Tuesday, March 31, 2009


"I had the feeling that all over America such stupid arguments were taking place on street corners and in bars and restaurants. All over America, people were pulling credentials out of their pockets and sticking them under someone else's nose to prove they had been somewhere or done something. And I thought someday everyone in America will suddenly jump up and say "I don't take any shit!" and start pushing and cursing and clawing at the man next to him."
—page 104, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs (from a WSB chapter)

I really wanted to like this book. I enjoy the works of Jack Kerouac and am a huge fan of the works of William S. Burroughs. But this work should have stayed "buried" as Burroughs had managed to do during his lifetime and had insisted happen after his death.

The chapters alternate between sections written by William S. Burroughs ("Will Dennison") and Jack Kerouac ("Mike Ryko"). The novel is purportedly a roman à clef about Lucien Carr's killing of Dave Kammerer, friends of both Burroughs and Kerouac. The main problem is that the killing is inconsequential to anything that resembles a plot. The secondary problem is that the novel isn't written very well.

The writing is nowhere near the experimental and raw writing that would later appear in Naked Lunch (WSB) and On the Road (JK). It doesn't even rise to the level of some of the early work of Burroughs, such as Junky or the short stories of Interzone, to which it feels most related. And, for the most part, this novel is boring—the plot is nonexistent, the characters are unsympathetic and apathetic, the writing is uninspired.

It was prescient on the part of Burroughs that this novel remained hidden away. It could have easily gotten either Kerouac or Burroughs (or both) labeled as hacks very early in their careers, which would have been a major blow to modern literary history.

I only wish James Grauerholz and company had honored the wishes of Burroughs and left this one to molder in some damp attic, never to be discovered.


The above quoted passage is the lone standout for me. It foreshadows the sentiments of the dying, jaded Burroughs as he looks at the world and declares its end in an apocalyptic collapse, a slow self-created decline. The statement could have easily found its way into any of the books of The Western Lands Trilogy (Cities of the Red Night, The Place of Dead Roads, and The Western Lands) or Ghost of Chance. In fact, it may be there somewhere, recycled and reconstituted, as Burroughs was fond of doing. If not, it sure feels like it is.


The book is not a complete failure. I keep returning to it. I keep searching through it.

Some have argued its historical importance, which I initially thought was a lame argument. But I have recently revised my opinion of such. There is something valid in seeing the early works of two American geniuses. This may be work that is stiff and awkward, but isn't that what our early steps looked like?

And now? We can walk.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The child and I made another Saturday morning trip to King's Books to witness and participate in the wonder that is Mr. Mario's Secret Circus.

(1) Our season pass button to Mr. Mario's Secret Circus.

(2) Balloon tricks with Mr. Mario.

(3) The tale of the Frog Prince as told by storyteller Hilda Gabbygirl.

(4) Juggling and other shenanigans with Mr. Mario.

(5) Interactive songs with Cowboy Buck, former manager, singer, and songwriter with The New Christy Minstrels. Most of the time, Cowboy Buck had all of us on our feet, providing hand motions for songs and singing responsively.

(Somehow, once again, Troy's Work Table was called up on stage. Four fathers had to dance "in unison" behind Cowboy Buck while they chewed bubblegum they were readying for a bubble blowing contest. Troy's Work Table blew the most bubbles, as well as the largest bubble. The latter garnered Troy's Work Table a CD of Cowboy Buck & Elizabeth songs for winning the contest, as well as a round of applause shared with the other dads.)

Friday, March 27, 2009


My third disc golf disc—an Innova Champion Sidewinder distance driver disc. Translucent neon red, 165 grams.


I haven't used my Sidewinder in too much actual play. I have been trying to really figure out how my Stingray works.

I have been getting up early many mornings to walk a couple of miles before work. This allows me to take my discs with me and throw them a few times in some of the city parks I pass. This is where and when I am figuring out the flight characteristics of each of my two discs.


The child and I headed out to White River today for a round of disc golf. I played a fairly respectful 76. (Each hole is par 3. The total course par is 54.) Not too shabby for a beginner. I was pleased with my overall performance and didn't curse too often.

Hole 1 - 4
Hole 2 - 3
Hole 3 - 4
Hole 4 - 3
Hole 5 - 5
Hole 6 - 5
Hole 7 - 5
Hole 8 - 4
Hole 9 - 4
Front nine - 37

Hole 10 - 4
Hole 11 - 3
Hole 12 - 4
Hole 13 - 5
Hole 14 - 4
Hole 15 - 5
Hole 16 - 6
Hole 17 - 4
Hole 18 - 4
Back nine - 39

Total - 76

I played my Stingray almost exclusively, only pulling out the Sidewinder on a few long open fairways (4, 5, 17, 18). I even unexpectedly, and to the great delight of the child ("Roller! Roller! Roller!"), threw a roller on hole 4, which set me up for a perfect approach and an easy putt.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


A Show for Kids

Bring your
entire family
for a fun-filled

Shows run through May 30, 2009
Saturday Mornings
10:30 a.m. to Noon
King's Books
218 St. Helens Ave
Tacoma WA 98402
or 253-921-1718

$5.00 Adults
$2.00 Children

(Or you can buy a Button Pass for $10.00 that gets you into all shows.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009


The child and I headed over to King's Books this morning for the latest installment of Mr. Mario's Secret Circus. It is best described as vaudeville for children. The child seemed to have a wonderful time. There was also enough entertainment and corny humor to keep Troy's Work Table laughing throughout. This is a must-see for children in the greater Tacoma area.

(1) Hedda Gabner/Hilda Gabbler/Helda Gebner telling the kids the true story of "The Three Little Pigs." Her name kept shifting throughout the show.

(2) Ryan Christiansen juggling pins thrown at him by an audience member. He juggled various objects and performed other tricks. Ryan also related his recent climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro, of which the children seemed very enamored.

(Troy's Work Table was called up on stage during Ryan's set to participate in a "human architecture" exercise in trust. This is the one where four audience members are brought up on stage and lie back into one another's laps, whereupon the four chairs they are seated on are removed and the four audience members "hover" above the stage, supported by one another's legs and laps. I kept thinking it was going to kill my back, but it didn't. It was actually rather strange to be part of this "trick.")

(3) Cindy Arnold of Live Paint told and acted out an adaptation of "The Basket," a Korean tale complete with motions, music, and artificial leaves falling upon audience members as Cindy passed by with her basket.

(4) Children and adults creating baskets like the one in the story "The Basket."

(5) Mr. Mario bringing his basket to life.

(6) Mr. Mario closing out the show by "interviewing" one of the children from the audience.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The child and I have been eating a lot of hot dogs lately. Today we stopped off at the Auburn Supermall to exercise by walking the mall circuit, playing on the toys, and eating at Hot Dog on a Stick—a simple yet brilliant plan.

We each enjoyed the signature Hot Dog on a Stick—a cornbread battered and deep-fried turkey hot dog, otherwise known as a corn dog—along with fries and lemonade. The child preferred dipping the HDoS in ketchup; Troy's Work Table preferred dipping the HDoS in yellow mustard.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Ridgetop Red, an Amber Ale by Silver City Restaurant & Brewery

16 ounces on tap.

This amber ale was delivered to my bar stool in a shaker glass. It was honey orange with a thin white head. The aroma was light—light caramel malts and light paper. The flavor was similar, with an additional nuttiness. There was the faintest hint of vinegar as it warmed, which wasn't bad, just unexpected. The mouthfeel was medium. This was a good, solid amber ale, but nothing to write home about. For me, it was a wee bit light on too many levels.


The Red Hot by The Red Hot

This is The Red Hot's signature hot dog. It is an all beef hot dog served on a poppyseed bun and accompanied by yellow mustard, relish, and diced onions. It is like the light version of The Chicago. If you are not a fan of pickles, peppers, or tomatoes on your hot dog, then this is for you. Otherwise, fork over the extra 50¢ and go for The Chicago.


The Chicago by The Red Hot

This was an excellent version of The Chicago. An all beef hot dog was served on a poppyseed bun and buried beneath condiments and vegetables—yellow mustard, neon green relish, diced onions, a tomato wedge, two sports peppers, a pickle spear, and a sprinkling of celery seed. This was the highlight of the meal.


The main drawback to The Red Hot is that it is a bar, so I can't go there for hot dogs unless I am solo, which is seldom. The wife is not a fan of hot dogs, while the child is. That means that we will probably be sticking closer to home and eating our Chicago-style hot dogs at Lucky's Hot Dog Diner, since the child and I are both allowed in. I can't have a beer at Lucky's, but that is a minor complaint if I can enjoy a wonderful hot dog with all the fixin's.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Sunday was bachelor day. The wife and child went to spend time with the mother-in-law. That meant that after a morning of church, the afternoon and evening were mine to spend alone. It was time for books, art, and beer. It was a time to wander.

I went out for my second round of disc golf. It would involve wind and rain, both in fair amounts. It would also involve wandering the woods of White River with John, whom I happened to meet at the course. He asked if he could "jump on" to my game at the third hole and then the two of us were off throwing our discs through the trees. I played a 78 "stroke" game on a par 54 course (of 18 holes). I figured that wasn't too bad for a beginning player, especially since I was usually only one or two throws behind John.

(In the above picture, people who aced that particular hole have written their names and the date they played disc golf on the basket pole in permanent marker.)

Lunch consisted of hot dogs and beer at Tacoma's Red Hot. I had one eponymous Red Hot and one Chicago dog along with a Silver City Ridgetop Red amber ale. You cannot go wrong with beer and hot dogs!

I then spent some time wandering among the plants and flowers of the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma's Wright Park. This was partly as research for a story I am writing and partly to enjoy some beautiful and artistically manicured flowers—a respite from the howling wind and driving rain on the other side of the conservatory glass.

Finally, it was off to my favorite local bookstore to poke around the shelves. I browsed, petted the bookstore cats Miko and Atticus, and finally selected The North Pole: A Narrative History edited by Anthony Brandt. After leaving King's Books it was off to home to read for a few hours and enjoy some quiet in the house.

Friday, March 13, 2009


My second disc golf disc—an Innova DX Stingray mid-range disc. Neon orange, 168 grams.

(This replaces my first disc golf disc that I owned for an hour-and-a-half before it was swallowed up by the White River. It was bright red Innova DX Stingray, 165 grams. RIP.)


The child and I headed to the White River disc golf course in Auburn after purchasing our first discs. My plan was just to throw a few random holes while we walked the course to get a feel for its layout.

We followed a few of the guys we had seen in Mando's Disc Golf Pro Shop to the first hole. The child and I watched them throw their discs. Then one of them, slightly older than the other two, probably in his late forties, introduced himself to me as Larry and invited me to play with them. I explained that I had never played before and was just here to observe and maybe throw my disc around a little bit. He told me that the best way to learn the game was to play a round with people who had played before, which meant with him, Thomas, and Trev. He insisted.

It was good that I had Larry to hang out with. He acted as a mentor to me. He showed me how to properly hold the disc for a backhand throw. He explained rules and terms to me. He pointed out where baskets were located. He encouraged me as I played.

At the third hole, Thomas and Trev decided they wanted to play through, partly because I was slowing down the game. (They didn't state this, but I could tell.) Larry said he would stay with me. It worked out well.

Larry and I played a full round—eighteen holes of disc golf, mostly in the middle of the woods. I learned about "tree love," when your disc hits a tree but it helps your shot. I learned about "tree-nial," when your disc hits a tree and its hinders your shot. I learned how to hold the disc at different angles to get a desired result out of a throw. I learned how to square my shoulders with the basket and follow-through with my throw.

At the sixteenth hole, as we played alongside the White River, a bad throw sent my new Stingray disc (and the only one I had) into the river. My disc was swallowed up.

Larry let me borrow two of his beginner friendly discs—a Champion Leopard fairway driver and a Champion Sidewinder distance driver—so that I could finish the round. (In fact, the Champion Leopard was the first disc he ever owned.) Not only did this wonderful act of grace allow me to finish the game, but it also allowed me to throw two other discs "in the field," and notice their differences in weight and flight characteristics.

On the seventeenth hole, Larry also showed me how to hold and throw the disc sidearm. It felt awkward, but also let me see how the disc turned to the right rather than to the left (as in a backhand throw). It also gave me something to practice.

So I was able to play a full 18-hole round with someone that took time out of his own game (who slowed down to help out a disc golf virgin) to teach me things I would not have necessarily learned on my own for some time.

Thank you Larry!

(1) The marker near the tee pad for hole number 16.

(2) The spot where the White River swallowed up my first (and only) disc.

(3) The basket for hole number 16.

(4) The tee sign for hole number 17.

(5) Looking down the fairway from tee pad number 17.


Troy's Work Table has been trying to find low-impact activities that involve a lot of walking. This is partly to address some lower back issues, partly to get some exercise, and partly to shed a few unwanted pounds. Therefore, TWT has been doing a lot of walking. But TWT also wanted to try out disc golf to see if walking could be paired with an activity that would "jazz it up" a bit.

So, the child and I found ourselves in downtown Auburn at Mando's Disc Golf Pro Shop. I had visited their website prior to heading down, but I wasn't sure what to expect.

When we arrived, the place was filled with young men in their twenties and thirties. I was easily the oldest person there. The child and I poked around through display rack after display rack of brightly colored plastic discs. There were discs of many colors—blue, lavender, crimson, orange, pink, green, yellow, off-white. Some were opaque; some were translucent. There were discs of many different plastics. Some were more flexible, some less so; some had more grip, feeling rubbery, and some had less grip, feeling harder.

I was overwhelmed.

The owner sensed this, came over, introduced herself as Mary, and asked how she could help me. I told her that I wanted to try out disc golf, but didn't quite know where to start. She said that she could definitely set me up with my first disc.

Mary wandered about the racks. She selected about ten discs and handed me the stack. She pointed to a disc golf basket in the back corner of the store and told me to start throwing the discs at it to see which of them felt the best to me. I threw the discs. She asked me which one felt the best both in my hand and upon throwing it. I told her the red one. She grabbed two more discs and had me throw them. Was the red one still the best? Yes. She told me that was my new disc. I could now go try disc golf and if I didn't like it then I was only out eight dollars.

I purchased my Innova DX Stingray multipurpose/mid-range disc, along with a Ching Juju mini-disc for the child to throw around. I thanked Mary for her help and the child and I headed off to the White River disc golf course at Auburn's Game Farm Wilderness Park.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The child and I found our way to Bremerton's waterfront and into the warm nest of Fritz's European Fry House. We perched upon the tall bar stools in the front window to enjoy Belgian fries, deep-fried battered cod, deep-fried chicken strips, and drinks while we watched the cold winter wind blow leaves about in the courtyard.


Supergoose IPA, an Imperial/Double IPA from Hale's Ales

On tap, 16 ounces, served in shaker glass, $3.50 per pint.

I assume that Supergoose refers to this being a hopped-up version of Hale's Mongoose IPA, which, as far as I can tell, appears to be true.

Color: Hazy orange core with a hazy yellow-orange aura, topped with a thin white head. Small dots and lines of lacing are left behind.

Nose: I smell, in this order: a can of pineapple chunks, apricot, and a whiff of citrus.

Palate: The flavors include bitter orange that borders on grapefruit, pineapple, apricot, and a hint of hay. The heavy bitterness lingers in the finish. The fruit sweetness is almost too much, but it actually complemented the dipping sauces for my fries rather well. The spiciness of the Spicy Curry Ketchup and Sweet Chili sauces toned down the sweetness of this ale and really let the hoppy bitterness shine through.

I rather enjoyed this ale. It was interesting and played nicely with my fried foods.


The child enjoyed fish and chips with Tartar and Honey Dijon dipping sauces. Troy's Work Table enjoyed a chicken and fries basket with Spicy Curry Ketchup and Sweet Chili dipping sauces. The sauces are half the fun of eating the fries at Fritz. They have been selected to get the most enjoyment out of the fries, as well as complement the beers on tap or available in bottles.

If you ever end up at the Bremerton waterfront for lunch or dinner, then please skip the nearby fast food chains and enjoy some good fried food, wonderful sauces, and a pint or two at Fritz. Cheers!


The bonus is that your clothes and hair will carry the heavenly scent of deep fryer oil for a few hours. You can relive your eating experience as you wander about looking at boats or seagulls or the fountains of the Harborside Fountain Park.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


The child and I wandered around downtown Bremerton on Sunday evening after a round of Belgian fries and ale at Fritz European Fry House.

(1) Bremerton Harborside.

(2) One of the five fountain sculptures of Harborside Fountain Park.

(3) Traffic disembarking from the Seattle to Bremerton ferry.

(4) New Delhi Indian Cuisine, 221 Washington Avenue.

(5) The unlit neon sign for the now defunct Nite Shift Tavern, 242 Burwell Street.

(6) The Admiral Theatre, 515 Pacific Avenue.

(7) Looking at the corner where the old Woolworth's building once resided, Burwell Street and Pacific Avenue.

(8) The Dietz Building, former home to Harbor Books, Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue.

(9) Display windows of the Amy Burnett Gallery, 296 Fourth Street.

(10) On Pacific Avenue looking toward the corner of First Street and Pacific Avenue, former home to tattoo parlors, a vinyl record store, taverns, and the downtown Bremerton McDonald's.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Liberty Ale, an American Pale Ale by Anchor Brewing Company

12 ounce bottle, served in lager glass, $2.24 per pint.

First of all, this is a beautiful ale. An extremely clear yellow body was capped by two-fingers-thick of foamy white head, which mostly hangs around. The head leaves behind sporadic bands of lacing. The body is filled with active streams of tiny bubbles.

But it's like the hot chick with the crappy personality. You don't really want to hang out with her; you just want to get into her pants. Once there, you realize the mistake you have made, and then its too late.

Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't a horrible ale. It's not even bad. It's just kind of average. I can imagine a lot of other beers I would rather drink.

A few nice things about the nose and palate, though. The aroma is coriander and light floral. The flavor is floral and grassy, but not quite as bitter as I expected, which was a minor disappoinment. Light and tingly carbonation, from those aforementioned bubbles, leads into a light, crisp, and clean finish.

Would I have it again? Probably not, although I would take it over a macrobrew.

Friday, March 06, 2009


The child and I spent some time wandering around on the Puyallup Riverwalk Trail today. The temperature was still cold (around 44°F) but sunny.

(1) Crocus growing in recently deposited river silt.

(2) Mount Rainier as seen from near the skate park.

(3) Trail marker #6.

(4) The Puyallup River Bridge, Meridian Avenue.

(5) Volunteer trail maintenance and repair

(6) Recently repaired trail.

(7) Cottonwood tree line.

(8) River rocks.

(9) The Puyallup River, looking west.

(10) The sun and blue sky.