Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Friday, August 8, 2008

5:00 p.m.

University of Washington Tacoma Keystone Auditorium

an event of Showcase Tacoma

A River & Sound Review “comes of age” with show number 21. Featured artists include award-winning Spokane novelist Jess Walter and Tacoma poet laureate William Kupinse reading from their works, as well as the music of singer-songwriter Scott Andrew. 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 8, 2008 at UWT Keystone Auditorium as part of Showcase Tacoma.



A River & Sound Review - website

A River & Sound Review - myspace

Showcase Tacoma

Jess Walter

William Kupinse

Scott Andrew - website

Scott Andew - myspace

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Odysseus's Garden by Bryan Rubino, as seen through the front plate glass of Fulcrum Gallery, 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma (with reflected street scene).

This past weekend, the child and I made another trip to Fulcrum Gallery, our third or fourth in as many months to see the latest exhibit by glass artist Bryan Rubino. Odysseus's Garden is magnificent. The central pieces consist of eight foot poles of glass "bamboo" that are mounted either on steel rods or in steel cups attached to a steel base plate. The three largest gatherings of "bamboo" are red, frosted clear, and green. Three smaller gatherings consist of clear "bamboo" with neon tubing to illuminate them—red, blue, green.

The best part, however, was gallery owner Oliver Doriss coming out and telling tales about the construction of individual pieces. He told us how Bryan forms the individual sections of bamboo, sands down the ends, and glues them together. He showed us how they are mounted on their bases, as well as the weight and motion of individual stalks.

He informed us of upcoming shows. He gave us a "sneak peek" of pieces for his installation at Showcase Tacoma.

He regaled us with stories of how Bryan Rubino ended up showing his work at Fulcrum, of artists and persons of note in the local and regional glass art scene. We shared stories about art and dreams and imaginings.

We discussed his Skyponds exhibit.

Oliver Doriss is a generous person in his many guises—as artist, as collaborator, as gallery owner, as impresario, as critic. That was apparent in our conversation and is apparent in his work and the way that he runs and maintains his gallery.

You need to meet him now. Stop by Fulcrum to see and hear what I mean.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Skyponds by Joseph Miller and Oliver Doriss at W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park, Tacoma.

In June, the wife, the child, and I wandered around Tacoma's Wright Park on a beautifully sunny day. We spent the day peering into ponds, walking in the shade of the park's well-kept trees, sitting near or upon statues, and playing on toys. The highlight of our visit, though, was the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory. The conservatory is filled with amazing specimens of fauna, both local and foreign, both ordinary and exotic. But we were there for the Skyponds.

Skyponds are glass bowls suspended by wires and hooks, either individually or in small constellations. The skyponds triggered both natural and artificial echoes within me. My first impulse was that skyponds were "heavy clouds" of a sort, collecting moisture from condensation and waterings of the plants. My second sensation was that skyponds were cousins to the bottoms of deformed two-liter pop bottles. I then found it difficult to divorce myself of either image. Another echo-image that kept haunting me was of large overripe fruit, albeit clear and malformed. One moment I found the skyponds creepy, the next comforting.

Needless to say, the skyponds were (and are) very interesting. Not only do they inhabit physical space, but they also inhabit time, something that many artists, collectors, galleries, and museums try to keep from "ravaging" their pieces of art. Not here. The metal of the wires, hooks, cables, and bars has been allowed to rust in the humidity and warmth. The skyponds collect water during waterings and lose it to evaporation. Algae grows in some and mineral stains are left behind in others. It gives what could otherwise feel out of place to be very much a part of this planned and controlled "world." It allows a degree of the organic into the manmade, much in the same way that the conservatory itself functions.


You can view more pictures of Skyponds in their natural setting at the troysworktable Flickr page.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Morland Tanner's Jack, a Bitter by Greene King

12 ounce bottle. Consumed during session of writing workshop, while writing about hands and dead grandfathers and time.

The pour delivered a brilliantly clear orange body with a hint of pink in the color. A white head formed, which left good lacing behind. There were some minor bubbles that kept the color dancing about. Visually stunning.

The nose was of grains and yeast. The flavor was also of grains and yeast. It was good. Every once in a while, a light metallic flavor flashed across my tongue. It became more pronounced as the ale warmed, so I had to just finish it off.

All in all, a good beer, but nothing to write home about. (Sorry, Mom. Maybe next time.)

Friday, July 25, 2008


No, this wasn't a party for the latest album by a band called Ladybug. It was an actual celebration of reading and all things ladybug at the Puyallup Public Library.

Joyce McDonald, member of the Washington State House of Representatives from the 25th Legislative District, read Five Little Ladybugs to the gathered children and adults.

This was followed by the one hundred plus people heading out into Pioneer Park and the glorious weather to release ladybugs. Ladybugs were landing on our heads, faces, necks, arms, and legs. Ladybugs were flitting about from person to person, plant to plant. We were removing them from the sidewalk and one of the librarians (who was "handing them out" for "distribution") and placing them on trees and hedges and shrubs and flowers. It was crazy in the both the chaotic and fun senses of the word.

Back inside the library, children had the choice of participating in two crafts. They could color and paint small rounded river stones to make a Ladybug Pet Rock and they could create a Paper Plate Ladybug Puppet. The Child chose the puppet. Therefore, Troy's Work Table acted as "sous-chef," stapling the plates together, cutting the hole for The Child's hand, and sorting body parts, while The Child acted as "executive chef," cutting out legs and head and eyes and spots and gluing them to the body.


Earlier in the day, we had also been at the Puyallup Public Library, for storytime. Surprisingly enough, it was also ladybug themed.


Puyallup Public Library's summer reading programs for kids, teens, and adults are all "bug" themed. Troy's Work Table and The Child hadn't signed up to participate prior, even though both have been voraciously reading, so we did that today as well.

Troy's Work Table is eligible to be placed in a weekly drawing for gift certificates from local coffee shop Forza for each book read.

The Child is eligible to be placed in various drawings for prizes for each hour of reading time, as well as other prizes. The Child also received a coupon good for a free game of bowling at Daffodil Bowl and will receive a free book of The Child's choice and other coupons for free meals or admissions after ten hours of total reading time.

Let's just say that we left the library with plenty of books to keep The Child occupied for quite a few hours.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


"Jesus could remove it, though. He'd fly it like a kite, the sun on a string. He'd skip it across the lake and it would always return. He'd even work it into his juggling routine, pieces of fruit landing on a dazzling plate, ta-dah!"
—pages 40-41, Micro Fiction edited by Michael Stern, from the short story "The Halo" by Michael McFee

Each story had to be 300 words or less. Succinct. Compact. Sculpted. Each word hand-selected. Pampered. Nurtured. Allowed to crawl, toddle, walk on its own.

Each story also had to work. Otherwise it defeated the purpose.

Some almost skirt the 300 word limit. Some are a few brief sentences, barely a paragraph.

To review individual stories would damage their brevity, their fragility. Smother their narratives.

These are short stories for the distracted. Those of short attention span. On the move. Elsewhere.

Monday, July 21, 2008


"None of it means anything, none of it. You know how it feels when you're someplace and you ask yourself, Why am I here? That's how it is with me all the time. I can't wait to leave. To go from wherever I am to some other place. It never ends."
—page 55, The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret, as found in the short story "The Real Winner of the Preliminary Games"

Many of the short stories in The Girl on the Fridge are written from the point-of-view of those in positions of power, whether they realize it or not—Israelis rather than Palestinians, males rather than females, adults rather than children. However, Etgar Keret has chosen to poke holes in the presumed privilege. He doesn't exclude the minority voices, but includes them in "the mix." These tales are poignant, absurd, real, and postmodern.

In the four-and-one-half pages of "Loquat," Keret sums up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a bizarre little tale of children playing in a loquat tree and then confronted by the owner of said tree at the behest of his obstinate grandmother. Mayhem ensues.

Identities shift. Games are played. Mortality catches up and claims the already dead.

These brief stories stand alone and work together. I highly recommend them.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


The wife, the child, and I wandered from Mount Rainier to the Tacoma Rainiers (and wandered from Thursday into Friday as well). We visited Tacoma's Cheney Stadium for a minor league baseball game between the Rainiers and the Tucson Sidewinders. The Sidewinders defeated the Rainiers in the thirteenth inning (10 to 8), but we left in the bottom of the eleventh.

We had a meal that was part of our admission fee. It consisted of a hot dog, a bag of chips, and a can of soda. The soda was the highlight of the evening for the child, since the child is rarely allowed to drink it. The boiled and bland hot dog was the lowlight of the evening for Troy's Work Table, since Troy's Work Table loves a well done hot dog and this was its antithesis. It was easily one of the worst "hot dog experiences" Troy's Work Table has ever endured.

The excitement of the game more than countered the lackluster meal, however. It was great to watch two teams battle on the "field of dreams."


You can view more pictures of the Tacoma Rainiers at Cheney Stadium at the troysworktable Flickr page.

Friday, July 18, 2008


The wife, the child, and I took advantage of a three day "weekend" to head up to Mount Rainier for some hiking and communing with nature. The weather was perfect, the air was clean, and the hike was manageable for all three of us. We also sought and found a few geocaches within and near park. Thursday was a nice day of relaxation and recreation.


You can view more pictures of Mount Rainier's Nisqually River Basin and our hike to Carter Falls at the troysworktable Flickr page.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Clouds above Lighthouse Park at Brown's Point, Tacoma.

It is amazing how the lives and drama of other people can affect one's self. Marriages of friends and family are crumbling around me. A young woman is struggling with recurring brain tumors. Work is full of change, with new employees and new challenges. My body isn't always cooperating as it should. Electrical signals are short-circuiting from spine to legs, right arm, and face. Fatigue and exhaustion are nipping at my heels. At least it isn't depression right now. I can thank God for that.

I am still reading, still viewing art, still drinking beer, and still wandering. It all seems very small and insignificant right now, though.

I am writing, but its themes are death, mortality, and fatherhood. I am struggling through it. I wrestle with it daily as it gives birth to itself and I merely write down what I witness therein.

I dream of forthcoming better days. I dream of midsummer evenings watching the skies for cloud patterns at dusk and meteor showers at twilight.

I dream of the buzz of dragonflies as they hunt mosquitoes.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Skinny Dip, a Belgian Ale by New Belgium Brewing Company

On tap at Trackside Pizza, Puyallup, Washington.

Skinny Dip arrives clear honey yellow with a thin white head. The lacing it leaves behind consists of small specks, like an ale dot-to-dot. It smells intensely of butterscotch. It is a good smell, but strange. The flavor is light. It begins with a minor bite, with a few spices in the background, that quickly turns nutty, although it is rather light.

My major problem with it is that the nose and taste don't quite match. Another is that as it warms a hidden fruitiness begins to emerge. I wish that flavor was more present from the beginning and bolder throughout.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Abbey Ale, an Abbey Dubbel by Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery

On tap at Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery.

Abbey Ale is delivered to my table. The body is honey-orange/light brown in color. The head is almost non-existent. The trace of foam is white. It left good lacing behind though, making the glass look much like Rome's Colosseum toward the end.

The nose is primarily nutty with strong alcohol notes. I kept smelling this over and over again because the aroma was so good. The flavor is nutty, alcohol, golden raisins, honey, and baled hay. It is complex and warming. You need to get one. Now!


RateBeer rating numbers: appearance 4/5; aroma 8/10; flavor 8/10; palate 4/5; overall 16/20.

Monday, July 07, 2008


The wife, the child, and I wandered down to the Thea Foss waterfront in Tacoma to gaze upon some tall ships. We did. We walked and we marveled upon the maritime beauties. We stared at pirate pretenders. We distinguished our mainmasts from our mizzenmasts. We learned what baggywrinkle is and what it is used for. We boarded the US Coast Guard Barque Eagle and wandered its decks.

Ah, the sea. It is something that Troy's Work Table would best read about, rather than experience from the deck of a ship. The thought of losing one's "land legs" and the accompanying seasickness, keeps Troy's Work Table grounded on terra firma. Let the sailors sail, and let my feet wander solid earth.


You can view more pictures of Tall Ships at the troysworktable Flickr page.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Clockwise from upper left: (1) the full phase of Maps and Legends; (2) two-thirds phase; (3) one-third phase; and (4) new phase, revealing the X that marks the spot.


Dear Reader:

Once again, I have considered retiring Troy's Work Table and just letting it rot here. The reasons are many—varied, mostly uninteresting and personal and irrational.

I could shift some of the blame to wunderkind Matthew Stadler and what he wrote upon his own abandoned blog for planting the idea within me, but that would be unfair. It would also show how unoriginal I truly am.

I could tell you of the books that I have read that I really want to review and tell you about, but haven't found the "correct" words or the time to do so. The magic and wonder of Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth, with its werewolves and gang warfare, and the way that I am reminded of Martin Scorsese films. The surreal tenderness and love of cinema enfleshed in Steve Erickson's Zeroville, and the complete reworking of the prior short story "Zeroville" into the novel, although most of the pieces are intact, yet shuffled, transformed. The masterful short fiction of Etgar Keret in his collection The Girl on the Fridge.

I could delineate the imbalance of Books versus Art versus Beer versus Wanderings within these posts. The geographical shift from word to image, from dream to the concrete. How I wrestle

I could inform you of the back pain that ravages my body from time to time. I could declare the depression that seized me periodically. I could explain my lethargy, my laziness, my lack of discipline. I could share tales of the writing workshop of which I am currently a participant, its teacher, the eight other "students" and their amazing work, collectively and individually, the time and energy that I am pouring into "real writing." I could produce a myriad of excuses, defenses, apologies.

They would all be the truth and they would all be lies.


The truth is that I write these posts for myself. Not in any sense of narcissism or masturbation, but in order to think out loud. It is also a lie because then, you, dear reader, say something that encourages me to keep at this. You pat me on the back and I realize that perhaps I am not writing for myself. Perhaps I am writing for you. Or the accolade. Or the fame. Or, perhaps, I am using you as a mirror, a sounding board of sorts.


Then, something will come along that helps me see through my own cynical ramblings and self-absorption.

It will come in the form of Zak of Shmaltz Brewing Company leaving comments on my tasting notes of He'Brew Lenny's Bittersweet R.I.P.A.

Or, it will come in the form of the child waking me up at three in the morning when I have fallen asleep on the couch while reading, the child having had a bad dream, and then finding that I have to go and write for a few hours in the stillness of early morning because my Writer is suddenly inspired. (Here I am.)

Or, it will come in the form of a book, one of the many whose pages I am simultaneously drawn into.


Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends is a delight.

It is a pleasure to behold in its very physicality. McSweeney's has once again produced a book that it visually appealing and a great complement to the contents held within. It has three layers of book jacket that overlap and reveal one another. The longest is brown and orange, representing mountain, desert, wilderness; the middle one is green and shows forest and jungle; the shortest is blue and displays the ocean and its multitudes. The scene of each jacket is filled with the appropriate gods, monsters, and heroes. If all of the jackets are removed then a large gold X is revealed, marking the treasure that is within.

The treasure within consists of essays on the notion of entertainment, various authors and their works, the joys of reading, the interplay between genre fiction and literary fiction, and elements of graphic novels. I have only read three or four of the essays, and skimmed through a few others, but am already hooked. Michael Chabon insists that it is okay to just read for pleasure. I have to wholeheartedly agree.


So, for the time being, Troy's Work Table will continue to falter and stumble along. You and I can both thank Zak, the child, and Michael Chabon for seeing it through to another post, another day.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A., a Double/Imperial IPA by Shmaltz Brewing Company

22 ounce bottle. It makes back pain diminish, if only temporarily.

Mazel tov! to Shmaltz Brewing for a wonderful rye-based double IPA. The snifter was filled with a thick, hazy, deep orange body that really tended toward brown. It was translucent at the edges, but just barely. The head that capped it was an inch or so of ivory foam. The lacing was excellent, with sheets left on the back of the glass and intricate patterns on the front.

The nose was heavy of orange and citrus, of caramel and brown sugar. There was even, perhaps, a hint of cognac or whisky, probably fueled in part by the high alcohol content (10%).

The flavor was complex and definitely packed a punch. It lead with caramel and malts, mellowed slightly with a flourish of grain, and finished with the bitterness of orange and a lighter caramel than that of the beginning. The orange stayed around as the finish lingered. This ale sat heavy on the tongue. It lit up the entire mouth and the upper throat. This is some spectacular stuff!