Monday, June 30, 2008

Watch This

Over the last few weeks I've watched a few things that I would like to recommend.

Six Feet Under: Season 1 - Sarah and I do not have cable nor do we watch much TV at all. Since TV shows are showing up on DVD we choose to use that option for our convenience. I had heard of this show and decided to give it a try. It's really good and I am looking forward to diving in to the other seasons. The story revolves around perhaps the most dysfunctional family on TV to date. They live in, own and operate a funeral home after their father is killed. Much tragedy and hilarity ensues. A friendly warning: This show is chock full of cursing, straight and gay sex, and graphic depictions of dead bodies. I guess you could say this show is not for kids or Baptists.

Jekyll - This is a BBC miniseries that aired in 2007. It is an extremely smart, well-written retelling of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The performance by James Nesbitt as Dr. Jackman/Mr. Hyde is simply amazing. I am a fan. Where has this guy been? I am going to be looking for more stuff with him in it.

Weeds: Season 3 - This is another show that is not for kids or Baptists but I love it. It's so irreverent and just cracks me up. The story surrounds a housewife (played by Mary Louise Parker) who, after her husband dies, starts selling weed to make a living. She is surrounded by perhaps the greatest cast of supporting characters in recent memory. Kevin Nealon is hilarious as Doug the stoner accountant/city councilman and Elizabeth Perkins is a treat.

Wall-E - I don't have to worry about anyone going to see this because Pixar is truly amazing and this one is no exception. The first hour of the movie is virtually dialogue free and yet the story is as clear and wonderful as a summer day. The animation, well, it's Pixar. It's fantastic. Don't wait for DVD. See it in the cinema. It's worth it.

The Incredible Hulk - I had my doubts about this one. I knew it couldn't be worse than Ang Lee's fiasco but doubted it would be much better. I was wrong. While it's not Iron Man good, it is a worthy effort befitting the jade giant that we comic book geeks all know and love. The origin story has changed a bit but I really like what they did with it. It's not out of left field. It makes sense given what's coming in the future related to the Avengers. The cast is stellar (Norton, Tyler, Hurt, Roth, Nelson). What's not to like? The only casting choice I don't agree with is Ty Burrell as Dr. Leonard Samson. How they transform Burrell into the future Doc Samson is beyond me. I'll also be interested to see how Tim Blake Nelson looks as the Leader. I must admit I wasn't a huge fan of the updated look for the Abomination. I wish they would have kept the fins on his head in some way. The most exciting thing about this movie is the exclusion of some 70 minutes of material that, I'm sure, will make the DVD a must have. There is even supposed to be a scene including Captain America. Can't wait to see that.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm still looking forward to seeing the three H's...the Happening, Hancock and Hellboy. I'll let you know what I think after I see them. TTFN.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Since Taproot is doing Big River this summer I decided it was high time I read this book. I can't believe I got thru so many years of school without ever having read it. I'm not going to do a review of this book. It's a classic and can't be judged by todays standards. I will say that I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I found it very hard to read with the phonetic spellings of south-speak. I'm a southerner and many times I didn't know what they were saying. I also hated having to read the word "nigger" every other page but I understand why it's there. The best part of the book is toward the end with the big breakout of Jim. What a scheme. I can't wait to see how it's all done on stage.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Jim and Casper Go To Church by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper
"Jim Henderson pays people to go to church. In fact, he made national news when he "rented" a soul for $504 on E-Bay after its owner offered an "open mind" to the highest bidder. In Jim & Casper Go to Church, Henderson hires another atheist--Matt Casper--to visit ten leading churches with him and give the "first impression" perspective of a non-believer. What follows is a startling dialogue between an atheist and a believer seeing church anew through the eyes of a skeptic, and the development of an amazing relationship between two men with diametrically opposing views of the world who agree to respect each others' space."*
I finished this book last night before turning in. I found it to be very telling as far as some of the problems churches have trying to be relevant. My favorite thing in the whole book is Matt Casper asking, "Is this what Jesus asked you to do?" Good question.
I agreed with some of their assessments of some of the churches. I have actually been to one or two or have heard their pastor speak somewhere. I disagreed with some of what they said too. That's pretty typical. The one thing that bothered me about the whole book was the cheesy commentary style they used for the dialogue. I hope they really didn't talk like that when they were having their discussions. It made it seem like they were sports commentators up in the booth tossing statistics back and forth at each other. It would make a funny sketch but it wasn't natural. I tried to tune it out and get to the heart of the book.
I really like what they did though. I think most churches would benefit from a random critique now and again. It makes me want to go out and hire an atheist to check out our church. Of course, our church is way in flux right now so they probably wouldn't get a good read on the situation. But it's a good idea to keep churches on their toes.
Heck, hire me to come critique your church. I'll tell you what I think. Mwah-ha-ha!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Marty and Mickey Sit Outside

I came home from work today with the intention of being disciplined and making art. I didn't end up doing that. First, I made tuna salad because it will be good for a quick dinner (I have band practice tonight) and I wanted to give our cat Mickey the tuna juice as a treat. He hasn't been eating well of late. After I made sure my quick dinner was ready, I decided to spend some time on the balcony with Mickey. He loves to sit outside. You can tell he's just loving it by the way he smells every smell and lets the breeze hit his face. Eventually he finds a warmish, shady spot and snoozes. Sarah does this with him alot. I don't. Today I felt guilty about it so I decided to give my afternoon to him. I took the book Jim and Caspar Go to Church out there with me and ended up reading two-thirds of it. I won't review it here since I'm not finished but it's an interesting read with some annoying things about it. A full review will be forthcoming.
So, there we sat from around 2 until 5. Although it's not something I would do everyday it was a nice change of pace. And Mickey enjoyed it very much.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fremont Solstice Parade

On Saturday, I trekked down to Fremont for the Solstice Parade. It's an annual event in Seattle but I've never been able to go before due to work. This year I had the day off so I went. I missed half the parade because the bus was late and...well...let's just say if I get to go next year I'll go a heck of a lot earlier. I finally found a fair vantage point and took what pictures I could. It was difficult because there were so many people there. I found it to be fun. The parade is a no-holds-barred event. There are naked bicyclists (I missed them), political statements galore, and just plain, bohemian, wacky fun. It's got the Greenwood Seafair Parade beat by a mile. I think I'd like to go again, get there early, get a good place for picture taking, hang out and have a good time. If schedules allow I will attempt to go next year. Meanwhile, enjoy the few pictures I took and read this article if you're curious for more info.
By the way, on the way home, I was all set to catch the bus but one never came so I walked home...about 60 blocks...maybe 2.5 miles. Good exercise.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

No reason to include a synopsis. We all know the story. Or do we? I read it so I could see if the story matches what pop culture has made of it. It doesn't match. It looks nothing like the original. In the short story, Hyde is a dwarf. In recent movies like Van Helsing and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hyde is a gigantic, muscular hulk-like creature. All in all, I found the story to be rather dull so I tend to like the improvements pop culture has made on it. I understand it's basic message of duality, good vs. evil, yin-yang...I just didn't find it all that interesting.

Letting Go of God - Julia Sweeney (Audio)

This is not so much an audiobook as a recording of Sweeney's one-woman show chronicling her journey from believer to skeptic. I had heard a lot about it so I thought I'd give it a listen. It is very entertaining and has much to say, in a humorous way, about some of the inherently stupid things about religion. Although she doesn't go into detail it seems Sweeney really struggled and studied and wrestled her way to a life without God. It's heartbreaking to listen to her as she tells of the moment when the thought, "There is no God" crept into her mind.
Her story has no bearing on my faith struggles but it's nice to hear perspectives from both sides of the argument. Whether you believe or don't, this recording is worth a listen.

On The Radio 2

Well, I just listened to the segment on Weekend America. I'll just get this out of the way...I hate my voice. While I think I've lost some of my drawl there's enough there to still get on my nerves. Okay, with that out of the way, I don't think they did that great a job editing the story. Perhaps it's just not one of those stories that can be edited down to a short radio bite. Oh and learn. I knew when I recorded it that there were no guarantees it would turn out good. I guess the up side is I still get to tell the story the way it should be told. And they can't edit that.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the Radio

I am going to be on the radio this weekend. The show is Weekend America and it usually plays on NPR, I think. I download the podcast and listen to it that way. They wanted wacky wedding stories so I sent them one. I have many but the one that stood out was the story of Sally showing up for my friend Brian's wedding. If you don't know the story you'll have to listen to the show. I'm not going to spill the beans here. What fun would that be?
They sent a nice girl named Liz (from KUOW) out to the house to record it and I was interviewed/prompted by Millie Jefferson on the phone. It took less than 20 minutes. I was told it will air this weekend. You'll have to check the website to see when it plays in your area or you can download the podcast from the site or thru iTunes.
Now, if I could only get interviewed on the radio about my art. But then it's radio and you can't see art on the radio. Oh well.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Dhampir by Barb and J. C. Hendee
"A con-artist who poses as a vampire slayer learns that she is, in fact, a true vampire slayer-a dhampir-whose actions have attracted the unwanted attention of a trio of powerful vampires seeking her blood."*
The cover blurb by Kevin J. Anderson said Dhampir was "a mix of Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and he was pretty much right on the money. That sounds pretty lowbrow but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was better than I expected it to be. The story was pretty standard fantasy/vampire fare but I really enjoyed the characters. Even some of the vampires were fairly pitiable once you knew their back story.
This is the first in a series. Not sure if I'll continue. Perhaps I'll keep it on the back burner for a time when I have absolutely nothing to read. I'm just a bit tired of the whole dark fantasy genre. I need a break.

Art Opening at Twilight

Sarah and I went over to West Seattle on Thursday night for my art opening at Twilight. Before the show we grabbed a light dinner at the Matador. Good food at happy hour prices. The decor there is, according to Sarah, part Spanish mission, part Mexican bordello. At least that's what I think she said. If you had dirtied the place up a bit it could be the set for From Dusk 'til Dawn 4: Vampin' in West Seattle.
After dinner we walked around a bit and stopped at ArtsWest where I am participating in a show next May. They have a really great space. I'm looking forward to that one.
We finally headed back to Twilight. The artwalk started out slow but a pretty good crowd finally gathered. As far as friends, Phyllis, Adam and Heather came by and stayed for a while. We had a good time visiting with them. I didn't have any conversations with anyone about my art but Heather said she heard some twenty-something girls saying they loved my stuff. I told her I didn't want to talk to them because meeting me would ruin their mental picture of what I look like. I actually run into this alot. I don't think most people expect me when they finally see me. What they do expect is something I would dearly love to hear but no one will share that info with me. I think they believe I'll be offended. I wouldn't. I find it all very funny. My guess is that they expect some typical emo/goth twenty or thirty-something wearing skinny jeans, funky glasses and a scarf. I'm sorry to disappoint but it's just me. I guess that emo/goth guy is deep down in me somewhere but I can't dress him. That would be silly.
I really hope I sell a lot of stuff there this month. Erin (one of the owners) said it's been scary slow of late. What with buying gas and food, people just don't have money for art. Oh well. All I can do is keep on working. I'm working towards my next show which is in July at the Bouncing Wall in Upper Queen Anne. It should be fun. The title is a hoot. I won't share it with you now. I'll let it be a surprise. Oh, and I'll post a couple of pics from the show later.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Mystery Whistler

Every once in a while, as I'm eating breakfast and checking email, I can hear someone whistling outside the window. Sometimes it's annoying but most of the time I find myself laughing. I've never gotten up to look because I like the mystery of it all. Who is this happy, whistling person? Where do they work? Where do they live? Why are they so annoyingly happy? This morning they were whistling the Carpenter's Yesterday Once More. I'll try to take note of the songs from now on and report them to you all.
Who is the Mystery Whistler?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

10,000 BC

No, this isn't a review for the recent prehistoric movie. It's a recognition that I've had more than 10,000 hits on this blog...10,000 Blog Callers if you will. Okay, I know that's stupid but I like for my headlines to be interesting. I can't just put "10,000 People Visit Blog." That's boring.
So anyway, that's a lot of people. I'm sure most of them arrived via some weird Google search. When we went to see Young Frankenstein: The Musical in it's Seattle run last year I wrote up a little review. You wouldn't believe how many hits I got from that. It's crazy the kind of stuff that leads people here. I'm glad I track this stuff. It's very interesting to see how many people visit from where and about what.
So, happy 10,000 to me. Here's to another 10,000. It only took 3 years.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Ball is Rolling...

I've been experiencing a bit of a dry spell in the creativity/productivity department of late. I've been sitting down to my table in the studio only to piddle for hours and not accomplish a thing. I've been wondering if I'm bored with what I'm doing or if it's just plain creative block. It's true I would love to start experimenting with some new types of art. If I can swing it financially (meaning if I make some money on the show this month) I want to take a collagraphy class that's offered at a nearby studio in July. I'd also love to learn how to do encaustics (painting with wax) if I can fit a class in later this year.
Well, despite all that, while working yesterday I think I laid the groundwork for the burst of creativity I had today. It's been slow hand is not as deft with the knife as it was a few weeks ago...but I think the ball is rolling again. Good thing, too. I have shows booked non-stop through November of this year.
Gotta keep making the art...

Deep Thoughts at the Macaroni Grill

I just returned from lunch with Jeff at Macaroni Grill. We usually get together for coffee on occasion but we've been so busy of late it just hasn't happened. Today found us pondering issues of spirituality, faith, worship, art and the busyness of our own lives.
The main reason we got together was to discuss worship. The interim worship leader at our church is leaving and that brings up lots of questions about what a musical worship service at our church will look like in the future. I'm sure that, no matter what form it might take, I'll be involved in some way. We spent some time rehashing where I am on my "journey." The crux of the matter for me has been to not be a hypocrite leading worship while I'm dealing with this crisis of faith. I think what it all boils down to is, in the long run, everyone is church leadership everywhere is dealing with something. They don't like to admit it (or they're not allowed to) but who among us is truly without some kind of sin or issue in our life. I was raised in a culture that believed if you weren't "walking with God" (or however your particular church culture phrases it) you shouldn't be leading. I have been so steeped in that rule it's hard to get my head around anything else. I have so much Baptist's pathetic. Anyway, I'm not communicating this very well. The long and short of it is, whatever musical worship becomes at our church in the near future, I'll probably have some part to play in it. I'm sure I'll continue to struggle with weird feelings about it but that's all part of the journey too.
Jeff said something as we were talking that is going to give me a lot to think about. Jeff said basically that he believed me to be a very gifted person and that God had his hand on me. It's something I've heard over and over again in my life. I don't know if it's true or not. I used to really believe it was true but nowadays I don't know what to believe. Crap, it's just too much to ponder right now. I'm going to end this before I write myself into a corner I can't get myself out of. Man, I really enjoy talking to Jeff but I always leave with a throbbing noggin.


Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light - The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta edited and with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk
Revealing the inner spiritual life of one of the most beloved and important religious figures in history, this collection of her writing and reflections sheds light on Mother Teresas interior life in a way that reveals the depth and intensity of her holiness for the first time.*
When the descriptions of this book hit newspapers and magazines almost a year ago, they got my attention. This book was touted as a glimpse, in her own writing, of Mother Teresa's crisis of faith. Since I am in the midst of one of those myself, I decided to give it a read. If Mother Teresa could have a crisis of faith and still do the work she did, surely there must be some insight for me.
I can't say that the book helped me. Her faith was so steeped in Catholicism that I found I couldn't relate. However, I was very impressed with her unwavering devotion to Jesus and her ability to maintain and simple life and faith despite her worldwide fame. It's difficult to boil her crisis of faith down to a few words but my impression was that she wanted to hear from Jesus and didn't. She felt that Jesus clearly called her to the work she fulfilled her entire life but she didn't hear from him again after that. It caused her great internal pain. At one point, a priest who had been praying for her felt he clearly heard Jesus give him a message for Mother Teresa. When he related the message to her, she was disappointed that there wasn't more to it. She was desperate to hear from Jesus and his silence hurt her deeply.
I don't know how to relate what I am going through to Mother Teresa. In my humble opinion, her faith remained ever strong throughout the process. Her doubts only came through the letters she shared with a select few. In the book, it was communicated more than once that based on her attitude and outward appearance, her faith never wavered. I think she remained strong because she had a simple faith, a childlike faith. She wasn't a theologian. She merely loved Jesus with every fiber of her being.
I must say that there were times in the book when I was frustrated with Mother Teresa's simple faith. At times it seemed as if she never grew spiritually. She remained suspended in the faith that she developed early on and it never developed. It seemed to me that she was locked in a spiritual infancy. Is that a bad thing? I don't know. Look what she accomplished. My other frustration came at the beginning of her ministry. She was called and then had to endure years of red tape in the Catholic system before they gave her permission to go and do what she felt called to do. To her credit, she bugged the hell out of them to the point where one leader had to tell her to stop writing and be patient. Good for her.
In closing, I'll just say that the book was worth reading despite the fact that it was a bit repetitive due to Mother Teresa's simple faith. You may find yourself skimming a bit but there are a few nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned. In the end, this read didn't help me with my crisis of faith but I am happy to be more aquainted with Mother Teresa, her faith and her work.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Winter, Let Go!

The weather here lately has been atrocious. Usually we have a beautiful spring. This year, not so much. It's been rainy and cold. Here it is June 6th and it's in the 50's and raining. I know all you folks who don't live in Seattle think it rains all the time. Well, that's a myth. Usually the spring and summer here is gorgeous. No one has AC because you don't need it. Well, this year Old Man Winter just won't let go. He's got Seattle in his clutches and he's hanging on for dear life. I don't know when we'll see the sun but I hope it happens soon. This has been one long and dreary winter.

What's Up?

Man, this has been a tiring week. I'm pooped. With work, band rehearsals for Saturday's church BBQ, delivering art for next week's show, and dealing with the everyday grind of life, I'm ready for a day off. I think the thing that's hurt me the most has been the late night rehearsals. I'm such a creature of habit. I'm usually climbing into bed by 10...sometimes earlier. I was hoping that after this week things would slow down but we have a couple of nights full of activity next week too. Hopefully we'll keep it to a minimum.