Saturday, March 31, 2007

That Dangerous Place

"If I have a big envy in my life, it's about painters. I wish I was a painter. What I'm fascinated with is the moment of truth. There's the canvas. It's on your easel. You've got a brush and you've got this...palette of colors and what do you do? What's the first move? I love that dangerous place."
- Frank Gehry (from Sketches of Frank Gehry)


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (audio)
"Intense is the word for Ender's Game. Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses -- and then training them in the arts of war... The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of 'games'... Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games... He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?"*
The first time I read this book was so long ago I can't remember when. I do remember loving it. And so, having discovered that there are a ton of sequels I haven't read, I decided to listen to the book in preparation for getting the sequels. All I can say is the book is brilliant. It is so timeless and it touches on themes that will resonate with humanity for ages to come. I believe this book will be around for a long, long time. Has it been around long enough to be considered a classic? I'm not sure but if it's not considered a will be. If you haven't read it, go get it right now!

I Dream of Disney

I wish someone could explain my dreams to me. They are so weird. Most of the time I don't remember them at all but, for some strange reason, I do recall the one from last night.
In the dream, Sarah and I are visiting a new church. It's Christmas and they are doing a special choir concert so I ask if we can sing with them. They tell us yes and we take our seats in the choir. It's a large church, probably seating about 3000. The choir loft easily seats 200. We are seated near the top. We are not given any music which concerns me at first but is soon forgotten. As the service starts, we become aware (or did we know going in?) that the church bases everything they do on old Disney cartoons. During the service, the pastor refers to a scene from Disney's anthropomorphized Robin Hood. The scene they show is not in the movie...I guess it's a dream scene...but I can't remember enough about it to describe it. At some point, I ask where the bathroom is. They tell me and I exit. When I get to the bathroom I change into a pig costume. It's one of those big mascot-like things...almost like what they wear at DisneyWorld. But mine is homemade and it looks awful. (I really could have done a better job) I enter the choir loft wearing the pig suit and sit in my seat. The next thing I remember is the woman in front of me turns around and pierces my scrotum with a knife. I start bleeding and the folks around me are trying to decide whether they should call an ambulance.
So, that's it. Any of you Freud wannabes wanna take a crack at that one? Be my guest.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Golden Pond

More GG shots. I almost deleted this one but I started looking at it more closely and I began to realize how interesting a pic it is. This is one of those "happy accidents" that happens in art occasionally. Oh wait...I meant to say...I used the settings on the camera and...uh...well...I made it turn out that way...on purpose.

Golden Gardens

The weather is starting to get nice. We've had a couple of days of sunshine and spring is finally springing! I guess that's why I got the itch to go to Golden Gardens yesterday. GG is a stretch of beach that's real close to our apartment. We're actually very close to several beaches including Carkeek and Richmond. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Richmond Beach is small but secluded. Carkeek has some rather large and interesting driftwood but it's crowded. Golden Gardens is my favorite. It's the biggest of them all and the closest to us. In the summer it gets very crowded but evenings are nice there. We took a pretty long stroll since the tide was out. It was pretty quiet and the sunset was beautiful. I snapped about 40-something pics while we were out there. I like a lot of what I took but this one stands out because of the deep blues and the contrast between the shore, water and sky. Since we've moved here I've taken more pics at GG than anywhere else. It's one of my favorite spots in Seattle.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ten-Page Play Festival

Sarah and I spent our Sunday afternoon at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Queen Anne. They were hosting their first Ten-Page Play Festival. Jeff Berryman, who directed a couple of plays and had one entered, told us about the event. I hope I can keep on top of things so I can enter a play next year.
Jeff wrote about the day on his blog so I won't bore you with repeats. I'll just make a few observations of my own.
Piney Ridge, a play about a lynching in Virginia in 1920 was amazing. It floored me. The story was riveting and the performances were spot on perfect.
Jeff's play, The Catacombs of Texas, was very funny. It told the story of a couple of old gravediggers trying to teach a young whippersnapper about Resurrection. The readers fumbled a bit, which was a shame, but overall the message rang through loud and clear. I hope to see this one staged sometime.
A Romp Through the Hymnal was quite funny as well. The story revolved around the dying wish of a church matriarch to sing through the hymnal at her memorial service. The dead woman narrated and commented throughout the service. Many of the performances were weak but the quality of the humor shined through anyway. The entire bit about Cat Stevens and the song Morning Has Broken was priceless.
A couple of our friends from church had parts in a couple of the plays. I thought they did a great job. Sarah and I wanted to participate but our schedules would not allow it. Perhaps next year. I think it would be fun.
Sarah and I left before it was over so we could have some quality time at home before the hectic pace of life starts up again. The event made me want to write. It made me want to perform. I wish I could find the time to enjoy all of my artistic longings. As it is now, I barely find time to do my art. (Insert HUGE SIGH here)

Quinlan Castle

I started a new book last night. The book is set in Birmingham, Alabama. At about page 18 I discovered that one of the characters lives in the apartment building that I lived in while in Birmingham. How do I know that? Because the apartment building is Quinlan Castle and it is unique.
I moved to Bham in January of 1996. I had just finished seminary and had joined a group of my former Company teammates (the Company was Southwestern Seminary's touring drama team) in a new touring group called Face to Face. I stayed with Mike for a few days until I could find a place of my own. Rebecca drove me around the downtown area one day so we could find me a place to live. When we passed Quinlan Castle, I fell in love with it immediately. We copied the number down, I called and, before I knew it, I was a resident of the castle. One day after I moved in, an ice storm hit Bham and I was stuck in my castle for about 5 days. My girlfriend at the time lived about 30 minutes away so we burned up the phone lines. One of those stuck days was my birthday. It was pretty miserable. Kem made up for it by taking me out for a nice dinner after it was all over.
It wasn't the most comfortable apartment I've ever lived in. The AC was one of those huge, clunky hotel window units. It consumed electricity at an alarming rate so I went without that summer. (Yes, it was hot) Basically all I used it for was decoration. I bought some of those alphabet magnets and spelled out, "A man's home is his castle" with them on the side of the unit. In the winter, the walls in my bedroom sweat so bad that water dripped down the walls. When they painted the bathroom, they used the wrong kind of paint and it started to peel after a few weeks of use. But, all in all, it was an okay place. It was actually perfect for a bohemian like myself. It was near the Five Points area of Birmingham, a neighborhood bustling with restaurants, shops and clubs. The apartment and it's surroundings had character. And I could tell people I lived in a castle.
It was there at the castle that I met my friend Antjuan, an extremely talented artist who lives in San Fran now. The way we met is a funny story. At the time, I was thinner than I am now. I had a full beard, long hair (no gray) and usually only wore cut-offs and sandals. (which I still do in the summer) Antjuan is a tall, handsome black man. I guess we had seen each other going to and fro but never spoke. One day, he knocked on my door and asked if he could borrow a broom. He saw my artwork and asked if I was an artist. I said yes. He acknowledged that he was an artist too and our friendship started with a whirlwind of art talk. After we felt comfortable with each other he told me that he almost didn't approach me because he thought I was a biker dude and that I wouldn't like black people.
It was soon after we met that I moved back to Pensacola to pursue finding a church position. Antjuan and I traded paintings and have kept in touch sporadically since then. I cut my hair off, did 2 more performances with Face to Face in South Carolina and, before long, found myself in SC as a youth minister at a Southern Baptist church.
The castle was in pretty good shape when I moved in. They had renovated it into lower-income housing. I found out that before that time, it's nickname was Crack Castle due to the seedy patrons who haunted it's halls. Security gates had been installed so it was much better when I lived there. I understand it's sitting empty now and the city is trying to decide what to do with it. I wish I were a rich man. I'd buy it and do something with it. It deserves to exist and have a purpose.
I'm glad that I was reminded of the castle. Despite it's flaws, I loved living there. It seemed like the type of place an artist should live. It felt like home.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Three Men Seeking Monsters: Six Weeks in Pursuit of Werewolves, Lake Monsters, Giant Cats, Ghostly Devil Dogs, and Ape-Men by Nick Redfern
In this book, author Nick Redfern recounts his team up with professional monster-hunters Jonathan Downes and Richard Freeman during the summer of 2001. The three men spend six weeks travelling all over Great Britain searching for answers to they mysteries behind some of the world's spookiest legends and the creatures behind them.
I grabbed this book at the library because I had heard that Universal Pictures had snapped up the rights and intended to make a comedy/horror film out of it. Everyone who knows me knows I love a good monster story, especially one with a bit of humor too it. I'm sure it will have a kind of Scooby-Doo/Ghostbusters vibe to it. I have a feeling that when the movie gets made it will not resemble the book in the least and that may not be a bad thing. I love to think that there might be such things as UFO's and Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. It's fun to think that there's more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy...or Horatio's for that matter. I think the problem with this book was that it was a bit too unsettling to realize that these guys really buy into this much so that they spend their entire lives hunting for monsters. That seems a bit off the deep end to me. Sure, it was fun to read about their exploits but, for the most part, these guys weren't really doing anything too terribly funny. They were dead serious about all this. The main thesis that drives these guys is that they believe that more than one supernatural event occurs in any given area. Say, for example, that a town experiences a UFO report. It will also experience reports of other sightings such as the Man Monkey or a Devil Dog or what have you. They say that this is done for a reason. That all of these beings are supernatural and that they thrive on our emotions, especially fear, to keep them alive. There's more to it than that but that's all I'll say on the subject.
All in all, it was an okay read but not one I'd recommend to anyone else unless they were into this kind of stuff. I think the movie could be funny but I feel like it will become a second-rate Ghostbusters wannabe.

The Real Thing

"It took me years before I saw their paintings except in reproductions, and then it was an amazing experience. I had thought that (Barnett) Newman was a hard-edge painter, until I saw the physicality of the paint, the scale, the softness of his lines. Actually seeing his art, his or de Kooning's or Lichtenstein's, gave a sense that maybe art was something I might do too. It made it real." - Bruce Nauman

Source: Portraits by Michael Kimmelman

When is Art Finished?

"Going too far is a danger, not knowing when to stop...I'm never satisfied. What I say is, a picture may still make me uncomfortable, but I stop when the itch is gone. I stop when I'm not driven crazy by it anymore." - Susan Rothenberg

Source: Portraits by Michael Kimmelman

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mr. Obvious

On the way to work this morning, a harmless, average looking gentleman tried to stop me. I caught his eye and pulled out my headphones so I could hear what he was saying.
"The world is full of problems. The world is full of G__D___ problems!" he said.
"Yeah," was all I could come up with as a response as I hurried away from this apparently not-all-there gentleman.
The world is indeed full of problems. I don't need an addled wanderer to remind me of that. My life does an adequate job of it every day.

Greenwood-Phinney Artwalk

My art has been accepted to be displayed at the Greenwood-Phinney Artwalk on May 11 and 12. My stuff will be hanging at a funky little boutique called Insurrection Vintage/Fickle Fanny's. There's not much more info to be had right now but if you want to check out the website for the event it can be found here.
Sarah also entered but we haven't heard about her yet. I hope it's just taking them a while to get to everybody. She's a bit discouraged about her art right now and would love an outlet to display her work. I can't blame her because we all go through that process. We're artists and we can't help but produce this stuff that comes out of us but eventually we start to question why we're doing it when it starts to pile up around us. We need an outlet.
So, now that I know I'm in I have a lot of work to do. I need to see the space where my art is going to be so that I can determine how many pieces it can accommodate. Then I have to get everything framed. Thank goodness for IKEA or it would be very expensive.
I'll let you know more as more info is available.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Nothing New Under the Sun

A while back I commented on a play that we saw that was about cloning. You can find that entry here. Anyway, I said wouldn't it be cool to do a movie where there are a bunch of clones and the original finds them and kills them all so he can be the only one. Well, I listened to a short story the other day that had a plot that wasn't exactly that but still similar. The story is Job Qualifications by Kevin J. Anderson. You can find the audio version at Escape Pod. The synopsis is below. Don't read it if you want to listen to the story for yourself.
In it, a politician is cloned. The clones are sent out to live their lives and then, at a certain time, they are brought back in and killed so that the politician can absorb their life knowledge.
Just goes to show, there's nothing new under the sun. Try to come up with a story and it's already been done in one way, shape or form. The same goes for just about everything. But I tend to look at things a bit differently. I think it was photographer Duane Michaels that said something like this, "Everything's been done. But it hasn't been done by you." I like that. It frees me up. So what if Jasper Johns did paintings with stencils in them...I can do it too. So what if there's another killer clone story out there...I can still write my own. Heck, I can't tell you how many of my ideas I've seen in books, TV or in the movies. We're all having these ideas simultaneously. The one who gets it out first wins.
Never mind all that. Don't think. Just create.

Drawing the White Cup

"He (Wayne Thiebaud) loved teaching, he says, because he loves the craft of art, which he believes must be learned patiently and respectfully, otherwise it can't be learned at all. Art is Darwinian for Thiebaud: it evolves incrementally, building on itself and a knowledge of its own past. 'Trying to get students to draw a white cup can take weeks,' he says, 'and they ask me, 'Do we really need to do this?' And I tell them it would be great if you could make a brilliant end run around all that stuff, but with painting there's no such thing - at least I haven't found it.'"

Source: Portraits by Michael Kimmelman

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Buried Alive

This story popped into my mind last night.
When I was in high school, my friends and I concocted a scheme to put on a funeral for Halloween. We dug a grave but adjacent to it we dug/contructed a tunnel but putting a sheet of plywood across the top and covering it with a thin layer of dirt. We then built a coffin with an escape hatch at the foot of it. The plan was that someone would be in the tunnel to assist the deceased and then they would both escape by sliding back the plywood.
Halloween came and we put our scheme into action. We invited all our friends to the funeral. One of our tinies guys was the one we buried. As one of my friends gave the eulogy, I created mood music by strumming the strings inside a piano. At the appropriate time, I snuck out the back and climbed into the tunnel to assist the deceased.
They brought the coffin out and set it in the hole. They said a few words and then they started shoveling in the dirt. Meanwhile, my tiny friend was crawling out of the coffin to join me in the tunnel. For some stupid reason, all I had for light was a lighter that I kept dropping. We listened and when we felt like everyone had gone and had time to get back to the house, I started to slide the plywood back. It wouldn't budge. I pushed. It wouldn't budge. I put my back into it. It wouldn't budge. Clearly, a rehearsal would have been a good thing. Apparently, they had piled too much dirt on the plywood making it too heavy even for me to move. Luckily, we were just kids and we didn't panic. My tiny friend turned around and started digging out the loose dirt around where he had entered. We finally cleared a path big enough for both of use to escape. We finally joined the party, dirty and sweaty but not too much the worse for being buried alive.
In thinking about this story, I experienced a panic attack. We could have died doing that. And I really can't believe I did that because I have claustrophobia big time. I guess I didn't back then. I wonder what happened to cause my adult claustrophobia. Sometimes I wish I had some of that fearlessness that I had as a child. Now don't get me wrong. I was scared of plenty of things when I was a kid. Being buried alive doesn't seem to be one of them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If It Ain't Baroque...

I had a unique experience last night. I was invited, along with some other folks, to view a collection of period military uniforms and baroque paintings amassed by a fellow named Mike that attends the same church we do. Sarah and I had met he and his wife before at a dinner at our pastor's home. He had spoken of his collection then and our interest was peaked. Since it's a fairly large church with multiple services, we haven't seen them since and just forgot about it.
So, our pastor emails me and invites us to see it. Sarah can't go due to her work schedule but I decide to go. I rode out with some other friends not really knowing what to expect. The house is pretty impressive. It's sitting on a cliff overlooking Puget Sound and the view is quite spectacular. (I didn't take my camera...darn, darn, darn) Once inside, we got a tour of the house and it's art. There are baroque (and other style) paintings all over the house. I immediately noticed Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington (one of many) but none of the other paintings were familiar to me. I loved his office. It was filled with replicas of armor, helmets and such. There was even a suit of chain mail that a couple of us tried on.

We ate dinner and it was very nice. It was a great opportunity to get to know some church folks a little better. After dinner, we went out to the museum that is in a separate building from the house. When we walked in I couldn't believe my eyes. It's a large space decorated in baroque style with marble floors and gold gilded ornaments throughout. Most, if not all, of the paintings have gilded frames, some of which he built and gilded himself. In fact, he had done all the gilding in the entire building. The walls were covered with paintings and the floor space was aligned with row after row of mannequins dressed in period military outfits. It was overwhelming. My favorite was the Scottish outfit with the sporran (belt) made out of a badger. He also had a drinking glass from the time of Christ and it's made out of glass. It looks like a modern day tumbler. He joked about it being the Holy Grail. Oh, and there was a gilded skull that I thought was interesting. It made me want to write a story called (wait for it) The Gilded Skull.

I can't wait to go back when Sarah can go. She will go bonkers for all those outfits. I want to go back so I can look again. I'm sure I'll see different stuff the 2nd time around. I really appreciate them opening up their home like that to us. They are super hosts and nice people. Heck, Mike was trying make everyone eat Ben and Jerry's before we all left. (I was good and turned it down...but it was hard)

The time came to leave and we said our goodbyes. On the way home, we tried to process all we had seen. I don't think I can. I have that problem in any museum. I remember going to the Museum of Modern Art in NY. I spent the entire morning in there by myself just bouncing from room to room gasping audibly at the sight of some of my favorite works of art. (There's nothing like seeing the real thing) My friends who lived in Delaware at the time drove up to meet me and when they finally found me I was a babbling mess. I was in some sort of art catatonia. They calmed me down, took me to lunch and then we went back for more. I tell you, it was like art heaven. Mike's collection didn't affect me quite that way since it's not really a collection of things I'm into necessarily...but it was way cool and it was too much for my mind to grasp in one viewing. I've been reading lately about artists who suggest camping out in front of one work and meditating on it. I agree and I've done it but it's difficult. It's hard for your eye to focus on that one piece when you are surrounded by many.

Anyway, I am way off track now. Thanks Mike and Cheryl, for an unforgettable evening.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Minister and The Clumsy Stripper

I haven't had much to blog about lately so I'm going to try and remember some entertaining stories from my past to fill in the gaps. This is one of my favorites and it could only happen to me.
Once upon a time, back when I was still a minister in Columbia, SC, I had to get my jeep worked on. I took it to my favorite mechanics of all time, Todd and Randy at Giles Auto Repair. I don't remember what was wrong with it but that doesn't matter. When I stopped by to pick up my vehicle, an attractive (in a rode hard, put up wet kind of way) woman was in the office talking to Randy. She was talking up a storm and cursing to the high heavens. Randy couldn't get a word in edge-wise. When I tried to sneak in a question to Randy about whether the jeep was ready or not, she began to take notice of me and -BAM- I was now an active participant in this one-sided conversation. During her chatter, I picked up on a few things. I gleaned that she was a stripper at Platinum Plus and that she must not be a very good one because she had a black eye that she said was a result of her falling off the stage. The chatter continued laced with racy talk and expletives. I finally looked at Randy and said under my breath, "I could have some fun with this if she knew what I did for a living."
Well, clumsy or not, she had good ears because she heard me. Without missing a beat she turns on me and says,"Well, what do you do for a living?"
"I'm a minister," I said, hoping it would cause her to stop talking like a sailor.
It didn't. It only made it worse. She looked at me for a second and then she asked the question that turned the tide, "Well, you can have sex, right?"
After that, my mouth failed to work correctly. I remember that she kept asking me if I could have sex and I think I answered her the way a minister should...but I'm not sure. I think I said something like, "Well, you know, the Bible says that you shouldn't before you get married."
I thought it would end there. It didn't. She said, "Oh, I read the Bible," and she grabbed my hand and dragged me out in the parking lot. She took me to her car and showed me that she had one of those Bible Pocket Promise books. I'm sure I said something like, "That's nice," and proceeded to head back inside. She stopped me and asked once more, "So, you really don't have sex?"
"Well," I answered, "I'd have to get a date first." (my love life at that point in time was infamously non-existent)
Before she could respond to that, I raced inside and Todd told me the jeep was ready. I quickly gave Randy a harsh look, (he did nothing to help me the whole time...he just sat there and laughed) grabbed the keys and left faster than a scalded dog.
The next time I went in there, Randy made sure that he ragged me about the whole ordeal. I politely asked if he had seen her lately and he said that she hadn't been around much because she was reassigned to the Platinum Plus in Greenville. He told me that if he saw her again, he'd be sure to give her my phone number. I told him if he did, he'd not be able to work on cars because his hands would be broken.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Top Billing

I told folks I would post this when I found here it is. Proof positive that when I was with The Company we had top billing over Jessica Simpson. You'll have to click the image to see it a little bigger. See! See! I told you!
What? Okay, so she's worth 400 kazillion dollars and I'm worth...uh...the change you find in your couch.
What? Well, yeah...her picture is much bigger and you can really see her face while mine is a gray splotch. Yeah, it's me! What do you mean it could be anybody? Listen, that gray splotch is shaped just like me. And right next to me is my gray splotch...I friend Jon. We're all in there. All us splotches.
Okay, so maybe top billing isn't such a big deal. But...wait a minute...we're almost directly side by side with Rebecca St. James and...
Okay, everybody sing with me.
"Glory days, well, they'll pass you by.
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye.
Glory days, glory days."

Cruisin' on a Sunday Afternoon

The weather in Seattle is unpredictable but, as luck would have it, we picked a great day for a cruise. It rained on Sat. and it's raining today but on Sunday, the weather was grand. It was sunny and semi-warm. It's probably the last of our Argosy Cruises for a while since our annual pass is up on the 24th. It's definitely been worthwhile to be able to jump on a boat at our leisure this past year. We'll miss it but we're going to do some other things this year. If we miss it terribly, we'll get one again in a years time.
This cruise was pretty much like any other with a few exceptions. The trip was reversed this time, starting at Lake Union and ending at the Seattle Waterfront. It took us forever to get through the locks. Just past the locks, there was a teenage boy on one of the docks. He was blowing a trumpet and shaking/spanking his butt. He put on quite a show for us. On the boat there was a group of college girls on Spring Break. They were pretty spread out but toward the end of the trip they gathered in the seats around us and chattered as college girls do. We saw a few sea lions in the distance sunning themselves on a sea lion cage (a platform built for them to lounge on). One supposedly swam by the boat but I never saw it.
As I said before, I will miss the cruises but I think we'll make up for it by taking a few ferry rides this year. They're pretty cheap. Also, we have some coupons for the cruises if we get desperate to be out on the water.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's Rather Disconcerting... stop and get gas and while you are pumping said gas you look into the car next to you and there's a young latino man playing with a gun. And...there was a kid in the car.
So, I finish, get in the car and tell Sarah, "That guy over there has a gun."
She looks and sees it and says, "I think it would be a good idea to leave now."
I concurred and we got the hell outta Dodge.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's D...Birthday, Sarah!

Today is my wife's 37th birthday. Uncharacteristically, she rolled out of bed before me this morning to get ready for work. Yes, they have a tech/dress rehearsal for the new show that opens in a week. Anyway, I finally got up and she opened all her cards and gifts. I got her the mini-garden tote with tools that she wanted. She's really into gardening. She bought a mini-greenhouse the other day and has all sorts of stuff growing. Tonight, after she gets off of work, I will take her out to eat. We are going to continue the celebration tomorrow with a day of play. I think we'll try to catch the Argosy Locks Cruise and who knows what else. Whatever the birthday girl wants to do. It's her weekend.
Happy Birthday, baby! I love you!

To See Like Henri

"In 1944, he (Henri Cartier-Bresson) stayed with Matisse at Vence, then for a week with Bonnard at Le Cannat. "We were chatting, and mostly he was quite silent," he says of Bonnard. "Suddenly, when I raised my camera, he put his scarf over his face. So I put my camera down. Finally, I managed to take a picture and he asked, 'But why did you take it at that moment, why?' And I said, 'Excuse me, but why have you just put that yellow there?'"

"Goethe wrote that the best way to understand a painting was by drawing it, and he's right. How many people have been here? (Musee National d'Art Moderne) A dozen? More? And they don't look. They all have their cameras. But looking is meditating, and how can you meditate and look through a camera at the same time?" -Henri Cartier-Bresson
Source: Portraits by Michael Kimmelman
Image: Photograph of Pierre Bonnard by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1944

Friday, March 16, 2007


Sarah and I got comps to see Pluck last night. Pluck is a comedic string trio. I had never heard of them but thought it could be fun. It was quite funny. They really interacted with the crowd. One of the performers stole an audience members shoe and wore it through the entire performance. During another routine, they brought an audience member up, gave him a violin and let him play a solo. He was a good sport and it was hilarious. If you happen to get a chance to see this trio and are in need of a silly evening of laughs and classical music, give Pluck a try.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Trying to Do What I Can't Do

"My work isn't about giving art what I think it needs. You know the opening of Vasari's chapter on Michelangelo in which he says God was so dissatisfied with all the art that had to be done so far that he sent down Michelangelo to correct the situation? That is not how I see myself. I remember Francis Bacon would say that he felt he was giving art what he thought it previously lacked. With me, it's what Yeats called the fascination with what's difficult. I'm only trying to do what I can't do." - Lucian Freud

Source: Portraits by Michael Kimmelman


Boneyard: Volume 5 by Richard Moore
"It's fright night in the funny pages! The legendary spoof horror is back for a fifth volume of slashingly good fun! Abbey, Michael and the Boneyard gang have a threat to contend with - again - and it's got more prongs than a devil's pitchfork. Well, it's actually got the same number of prongs as a devil's pitchfork - two - but it's pretty scary and the crazy kids at the 'yard aren't happy about it. On the one hand, there's a huge masked chainsaw-wielding, um, massacrist in a girls' summer camp - and on the other, if it doesn't get lopped off by the buzzsaw, there's the Pumpkinhead, whose very presence puts all in the 'yard to fevered sleep. Not good when you're trying to save the world from unspeakable evil. Abby barely survives the confrontation with the masked loony - and now it's up to Michael to face the worst threat...with Nodoze and a baseball bat, more legendary loopiness from the insanely talented Moore."*
Michael, Abbey, Nessie, Brutus and the rest of the Boneyard gang are back! I didn't find this volume to be as good as some of the others but it was still fun to read. I just love what Moore has done with the classic monsters (vampire, werewolf, Frankenstein, etc.). Anyone who can make a Creature from the Black Lagoon sexy is oddly brilliant in my book.

Mass Appeal by Bill C. Davis
"Tim Farley is the pastor of an affluent, suburban Catholic parish. He's highly popular among his parishioners because of his charm, his wit, his easy-going manner and his entertaining (but unchallenging) sermons. Young deacon Mark Dolson interrupts Farley in the middle of a sermon, to challenge his stance on the ordination of women. Farley is simultaneously outraged and intrigued by the young deacon, and asks to have Dolson assigned to work with him. Dolson is an idealistic firebrand, who's eager to change the Church. He enjoys attacking Farley's "song and dance theology" and questioning why Farley drinks so much. Dolson thinks it's his job to shake parishioners out of their complacency. Farley likes Dolson, but sees that he'll never succeed as a priest if all he does is hector people and make enemies. Each man has something to teach the other about how to perform his priestly duties."**
I had seen the movie years ago and really, really liked it. (it is, unfortunately, not available on DVD) When I saw the play sitting on the shelf at Taproot, I just had to read it. It's very good and addresses many concerns about faith and the church that are still relevant today. It's not as powerful as Doubt but it has some things to say that are important. I especially liked the part where Mark preaches about his fish. I won't ruin it for you but there are some pretty powerful metaphors lurking within that little illustration. I hope I get to see this play on stage sometime. It shouldn't be just read but experienced.

The Conqueror Worms by Brian Keene
I won't include a description on this one. Let's just say it's about a bunch of people trying to guessed it...some giant worms. What can I say? I'm weak. I like to read a good monster story sometimes. Unfortunately, this wasn't a good one. It was so-so. In the middle of the book, the story takes a side trail where we end up with a bunch of people trying to escape...any takers...some weird sea creatures including a killer mermaid and a mutant octosquid. The main thrust of the book is that it's pretty much the end of the world because it's been raining solid for about 2 months with no relief in sight. Almost everything is underwater except for some mountains. That's where we get the Attack of the Giant Earthworms story. I don't know. This book could have been a great B-movie type read but the story plunged and jerked all over the place. I wasn't sure what was going on half the time.
The moral of this story is...well, there is no moral. Let's just say it's an indictment of what kind of crap I will read when I'm hard up for books.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Character of an Artist

"Art is by its nature wrought, however convincing it is. It has to do with artifice, which means with an artist's ability to convey feelings that aren't necessarily ones the artist has himself; otherwise the most remarkable artists would also be the most virtuous and extraordinary people. I mean to say, the character of an artist doesn't enter into the nature of art. Eliot said that art is the escape from personality, which I think is right. We know that Velazquez embezzled money from the Spanish court and wanted power and so on, but you can't see this in his art." - Lucian Freud

Source: Portraits by Michael Kimmelman

Messy Spirituality

Great interview with Mike Yaconelli here. Do yourself a favor and read it or jump over to the Kindlings Muse and give it a listen.
I have forgotten about Mike over the past few years since he passed away. I had the privilege of meeting him once. He signed my copy of Dangerous Wonder, his first book I believe, and a good one. I'm going to have to get a copy of Messy Spirituality. Listening to this interview is one of the most refreshing things I've listened to about Christianity in a long time. In the interview, he talks about being stuck.
"Well, I was always that, you know, when you’re stuck in life, that’s a bad place. And that’s wrong. It’s actually wrong to be stuck. And I’m thinking to myself, get outa here. Being stuck is a great place. There’s a lot of people who are listening to this right now and you’re going, I’m stuck, man. I don’t know where to go. I’m paralyzed. I can’t seem to move. And the reality is that’s a great place because you can’t get unstuck until you realize you are stuck. And what I’m saying is that’s one of the areas of spiritual growth. When I wake up one day and go, man, I am dead, I am dying, I am dull, I have had it. I’m in a dead end. This isn’t working. And I go, maybe I ought to check into something that works. That’s what stuckness is all about. It’s a great place."

I'm not sure I agree with that but I'll think about it some more. I am definitely stuck and I have been for a couple of years now. I guess the problem I have is that I haven't found that thing that works yet. I'm still looking though.

Monday, March 12, 2007


On Sunday, our Lifegroup began our discussion of The Incredibles. The week before we were asked to reflect on the question of what superpower we would want to have. I thought about it all week. It was tough to narrow it down to one but I finally did.
When we went around the room, the answers were pretty fun. Of course, I wouldn't let Steve get away with wanting the powers of Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. That's like saying you want to be God which is basically having every superpower. That's clearly cheating.
When my turn finally rolled around, I explained that I wanted to have power over time. That way I can accomplish everything I want to or sleep a few extra hours if I want to. Never mind the consequences to the rest of the's all about me!
I also explained that that was my practical choice. My total fantasy comic geek choice would be to be like Wolverine. If somebody ticked me off, I could just pop my claws and say, "Back off, bub!" That would be so sweet.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Mild Spoiler Alert!
We saw the movie on opening day. It's odd but I didn't really know what to expect. I was really looking forward to seeing the film based on trailers but it's one of the few graphic novels of Frank Miller's that I have not seen or read. That being said, I had no way of knowing if it matched Miller's vision or not. We had talked about the story in our class at church on Sunday mornings so I was curious about seeing it for that reason. And it looked like a way cool movie to see.

I liked it but it didn't blow me away. One review I read made it sound like it was groundbreaking like The Matrix. It was not. It was visually stunning though. I can't say the script was brilliant because it's sparce and basically boils down to a lot of scenery chewing, testosterone laced yelling. Butler is good at that. The subplot with the queen was unnecessary and, as I understand it, not in the graphic novel. They also made some odd choices. The effect they used on the voice of Xerxes was a bit too technical. It sounded like every other technically affected voice used in the movies. What was their reason for doing that? To make him sound more godlike? It didn't work. It just sounded cheesy. Also, because of Lord of the Rings, I am a fan of David Wenham (Faramir) but I don't think he fit in with the other warriors. He looks more like a Norseman than a Spartan. His voiceover struck my ear in strange way. Even though he's a young man, his voice has an older quality to it. It also seemed too refined, too upper-class British for a warrior of Sparta. And if you want to talk about voices, Butler was good as Leonidas (the look they gave him was excellent) but his Scottish brogue peeked through from time to time.
All in all, I enjoyed the film but it was less than the perfect movie going experience. I would have to say that I enjoyed Sin City far more than 300. I'm sure I'll see it again after I've read the graphic novel and, perhaps with that reading, I'll enjoy it more.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Art and Truth

"Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I would keep to the truth and let God go." - Meister Johann Eckhart, 14th Century German mystic

"Artistic growth is, more than anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the great artist knows how difficult it is." - Willa Cather

"The truth must dazzle gradually / or every man be blind." - Emily Dickinson

"I can't work completely out of my imagination. I must put my foot in a bit of truth; and then I can fly free." - Andrew Wyeth

A Safe Zone

Last night, a group of artists from our church gathered for a meeting of our arts ministry. Unlike other churches, this ministry isn't all about what the artists can do for the church (although I believe that will grow out of the ministry as a natural progression) but a safe place for us to ponder the questions of art, faith, truth, beauty, God and the like. Last night's meeting was especially good. Jeff wrote eloquently about it here. The following are notes and thoughts from the evening from my perspective.

Truth in Art--Still Asking...
In your work, do you ever experience tension between the truth that ought to be told, and the truth you must tell? It's the old objective/subjective tension, but there is a sense in which "truth" exists on both sides of the line. How do you understand the advice "be true to your own voice?" What does it mean to not be true to your own voice? When God calls you away from what you want and asks a different thing of you, is that different than asking you to speak with your own voice? Does God really want us to speak with something other than our own voice, the voice He gave us? How do you resolve this?

The above statements were included in our handout for the evening. These are some pretty tough questions for me. The answers are pretty tough too...not very pretty at all. Let me explain.

The question of God calling us away from what we want and to something different resonated with me. My mind raced back to the time I wrestled with the call to full-time Christian service. My mind and heart were set on a specific goal. I was going to pursue my career in art as a college instructor. My plans were to get my MFA, a teaching position and continue my personal pursuit of being the best artist I could be. And if I could help a few students along the way, so be it. To make a long story short, the call intervened and my plans went the way of the dodo. So God (if it indeed was Him) called and the only way I knew to answer was to go to seminary and eventually become a minister. I did that and it was tough for me. I didn't fit in at all. At the time, I was still speaking with my voice and that didn't fly too well with the seminary crowd. Of course, I did find a small pocket of mutant ministers that revelled in the same rebellious natures I did. But all in all, seminary was a lonely time for me. I suffered greatly. I went through the worst depression of my life while there. I tried very hard to maintain my voice but it was very hard. Even as I moved out into the world of ministry, trying to speak in my own voice flew in the face of the conservative congregations I served. Before too many years went by, speaking in my voice, although the most natural thing for me, also became too tough for me to continue. I found myself retreating into a shell of meekness. Every once in a while, my true voice would speak out and, once again, I would find myself chastised by the religious right. I guess you might say that I got my voice churched right out of me.

So here I am in Seattle, no longer a minister, doubting myself and the very existence of the God that I thought had called me to something special. I think my true voice still exists deep down in the bowels of my being but it rarely gets to come out and play. I'm not sure I could control it if I were to let it loose. It might lay waste to all around like some nuclear apocalypse. And there are hindrances to letting it loose. What would people think? Even though I can be a heartless asshole at times, I still want to be loved.

Let me wrap this up by saying that the artists I meet with have challenged me to speak with my true voice when it comes to my art. They have offered to be a sounding board for any piece I create that I may feel is too harse to unleash upon the world. I think I will take them up on that offer if I am able to allow my voice to speak into my art. It's been caged a long time and it might take some coaxing to bring it out.

The final question is, I suppose, does God really want me to speak in my own true voice? I don't know the answer to that question. I do know the answer to this one though. Does the typical church-goer really want me to speak in my own true voice? Not just no but h-e-double-hockey-sticks no.

Brad Delp: 1951-2007

One of the greatest rock and roll voices of our time is silenced. Rock on, Brad!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Totally Trippy

This is called Jaan Pehechaan Ho and it's from a Bollywood film called Gumnaam from 1966. It's used in the film Ghost World. It is so cheesy...I love it! And what's with the masks? I wonder if this is where Tarantino got his inpiration for the Crazy 88's in Kill Bill.

The Sounds of Silence

It's been kinda quiet on my blog of late. I really haven't had much to report or talk about. For those of you who are dying for a Marty fix, here are a few tidbits to tide you over.

  • I'm really looking forward to seeing 300. It looks like it's going to be killer. I'm hoping Sarah and I can go this weekend...perhaps even tomorrow afternoon.
  • Since I went to the doctor, my parents have been calling a lot...checking up on me. Basically, it's like they aren't happy unless the doctor does find something wrong. It's like there's some underlying ailment just waiting to pounce on me. Geez. I always thought a clean bill of health was a good thing.
  • I've been trying to devote as much time as possible to my art endeavors. Once I hear whether or not I've been accepted in the Greenwood Art Walk, I'm going to move forward on some other exhibition possibilities.
  • I'll be glad when spring finally springs around here. It's a beautiful time in the NW.
Well, I'm fresh out of chit-chat. As soon as something exciting happens to me, I'll be sure to post. TTFN.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Beat of a Different Drum

I bought a set of congas from a friend which enabled him to buy a drum set. It was a win-win situation for both of us. Now, it's going to be a matter of setting aside some money for lessons and finding the time to practice. Unfortunately, lessons will have to wait until at least April due to other financial obligations. Poor Sarah has to put up with my accumulation of toys. I already have a djembe that we don't have room for. I guess some future house of ours will have to have a drum room in addition to an art studio. I believe if we had ten bedrooms it still wouldn't accommodate all of our hobbies and interests. Let's see...a house with ten bedrooms in Seattle would cost about...uh...a trillion dollars! So, we push things aside and make room in the studio which, by it's very nature, doesn't have to be tidy.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes. The drums. Cool. Uh...I think I'm finished now.


Sunday, March 04, 2007


Deep Storm by Lincoln Child
"Deep Storm' is the most spectacular science research facility ever constructed. Lying deep beneath the Atlantic on the ocean floor, the heavily guarded structure has been designed for one purpose: to excavate a recently-discovered undersea site that may hold the answers to a mystery steeped in centuries of myth and speculation.
Peter Crane, a former naval doctor, is summoned to a remote oil platform on the Atlantic to help diagnose a medical condition spreading through the rig workers. When he arrives, however, Crane learns that the real trouble lies far below the rig. Sworn to secrecy, he descends to the ocean floor and the science station Deep Storm, where a top-secret team is investigating a remarkable discovery. A year earlier, he is told, routine drilling uncovered the remains of mankind's most sophisticated ancient civilization: the legendary Atlantis. But now that the site is being excavated, a series of bizarre illnesses has erupted among the workers. As he tries to discover the cause, Crane realizes that the covert operation conceals something far more complicated than a medical mystery - and that ‘Atlantis' might, in fact, be something far more sinister and deadly."*
I didn't enjoy this book. I would have put it down but I've always somewhat enjoyed Child's books and I thought something good would eventually happen. Nothing ever did. I feel like the premise of the story had promise but it was not fully developed. I actually believe that we could have had a better book if it had started at the end and proceeded from that point in the story. I can actually envision a sequel that would be ten times better than this book.
For those of you who like a Crichton-esque story, this fits the bill. But Crichton's books have grown weak and so have Lincoln Child's.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

North to Alaska

We're goin' on a cruise! That's right. Just yesterday, we plunked down a pretty significant chunk of change toward a cruise to Alaska. We've both always wanted to see that part of the country and it would be stupid for us to not take advantage of this while we live in Seattle.
It's funny. I've never been a cruise kind of guy. I'm definitely not a Caribbean cruise guy. I grew up in Pensacola and the beach never appealed to me all that much. Granted, I love the beach at night but laying in the sun baking my behind just never seemed like all that much fun. When I found out there were cruises to Alaska, well, my whole outlook changed.
We leave on May 19th and stay gone for a week. Oh heavenly bliss! A real vacation. I can't believe it. Neither one of us has had a real vacation (except for our honeymoon) in years. It's gonna be great!

Too Real

Sarah and I watched Babel last night. After all the hullabaloo with the Oscars, my curiosity got the best of me. The reason I didn't want to see it was because of Brad Pitt. I'm so over him. I'm like that. I get sick of hearing about people so I avoid their movies. Sarah's that way about Tom Cruise.
So, we watch the film and it's a tough watch. Not that it's a bad's actually a good movie...just tough to watch. I usually don't like movies like this. I told Sarah this and she asked why. I then said, "Because they're too real." Watching this movie was like watching the news. It reminded me of all the bad in the world. And when you get to the end of the movie, there's no good news. Everything is still bad. I know the world is like this. I just don't like to dwell on it. We talk about truth in art in our artists group all the time. This movie had truth in big, ugly doses.
I guess that's why I'm a sci-fi, fantasy, and comedy guy. Don't get me wrong. I love a good film and I'll give Babel all the props it deserves. But when I sit down to watch a film or read a book, 9 times out of 10, it's going to be for reasons of escapism. Give me the movie where Sasquatch monsters from Guam are riding giant tidal waves toward the east coast and they are going to wipe out life as we know it but, in the end, someone saves the day and all is well and man will persevere. I like that. I guess I want an ending that has a glimmer of hope.

"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." - Allan K. Chalmers

Friday, March 02, 2007

Even More Weird Poetry

I wrote some very strange poems while I was working a temp job right after I moved out here. You can find them posted here. I'm not sure where they came from unless it was the sheer boredom of the job. Well, this morning I woke up with the beginnings of a couple more in my brain. When I got to work, I emailed myself so I wouldn't forget to do something about it. Here's the result. All I can say is I'm a bit warped or this new diet is messing with my head.


Felicity Suggs ate only bugs
And mice and rats and spiders
Kept in a bowl, she swallows them whole
And they wiggle when inside her
With great ease, she ate some bees
The sight was rather funny
Now anytime she has a cold
That poor girl sneezes honey.

Sweeney Scruggs knits hair rugs
Of every shade and girth
He gathers hair from barbershops
All over planet Earth
He loves his job crocheting locks
The task to which he’s called
His only fear for the future near
That everyone goes bald.

Bartleby Neville is quite the devil
His pranks invoke such glee
He stole his mother's underwear
And threw them in a tree
His parents try to scold and spank
But Neville keeps on sinning
But when he's dead, to Hell he'll go
Where there'll be no more grinning.

Copyright 2007 Marty Gordon

Tornadoes in Alabama

Mom's cousin Serena and her family live in Enterprise. They are all okay but their motorhome was turned over on its side and their carport and house suffered some damage.
Tornadoes are scary. I remember a time when I was little that my mom babysat me, my sister and my cousins at their house. A tornado whipped through and mom put us all against a wall in the house. Other than that, all I can remember is that the wind was howling like mad and I could see the trees whipping back and forth during the lightning flashes. The next day we found out that the tornado hopscotched through the area. It downed a tree in my Grandma Clark's yard next door to where we were.
I remember another time we lived in Georgia and my mom must have thought a tornado was coming. She opened some windows and turned the couch over and we all crawled underneath it.
I've not had a scare as an adult but I remember crossing the vast expanse of Texas and Oklahoma on some of our drama team trips when I was in seminary. We would drive through some areas where you could see forever and I always secretly wanted to see a tornado off in the distance. Now, I'm not going to chase one down like those Stormchasers do. I'm not that dumb.
So, say a prayer for the folks in Enterprise, Alabama. They've got it rough right now.