Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
"Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does — humans are a musical species.
Oliver Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people — from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds — for everything but music.
Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson's disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer's or amnesia.
Music is irresistible, haunting, andunforgettable, and in Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks tells us why."
I'm not sure there's much I can say about this book. Parts of it were fascinating and other's were over my head. I guess I read it because I wanted to see if it would shed any light on how music works in our brains. No light has been shed. Instead, the book basically shares all of these stories about people who have strange musical afflictions or afflictions which are helped or hindered by music. He also provides info on what is known about the particular affliction. But there were no great revelations that helped me understand why I am a musical being.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A ten year chapter of my life has ended. I am no longer helping with scripts for the youth camp in SC. It was a good run. I can't believe I've been doing it for ten years. It seems like only yesterday.
(Insert harp sounds and squiggly dream effect here)
In 1997, I moved to SC to become youth pastor at a church in Columbia. Because of my past affiliation with the Company (seminary drama team) and Face to Face (another drama team) coupled with the fact that F2F had performed at several of their events I was asked to help out with scriptwriting for the South Carolina Baptist Convention's youth events. I started with an event called Evangelympics and went on to help with 10 years worth of Summersalt camps. Heck, even I was shocked when I was asked back even after I had moved to Seattle. I think I did some good work during those years. I'm pretty sure I kept things interesting in that I resisted Christian cliches whenever they raised their ugly heads. Win or lose, I always tried to keep things real and authentic.
The pictures above are from year 3. It was called The Verdict and featured a full courtroom drama as well as the Psycho Circus dream sequences pictured here. This was a fun one because not only did I get to write the Ringmaster's dialogue (a hoot) but I also designed part of his look as well as the looks of many of the evil clowns. Good stuff!
So, thank you Angela, Scott, Steve, Kim, Murphy, Corey, and everyone else who was a part of those ten years. It was a blast!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Arctic Doomsday Vault

This is like something out of sci fi. Norway is opening a "doomsday vault" for the preservation of seeds. The vault can withstand an earthquake, nuclear assault and the seeds could last for up to 1000 years. That's pretty amazing. You can read the full article here.
Now, Roland Emmerich, if you're not paying attention you should be. There's movie gold in this story. It's simple enough. Many, many years from now after some global disaster a team of survivors treks to the arctic to retrieve the seeds from the doomsday vault. The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of this mission. Of course, it's not as easy as it would seem. You could throw any number of obstacles in their path. I for one would love to see mutant zombie penquins. But then there's the problem of penquins not living in the Arctic. How about mutant zombie puffins?
Anyway, this is a great disaster film just waiting to be made. Just remember, you read it here first.

What's Up?

You like me. You really, really like me.
I have been gently chastised twice this week for not blogging more. It seems I do have a few readers out there. I'm sorry that my life hasn't been blog-worthy of late. I'll try to change that in the near future. Until then, here are a few measly tidbits to keep you in the know.

- Saturday night I had my first rehearsal with Midlife Chrysler, a band comprised of a few guys that we go to church with. They've lost a couple of members over the last year and asked me to sing with them during the Christmas musical. We had some fun but, by their own admission, they are a bit unorganized so there wasn't much I could sing since we didn't have any lyrics. I will be compiling a list and some leadsheets so that we will have some fodder for the upcoming rehearsals. I must admit that most of our songs so far seem to fit the "southern rock" category but I suppose with a name like Midlife Chrysler that's to be expected.
- On Sunday afternoon some folks from our lifegroup went bowling. I haven't bowled in 4 years and I was anxious to see how bad my game has gotten. Well, it was really, really bad. I was outbowled by a couple of 8 year olds. I hang my head in shame. I hope that if we do this again we can try a different bowling alley. We went to Lynnwood Bowl and Skate and I found the prices to be ridiculously high and the help less than helpful and rude. Actually there wasn't an adult to be seen running the place. It was entirely manned by teenagers. Danger Will Robinson! I'll definitely be taking my bowling dollars elsewhere in the future.
- Sunday night found us at the Douglass home for their annual Oscar party. We arrived late but everyone filled us in on previous wins. It was a nice night of snarky wit at Hollywood's expense.

So, there you have it. You are caught up. Thrilling, isn't it?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Maybe you've noticed and maybe you haven't but I just haven't had much to say lately on this here blog. I guess not much has been going on. It's been pretty status quo around here. I do have a couple of shows coming up but most of the heavy artistic activity will happen after April. I do not have any shows scheduled for April because Sarah and I are going to Florida for about 9 days to see my family. I hope to use the remaining days of that month to work on new art.
In the next couple of weeks I need to produce a piece for our church's Stations of the Cross. I have not been inspired thus far. I hope inspiration strikes soon.
So, that's about it for me. I guess I just don't want to spout a bunch of boring crap (like this) just to have something to post. Perhaps something interesting will happen to me soon or I will have some deep thought that I can expound upon.
Don't get your hopes up.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Shadows Fall by Simon R. Green
"Shadows Fall is the place where all stories find their ending, all quests are concluded and every lost soul finds its way home at last. Strange people and stranger creatures walk the sprawling streets and there are doors that can take you anywhere, to lands that no longer exist and worlds that someday might. But now Shadows Fall in under threat and the town has just one night in which to save itself..."
Let's do I describe this? You've got a town full of legends presided over by Father Time, Jim Morrison is now named Sean and sings for the faeries, the Knights Templar try to destroy the town and Father Time's grandson must save the day. There's also a scarecrow terminator, clockwork automatons, the Wild Childe, cartoon animals, superheroes and...well it's just a confusing mess is what it is. On the cover it says that Green thinks this is the best books he's ever written. Think again, Simon. I prefer your Nightside series.

The Silver Beats

Speaking of the Beatle's, here's video of the Silver Beats, a Japanese Beatle's cover band...and they are great!

Good Day, Sunshine

The sun is shining today and it makes me long for a swift end to winter. This year winter has seemed so much wetter and bleaker than others here in Seattle. Perhaps I have a touch of S. A. D. That's Seasonal Affective Disorder and it makes you sad. How appropriate. I don't know how long the sun will stay shining but I will try to enjoy it while it lasts. It won't be long until spring arrives. The crocus (or is it crocuses?) are already peeking out of the ground.
Originally I wanted to title this Let the Sunshine In but I like to get a Beatle's reference in when I can.

Into the Wild

I finally got around to seeing the film Into the Wild. I had read the book years ago at the prompting of my friend Kevin. I really enjoyed the book and wanted to see how the film turned out.
It's a pretty good movie. Sean Penn did a good job telling the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who ditches his rich parents, trust fund, car, and all of his possessions to embark on a journey to "find himself." I can't be certain but I think this type of thing appeals to the heart of most men even if they aren't equipped to deal with the harsh realities of the experience. Many has been the time I've daydreamed about ditching life as we know it and hitting the road. It's a pipe dream to be sure but one that does pop up from time to time. Deep down inside, we men must have a bit of that hunter-gatherer nature still inside of us that longs for freedom from traffic, grocery stores, iPods, laptops and the like. I always envied my friend Kevin for his time spent in Alaska. Granted, he was pulling down a decent salary as a respiratory therapist but he lived in a small log cabin in the middle of nowhere...just him and his dog. Something about that just seems to make sense.
But, at heart, I am a city boy. I love being close to galleries, theaters, stores, food and all the comforts of modern life. I wouldn't last anywhere near as long as McCandless did on his journey. So, if you hear the "call of the wild" sometimes, check out McCandless' story either in print or film. It's a wonderful journey.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Smart or Dumb?

Read the article about a neighborhood project that is happening right behind the theatre and then try to decide if this is a smart move or not. Personally I think anytime we go up against Mother Nature we have a tendency to lose bigtime. My friend Ted has told me of the days when he was a boy growing up in Greenwood when he would gather tadpoles from the creek that used to be where the Fred Meyer store is now. He doesn't think it's a good idea to build there. I don't either. I think there are better ways to revitalize the neighborhood than to make it look like the rest of Seattle. Perhaps it will sink and either the devil or China will get a new building.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another Surprise...for Sarah

Sarah's friend Deanna cooked up a surprise with some mystery people on Sunday night. All we knew was that we were to go to their house for dinner and that it was someone she knew that had moved out here. Sarah was convinced that she knew who it was and she was right. When we arrived her friends greeted her at the door and she yelled, "I was right!" It was her friends Darran and Li Er (pronounced Lee-air) who have been in Singapore for the last 8 years. We spent the evening catching up and eating a wonderful dinner. I'm sure Sarah is thrilled to have them close by.
When we moved out here I was the only one with friends nearby but my friends moved and now we're surrounded by her friends. What? Are all my friends afraid of the NW? C'mon, you wimps. Move to the Pacific NW. I dare ya.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Surprise...Sort Of!

Last night, Sarah threw a surprise birthday party for me but she revealed her intentions in the middle of the afternoon. I walked out into the living room where she and Deanna (her friend from Asheville who is staying with us this week) had put out birthday banners and a cake and the like. I said, "What's all this?" and she gave up and told me about the party. Originally she had asked someone to try and get me out of the house but no one felt they could lie well enough to pull it off. So, in the end, they just told me. She asked if I suspected and I had to admit to her that about a week and a half ago she left her email account open on our computer and right there staring me in the face is an email saying "Marty's Surprise Party." Now, I have to admit...I didn't know when it was supposed to be since I didn't open the email and since my birthday came and went on the 4th I just assumed that she couldn't pull it together. Truth be told, it's difficult getting Seattle people together. They are a busy bunch.
So, a bunch of folks gathered for a celebration of my birthday. We ate, drank, laughed, and regaled each other with stories of old. Okay, so we had a good time. The party broke up way late. We didn't get to bed until after midnight which is not the norm for this old man.
Thanks again everyone for a great birthday "surprise." It's becoming increasingly hard to meet birthdays with anticipation. Getting together with friends softens the blow of getting old. Thanks especially to my bride of almost 2 years for reminding me that I am loved.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Musical Utopia

"When musicians play together [they] create a fleeting Utopia." - Ian McEwan

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Birthday of Bacon, Blood and Boisterous Bragging

So, it was a good day to turn 46. Both Sarah and I were off work so we started the day with a wonderful breakfast of waffles, eggs and bacon. After the meal, I opened my gift from my wife...the Droopy cartoon collection on DVD. (she knows me too well) About mid-morning, the UPS man finally decided to leave my purchases from Barnes and Noble (Christmas gift cards). He had declined to do so for 2 days prior despite my signature authorizing him to do so. So, I got 4 new CDs on my birthday. I hardly ever buy music anymore so it's a welcome treat.
We finally got ready and headed north to catch a movie. We saw Sweeney Todd. It's good but a totally different animal than the stage show. Boy, is the movie bloody. Sarah had to cover her eyes alot. The day before we saw Enchanted. Talk about one extreme to another.
After the movie we continued heading north to meet friends for dinner at Olive Garden. We stopped off for a couple of shopping errands then met Marshall and Joan for dinner. We used our gift cards that we won at Trunk or Treat so we had a good meal. We sat around and talked about the good old days. I guess that's a sign of aging. We had a good time though, laughing alot amongst the weird stories of days gone by. We topped things off by sampling 3 different desserts. That first bite of raspberry white chocolate cheesecake was heavenly. The tiramisu was awesome too. I skipped the third one, a chocolate cheesecake I think. But the rest made sure there were no leftovers.
We headed home fairly early to tend to our geriatric cats and hit the hay. Once home I was treated to an answering machine message from my old friend Todd who sang the bday song and called me an "old fart." Sarah laughed a bit too much at that one.
Today it's back to work and boring but healthy foods. My body is rebelling on me due to the rich foods I ate yesterday. I just can't do that anymore. It was a nice birthday but now it's back to reality. Thanks to all who celebrated my birthday with me in one way or another...especially Sarah. You're the best, baby!

Monday, February 04, 2008

46 Years Ago...

...I was born. Yep, it's my birthday. We are going to hit the movies later and dinner with friends. I'll report on all the happenings later. Right now, my wife is fixing me a birthday breakfast (we're both off of work today) while I attend to laundry (a typical Monday chore for me).
So, talk to you all later. I've got a birthday to celebrate.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Public Response to Art...Sort Of

It's been pretty interesting to note how many people refuse to commit to an opinion about my art. I get all sorts of things like, "Hey, I saw your art" but they never say, "Hey, I really like it" or "Hey, your art really sucks." I think their non-commital reaction speaks volumes. I think they don't like it but they don't want to hurt my feelings. It's too bad really. I'd love to have some genuine conversation about my art but not too many folks seem willing to have that conversation. Mainly I've noticed that Christians are sticking to the neutral response which doesn't surprise me. Some of my stuff probably seems challenging to the status quo. Truth be told, if they plumbed the depths of the message with me in conversation they might find that my seemingly irreverent art masks some pretty deep and profound questions about issues of faith. Non-Christians have been more engaging. At my opening in Wallingford last weekend, one fellow asked me if I was a Catholic. I responded, "No, former Baptist minister." He found this quite interesting and asked me alll sorts of questions. Another fellow looked thru my prints and asked me the meanings of many of them. After responding to several he said, "Wow, I have weird thoughts all the time but you get to turn your weird thoughts into art."
So, if you happen to view my art and don't really like it, don't be afraid to engage me in conversation about it. I won't be offended by you not liking it. I'd be more offended if you write it off without really understanding it. And if you do like it, you can let me know that too. A few kudos now and again can be good for the artistic soul.

Geek Alert!

It is 99% confirmed that Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy) will helm the film version of The Hobbit with Peter Jackson producing. I wish Pete was directing but Guillermo is a great second choice. Earlier rumors had Sam Raimi attached to the project. I'm a Raimi fan but I just don't see him as a good choice for the material and Spider-Man 3 left much to be desired. I know that Guillermo can handle it. He's proven it with Pan's Labyrinth and I'm sure he's going to raise the bar in the new Hellboy flick.

Friday, February 01, 2008