Wednesday, July 22, 2009


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


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


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


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.