Monday, December 28, 2009

Booklist

Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child
Alaska's Federal Wilderness Zone.two hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle.one of the most remote places on Earth. But for a group of scientists sponsored by a major media conglomerate, an expedition to the Zone represents the opportunity of a lifetime to study the effects of global warming. The expedition changes suddenly on a routine foray into a glacial ice cave, where the group makes an astonishing find: an ancient animal encased in solid ice. It appears to be some kind of giant cat, possibly a saber-toothed tiger. When their discovery is reported back, their parent company quickly plans the ultimate spectacle - the animal will be cut from the ice, thawed, and revealed on live television. Ignoring the dire warnings of a local Eskimo group (and a native legend forecasting doom for anyone who disturbs this mythic creature), the scientists make one more horrifying discovery: the beast is no cat.it's an ancient killing machine. And it may not be dead.
I used to enjoy Lincoln Child's books. I also used to enjoy the ones he co-wrote with Douglas Preston. Somewhere along the way I stopped enjoying them. Did they change? Did I? All I know is this book was boring and predictable from page 1. The only reason I finished it was because it was a swift read. I gave up on Preston/Child a few years ago. I think I'm officially done with Child now.

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis takes us on a profound journey through both heaven and hell in this engaging allegorical tale. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis introduces us to supernatural beings who will change the way we think about good and evil.
I decided to re-read this because Taproot is doing the play based on the book starting in January. Since I had read the book before, I knew doing a stage production based on it would be difficult. I remain skeptical. I'm sure they will pull it off nicely. They always do. I wanted to be a bit more familiar with the story for viewing the play.
I didn't enjoy reading the book as much this time. I think it's because my belief system is different this time around. My faith is in flux so I don't have a solid foundation to rest upon like I did the first time around. Things in the book didn't resonate with me like they did that first time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rogue Carolers

Last night, Sarah and I were watching Gremlins (technically, it's a Christmas movie) and we were at the scene where the Gremlins are caroling in Mrs. Deagle's yard. I started hearing another noise and asked Sarah to pause the movie. Sure enough, there were carolers on the corner near our apartment. We listened for a bit and then Sarah, being the Christmas spirited person that she is, ran downstairs to give them all a Christmas cupcake.
Once she came back upstairs she confirmed my suspicion that some alcohol had been consumed. Despite sounding pretty bad, they were having fun and spreading the spirit, if not spirits, thru the neighborhood.
Seattle is an interesting place.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Booklist

MAD's Greatest Artists: The Completely MAD Don Martin
A couple of weeks ago I was at the Pioneer Square art walk with my friend Marshall. We were browsing at Elliot Bay Books (a great bookstore) and Marshall drew my attention to this collection. The cover price is $149.99. They had it for $29.99. So, I just had to get it. I actually bought two. One is a gift for someone close to us who also adores Don Martin.
What can I say about Don Martin and MAD Magazine? Well, one thing I can say is, I doubt I would be an artist today if it weren't for that crazy magazine. I loved it as a kid and read them until the covers fell off. My favorite artists were Sergio Aragones (I still have several of his paperbacks that I bought in the 70's) and Don Martin. I learned how to draw cartoons mostly from these guys. Of course, I had many, many influences, but these guys were in the top ten for sure. I can't tell you how many times I heard (when I was a kid), "Your cartoons look like MAD Magazine." Well, of course they did. Duh.
So, I bought it and read both volumes cover to cover. Some of it's dated but most of it's still pretty funny. The main thing that I bought them for is the art. Martin was an incredible artist and I don't have to invest in the gags to actually appreciate the work. Great stuff. I am so glad Marshall pointed this bargain out to me...even though the book weighs a bloody ton and I nearly killed myself lugging 2 of those bad boys back to the truck. Ugh.

Booklist

Monster Island by David Wellington
It's one month after a global disaster. The most "developed" nations of the world have fallen to the shambling zombie masses. Only a few pockets of humanity survive — in places rife with high-powered weaponry, such as Somalia. In New York City, the dead walk the streets, driven by an insatiable hunger for all things living. One amongst them is different; though he shares their appetites he has retained his human intelligence. Alone among the mindless zombies, Gary Fleck is an eyewitness to the end of the world — and perhaps the evil genius behind it all. From the other side of the planet, a small but heavily-armed group of schoolgirls-turned-soldiers has come in search of desperately needed medicine. Dekalb, a former United Nations weapons inspector, leads them as their local guide. Ayaan, a crack shot at the age of sixteen, will stop at nothing to complete her mission. They think they are prepared for anything. On Monster Island they will find that there is something worse even than being undead, as Gary learns the true price of survival.

I'm not usually one to read a zombie novel but I decided to give this one a try. I almost put it down a couple of times within the first couple chapters but after that it got better. The character of Gary is quite interesting - a zombie with intellect. It was just different enough to grab my attention. Beyond that, I'm not sure if I liked it well enough to continue with the series. We'll see how desperate my reading situation gets over the next few months.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sprained!

I went to the doctor on Tuesday to find out why my left foot was swollen and hurt so much. Turns out it's sprained. I have no explanation for this. I've done no twisting, no falling. Doc thinks it might be a combo of overwalking, the orthotics in my shoes, or the stretches I do for my back. (and before you ask, the stretches involve alot of leg and foot stretching)
So, I took 2 days off work but I returned today. I'll just have to take it easy. I'm wearing a brace that helps a bit. When I'm home I'll just have to keep it up and ice it. (fun in the winter)
Last month I had shingles. Now this. I'd ask, "What's next?" but I don't want to know.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Booklist


Christmas on Mill Street by Joseph Walker
Take A Christmas Story and mix in The Sandlot and you’ll get Joseph Walker’s new holiday novel — Christmas on Mill Street. It’s 1962, and young Sam Andrews just moved to Utah from Arizona. A tall, overweight, semi-clumsy outsider, he’s still trying to fit in with the neighborhood boys. When discussion about sledding down the infamous Mill Street begins, Sam pipes in and says he’ll do it. The problem is, Sam has seen snow only in pictures and has never actually ridden a sled. And to top it off, Mill Street is practically a vertical drop with two deadly curves. A rider going too fast can get shot right off Mill Street and into the Tuttles’ thorn-filled pyracantha bushes. But there’s no turning back now. Readers will laugh out loud at the adventures and many poignant lessons leading up to Christmas Day and Sam’s eventual duel with Mill Street. Christmas on Mill Street is a delightful and inspirational family gift for this holiday season.
I grabbed this one on a whim from the library's new releases shelf. It's promise of being a cross between A Christmas Story and Sandlot is greatly exaggerated. The story is so predictable and full to the brim with hokey sentiment. The humor is pretty basic...nothing nearly as creative as the adventures of Ralphie in ACS. So, if you want to read a hokie period piece about Christmas in Utah...this is your book.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Booklist

Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt
When physicist Michael Shelborne mysteriously vanishes, his son Shel discovers that he had constructed a time travel device. Fearing his father may be stranded in time - or worse - Shel enlists the aid of Dave MacElroy, a linguist, to accompany him on the rescue mission. Their journey through history takes them from the enlightenment of Renaissance Italy through the American Wild West to the civil-rights upheavals of the 20th century. Along the way, they encounter a diverse cast of historical greats, sometimes in unexpected situations. Yet the elder Shelborne remains elusive. And then Shel violates his agreement with Dave not to visit the future. There he makes a devastating discovery that sends him fleeing back through the ages, and changes his life forever.

I really enjoyed this book. While I almost didn't pick it up because of the title (dumb if you ask me) I'm glad I took a chance. It's a very smart, realistic portrayal of time travel. The story is more about the people than the technical stuff. The plot is reminiscent of Timeline by Michael Crichton but far more satisfying. I think I've read 2 books by McDevitt now. The first, Eternity Road, was only so-so for me. It made me hesitate to read more by this author. Now I'm ready to find more. Has anyone out there read any other books by him? Can you recommend something?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Booklist

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs
For his first book, The Know-It-All, A. J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclopædia Britannica from cover to cover in a quest to learn everything in the world. In The Year of Living Biblically, he followed every single rule of the Bible -- from the Ten Commandments right on down to stoning adulterers.
Now comes a collection of his most hilarious and thought-provoking experiments yet. In his role as human guinea pig, Jacobs fearlessly takes on a series of life-altering challenges that provides readers with equal parts insight and humor. (And which drives A.J.'s patient wife, Julie, to the brink of insanity.)

I really, really, really like Jacob's books. This guy is really going out of his way to make sense of life. He thinks way outside the box and he doesn't really care (well, I'm sure he cares a little) what people think of his weird experiments. He's like a mad scientist of humanity. I can't wait to see what he does next.
I'm not an in-depth book reviewer. I merely put these entries out there so I can keep track of what I've read and so I can recommend these books to those few of you who read my scribblings. I highly recommend you grab anything Jacobs has written and devour it. You won't regret a single moment.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Break in the Routine

My routine has been shot to Hades ever since the fire that damaged the theatre. The truth of that hit me this morning as I walked to work. First of all, I used to walk to and from work almost every day but recently have been having to drive due to needing to use the jeep for work-related errands. Second, the route I usually walk is different. It just feels odd. I know change can be good and I know the outcome of all this will be positive but, right now, it just feels odd.
I used to get up at 6:45 am to be in by 8 am. I accomplished a lot while no one was around the first couple hours. In the afternoons, I would head home around 2 pm and have time to work on art before Sarah came home. The last couple weeks I've been going in at 9 am and working longer days. I haven't done any significant art making for quite a while. I had also been walking 3 times a week after work but with it getting dark at 4:30 and the rain, that's not been possible. Everything is just "off." Pile on top of that the added worry of the Greenwood arsons and you've got several pretty stressful weeks.
I hope things will even out soon. I really hope we can be back in the theatre for the first show of 2010. I know routine sounds like a dull thing but it kinda keeps me on track. Right now, I feel like I'm derailed.

Booklist

WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
During his decades-spanning career, award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer has "undoubtedly cemented his reputation as one of the foremost science fiction writers of our generation" (SF Site). Now he adds to his impressive body of work with an imaginative and mind-blowing new trilogy of the web — and its awakening ... Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation.
But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the world wide web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it's getting smarter ...


Sawyer is one of my favorite writers of sci-fi. I normally don't like to read hard sci-fi but Sawyer makes it palatable by not forgetting character development. His stories are populated by realistically rendered people.
That said, this book is (in my humble opinion) not one of his best. Perhaps it's the storyline itself that doesn't interest me. An awakening worldwide web sounds intriguing but it barely emerges in this first book of a trilogy. The story of Caitlin is interesting and a side story about a chimp is also very interesting but I found the tech-speak and sentient web stuff pretty unreadable. I'll probably continue when parts 2 and 3 come out just to see how it all plays out. Perhaps as a whole, it will make a better story.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fire/Fear

Our neighborhood has been experiencing a rash of arsons in the past few months. A couple of weeks ago, arson destroyed 4 businesses and severely damaged the theatre where we work. I'd like to say that's the last one but there have been a couple since. It's scary because you don't know when/where they will strike next. There seems to be no method to the madness.
I lost an apartment to fire in 1999. It affected me deeply at the time. In hindsight, I know that I was suffering from post traumatic stress for at least 6 months following the event. Once I was in my new apt. I woke up nearly every night thinking there was another fire. I would have to get up and check everything before being able to go back to bed. For a while after that fire, everytime I heard a siren I tensed up.
This new situation is different. I am handling it better but I am finding that the sound of sirens is bothering me again. I am also fearful about the random nature of the arsons. I find myself dwelling on the fear that our apt. may get torched. I know the fear is irrational but it's there all the same. I hope they catch this firebug. The whole neighborhood, including me, needs some peace.

Booklist

Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture by Daniel Radosh
What does it mean when a band is judged by how hard they pray rather than how hard they rock? Would Jesus buy “Jesus junk” or wear “witness wear”? What do Christian skate parks, raves, and romance novels say about evangelicalism — and America? Daniel Radosh went searching for the answers and reached some surprising conclusions. Written with the perfect blend of amusement and respect, Rapture Ready! is an insightful, entertaining, and deeply weird journey through the often hidden world of Christian pop culture. This vast and influential subculture — a $7 billion industry and growing — can no longer be ignored by anyone who wants to understand the social, spiritual and political aspirations of evangelical Christians. Through 18 cities and towns in 13 states — from the Bible Belt to the outskirts of Hollywood — Radosh encounters a fascinating cast of characters, including Bibleman, the Caped Christian; Rob Adonis, the founder and star of Ultimate Christian Wrestling; Ken Ham, the nation’s leading prophet of creationism; and Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye and pastor of his own liberal, punk rock church. From Christian music festivals and theme parks to Passion plays and comedy nights, Radosh combines gonzo reporting with a keen eye for detail and just the right touch of wit. Rapture Ready! is an eye-opening survey of a parallel universe and a unique perspective on one of America’s most important social movements.
I heard about this book on a podcast so I thought I'd give it a go. As one who used to be immersed in this culture, I wanted to hear an outsiders perpective. Radosh was respectful but also critical when needed. I found much of what he had to say to be very insightful and downright funny. Here's a passage that cracked me up.
"Cameron Williams is one of Left Behind's main heroes. His friends call him Buck, 'because they said he was always bucking tradition and authority.' The other hero is Rayford Steele, an airline pilot. That's right, Buck Williams and Rayford Steele. There's also Steve Plank, Bruce Barnes, and Dick Burton. Apparently, having a porn star name is enough to keep you from getting rapture."
If you find this hilarious, this book is probably for you. If you are offended by this, stay away. I found it hilarious. I have always felt like a lot of Christian pop culture needed to be made fun of. In fact, I have done that and still do. Many times my art is a jab at the ridiculousness of Christian culture. So, needless to say, I found this book to be very entertaining.

Jim Butcher's the Dresden Files: Storm Front, Vol. 1 by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Adrian Syaif.

This is a comic adaptation of Jim Butcher's first Dresden book. I did not like it. The art was fine...nothing special though. The thing that bothered me was the number of typos. I read 3 pages in a row where there were typos. That's some pretty crummy editing. I had to put it down.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How Am I?

Even though I can't get on Facebook, I still get the email notifications if I get a message from someone. A couple people asked how I am? Here's the short of it.
The shingles are healing nicely. The sores are fading and the pain has diminished although I still feel some discomfort. I still have a couple days meds to get thru. Here's hoping it's cleared up. I am taking B vitamins to try and manage stress just in case that's a factor.
The fire situation at work is challenging but everyone is working very hard. We are all moving ahead as best we can. Restoration crews are hard at work at the theatre. If you want to stay up-to-date on what's happening at the theatre, go to our website or you can follow us on Facebook (if you can get on) or Twitter. Just search for Taproot Theatre.
Not much else to report.Trying to stay busy, dodging the flu and resting when I have the opportunity. My routine is gone. I am well out of my comfort zone and may have to be there for a while. That will be difficult for me since I am a creature of routine. But, as a friend pointed out on Sunday, I am being stretched....even if I didn't want to be.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

#@%&*! Facebook!

I haven't been able to get on Facebook with any regularity for about 3 weeks now. I don't know what they are doing but they need to get it straightened out so I can actually use it. (if you're reading this on Facebook, it's feeding there from my blog)
This is a really crappy time for me to be without Facebook. I really want to communicate with everyone about what's going on with Taproot Theatre since the fire. I can't and it's frustrating.
So, if you need to get in touch with me...shoot me an email or contact me thru a comment on my blog. Facebook is unreliable right now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fire!

Today was not a good day. As I was getting ready for work this morning I checked my email. A friend had asked if I knew more about the fire at the restaurants next to Taproot Theatre where Sarah and I work. I had no idea so I started searching online. Sure enough, the restaurants were on fire and the condition of the theatre was unknown. Sarah and I got ready and headed up there as quick as we could. We found several co-workers standing at Bartell, waiting for word. Eventually we all headed to the admin offices (located down the street). It was then that plans began to emerge. Since the state of the theatre was unknown, plans began to take shape to continue the show in a new venue. Seattle's theatre community rallied and a venue was found. As I am writing this, my wife, the actors and crew of Enchanted April are rehearsing in the space at Seattle Children's Theatre. There will be 2 shows tomorrow, 2 and 8pm.
Eventually we were able to enter the theatre. There is a lot of water damage. We salvaged costumes, props, anything needed for the show and a truck was dispatched downtown to begin preparations. I stayed behind to play watchdog. I ended up talking to a couple of news people, some folks who came by to give well wishes, our insurance broker, firemen, and the guys from the restoration crew. I left around 5. The firemen are on 24 hour vigil since there are hot spots and trouble areas that could go up again. They will remain until they are sure it's out. The restoration crew are hopefully extracting water and doing what they do best. The Red Cross were there passing out food and beverages to any and all who needed them.
There'll be a lot of work ahead but the theatre will, I'm certain, be all fixed up in no time. It's hard to see the good in a situation like this but I, as well as many others, sense that a lot of good is going to come out of this. All we have to do is wait and see.
My friend Jeff also wrote about today. You can read his blog here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview & Update

You can read an interview with me at the Art is Moving blog.
I love doing interviews, not only because it's good publicity (and I'll take all of that I can get), but because it challenges me to find brief, bold and brilliant ways to answer questions about myself and my art. I hate people who drone on and on, repeating themselves. I never want to be that person. I wish I had more opportunities to talk about my art. It's good practice.
To update you on what's happening in the world of my art, the fall has been slow. I have no shows lined up (although I am still trying) and I haven't made any art since before vacation. My seemingly endless string of minor health problems don't help matters much. But these are excuses. I need to sit my butt down and make some art.
I am also a bit closer to starting to sell my work online. We'll see how that goes.
As you can see, I'm busy and yet I'm not. Just gotta keep plugging away.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Booklist

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan's Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event. They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come. In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country. In two months - the world. A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold. In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . . So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city - a city that includes his wife and son - before it is too late.
Since this has Del Toro's name on it, I had to give it a try. In the end, I found this to be too similar to the story in Blade 2 (another Del Toro creation). It's an enjoyable read but it just seems like Del Toro is rehashing too much. The book starts out as a modern retelling of the classic Dracula story. Eventually it turns into a (spoiler alert) vampirism as virus pandemic apocalypse story that seems all too familiar. There are a couple of CDC folks, a Van Helsing-type character and, for the heck of it, a kick-ass ratcatcher. The books doesn't have an ending because it's part one of a planned trilogy. I'll probably read them all but I won't be in a hurry about it. I'm sure Del Toro could turn this into a visually stunning film but, so far, he says that's not in the plan. The story was originally planned as a television series (hmmm) but was rejected so he decided to put it in print. All in all, I know how creative Del Toro is and I expect a lot from him. It's true that his films are more satisfying in the visual dept. rather than in story but I had hoped Hogan would flesh it out a little more. So, if you like your vampires brutal and bloody rather than shimmery and romantic, give this a try.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shingles!

Yes, I went to the doc this morning and found out I have shingles. Lovely. I'm on anti-viral meds for 10 days. I am hoping for a speedy recovery but everything I've read says that they can hang on for a while. Guess I'll have to get used to the burning skin thing for a bit. SIGH.
It's always something.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Was Lost Has Been Found!

Last October I mentioned a haunted house that me and my friends created at church when I was a senior in high school. I bemoaned the fact that the photo album with all the pictures from that was lost years ago. While I was home in Florida a couple of weeks ago I mentioned the album to my mom and sister and my sister said she thought she had it in her hope chest. Sure enough, she brought it to me on Saturday before we left. What a great find! It has so many great pics in it from when I was in high school/early college. I especially appreciate it's return because there were so many pictures of my friend Kevin (who passed away a few years ago) in it. I'm so happy to have it back.
So, here's a pic from the haunted house and a link to the entry I wrote about it last year. I read thru it and my memory was pretty good. Enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Leaving Church?

This is a tough subject to breach and I had a hard time trying to decide whether to hash it out on the blog or not. I've decided to do it because I need an outlet. I need to get this off my chest.
For the past few months, perhaps even close to a year, Sarah and I have been feeling pretty dissatisfied with church. It's been a struggle to get up on Sunday and go. We actually took a couple of months off in the hopes that it would renew us. It did not. The only thing we missed about it was the people, our friends.
I'm not going to speak for Sarah. She has her problems and I have mine. I can only speak to mine. First and foremost, the biggest problem I have with church is me. Spiritually, I am dead inside. If there's any faith left, it's a small spark. Sarah says it's still alive in me but I don't sense it. God hasn't been real to me for a number of years now. I struggle. I have doubts. I swing back and forth. The bottom line is, I don't believe like I once did. I went thru a time when I was begging and pleading with God to return to me but I've gotten zilch. I am mourning the loss of my faith. I miss it. But I can't fake a belief that's not there anymore. So, going to church is hard for me in that respect. I can't participate in worship because, for me, there's nothing to worship. I'm sure I could continue in the vein but I think I've covered it. If you want details, you'll just have to call me so we can have a conversation.
Moving on. Another reason I don't enjoy church is because I've found no way to contribute, to be involved, that rings true. The loss of my faith makes it difficult to contribute but I have tried. I went back to leading worship for a time but I felt like a hypocrite so I stopped. Authenticity is important to me. I don't want to fake my thru it. I've seen too many people doing that and it makes me sick.
The other reason I find it hard to contribute is due to issues of quality and creativity. I've always had, compared to most people, radical ideas in regards to "doing church." For a while I actually felt like that was my call...to go against the flow, to challenge the status quo, to inject some life and creativity into church. Unfortunately, I've not had the benefit of being with a like-minded group of people. I've tried to lead but felt instead like I was dragging people behind me. That just weighs me down and wears me out. I can't do that anymore. So, trying to change things hasn't worked but being in a church where the quality and creativity I crave isn't valued is hard. Again, I could talk about this for ages but I'm going to move on.
I have enjoyed expressing my frustrations, doubts and spiritual questions thru my art. Unfortunately most people don't get what I do and don't know how to ask questions about it. In the past I've had people in my life who I could talk to about these things or groups of people who felt the same way I did about church. I felt like I had a "team" that I was moving forward with. I used to feel valued as a creative, spiritual being. I haven't had that in a long time. Frankly, I'm lonely. I feel like I'm creating in a void.
I know this is a disjointed mess of ideas that I've thrown out here. I'm sorry about that. I just felt like I had to get some of it out of my system so it wouldn't eat me up from the inside out. Honestly, we don't know what we're going to do. We don't enjoy going to church. And before you say, "But what have you put into it?" let me just say that we have tried to find our niches, our places of service, to no avail. We're at our wits end. But leaving is still a difficult choice because we have so many people that we care so much about. Seattle is a hard place to make friends. The thought of losing the few we have is terrifying. Some of you will say, "Well, why not try another church?" We have been to a ton of churches in the area and none fit the bill.
So, there are no easy answers. Do we stop going to church altogether? Do we stop going to services but continue attending lifegroup (which we do enjoy?). We're still trying to figure things out. Your patience, prayers, thoughtful conversations and positive thoughts would be greatly appreciated. And for those of you who find yourselves offended by this entry. Don't be. I am sharing my heart. If you want to talk with me about it, I'll be happy to do so. Don't take this personally. I am directing this at no one but myself. I am the one with the problem and I am trying my hardest to get over it but I'm running out of options.
Thanks for listening.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Florida Trip: Days 7 & 8

We didn't do much on Saturday. We spent most of the day with family but we did take a quick trip over to Cantonment to see my friend Rusty and his family. My sister found an old photo album of mine that I thought was lost forever so I took it along (since Rusty was in some of the pics). We had some good laughs.
After that, we drove back to Milton for a big fish feast (not fried) with the family. We ate too much (again) and then sat around talking. We headed to bed early since our flight was at the butt crack of dawn the next day.
The flight home was uneventful but I have to comment on the DirectTV. I've never flown where you could pay to watch movies and tv at your leisure. Sarah and I both did it. It was money well spent as it helped pass the time. I caught up on some movies I missed: Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian (cute) and Terminator: Salvation (okay...may watch it again...I feel like I may have missed something due to edits).
We finally arrived home mid afternoon and were thankful for Monday off to recover. It was a good trip but, as always, it went by way too fast.

Booklist

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
What if the gods of Olympus were alive in the 21st Century? What if they still fell in love with mortals and had children who might become great heroes — like Theseus, Jason and Hercules. What if you were one of those children? Such is the discovery that launches twelve-year-old Percy Jackson on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction — Zeus' master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.
I read this book primarily because I heard it was good and the movie version will be coming out soon. The book is enjoyable but it's comparisons to Harry Potter are exaggerated. It was fine...a fun, light read. Not much more to say than that.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Florida Trip: Day 6





Friday was the day of the Great Gator Adventure.
We slept in and spent a lazy morning around the house. My dad got their Gator (John Deere mini-jeep) ready so Sarah and I could ride it down by the river. He filled the gas tank, checked the oil and rode it around a while to see if it was working properly. It checked out so we hopped on and took off. We rode down to one spot on the river then took off down the road to another spot. About 1.5 miles in the engine sputtered and died. It would not restart. Luckily I had told Sarah to bring the cell phone. We called daddy and he and mama came to get us. He tied the jeep up to the back of his truck. We thought he'd just pull us back to the house but he decided to finish the tour by pulling us to where we had been headed. So, here we are in a mini-jeep being pulled by a pickup truck. People are looking at us like we're nuts but we just smiled and waved like it was the thing to do. I called it Redneck Skiing. At one point I nearly slammed into the back of the truck because daddy decided he had to stop and pick up 3 aluminum cans on the side of the road. "They're worth a penny a piece," he said. Can't argue with that. He pulled the jeep to a neighbor's house for repairs and declared that he thoroughly enjoyed pulling us around. Sarah said it was more fun than just riding the Gator.
Later we headed into Pensacola to meet some friends. We stopped by to see G. C. then headed to Sbux to meet David. We spent the evening with the Randolphs. The kids were thrilled to see us. Charlie had to bring every toy in his room out to show us one at a time. Sadie went on her first "date." (she's in 1st grade) Bridgett came over as well. We told them about the Gator Adventure and they laughed so hard they were crying. It was a fun day.

I Don't Agree

"To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can't eat it."

I got this quote off the status of someone on Facebook. Without thinking about it too much, I would have to disagree with it. Now, I'm not about to get into a lengthy discussion about the definition of art or what make a piece of art good but I would like to address this quickly. To say a work of art isn't good because a majority of people do not comprehend it is absurd. To relate this to my own art, there are some people who enjoy my art and there are some who do not. If that group who does not is the majority, do we write my art off as no good? Not in my book. So many things contribute to the opinion of whether a piece of art is deemed good or not; environment, education, execution, culture, experience, etc. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
I'm sure there's much more to say about this but I have to get ready for work. If anyone else out there has an opinion, chime in. Let's have a discussion. And does anyone know who said this? I'd like to know so I can punch his/her lights out. (just kidding)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Improv Lessons

I'm taking an improv class at the theatre where I work. I've been feeling of late like I need another creative outlet besides my art. Art is my passion but I sometimes feel like it's getting stale. I need something to kick start some other areas of my brain...or something.
Tonight I picked up on something. I've always known that, in improv, I'm a better responder than starter. If someone else starts things up, I can go with it. But if I'm left to start it up, it's tough. I feel like I'm freezing up or that my ideas are lame. Tonight I made the connection to real life situations in that I am a good responder but not starter. Put me in a room full of strangers and I will clam up and not say a word. I will not start a conversation. But if someone comes up to me and starts things up, I will respond. Most times, if I'm in that corner not saying a work, I know that I should be approaching people, starting conversations...but I just don't know how. My brain freezes up and I don't know what to say.
Okay, so I've had the revelation. Now, how do I overcome this?

Florida Trip: Day 4 & 5





Wednesday found us being lazy. My parents loaded up and headed back to Milton, Cindy and Brian went fishing and Sarah and I lounged around the pool for a little while. We both utilized the $2 float she bought at Alvin's Island. After lunch, we loaded up and headed back to Milton as well.
After hanging around with my parents for a while, we went into Pensacola to meet some old friends for dinner and catching up. We had a great time telling stories from the past and seeing what everybody's up to these days. We were up way too late.
On Thursday, we slept in a bit, then drove from Milton along the water to Pensacola Beach. We met up with Chris and Todd for lunch. It was a great time with more old friends. After lunch, Sarah and I drove down to Ft. Pickens to explore the old forts and hang out on the beach.
After a quick stop to see my cousin Chris, we met my parents and uncle and aunt at David's Catfish House in Milton. By this time we were sick of eating, especially fried food, so we opted to have a garden salad although I did taste my mom's hamburger steak which was good. Uncle Jerry's truck was having clutch problems so we took them back to the house for a bit. Daddy and Uncle Jerry went off in search of a solution (brake fluid fixed the problem) while the rest of us stayed at the house to visit. Once company left, I believe we called it a night.
I'm only posting a few pics here. If you want to see the whole set, I'll be posting them asap on Facebook. If you're not on FB...well, why aren't you?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Florida Trip: Day 3



We started our day at 7am. That was yucky. But we the reason we got up was not. We went on a Waverunner Dolphin Excursion with Boogie Watersports and we had a great time. We saw many dolphins and would have seen more if the guide hadn't wasted some of our time just riding around. Despite that, we still had a great time. Unfortunately, the waterproof camera we bought was a piece of junk. The pictures turned out terrible. Oh, well. We have our memories. We really have a good time on the water looking for marine life. I think we may have missed our calling as marine biologists.
After that, we did a little shopping, picked up my mom and sister, did some more shopping and then everybody went out for seafood. We went to the same place we always go (Fisherman's Wharf) and we had a great time. After that, Sarah and I took a short walk. We've overdone it on the greasy food so far and had to do something physical. Then we returned to the condo and played Chickenfoot with my parents.
Tomorrow we'll probably just hang out by the pool until it's time to head back to Milton. Tomorrow night we are having dinner with a bunch of old friends of mine. Well, their not as old as me but they're getting there.
Having a great time. Wish you were here...but I'm not sure where we'd put you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Florida Trip: Day 1 & 2

We're here and having a blast! Day 1 (Sunday) found us on an airplane at 6:10 am. All the flights went well but I have to say that I am not impressed with Houston's airport. It's laid out like it was designed by a blind rat with a piece of chalk strapped to his belly. But we finally arrived in Pcola where my parents picked us up. We headed to Milton to pick up their luggage and, after a quick stop off in Crestview to eat chicken (the Gospel bird) at Cracker Barrel and see Uncle Terry at Publix, headed to Destin. We stopped along the way to buy groceries. We eventually made it out here (Bay Club in Sandestin Resort), unpacked, visited, and hit the sack.
Today was laid back. We spent most of the day at the pool, then went to Golden Corral for some southern buffet food. (you can't get that stuff in Seattle) After supper, Sarah and I went down to the gulf to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous!
Tomorrow morning we rise early (7am) to get ready for our Waverunner Dolphin Excursion. Should be fun! More updates and pics as I'm able to post them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Florida Bound

In case you haven't noticed, we're flying to Florida tomorrow for a week. (I've run it in the ground on Facebook) We're spending the first half of the week at my sis and bro-in-law's condo in Destin. Second half we'll just be lazing around my parent's house in Milton, seeing friends, maybe some fishing w/ daddy, etc. It's going to be great. It's a well needed break for both of us, mentally and physically. Sarah's been working her tail off on Enchanted April so expect she'll be sitting on the beach with a book every chance she gets. We hope to do a dolphin waverunner excursion while we're there but other than that we don't have any real plans (except dinner plans with family and friends).
This time tomorrow we'll be in Florida. Can't wait.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Booklist

Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton
The art market has been booming. Museum attendance is surging. More people than ever call themselves artists. Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description, and, for some, a kind of alternative religion. In a series of beautifully paced narratives, Sarah Thornton investigates the drama of a Christie's auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami's studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforum magazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. She reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton's entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture.

Okay, I don't have time to really go into this book at length. I wish I did. Suffice it to say that if this is what the art world is like (and I'm not at all shocked by it), I want no part of it. Based on this book, it's a world of money, snobbery, and sucking up. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I read the book. It's insightful in that it shows the art world how I always imagined it. I've always had illusions of fame in the art world but I don't want to be a part of this world. The only chapter that I took anything of worth away from was the one titled "The Crit" where she visits a critique class at CalArts. It reminded me of art school...all the good, bad and ugly of it. The beauty of art school is that most students are still struggling to make art. They haven't "arrived." (although as an artist we should never reach this point or we'll stop growing) But you can sense the hunger, the passion in them. I've sat thru many a crit but never like this one. It started in the morning and lasted until late at night. Crazy! But I enjoyed the chapter because it was the only one where I sensed people still enjoying art.
The chapter titled "The Studio Visit" is infuriating to me because we visit the studio of Takashi Murakami. He is a moody perfectionist who is more factory foreman than artist. He employs countless assistants who do the work for him. I am just not for this at all. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems wrong to me. It would be like if I planned a collage but I gave the instructions to my assistant and he/she did all the cutting, pasting, etc. Is it really my work? I don't think so. Maybe I feel this way because I believe an artist should be in there with his hands, manipulating the medium, getting dirty, leaving fingerprints all over the work. Murakami's way (and countless others I imagine) assumes that the end (product) justifies the means. For me, art is just as much about the process as it is the finished piece. Ugh. I could go on and on about this. Perhaps I should throw this question out to the arts group next time I go...let them bat it around a little.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Booklist

Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
Welcome to Gil’s All Night Diner, where zombie attacks are a regular occurrence and you never know what might be lurking in the freezer. . . .Duke and Earl are just passing through Rockwood county in their pick-up truck when they stop at the diner for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning to stick around--until Loretta, the eatery’s owner, offers them one hundred dollars to take care of her zombie problem. Given that Duke is a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, this looks right up their alley.But the shambling dead are just the tip of a particularly spiky iceberg. Seems someone’s out to drive Loretta from the diner, and more than willing to raise a little hell on earth if that’s what it takes. Before Duke and Earl get to the bottom of the diner’s troubles, they’ll run into such otherworldly complications as undead cattle, an amorous ghost, a jailbait sorceress, and the terrifying occult power of pig Latin.And maybe--just maybe--the End of the World, too. Gory, sexy, and flat-out hilarious, Gil’s All Fright Diner will tickle your funny bone--before ripping it out of its socket!
This is a re-read for me. I've liked just about every book by Martinez that I've read so I thought I'd go back and retry the first one. It's still pretty good although the ending is kinda cliche and lame. I got bored with it toward the end. Still, a pretty funny twist on the urban fantasy genre.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
After seeing Wicked the other night, I was without something to read so my wife pulled out her childhood copy of Wizard for me to try. Since I've never read any of these books, my curiosity was high. It's not exactly like the MGM movie but I can see why they embellished. It moves along at a pretty fair clip. They travel, a problem arises, they solve it and move on. Pretty basic but interesting to read in context with everything that Oz has become to us in the here and now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Booklist

Lord, Save Us from Your Followers: Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America? by Dan Merchant
Why is the Gospel of Love dividing America? Fed up with the angry, strident language filling the airwaves that has come to represent the Christian faith, author, director, and follower Dan Merchant set out to explore the collision of faith and culture in America. What is all this fighting really about? The book and upcoming documentary represent a two-year effort to "join the battlefield in hopes of getting a conversation started." The result is a book full of offbeat observations, fun anecdotes, comedic bits and in-depth interviews. From Dan's hilarious bumper-sticker interviews with folks on the street to his unique "Confession Booth" event inspired by his meeting with Tony, the Beat Poet, from Blue Like Jazz, he delves into all the hot button issues with candor, humor and balance.
I watched the movie before I read the book but I had checked out the book before I knew there was a movie. Turns out our friend Jeff had had coffee with Merchant a couple of weeks before and got a couple of advance copies on DVD. So, we borrowed one and watched it. Since some of it was repetitive I skipped some parts. Basically the book delves a bit deeper into the interviews.
I like what the book has to say but I have to say that I'm a bit tired of reading books about how Christianity is screwed up. I already know that. So, where is the book about how to fix it? What's that you say? It's already been written? The Bible, you say? Please. Christians have been reading that book for centuries...or have they?
Anywho...a good read for those who are sick of the religious status quo. Find the movie and watch it too...or better yet get a group together, watch the movie and then have a discussion afterward. I guarantee it'll be a good conversation.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Booklist

The American Painter Emma Dial by Samantha Peale
Emma Dial is a virtuoso painter who executes the works of Michael Freiburg, a preeminent figure in the New York art world. She has a sensuous and exacting hand, hips like a matador, and long neglected ambitions of her own. She spends her days completing a series of pictures for Freiburg's spring exhibition and her nights drinking and dining with friends and luminaries. Into this landscape walks Philip Cleary, Emma's longtime painting hero and a colleague and rival of her boss. Philip Cleary represents the ideal artistic existence, a respected painter, fearless and undeterred by fashion. He is unmatched by anyone from Emma's generation. Except, just possibly, Emma herself. Emma Dial must choose between the security of being a studio assistant to a renowned painter and the unknown future as an artist in her own right.
This is an interesting read for an artist. Although fiction, I can't help but think that Peale has inserted some truth from her experiences as an assistant for artist Jeff Koons. The whole idea of a painter having an assistant do all the painting is crazy to me. If you're a painter, you should love to paint. It should be as much about the process as it is the finished work...perhaps even moreso. (depends on your point of view I suppose) I have nothing against assistants. I believe an artist can make good use of an assistant to accomplish tasks which keep them from the real work of artmaking. But to have the assistant do all the work...no way. I could rant for days about this but I'll cut it off here.
As for the story, I enjoyed all the art world stuff. The relationship stuff made me sad because it all seemed so shallow and "what can you do for me" oriented. I know that's how the world operates in most cases but it makes me sad nonetheless. Even though Emma put herself in the positon she was in, I found myself pulling for her to get away and do her own thing. Does she? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

The Book of Lists: Horror compiled by Amy Wallace, Del Howison & Scott Bradley

I picked this up on a whim. Since Halloween is coming up I thought I could find some new books, movies, etc. to watch for the season. I found a few. The book ended up being too skewed toward hard horror...the really gory "torture porn" stuff that I don't like. But, like I said, I found a few ideas amongst the gore.

The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbitt
I found this book on a list of greatest children's books and I thought it sounded intriguing. It's basically a book of short stories, quite fable or fairy tale-esque, about the Devil. In these stories, he's an annoying trickster, visiting pranks on unsuspecting humans but having the tables turned on him every once in a while. It was an interesting distraction and a quick read.

The Mice Templar: The Prophecy by Bryan J. L. Glass and Michael Avon Oeming

This popular graphic novel has wonderful, Mignola-esque artwork but I found the story very wordy and boring. Very Arthurian except for it being set in a world of talking mice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Booklist

Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz's Frankenstein--is a brilliant re-imagining of the classic story that only world-renowned and New York Times bestselling author could conceive, bringing the two hundred-year-old "monster," a literate, mysterious loner, to modern day New Orleans on the trail of his creator.
I love it when writers update old monster stories. Well, I love it when they do it well. The juries still out on this one since it's a trilogy and I have only read the first book. I have to be honest, I didn't enjoy it all that much. I thought it was pretty shallow. No depth in the story, no character development to speak of, chapters that were, on average, 5 pages long. It almost seemed stitched together...kind of like a certain monster we all know and love. And that was the other thing, the monster wasn't in it very much and when he was, he chose to swoop in Aslan-like and help only when the mood suited him.
So, not much else to say. I'll give the final verdict once I've read all three.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Booklist

Deep Fathom by James Rollins
Ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland surfaces from an aborted underwater salvage mission to find the Earth burning. Solar flares have triggered a series of gargantuan natural disasters. Earthquakes and hellfire rock the globe. Air Force One has vanished from the skies with America's president on board. Now, with the U.S. on the narrow brink of a nuclear apocalypse, Kirkland must pilot his oceangoing exploration ship, Deep Fathom, on a desperate mission miles below the ocean's surface. There devastating secrets await him—and a power an ancient civilization could not contain has been cast out into modern day. And it will forever alter a world that's already racing toward its own destruction.
This is a re-read. I first read it years ago when it first came out...when I was first introduced to Rollins' books. I liked his stories back then. I don't like the books he's written lately. It seems too much like he jumped on the Da Vinci Code bandwagon. I remember really liking this book when I first read it...enough so that I thought a series with the Kirkland character would have been good. I didn't enjoy it much on the second read. I found myself skipping alot. Oh well. I ran out of library books and had to grab something around the house. I'll try not to let that happen again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Annie Velma (Granny) Gordon (1914 - 2009)


Velma Gordon, age 95 of Milligan, Fla., went to be with her Lord on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009, at Shoal Creek Rehab.

Velma was born on March 21, 1914, in Pollard, Ala., to Daniel and Martha Garrett. She was a longtime resident of the Milligan area. Velma worked as supervisor in the lunchroom at Milligan School until it closed, then she moved to the Baker School lunchroom where she worked as manager for 23 years. Velma was a member of Milligan Baptist Church.

Velma was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Thomas N. Gordon; a daughter, Sarah Elaine Gordon, and a granddaughter, Sherry Elaine Gordon Everett.

Survivors include her five sons, Thomas L. Gordon and his wife Virginia of Gainesville, Fla., Bobby Gordon and his wife Joyce of Milton, Fla., Jerry Gordon and his wife Emily of Lewisburg, Tenn., Terry Gordon and his wife Jody of Holt, Fla., and David Gordon of Milligan. She is also survived by her precious 24 grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren.

A time of visitation will be held on Friday at Whitehurst-Powell Funeral Home from 5 to 8 p.m.

The celebration of Velma's life will take place on Saturday, Aug. 22, at 11 a.m. at Milligan Baptist Church with the Rev. Ted Jernigan and Don Smith officiating. Burial will follow in Milligan Baptist Church Cemetery.

Whitehurst-Powell Funeral Home is entrusted with arrangements.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Endoscopy

This morning I had my first endoscopy. The doc is trying to determine what is causing my excess gas and sometimes gas related pain. We arrived at 7:30 am and things got underway very quickly. As the nurse was prepping me she noticed my Beatles watch and she told me about seeing them in Chicago when she was 15. I asked her if she could hear them over the screaming and she, of course, said no. I also asked her if she was screaming like the other girls and she said yes.
They took me in and prepped me. I did not like the bit they put in my mouth and made them take it out until I was sufficiently doped to handle it. The next few hours are a blur.
I remember very little from the time I woke up at the hospital to the time I woke up at home. I know they put me in a wheelchair to take me to the jeep but I don't remember getting in the jeep. I don't remember the drive home. I do remember getting into bed when I got home but that's pretty much it until I woke up between 1 and 2. Apparently I was quite chatty and hilarious in my doped up state. You would have to talk to my wife to get a full account and even then she won't tell you everything. Apparently I talked about some slightly inappropriate things in the jeep on the way home. The things I can mention are that I told the nurse that it would be great to watch Pink Floyd's The Wall in my present state. I also told my wife, once we were home, that it felt like I was floating and proceeded to put my hands out and flap them like wings. That's all I can remember she told me right now. Apparently it was quite funny.
As for the endoscopy results, they saw no tumors or blocks or physical red flags of any kind. They took some samples to test for H. Pylori and a couple of other things. I'll find out about all that later. I have to go back for a lactose intolerance test and a blood test for further info on my liver. Apparently I have fatty liver disease which runs in the family. I'm not too worried about that since my Granny has it and she's 95 and my dad has it and he's 72.
So, all in all, it was a more exciting and entertaining day for my wife and the hospital staff than it was for me. I slept through it all.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Booklist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
On the heels of rereading and seeing the movie version of Half-Blood Prince, I decided to reread this one as well. I still think it's pretty slow at times and fairly unsatisfying in some respects as an ending to the series. I was not happy with the movie version of HBP and haven't been happy with the work Yates has been doing as director. Too many things changed from book to movie that didn't make sense to me. And now, after rereading Deathly Hallows, I am very unhappy. There are things they changed in HBP that directly relate to important events in DH which means more senseless changes are coming. Why base it on the book at all? Why not just take the character of Harry Potter and do whatever you want with him? That seems like exactly what they are doing. I have a hard time believing Rowling is okay with it all but I guess money talks. That's too bad.
I'll give the last movies a chance but I don't hold up any high hopes. After that, who knows. Harry Potter vs. Predator anyone?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Booklist

The Long Walk by Stephen King
In the near future, where America has become a police state, one hundred boys are selected to enter an annual contest where the winner will be awarded whatever he wants for the rest of his life. The game is simple - maintain a steady walking pace of four miles per hour without stopping. Three warnings, and you're out - permanently.
I heard that Frank Darabont is considering making this book into a film so I thought I'd re-read it. I think it would make an interesting film. It's an intriguing story. Darabont seems to do well with King adaptations. He's done 3 really good ones so far. I just wonder why he doesn't branch out and tackle some other authors. I heard that he was interested in Robert R. McCammon's Mine at one time. I wish he'd film McCammon's Boy's Life. I think he could do it justice.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Low Tide with the Queasy Marine Biologist

I went to low tide at Golden Gardens this morning. Our friend Heather, who has a degree in marine biology, met me out there. She's never been and I figured if you have a degree in marine biology you have to go at least once. I got there before her and wandered a bit. I found the lion mane jelly in the pic above before she got there. She finally arrived but it took some doing to meet up. First of all she ended up passing a woman singing opera and a very opinionated man who didn't like the opera. (Remember this guy. He appears later in our story) It seems she has a problem with what she called "the slime." That would be seaweed. She didn't want to walk thru it. I told her she had to man up and brave the slime so she could see the good stuff. She did great.
I took her back to the jellyfish and then we wandered taking in the splendor of sea stars, sun stars, sea cucumbers, anemones and the like. I picked up a sea star today because she told me it wouldn't hurt them. They never feel like you expect. They look all slimy but they are really hard. Not as fragile as I had thought. It was a gorgeous day to be on the beach. We picked up a few shells and headed back to the vehicles.
As we were shooting the breeze and about to part ways, the opinionated guy wanders up and strikes up a one-sided conversation. (all him) He regaled us with his adventures as a transcendental Buddhist, telling us about his walk of 10,000 miles, how his back used to hurt because he had a hole in his energy field, and how he remained healthy because he kept his body and his eyes in a juztapozition of fluidity. He was quite a character. He even cussed out some old people who passed by on bicycles just because they said, "Woo-hoo," to him. He finally winded down and left. There are lots of interesting folks around here who just need to talk a bit and then they wander off. That's Seattle.
I love the beaches here in the Pacific NW. I could spend hours exploring...and do when I can. I wonder if I should have been a marine biologist. If I had been, I definitely wouldn't be queasy about it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who Is That?

In recent months Woodham High's Class of 1980 has been reconnecting on Facebook. It's been a pretty strange experience for me. So far, I have no idea who most of the people who have joined the class page on FB are. I see a few familiar faces and a couple of people I was friendly with but, all in all, I don't recognize the majority of them. It makes me wonder if they really did graduate with me or if I've just lost my mind.
In truth, it's probably neither. I have always been one to have a small, close knit group of friends. It was that way in high school. To be honest, most of my friends in school were also friends from church. Only one of my closest friends has appeared on FB. Another close friend will never get on there. One of my closest friends from high school, Kevin, passed away a few years ago. I officiated at his funeral. I think this last fact is the reason for the biggest disconnect of all. Alot of my memories from high school tie in with him. We lived on the same street. We rode to school together, either on the bus or in his car. I don't have him around anymore to reminisce with. It's a huge void. I miss him.
I'm not sure whether I'll attend my 30th reunion or not. Probably not. There is another reunion next year of the drama team I was with at seminary that I hope to get to. I can't do them all especially since I'm way over here in Pacific NW. A month ago, some folks from Olive (the church I grew up at) got together for a little reunion. Seems like reunions are popping up all over the place. That's a sure sign that I'm getting old...that we're all getting old. I'm glad to be reconnecting even if it is just on FB. It's fun to see what everyone is up to.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Booklist

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
There's no need for a synopsis on this one. If you don't know the story from the book or movies by now, well...what are you waiting for? I re-read this in anticipation of the upcoming movie. It's too bad I'm not a night owl or I'd be tempted to see the movie at midnight tonight. As it is, I'm not sure when we'll be able to go. I'm ready to see it.
I've probably read this book 3 times now. It's not my favorite HP book (not sure which one is) but it's still a hugely enjoyable read. Funny though, after multiple readings I'm starting to pick up on flaws (at least to me) in the story and/or writing. After this reading I was puzzled by why all the characters decided to stand around and recount the events surrounding Dumbledore's murder by Snape (C'mon, if you didn't know by now...where have you been...the moon?) rather than be caught up in the vast grief of the event. Too much exposition, too little grieving. But, I nitpick. The Harry Potter books have been some of the most enjoyable reading I've done over the last few years. I'm sorry that it's over. I think I might move directly into Deathly Hallows since I've only read it once. And then, I'm sure I'll read it again before the movie(s).

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fireworks

Seattle is not a good place to view fireworks. There are just way too many people trying to cram themselves in a tiny space to watch them. This year it's worse because the fireworks on Eliot Bay are cancelled. (Thanks Ivars) That means twice as many people are not going to be trying to squeeze into Gasworks Park or surrounding areas to see the fireworks. And I haven't even mentioned that it doesn't get dark until 10 pm out here so they don't start until late. Needless to say, we don't go. Too many people, too much hassle. We're going to spend the 4th at a cookout with friends.
All this fireworks hoopla made me think about what's the best fireworks display I've ever seen. I can think of a couple.
- When I was with the Company (seminary drama team) we did a youth camp called Brookhaven just outside of Tyler, TX. One year, were there the week of the 4th and the camp staff put on a fireworks show for the campers. We all sat by the lake and watched. It wasn't professional pyrotechnics but it was very intimate.
- The fireworks on Pensacola Beach could be just as frustrating as Seattle's. Everyone trying to herd themselves out onto the beach and then back home after made for a traffic nightmare. I was stuck in traffic for over an hour one year trying to get home. But, one year, some friends of mine knew a secret place to watch from. I couldn't tell you where we were but we had to park in a neighborhood, cross train tracks and walk out onto a sandbar. We sat on the beach and the fireworks were directly overhead. It was wonderful.
- When Sarah and I lived in Asheville, we drove downtown to see the fireworks. We sat on an embankment and watched. It was special because it was with her.
- In SC a bunch of us drove out to my friend Todd's condo on Lake Murray and had a great view of the fireworks.
- I seem to recall the fireworks at EPCOT being pretty spectacular but I can't remember details.
Those are the ones that stand out. I'm sure there have been more but I can't remember. Happy 4th everybody! If you're in Seattle, watch the fireworks on TV. It's safer.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Danger of Constant Doing

"Physical activity does dissolve (or cover up) anxiety, but one of the things I've come here to learn, or remember, is how to feel comfortable without losing myself in constant doing. Actually I believe our whole culture needs to consider this if we want to survive and enjoy living."
Robert Kull from Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes

Booklist

Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes by Robert Kull
Years after losing his lower right leg in a motorcycle crash, Robert Kull traveled to a remote island in Patagonia’s coastal wilderness with equipment and supplies to live alone for a year. He sought to explore the effects of deep solitude on the body and mind and to find the spiritual answers he’d been seeking all his life. With only a cat and his thoughts as companions, he wrestled with inner storms while the wild forces of nature raged around him. The physical challenges were immense, but the struggles of mind and spirit pushed him even further. Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes is the diary of Kull’s tumultuous year. Chronicling a life distilled to its essence, Solitude is also a philosophical meditation on the tensions between nature and technology, isolation and society. With humor and brutal honesty, Kull explores the pain and longing we typically avoid in our frantically busy lives as well as the peace and wonder that arise once we strip away our distractions. He describes the enormous Patagonia wilderness with poetic attention, transporting the reader directly into both his inner and outer experiences.
I don't know what it is in me that likes to read books like this. I guess there's some part of me that wishes I had it in me to chuck it all and hit the road, live in my jeep or just walk out into the wilderness and disappear. I wouldn't ever do that because I would survive about half a day. And yet something in me yearns for it. Perhaps it's the dormant hunter/gatherer instincts crying out for release from civilization. I just don't know.
I do know this...I have deep respect for folks who pull it off whether successfully or not. I absolutely love the story of Chris McCandless from Into the Wild. He didn't survive but I applaud his effort and his reason for doing it. Same goes for Kull who did survive. I hate admitting that I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. His philosophizing got a bit tedious for me and I really didn't enjoy his admittances of abusing his cat companion. He could have glossed it all over though so I appreciate his honesty. Warts and all, this is his story and I'm glad to have read it.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

First Thursday Art Walk

I spent the evening in Pioneer Square with Ernie and Marshall. We strolled, looking at art and people watching. It was fun. Here's a recap.
I hooked up with Ernie and we hit 619 Western, a building full of artists studios open for the art walk. We met Dave Bloomfield (starheadboy) whom I've admired for a while now. He was sharing a studio with Narboo, another artist I like alot. We looked at some other art and then left to hook up with Marshall. Ernie later remarked about the gallery where we saw all the "boob art." Funny.
We found Marshall, hit Occidental Park and a few galleries in the vicinity. I saw some t-shirts I like by Brendan Wenberg. I hope to hook up with him at the Fremont Market sometime to buy one. Ernie bought a woodblock print from a fellow in the park. After that we headed to the Toshiro-Kaplan building.
Wow. Right off the bat we saw some spectacular photos by Stephen Hillyard at Platform Gallery. Stunning stuff. Then we scooted next door to Garde-Rail and I was blown away by the paintings by Mr. Hooper. We entered the main building and stopped by Rock-Dement to see Stephen and Nichole. I love Stephen's new paintings. I also touched base with Nichole about the Corridor Gallery. She told me to duck in and talk to Lynn Shirmer so I did. She's great. It looks like I have a tentative show there for October. I always feel like a schmuck when I have to network. I feel all fake and schmoozy even though I know I'm probably not. It's just something that takes some effort. But Lynn had a great sense of humor (my favorite kind of people) so it was good. I didn't get to look at her work very closely (next time, I promise) but what I saw was amazing.
We were pretty much done after that so we grabbed a bite at The New Orleans Creole Restaurant. We had some pretty good gumbo/jambalaya and listened to very loud Dixieland provided by a live band. After dinner, we headed home.
I love art walks. I wish I could go to all of them. I always leave inspired.

Paintings in pic by Dave Bloomfield.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DC Trip (part three)

Man, I haven't been blogging very well lately. Don't know what's up. I do know that I just haven't felt like talking about anything. I think I've been avoiding dumping negative crap on here. I seem to do that alot and I don't like it. So, perhaps that's why I've been avoiding it. Well, anyway...here's what happened the rest of our trip. Better late than never...right?
On Sunday, we slept late...obviously since we'd been up until 2am. We spent a pretty lazy day as I recall. I'm not sure we actually went anywhere...just hung around the house I think.
On Monday, Butch and Cindy had to go back to work so Sarah and I headed into DC again. We saw the White House, a couple of museums and got pooped pretty quickly. We headed back fairly early and had dinner with Butch, Karen, Mark and Adam. We said our goodbyes to the Schebler's and headed to the house. We spent the last night just chilling with the Talley's.
The next morning we rose early and Butch took us to the airport. All flights were fine and we were home by mid afternoon. It was a great trip filled with much art and quality time with good friends. I felt rejuvenated. Now, here it is a few weeks later and I'm ready for another vacation. I hope that Sarah and I can finagle a few nights away in July...otherwise it will be September before we get more time off.