Saturday, February 28, 2009

Places I've Lived: Chapin, SC

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Sorry I haven't been blogging lately. I've been working on art or just didn't have much to say. Now, on with the story...
I eventually got fed up with the apartment life and had an opportunity to move out into the country so I took it. I moved into a huge mobile home out in Chapin. It had 3 bedrooms so I turned the smallest one into a studio and actually did a little bit of art.
Life out in the country had it's own challenges. At one time I was feeding about umpteen million stray cats. I captured a few and took them to the pound but that was a pain so I just stopped putting food out and they disappeared. I guess they found another sucker. Then there was the time we got hit by the freak snow/ice storm. I lost power and the temp in the trailer plummeted. I ended up having to board my cat Trinity at the vet and I spent a couple of nights with friends. Another time, I was home late one afternoon and a young boy knocked on my door. He said he got off the bus after school and no one was home at his house. Well, I had no idea what to do so I watched out for him until his folks got home. I also called the cops about the situation. When his folks got home, I took him there and do you know they didn't even acknowledge my presence. I made my presence known and told them I had called the cops. Boy, they didn't like that. When the cop finally arrived, I was back home fuming. I apprised him of the situation and he told me that there had been calls to that home before. How surprising. Live in the city and you deal with crime and the like. Live in the country and you have to deal with poor white trash. You can't win.
Well, life in the country eventually lost it's lustre. The AC quit working and the landlords wouldn't get it fixed. I had to buy a window unit and sleep on the floor in the living room for the last few months I was there. (As you can tell by the above photo it doesn't look like the place has been maintained) I lost my job at the church and, having started dating Sarah, decided to move to Asheville to be close to her. I said goodbye to SC with no tears in my eyes.
Next up: Asheville.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

3rd Anniversary Cruise

Last Thursday was our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. We celebrated on Saturday night with an Argosy dinner cruise. You have a nice dinner while the boat cruises around the Seattle waterfront. We did it for our 1st and decided to do it again.
I wish it had been a bit less eventful. When we arrived, we turned our jeep over to the valet but as we were going inside to get our boarding passes we heard a horrible screeching sound. We turned and watched our jeep barely miss a 120K Mercedes. I went over to see what was up. The valet said the jeep just gunned itself and he was stomping the brake as hard as he could to stop it. You could smell the burnt rubber. Now, I'm not saying I don't believe him but the jeep's never done that before and hasn't done it since. He was so shaken he asked if I would park it so I did.
We finally boarded the boat and we were both so addled we decided to get a drink. We finally calmed down but I only drank about half mine because I was starting to get sleepy. I'm pretty wimpy when it come to drinks.
We had a nice dinner. This time we were on the floor with the band which was fun. There was a group of rowdy black ladies near us and they were having a good time. When the band finally started playing some dance songs they filled the dance floor and livened up the joint. A couple behind us got engaged on the cruise so they made a big deal about that.
We got back to the dock, got our jeep and headed home. On the way, an ambulance blasted out of a side street and scared us to death. It was just a little too much excitement. All in all, it was a fun night but the whole valet/jeep thing was so weird.


Superman: Kryptonite by Darwin Cook and Tim Sale
The Death of Superman by Dan Jurgens and others
JLA: Ultramarine Corps by Grant Morrison and Ed McGuinness
The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher and Ardian Syaf

I'm not going to go into any detail on these. I didn't really enjoy any of them with the exception of the Dresden Files book which I thought was so-so. I do like the art of Ed McGuinness. If I were still collecting comics, I would probably collect his stuff just for the art.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Drug Induced Dreams

I've had a bit of a cold lately so I've been taking Alka Seltzer Plus Nighttime to help me sleep. Man, that stuff makes you have funky dreams. Here's all I can pull out of last night's weirdness.
- The setting of all the dreams, as far as I can tell, was a small town somewhere in the south named "Besseret" or something like that. I know because I asked one of the women in part of the dream where I was. During that particular part of the dream I was wandering around the town and noticing that they had a large number of concession-type eating places (like you would see at a festival). I asked the woman if they were having a festival and she said, "No, our folks just like to eat." Fair enough.
- Some of the other dreams were set in a church in that same town. In the first dream, me, Sarah and my life-long friend Butch are involved in a drama production of some type. As far as I know, Butch has never done any acting in his entire life. We are preparing to go on but for some reason I have had to climb to the top of a large pile of risers. They begin to topple but I avoid disaster by jumping on one of the platforms and surfing it to the floor. After that, I am so shaken I can't remember any of my lines.
- Same church...our friend Jeff is being confronted by an extremely racist man. I wish I could remember the conversation verbatim because it was interesting. Basically, the man tries to convince Jeff that racism is okay and tries to uncover hidden racism in Jeff's past. Jeff puts the man in his place. Later, I dream that I am telling Jeff about the dream. For whatever reason, we are on a bus. Sammy Davis Jr. is sitting next to Jeff.
- There are also some random images floating in my brain of me cleaning up the church and staying with a family with a baby but that's all that I can recall.
So, I think I'll have to lay off the drugs if I want to have a dreamless sleep. I'm tired from all that nocturnal activity.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gee's Bend

We attended Gee's Bend last night with friends and I enjoyed it very much. It's too bad I didn't know about this creative community way back. Pensacola is only a couple of hours from Gee's Bend, AL. Pcola is also only a couple of hours away from Monroeville, AL (the setting of To Kill A Mockingbird) and I've not visited the courthouse there either. I must get my priorities straight.
The performance was packed because there was a talkback after the show with 3 of the quilters from Gee's Bend. It was great to meet them after the show. I got a big ol' southern hug from Revil Mosely. Sarah and I bought a copy of the book and the ladies signed it.
The other great thing that happened last night was that we were informed by our friends that there is a Golden Corral southern buffet in Marysville. First chance I get, I'm driving up there to have some fried chicken. Everybody out here is all about Ezell's but I don't think their chicken is that great. I'm betting GC's is better. I love Seattle but you just can't get good southern food out here unless you make it yourself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Places I've Lived: Columbia Part 2

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So, I left the church and worked at a camp during the summer. Once I returned from the camp I moved to an apartment across town to be nearer Lakewood Church. They couldn't pay me at first so I raised support. I started as youth minister but morphed into eventually doing arts and worship.
The picture you see above is the second apartment I lived in. The first one burned down. Yes, one night I woke up to a strange noise and found that my unit's storage closet on the balcony was on fire. It was, to say the least, a nightmare. I didn't lose everything but the process back to normal life was long and difficult. Thankfully a bunch of folks helped me out. I stayed with church members until I could get another apartment. The church I had left previously heard about what happened and took up a substantial offering to help me out. Other folks helped by washing my clothes, letting me store my dirty stuff in their garage until I could clean it and so on and so on.
I finally moved into the building you see above. I was in the upper right hand side. I can't really remember any significant stuff that happened other than my cat Trinity finding me. She took up outside my door and eventually came inside to live with me. She was my baby from then until she died a few months after I moved to Seattle. The apartment was fine. I didn't have much of a life other than church so I don't have much to report there. It was near alot of restaurants and the mall and such so it was good.
Next: Moving to the country.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Just Another Judgement Day by Simon R. Green
This is book number 9 in the Nightside series by Green. I've been following this series since it began and I still enjoy the books. It's an easy read but enjoyable. I like Green's warped imagination especially for coming up with strange characters with creative names. In this particular story, John Taylor, the Nightside's reluctant protector, must face off against the The Walking Man, God's wrath in human form. It seems as if God is tired of the Nightside and has sent his greatest warrior to wipe it off the map. I liked this story. It went fast and never got boring. I enjoyed this series more when there was a continuing story arc (The Lilith Wars). I hope he introduces something like that soon. These one offs are cool but I'm hoping he'll get back to some big stuff.
Skyscrapers of the Midwest by Joshua Cotter
I picked this up at the library. I had never heard of it before but, at first glace, I liked the artwork. I still like the artwork but the stories are, how shall I say this, depressing. That aside, I still enjoyed reading it. The stories revolve around a young cat/boy growing up in the midwest. I've never been moved to tears by a comic but this one came close to doing so. I was also moved to a point of respect for Cotter and the amount of good work (art and story) he has done for this volume. I had never heard of him before but I'll keep my eyes open for stuff from him in the future.
X-Men: First Class-Tomorrow's Brightest by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz
This graphic novel collects the first 6 volumes of a comic creating new stories about the beginnings of the X-Men. I liked it okay. The art is really good. The stories are so-so.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Places I've Lived: Columbia Part 1

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I left Face to Face and Birmingham behind in December of 96 to seek a full-time youth position. I moved back home during the search and took a job as youth intern at my home church. Come July, through contacts made with Face to Face, I was moving to Columbia, SC to serve as youth minister at the Kilbourne Park Baptist Church. While there, I lived in a house that was owned by the church and was right behind the church. I could walk to work thru my back fence. Nice.
When I got there, I found out that the house wasn't quite ready yet so I ended up bunking with the pastor. It was a good time to get to know one another. We got along great. The house got finished and I moved in but there was little painting left to do so I did it. Some of the youth helped. It was a nice little house and I enjoyed living there. Since everyone knew where I lived, my door was always open. The youth guys stopped by there pretty frequently.
My time at KPBC was bittersweet. During the "honeymoon" period, everything was going really well. But before too long, everything fell apart. The pastor, who had recently lost his wife, got engaged to a lady he knew as a teenager. They rekindled their friendship and fell in love. I thought it was great. Others in the church disagreed. Turns out she was divorced. Now, the truth of the matter is that her husband was a pastor and cheated on her with the church secretary. But that didn't matter to the stubborn folks who opposed it. They gave the pastor a hard time to the point where he resigned. A vote persuaded him to stay a bit longer but, in the end, he left because they were giving him hell. When he left, he told me to watch my back, they'd be gunning for me next. He wasn't kidding. They came after me with both barrels. I was defiant and stood up to them as much as possible but, in the end, I resigned. I had been having bad headaches. The day I resigned, the headaches ceased.
They let me stay in the house thru the summer. I worked at a youth camp biding my time until the fall. I had a possible job at another church in the Columbia area but, if it worked out, I wouldn't start until the fall. I'll pick up here when I start the next post.

Dang It!!!

I have a cold. I can't remember the last time I had a cold. This sucks. I'm taking everything I know to knock this sucker out. I already feel bad most of the time due to my sinuses. I don't want to feel worse.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Places I've Lived: Quinlan Castle

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After graduating seminary I moved to Birmingham to start my time with Face to Face, a touring drama team comprised of former seminary folks. I had to stay with Mike for a few days but I found a place pretty quickly. Rebecca was driving me around to look at apartments and we saw Quinlan Castle. I copied the phone number, called them and within days I had an apartment there.
It was such a unique building that I just loved being there. It's very near the Five Points district of Bham, a neighborhood teeming with restaurants, clubs and interesting shops. Even though I loved it, it had some problems. In the cold months, the walls in the bedroom would sweat like crazy. Someone painted the tub with the wrong kind of paint and it was peeling off. The worst was the AC. It was one of those motel types. It worked okay but if you ran it, your electric bill would have been monstrous. I chose not to run it to save money. I stayed hot that summer.
The coolest thing that happened to me while living there was meeting my artist friend Antjuan. He moved in next door. He is black and I only tell you this because it's relevant to the story. One day, he knocked on my door and asked if he could borrow a broom. During the exchange, he saw my easel and asked if I was an artist. He then told me he was an artist too. We spent the rest of that day talking art and showing each other our work. Later he told me that he was afraid to approach me because I looked like a Hell's Angel and usually those people don't like blacks very well. Just the other day he informed me that he almost moved back out of the building at the first sight of me. I'm glad his need for a broom outweighed his fear of my looks. I'm thrilled to have him as a friend. He is such a fantastic artist and a wonderful person.
Unfortunately I didn't stay too much longer after that so we didn't have a ton of time to spend together but the time we did spend was great. We traded art. I have his two paintings hanging in our studio. He told me that someone stole the one I traded to him. I hope they had a truck. That thing was big and heavy.
I stayed in Bham for a year. I decided that it was time to get a youth minister position (why I went to seminary) so I left the group and moved back to Pcola while I searched for a church. I eventually ended up in Columbia, SC. But that's a story for the next installment of Places I've Lived.
Postscript: Quinlan Castle sits empty today. Both Antjuan and I are saddened by this. If we were rich, we would buy the place and turn it into a space for artists with studios and a gallery. And Antjuan wants a ping-pong table in it. So be it.
Update: I just read that the castle has been bought by a research company called SRI. I hope they preserve the look of the building.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom
Hellboy: Conquerer Worm

Hellboy: Darkness Calls

Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others
Hellboy: Strange Places
Batman: Hush Returns
Superman, Batman: Absolute Power

Superman, Batman: Public Enemies

No time for individual reviews. I enjoyed all of these and recommend them.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Places I've Lived

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After several months in Fort Worth, I moved on campus to the Student Village apartments. A friend of mine tells me that when he was going there these were called the "Gospel Ghetto." I didn't think they were that bad especially the first one I lived in. It had wood floors and plenty of room for me. It was nice to be so close to school since I also worked there.
I'd have to say that the worst part of living there was the smells coming from my asian neighbors apartment. I love asian food but these smells could put you off of it forever. I once came home to find tons of tiny fish laid out on the balcony in front of my neighbors apartment. I guess they were drying them out. To each his own.
Now comes the hard part. I moved to this apartment primarily because of a girl I was sort of dating at the time. We thought it would be a good idea for me to be closer. She lived in the building next door. It was fine for a while but when the relationship went south, it was terrible. This was not a good time for me. I had actually dated a few girls and none of the relationships ended well. That and being at seminary (which was hard for me for lots of reasons) took a toll on me and I plunged into a deep depression. I started seminary after my health kick so I was very healthy and at a good weight...probably around 195. I lost down to 171 and I looked terrible. I could go into details about how bad off I was but I just don't feel like going into it. I got to the point where I wanted to die so that tells you how bad it was. A friend finally told me if I didn't get some help he was going to drag me to it himself so I started seeing an on campus counselor. He gave me some good advice and I took it. That summer, I went home for a 2 week visit and ended up staying for about 4 - 6 weeks. I got to be with my family and friends and it gave me a zone of comfort in which to heal. When I returned to seminary, I felt a lot better.
Not too long after that I joined The Company which was SWBTS's touring drama team. It was a fantastic experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world but it was also a tough experience for me. Being on the road alot, not being able to sleep in my bed (I had seriously bad insomnia back then) and personality conflicts within the group were a challenge at times. But, all in all, I enjoyed it and have some great friends from the experience.
I didn't stay in that apartment. My friend Darren came to seminary and we got an apartment off campus. (not on Street View) After a time, Darren moved into the men's dorm and I moved back into seminary village (different apartment). When I graduated, I said goodbye to Fort Worth and I haven't been back since.
Postscript: I thought I would write more about the seminary years but it was not a great time for me. There were truly some awesome, wonderful times but overall it was perhaps the hardest time in my life.

Your Fonts

I just created a font of my handwriting at Your Fonts. I've always wanted to design fonts but didn't know how. Now it's very simple. I'm sure I'll be designing some more when I have the time. For now, I'll just have to be satisfied with Marty's Hand.
Looking at this, I can't tell whether my handwriting is cool or just weird. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Birthday Boy

Yep. Today is my 47th birthday. Where did all those years go? Time is really speeding up. I wish it would slow back down.
Not much planned this year. I'll be working from about 11 until 5. Sarah is going to Ezell's to get me some fried chicken (I haven't had any in ages) and we'll make the rest of the birthday dinner here at the house. She got me The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1 on DVD so I suppose we'll eat southern food and enjoy some southern humor with Andy, Barney and the rest of the Mayberry gang.
Happy birthday to me.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Places I've Lived

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After 2-3 years of limbo conditions in Pcola, I head off to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The apartments I lived in are not on Street View but you can sorta see them over the Pep Boys. I believe I had put a deposit on an apartment sight unseen (scary) but when me and my parents arrived we found it to be a nice place. It was small but I didn't need a lot of space. I got moved in, my parents left and I started classes.
I started in the summer so it would be less chaotic getting started. I took 4 classes that summer and got them out of the way. Before I knew it summer was over and I was starting the fall semester.
Totally out of character for me, I took the initiative to attend a "Welcome New Seminary Students" event at Travis Avenue Baptist Church. I decided I needed to get involved immediately so I could make some friends. Well, I happened into a pretty cool bunch of folks right off the get go. Before I knew it my social calendar was filling up and I started dating pretty regularly too. (also unusual for me) My favorite story to tell is when I was invited to attend a singles day at the zoo by one of the fair ladies in the department. I was told (over the phone) that we would all be meeting at the church and heading out from there. I go to the church at the appointed time and there's no one there. Eventually, the fair lady that I mentioned before pulls up in her car, gets out, jumps in my car and says, "Let's go." I'm like, "Where's everybody at?" She replies, "Oh, they're meeting us at the zoo." I got suckered! She had me all to herself. She did that to me twice...and she already had a boyfriend. I don't get it. Needless to say I didn't date her.
So, things went pretty well for a little while but every story has a turning point and mine is coming up. Stay tuned.


Batman: Snow by Dan Curtis Johnson, J. H. Williams III and Seth Fisher
I really enjoyed this Mr. Freeze story but the art was strange. It wasn't good art to accompany a Batman story. Everytime Batman is on the scene, there are these weird cartoony bats flying around him. Annoying.
Batman: False Faces by Brian K. Vaughan, Scott McDaniel, Rick Burchett and Scott Kolins
This is an anthology of collected tales. I enjoyed them all but the Wonder Woman/Clayface story didn't thrill me.
Joker by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo
I borrowed this one from a friend who argues with me over comic book Joker vs. Heath Ledger's Joker. I say Ledger was good but it didn't satisfy me completely. He argues that it was a great interpretion of the character. So, he hands me this graphic novel and, of course, it's patterned after the Ledger version of Joker. It was very, very, very dark and very, very, very bloody. It painted the Joker more as a morose serial killer than the crazy Batman villain I'm used to. It's okay if folks want to reinterpret Batman or any other superhero. It doesn't mean I have to love it. The story is fine and the art is quite good. It just doesn't seem like the Joker to me.
JLA: Pain of the Gods by Chuck Austen and Ron Garney
This collection centers on individual stories about failures and guilt suffered by various JLA members. I guess they can't triumph all the time. It was okay. It read very much as if DC was trying to Marvelize their characters...make them more human, more fallible. I think it works for some characters and not so much for others.
On a side note: I do have some real books (all words, no pictures) coming in at the library. Hopefully there will be a mix of reviews in the near future and not all comics. It all depends on whether I can get into those books or not.