post some pics later if they turned out.
Sarah and I have talked of taking our dinner out there sometime and we've thought of seeing if the arts group wants to have an outdoor meeting there. Nothing stirs the creative juices like being outdoors in a beautiful setting. I think I will take my sketchbook out there next time. There are some interesting characters in Seattle that would make great subjects for my sketches.
Anyways, if you live near some natural beauty, get out of the house and go enjoy it. Now! What are you waiting for?


Nano by John Robert Marlow
"Nanotechnology promises all things: immortality, invincibility, wealth beyond imagination—and the utter destruction of Mankind. One man has it—and no one knows who... Mitchell Swain is the richest man in the world—until he announces "the ultimate technological breakthrough." The world stops for the press conference—and sees him assassinated. No one knows what he was going to say.Almost no one. Jennifer Rayne intends to find out. A leading high-tech journalist, she was scheduled to interview Swain after the press conference. Instead, she investigates his murder. What she finds is a scientist to whom Swain has funneled billions... A desperate U.S. government following the same clues... And a bizarre technology which promises invincibility, immortality, and the ability to destroy any enemy—or the earth itself. Mankind has entered the final arms race. It will last two days..."*
In the first pages of this book, Marlow states that, "nothing portrayed in this novel is impossible." For the next almost 400 pages I tried to believe it but it was difficult. It would take someone with a much more scientific mind and a finger on the pulse of nanotechnology to decide whether that statement is fact or fiction. Regardless, here's my review.
The book started very slow. At times I felt like putting it down. Perhaps this book just caught me at a bad time. We had just gotten back from Alaska and I was having a hard time getting back into the swing. After a while, however, the pace picked up. It wasn't too difficult to follow either. The action only followed two groups of individuals. The action picked up and I was full tilt into this nano adventure but I always had that "nothing is impossible" statement in the back of my head and I know it shaded my reading of this book.
Let me wrap up by saying this: if the events in the book never come to be, it's a pretty good adventure yarn and would make a great Bruckheimer film. If the events do come true, God help the human race. We're goners. If you read this book, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cat Health Update

I just picked Mickey up from the vet. He had blood drawn today because he begins a new round of chemo tomorrow. He seems to be doing better. He has gained weight. He's up to around 10 lbs. That's up from 7. He's supposed to weight about 12 so he's getting there.
When I picked him up, he was hissing and being a major pain so the girl at the front desk had to have me go down and get him out of the cage and put him in the carrier. Of course, he hissed at me too but I'm not afraid of him. I kept saying, "He's such a pain," and she kept countering with, "...but he's so cute." Correct. Cute but mean as hell when he wants to be. Poor Max (our other cat) can't eat for having Mickey attack him with the whole "alpha male" thing. It's gotten to where Max will have me follow him to the food dish and he'll eat while I stand guard.
So, Mickey is doing well. He's back to his old cantankerous...but cute...self.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day, Fremont and Mental Illness

Yesterday was a funky day.
Sarah and I were heathens and skipped church. Saturday found us both pulling 12 hour days at the theatre so, needless to say, we were beat. We woke and took our time getting ready. Sarah called her dad. We decided to take a trip to Fremont for the Sunday Market but when we got there we began to slowly realize that, instead of the market, we were in the middle of the annual Fremont Fair. Well, we strolled around and went to the antique shops since that's what we went down there for but we did stop and see a few things at the fair. The Art Cars were pretty cool. There was a very good band playing called Out From Underneath. I wish I could have stuck around to hear them play more but we were under a time constraint. I bought a few items for collage purposes and Sarah bought some cool vintage greeting cards.
On our way back to the jeep, we saw a guy in a fig leaf. It turns out this was also the weekend for the Solstice Parade. I had hoped to go this year and had been told it was on the 23rd. I was told wrong. I guess I'll have to wait until next year to see the naked bicycle procession.
We also passed a booth where folks were lined up to get a card reading. Sarah commented that it was wild that people believed in that stuff. I told her that they thought we were just as weird for believing in God. With that, we headed off to LifeGroup.
We got there late and everyone had eaten. We grabbed a bite, chatted for a while and then started our discussion of A Beautiful Mind. I had no idea where we were going to go with the conversation but it ended up being a mish mash of mental illness/demon possession, God's ability to heal or not and the power of prayer and faith. It was a good discussion but it made my brain hurt.
I had tried to call my dad during the drive down to Fremont but they were at Cracker Barrel (yum...country cooking) and couldn't hear a thing. When I got home I called again but they were out. Turns out they were at the hospital with my Granny. She's in her 90's and not doing too well. So, I wished my dad a Happy Father's Day and Sarah and I settled in, after a quick trip for take out mexican food, a phone battery and a DVD, to watch Ghost Rider. Okay, so I didn't expect much from Ghost Rider and it's a good thing too because it had little to deliver. Bad acting, dumb plot (actually, did it have a plot) and over the top special effects. The best thing about the movie was Sam Elliot who, even spouting dumb lines, is one of the coolest guys on the planet.
So, enough about my Sunday. What did you do for Father's Day?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Come On Down!

Bob Barker has retired from The Price is Right at the ripe old age of 83. Now, I'm not a fan of the show. There was a time when I was younger that I would watch it with my mom or Nana. I even remember watching Bob on Truth or Consequences.
The reason I mention Bob today is because of an article I read about him in Entertainment Weekly magazine. It seems Bob reluctantly took the gig that became his claim to fame at the age of 48. Yes, that's right. Bob Barker's career didn't really begin until he was nearly 50. That's inspiring to someone like me who at 45 is still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. He jumped on this new show at 48, rode the wave to daytime stardom and stayed with that puppy until he was 83. And, it seems, he's in better shape now than he was then...and he still has all of his hair. It's gone white but it's all there. Just a few years ago, Bob was in good enough shape to kick Adam Sandler's butt in the movie Happy Gilmore.
So, thanks Bob for the many years of smiles and Showcase Showdowns but mainly for inspiring us aging fellows that there is life after midlife crisis.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Month of Sundays

The Stranger, a local alternative newspaper, recently sent 31 reporters to 31 churches in the Seattle area to see what was up on Sunday morning. If you want to get a small taste of what the church scene in Seattle is like, read this.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

More Attention

As a result of being mentioned on Drawn, I've also been mentioned at Journalista: The Comics Journal Weblog. You have to scroll down a bit to find it.
Wow. This mention on Drawn has really taken off. The hits on my gallery site have shot to the moon. Before this I was averaging about 6 hits a day. (all my friends and a few people who arrive by accident)
Thanks for all the attention folks. I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm on Drawn!

Yeah baby! My art has been mentioned on the Drawn website. Check it out!
You love me. You really, really love me.

Susan Werner

I heard about Susan's music on NPR's Religion program. I don't really like the music but the lyrics ring my chimes. I think her lyrics might become inspirations for new collages. If you want to learn more about Susan, go here.

Our Father (The New, Revised Edition)
Thy kingdom come to every nation
Thy will be done in everything we do
Lord, lead us not into temptation
And deliver us from those who think they're You
Lord send us forth to be of service
To build the schools and dig the wells
And deliver us from the creepy preachers
With their narrow minds and very wide lapels
Lord give us strength to bring compassion
to every corner of the world
And please allow for women in the Catholic priesthood
And remind the pope that he coulda been a girl
Lord deliver us from politicians
Who drop Your name in every speech
As if they're Your best friend from high school
As if they practice what they preach

© 2007 Susan Werner

Monday, June 11, 2007

Windy Sunday

On Sunday, after Sarah got back from a bridal shower, she and I headed to Golden Gardens for a stroll on the beach. It was quite windy but it was sunny and the clouds were just awesome. The tide was somewhere in the middle which was new for me (it's either in or out when we go) and the waves were kicked up a bit due to the wind. Sarah found a seat next to some driftwood and I started taking pictures. We weren't there more than an hour and I took 113 pics. I put some of the best ones up on my photo site.
Toward the end of our time there, this black cloud rolled in and intermittently obscured the sun. At one point, the sun was blocked but there were sunbeams peaking through here and there. It was quite beautiful. Since we hadn't dressed warmly enough we started getting cold. After a brief stop at Blockbuster, we headed for home.
I love the beach here. It's so different from the beaches at home and yet it makes me think of home. I should go more often.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sound Mind

It's 9:43 pm and I am sitting in the booth at Taproot Theatre running sound for Seven Keys to Baldpate. I've been here since 10 am. Needless to say, I am ready to go home. The show runs through the 16th so just one more week of this. Thank goodness the booth has a wireless internet connection. I have actually been able to get some stuff done. I'm this close to finishing a slide show of pics from our Alaskan vacation. I've also been working on some digital art and just surfing the net looking at various art sites.
It'll be nice when this gig is done. The extra buckaroos will be nice but it will be even nicer to have my extra time back. I have a wife I haven't seen much of and an art show in August to get ready for.

Seminal Albums of the 70's

Thinking about Sgt. Pepper's influence on me musically made me start thinking about other music that influenced me during my early years. Here's a list that is nowhere near exhaustive.

Kiss Alive - For a kid who grew up drawing superheroes and watching monster movies, Kiss was a (pardon the word) godsend. I immediately became a Kiss freak and voraciously devoured every album until they took off their makeup and the magic faded.

Journey Infinity - I remember going to the mall to pick up this album. Steve Perry's vocals just killed me. I truly believe that singing along with Perry in my bedroom helped me finesse my developing voice.

Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell - I bought this album at the same time I bought Journey. Why? I don't really know. Perhaps I secretly related with this overweight rock star being a pudgy kid. He was fat but he was singing and theatrical too. Bat Out of Hell and Paradise by the Dashboard Light remain favorite tracks to this day.

Toto Hydra - I know that Toto isn't a very popular band but I am a huge fan. My favorite album to this day is this one. In my book, these guys had it all...songwriting ability, killer vocals and excellent musicianship. Toto IV won all the Grammies but Hydra is the real winner.

Kansas Leftoverture - This album is a masterpiece. Kansas was a band I was exposed to earlier but didn't get. Once my brain was able to wrap around what they were doing, I was hooked. I think this is where my love for prog comes from.

Rush 2112 and Farewell to Kings - Actually it's hard to pin down a Rush album from the 70's that I didn't like. I wore out Bytor and the Snow Dog on their All the World's a Stage live album. 2112 was important because it cemented my love of the concept album. I once did a report on 2112 in a high school class called Man's Quest. After about 10 minutes, Mrs. Gallagher made me turn it off. Farewell to Kings remains a favorite to this day. Cygnus X-1 kicks ass.

Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon and Animals - I used to go over to my friend Gary's house to turn on the black light, watch the lava lamp, stare at the black light posters and listen to Dark Side of the Moon. Animals is my all time fave even today. I love Les Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade's live version of the album.

Van Halen's first album - This album literally blew my mind. I heard Runnin' with the Devil on the radio and called to find out who it was. (I thought it was Black Oak Arkansas due to the husky vocals) I immediately took this album to my friend Gary's house and we let the guitar genius of Eddie Van Halen wash over us. David Lee Roth will always be the greatest VH lead vocalist of all time...even if he's insane.

Led Zeppelin The Song Remains the Same - I used to drop the needle at pivotal Jimmy Page moments during the album. I don't listen to it that often anymore but there's some great stuff happening on that recording.

ZZ Top Tejas - I don't really know why this one is my favorite. I just know that I can put it on and let the whole thing play. There's not a weak track on it.

Boston's first album - This one just blew us out of the water. Nothing had ever sounded like that before and nothing has sounded like it since. Brad Delp's recent death made me sad. His vocals were incredible.

Aerosmith Rocks and Toys in the Attic - Back before they got so commercial doing cheesy ballads for movies about meteors, these guys used to rock. I have recently rediscovered these recordings and I remember why I loved them so much.

AC/DC - Back in Black - I never really liked AC/DC before this. Bon Scott's vocals really grated on my nerves. When Brian Johnson started singing with them, I perked up. Back in Black is perhaps the greatest rock and roll song of all time.

Well, that's all I can think of right now. Sure, there are other great bands I liked...too many to name...but these are the albums that wore out the most needles on my JC Penney stereo during my formative years. Feel free to share yours if you like.
Rock on!

Sgt. Pepper's 40th Anniversary

It was 40 years ago this month that the Beatle's groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band hit the scene. I was 5 years old and didn't know a Beatle from a Herman's Hermit at that point in the game. I'm not really sure when the Beatles were introduced to me but it was pretty early on.
My first remembrance was hanging out in the bedroom of my then teenaged Uncle David and his girlfriend (I think her name was Mary Ann?). I distinctly remember looking at the album covers for Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour. I remember really thinking they were cool. I also remember looking at other albums like The Rascals Time Peace: Greatest Hits. At that point of my life I guess the albums with the best graphics got my attention. I'm sure I was listening to the music with my uncle but I don't remember that part.
My next memory is perhaps the beginning of my lifelong love of the Beatles. I think I was middle school age at the time. My cousins, sister and I would spend a week with my Uncle Terry on his farm in Milligan, Florida. Perhaps at times we got bored because we would end up raiding my uncle's record collection. We would listen to Herman's Hermits, the Carpenters and whatever else we thought was cool or funny. I remember vividly loving the James Taylor/Carly Simon duet Mockingbird. At some point, my uncle let me pick several albums to take home and keep. I don't remember how many I grabbed but I do remember getting Sgt. Pepper, Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced and Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The latter two proved to be too sophisticated for my young ears and I remember selling them to some guys at school. Sgt. Pepper was different. I listened to that album over and over again. The only song I would skip over was George Harrison's Within You Without You. My musically ignorant ears couldn't handle it. (I love the new mix of that song on the Beatles LOVE) But every other song captivated me. I also remember turning the balance knob back and forth so I could listen to the music without vocals and vice versa. I wore that album out. (I wish I still had it)
Sgt. Pepper is a definite landmark in my musical growth. I think it was the first musically sophisticated album that I ever started to really listen to. Sure, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Osmonds, the Jackson 5 and other bubblegum pop music lead up to my musical maturity but it was the Beatles that plunged me over the falls into the waters of rock and roll.
The first rock and roll album I ever purchased with my own money was Kiss Alive. Much to the world's chagrin, I was never the same after that. (cue maniacal laughter)

Friday, June 08, 2007


Y: The Last Man - Cycles by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
"Cycles continues the story of young escape artist Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand, the only survivors of a mysterious plague that killed all the male mammals on Earth."*
Alas, poor Yorick. He's wandering America trying to make it to California with a scientist and a government agent. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is stranded Down Under, his sister has become a militant Amazon and he and his cohorts have just wandered into a town with a secret.
I'm beginning to enjoy this series a little more. The way this book has been talked about you'd think Vaughan was the equal of Will Shakespeare. Far from the truth I'm afraid. In my opinion, the writing is peppered with too many swear words and cliches. I don't mind swear words. I just rewatched Reservoir Dogs for the umpteenth time the other night. The swearing just seems out of place in this book. Maybe it's the art. It doesn't seem dark enough to convey the subject matter appropriately. I had my doubts about Guerra's art based on the first book. I've had second thoughts based on the sketchbook provided in this volume. She seems to be a better draughtsperson than I first thought. Her pencils are sharp. I think a better inker would provide the book with the proper tone. Jose Marzan's embellishments are too sharp and focused. It gives the book a clean look when the subject matter is gritty and needs to be a bit edgy. Sue me. I'm an artist and I have my opinions.
I'm enjoying these books but they are not the "set the world on fire" stories that I was lead to believe they were. I'll be curious to see what David S. Goyer does with the movie. He ruined Blade by directing the last one himself and I'm not impressed with his contributions to the new Batman films. Only time will tell.

Source: amazon.com

Thursday, June 07, 2007

UWF Alumni Exhibition

A couple months ago I received an email inviting me to submit artwork for consideration in an alumni exhibition at the University of West Florida. I graduated from there in 1989 with a BFA in Fine Art. I was very happy to receive the invitation and more than happy that I've been producing art on a steady basis now for about 3 years. Long story short, I sent my stuff and I heard back today that they want me to send several pieces for the exhibition. Cool!
The art train seems to be rolling for me lately. It's not rewarding in a financial sense but it's rewarding to know that people recognize and appreciate my talent enough to give me opportunities to show my work. So, now I have to get several pieces ready to go to Pensacola and I'm trying to get in the groove to produce new stuff for my show in August.
I hope the art train keeps on rolling.

These Dreams...

I've been having some strange ones lately. Here are two more.
In the dream, there is a cruise ship out at sea. A massive ship, perhaps 3-4 times as large as the cruise ship comes alongside. The large ship is devoid of ship-like qualities. It's best described as a gigantic dark brown or black oval except that the sides are straight. It pulls alongside the smaller ship and a panel opens up on the side. It reaches out, grabs the cruise ship and pulls it into itself. The door shuts with no visible crease and the massive ship is on its way.
Last night, I dreamed that I was with some people or creatures. Somehow we had ticked off a giant dragon and he was going to come after us. We prepared for battle and lined up to face the enemy. As we looked out on the horizon, we could see not one but many dragons coming toward us. I have a glimmer of a memory that we did do battle but it's not clear what happened or what the outcome was.
Sarah says they are classic good vs. evil dreams and that God is trying to tell me something. Julie says to stop eating peanuts before bed because they give you strange dreams. I don't know what to think. I just know that I am having them quite frequently lately and in the past I never remembered my dreams at all. If anything, I guess I should be thankful that I'm not dreaming about leaving home in my underwear or reaching the end of school and not being able to graduate due to not being able to find the class.
Dreams are weird.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Will Storr vs. the Supernatural by Will Storr
"Will Storr doesn't believe in ghosts. Not, that is, until he is sent on a journalistic assignment to follow Lou Gentile, a Demonologist from Philadelphia. What Will expects to be a straightforward piece, poking gentle fun at an amusing eccentric, turns into a terrifying nightmare of spectral ghost lights, suburban possession and horrific demonic growling. It is an experience that instantly demolishes all of his safe, adult preconceptions.
In an effort to unravel what happened, Will sets out on a journey to find the truth about ghosts. He meets professional paranormal investigators, trance mediums, a sceptical monsterologist and a pair of black magic vigilantes from Worthing. He takes part in seances and vigils; tries out divining rods and Ouija boards; experiments with Electronic Voice Phenomena and spends a week in the most haunted house in Britain. He also seeks out sceptical voices from the worlds of clinical psychology and philosophy, has tea, cake and a worrying chat with the legendary ghost investigator Maurice Grosse, goes on set with TV's Most Haunted, and is exorcised in Rome by the Vatican's chief exorcist."*
I picked this book up on a lark at the library. I think the thing that interested me most was finding out the perspective of the Vatican's chief exorcist. That part didn't come until close to the end of the book but it was an interesting read nonetheless. Storr interviewed and tagged along with a variety of folks whose credibilities run the gamut from intelligent to insane. Some of the stories were bone-chilling, some funny and some very sad. The segment from the Vatican was interesting. It was intriguing that Storr's ghost hunt was very much wrapped up in his search for faith. All in all a satisfying read if the supernatural is of any interest to you.

Jesus vs. Christians

Monday, June 04, 2007

Things I Learned on the Cruise

Cruise Related Lessons
If you want it, bring it. Next time I will bring my Caffiene-Free Diet Coke. We also learned that you can bring your own alcohol aboard. I wonder if I can fit a blender in my suitcase?
All cruise lines are different. We learned that Princess is low on the totem pole as far as food quality is concerned. If we go again, we will shop around.
Get a room with a balcony. The inner cabins are stuffy and dry. If cost prohibits getting a balcony then I will bring a humidifier.
Bring a power strip. We had one outlet with two plugs for all our various and sundry appliances. We had to unplug to plug all week.
Bring a hair dryer. This one is for Sarah. The hair dryers on the ship sucked.
Bring motion sickness medicine. We could have used it the first night.
Personal Lessons
The adjustment back to "real life" has been difficult. We had such a great time in Alaska. Sarah and I both knew we were in a rut when we left. Returning to the same old rut is depressing. I know that the rut can be conquered but I'm not sure how to do it.
I didn't miss a single person from Seattle while I was gone. This realization made me sad. I've written before on this blog about how hard it is to make friends in Seattle. I believe I have some great aquaintances that are possibly headed toward friendship but no real friends. I don't think Sarah would totally agree with my assessment. I think she has some close friendships developing with some folks. I know she has people she can talk to. I don't feel like I have anyone to talk to except Sarah. I know it'll be tough for me to find someone to relate to. I'm a creative, sports hating, solitary guy who likes different types of music and art that no one else likes. But it'd be nice to have a friend.
Sarah and I need to take time off when we can. Now that we both have a job that provides vacation time, we need to take advantage of it. Even if it's a mini-getaway to Victoria for a night or two, it's important for our overall health to do this.
To Sum Things Up...
The cruise was great but the adjustment back to life is painful. Perhaps that signals some degree of dissatisfaction with the status quo. It'll be up to us to examine this and adjust. Life is short. We've gotta make the best of it.

High School Musical

Sarah and I spent Sunday afternoon at Roosevelt High School's production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. The son of some friends of ours had one of the leads. I must admit, I knew Daniel was an amazing performer because I've seen him play Jean Valjean in a teen version of Les Miserables but I never expect much when it comes to school age drama. Well, I was blown away. This high school kicks major butt. The production was magnificent. The band was incredible. Daniel did an amazing job. It was just impressive.
After the show, I found myself in a strange melancholy. As I watched this incredible show performed by high school kids I began to be haunted by ghosts of regret. I was surrounded by kids whose parents support what they do regardless of the fact that it doesn't guarantee a financially secure future. These kids are realizing their dreams in a way that was never available to me. I was also hit by that familiar thought that enters my head at productions: "I wish I was up there with them." Even though I'm concentrating on my art and writing right now, I still wish I had the time and opportunity to do some acting.
So, once again I have to push back the regret and envy and concentrate on the tasks at hand...making and promoting my art and working on my writing. That should be enough. Why isn't it enough?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Alaskan Cruise Journal # 7

Saturday May 26th 12:05 am
Laid back morning. After chilling for a while, we watched the final of Princess Popstar. Some young chick won singing some Sarah Maclachlan song about angels. It was okay...kind of stupid. She sounded more like Sarah Mac than herself. Most of the contestants took it way too seriously for it to be fun. One lady had a soundtrack for a song she wrote called, "He Really Loves His Beer." She dedicated it to her husband. Classy stuff! And yes, it was a country song. I really wanted the housewife who sang Locomotion to win. She was the only one who didn't take herself too seriously and she had fun with it.
After an afternoon of Scrabble and laying around, we met Steve and Justine for supper at the buffet. All of us are tired of eating at this point. We're just over food. (Except for me and the b'fast buffet...I'm in grits and bacon heaven) We parted ways and readied ourselves for the trek into Victoria. This would have been my first time out of the United States if it weren't for the unscheduled train ride into Canada. Victoria will, however, be the first time I have set foot on foreign soil. I have yet to cross the big water unless you count the Mississippi.
At about 6:45 we stepped into Canada, caught a shuttle bus to the downtown area and spent about 3 hours checking out what Victoria has to offer. We saw the Empress Hotel, the Parliament building, the Inner Harbor and explored a few side streets. It's a pretty cool place. Sarah and I hope to return via the Victoria Clipper. That's a ship that takes you from downtown Seattle to Victoria. It's too convenient not to do it.
Once back on the ship, we met Steve and Justine for late drinks and said our goodbyes. They've been great dinner mates this week. Since Justine wants to move to Seattle, I suspect we haven't seen the last of them.
Tomorrow we wake up at 6:45 am, eat b'fast (one last time - boo hoo), pack and eventually disembark. It's been a great vacation. It went by so slow...it seems like we've been gone a month. What's great is that we have 3 more days off so it's not quite over yet. Back to reality on Tuesday.

Afterthoughts: Not much to comment on about our last day at sea. I'll wrap things up tomorrow with one final entry. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Stephen King Dreamscape

I had this dream last night. What a doozy.
In the dream there is an ambitious young preacher and his childhood friend who works under him. In the early days, they work together well but as they grow older, the preacher grows more and more prideful, greedy and his hunger for power multiplies tenfold. For a long time the friend keeps his mouth shut to the wrongness of the preacher's attitudes but eventually he finds it difficult not to say anything. He confronts the preacher and everything seems to smooth over and return to normal...for a while. Eventually the preacher starts to lust for power again and the friend becomes more and more uncomfortable in his job. Before too long, the friend is fired for no apparent reason other than to remove a barrier to the preacher's goals. The friend becomes angry and bitter about the situation for a long time but he eventually puts it all behind him and finds peace pursuing his career as an artist. The preacher continues his rise to power.
At this point in the story, an apocalyptic event occurs. Through whatever means, the preacher gains control of the Eastern portions of the USA. He has grown deceptive and evil. The young man, living in the Pacific NW, through no ambition on his part, gains leadership of a large portion of the Western USA. He is a reluctant but fair leader. The continuing story escalates to a showdown between the 2 former friends.
To me, this dream seems very Stephen Kingish. At least that was the impression I got during my waking moments after the dream. The preacher was very evil and the friend was a flawed reluctant hero. I remember one scene where the friend confronts the preacher after the apocalypse. The preacher is in his makeshift office and it just seemed to exude evil. I can't describe what it looked like but it seemed perfect for an evil preacher.
I really, really, really wish I knew what dreams like this mean. Are they prophetic or the result of pizza eaten too late at night?
Actually, it was a turkey sandwich.

Alaskan Cruise Journal # 6

Friday May 25th 2:25 pm
Having just eaten lunch, we are back in the room resting. We're very tired today. I guess it's good that we're home tomorrow because we're both exhausted. It's a good exhausted though. It's a restful stupor...a zombification by vacation kind of feeling.
This morning we slept late and went to the b'fast buffet. I'm going to miss that sucker. We then went to the Card Room for a couple of more games of Scrabble. (We played yesterday) It's a fun game. We should play more at home.
Going back in time, we had dinner w/ Steve and Justine last night. While we were eating the ship emerged from the fog that had encased it since mid-afternoon. It was then that the whale spotting began. Several were seen breaching off the starboard side. (Trivia: Who said, "Cap'n, there be whales here.") After dinner we weighed our options and decided on chilling in the room. If I haven't said it already...we're tired.
We await our last stop, Victoria BC, where we will have time for one last off ship adventure. Tomorrow morning we arrive back in Seattle and home. It's been a great vacation. It's gone by so slowly I feel like we've been gone a month.

Afterthoughts: During our last dinner, the crew made a big show of serving Baked Alaska. For those of you who don't know (I didn't) it's an ice cream cake set on fire. It was pretty good.
The fog that rolled in that afternoon was eerie. We couldn't see beyond about 100 yards away from the ship. They kept blasting the foghorn and if you were anywhere near the thing, you were deaf.
All in all, it was a low key day at sea.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Alaskan Cruise Journal # 5

Thursday May 24th 3:35 pm
Yesterday afternoon we continued our whale watching in the company of Steve and Justine. After that we got some drinks and hung around on the Sun Deck just chatting. Sarah and I adjourned to grab some hottub time and then we went back to the room to relax. After joining Steve and Justine for dinner, Sarah and I went up to Skywalker's which is the ship's nightclub. It was 80's hour but the spirit of the 80's was nowhere to be seen. The place was dead and they were playing crappy music. (I know most 80's music is crap but this stuff was from the bottom of the crap barrel) No wonder no one hangs out there. Of course, Alaskan cruise crowds are not the partying type but I guarantee if I had been the DJ there would have been more opportunities for booty shakin'. After a drink we went back to the room and hit the sack.
Today we got up at 7 am (ouch), ate b'fast and went into Ketchikan for shopping. We had to be back on board by 11:30 am so it was a short-lived port. Ketchikan was nothing but a touristy, souvenir-filled shopping stop...so that's what we did.
Back on board, we played ping-pong pitifully, lunched at Chez Buffet, perused the Erte's at the "Art Auction." We are currently sitting on the Sun Deck (overcast today) relaxing, reading and journaling. Not much else to report. It's a lazy day.

Thursday May 24th 3:50 pm
A whale just breached on the starboard side, flipping his tail back and forth as if waving at us as we pass. I've lost count of how many whales we've seen but I never get tired of it.

Afterthoughts: Ketchikan was by far the most colorful Alaskan town we visited. I saw some of the locals and they did seem like an "interesting" bunch to say the least. Basically the whole section of town down by the waterfront is an endless array of jewelry stores and souvenir shops.
Let me talk about the Princess Cruise Art Auction. On the ship they have a "Fine Arts Gallery" filled with some of the cheesiest "art" you've ever laid eyes on. They did, however, have a few items by some real artists like Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Erte, Peter Max and Jim Dine. Every afternoon they would haul the good, bad and ugly to a room and have an auction. Apparently this is one of the many ways Princess augments their income on the ship. I wish I could describe some of the art to you. A lot of it was awful semi-naked women, relief sculptures of windsurfers and people kissing and so many bad landscapes I thought for a moment that I was viewing the remedial class from Thomas Kincaid high school. Also interpersed throughout the ship was a lot of crap hanging on the walls. Every once in a while you'd see a good one but it wasn't often.
The entertainment was questionable too. I mentioned Willy Tyler. They also had some world-reknowned singer named Brandi Carlisle that no one's ever heard of, a magician named Gaetano, and every afternoon in the main lobby this quartet of hot chicks played classical music on their violins and such. My suggestion for them would have been to perform in bikinis and call themselves The String Bikinis. Catchy, huh? Steve and Justine went to see Gaetano and they said it was basically a strip show (performed by his assistant) while he did magic around her. They also said he was pretty inappropriate with an older lady from the audience. They weren't impressed. I knew better than to go. I hate magicians. Of course, if I'd know there was a stripper...just kidding.
So, with that in mind, here is my suggestion for a new catch phrase for Princess. "Good service, okay food, cheesy entertainment and bad art."
Naw, I guess they won't go for it.

PS: I'm mostly kidding around. We had a wonderful time...even if I did miss the gay magician and his stripper.