Monday, October 26, 2009


The sky is heavy with rain. The clouds are dark—shades of slate upon silver upon stone. The smell of brine is in the air.

Soon, we pursue the great white whale—Moby-Dick.


I dreamt last night of the Pequod's harpooners—Queequeg, Daggoo, Fedallah. These three were not in their respective whaling boats, however. They were all gathered in one boat together. Tashtego was not with them. I was wondering why he wasn't with them when the boat was lifted up and I sat up in bed. Good or ill, I embrace this sign as I embark upon a year-long close reading of Moby-Dick.


Today at work, I listened to the album Leviathan by heavy metal masters Mastodon. It embodies the violence and masculinity of Moby-Dick in screamed vocals, guitar, bass, and the thunder of drums (all wrapped in beautiful melodies). I listened to it again and again.


Later at work, I listened to sea shanties.


Tonight, as the child and I played with Legos, we listened to bluegrass cover versions of Aerosmith songs (by Cornbread Red). The child thought the chorus of "Sweet Emotion" was "sweet ocean." I took this as another sign.


Soon, we pursue the great white whale—Moby-Dick. I hope we survive.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Matthew as Raven, Sarah as the Sky Chief's Daughter, and Brian as the Sky Chief in Book-It Repertory Theatre's Trickster Tales at Puyallup Public Library

The child and I headed off to the Puyallup Public Library to catch a presentation of three trickster tales performed by Book-It Repertory Theatre. We took along the father-in-law and the stepmother-in-law to enjoy stories of Raven, Jabuti the Tortoise, and Coyote and the mischief they found themselves in. Each of the three cast members had an opportunity to play one of the lead roles—Matthew as Raven, Sarah as Jabuti, and Brian as Coyote.

The performances were amazing. The actors utilized only a handful of props as they both narrated the stories and conversed with one another, navigating lines as though they were lines of poetry or spoken lyrics to long-lost songs. Inventive, simple costumes, along with some puppets and body work made for a wonderful half-hour.

We will be catching future Book-It performances and highly recommend you do the same.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Today was one of those days that was just slightly off-kilter.

The child and I decided to stop by the fairly new Spark's Firehouse Deli in Puyallup. I was eyeballing their sandwiches, but then realized they also made flame-fired pizzas. The decision was made: I ordered a sixteen-inch diameter pizza—Canadian bacon and black olive—for the child and myself. For lunch. Sixteen inches. For two of us. I don't know what I was thinking.

The waitress came out to inform me that they had mistakenly added pineapple to our pizza and that they were making another. I replied that the child loved pineapple and I could pick it off. This pizza would do. She brought it out to us. Then she told us that they would be giving us the pizza we ordered to take home at no charge. "That really isn't necessary," I pleaded. It was already being baked. Oh well. The child and I ate half of the original pizza. We were stuffed. And then our second pizza arrived, ready for its journey home with us. We were now the proud owners of one-and-one-half pizzas.

After our hearty lunch, we decided to go battle our walnut tree. It had dumped half of its leaves on the lawn and we were determined to remove at least half of those. We did.

Half of the front yard was relatively clear for fifteen minutes. We were putting away rakes and the wheelbarrow and the yard waste container when heavy rain began to fall and the wind picked up. Once again, the walnut tree unleashed a shower of leaves and the yard soon looked like it had only a short time before. Oh well. We headed into the house for the wearing of sweaters and the reading of Dr. Seuss stories.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Shelf Awareness ran two articles in its daily electronic newsletter that I found disturbing, and very likely linked.

The first concerned the bestseller price war that is going on between Wal-Mart and The second concerned the precarious near future of Seattle's largest independent bookseller, Elliott Bay Book Company. The problem with bestseller hardcover books selling for less than $10 each (when most of them have cover prices between $25 and $35 each) is that independent booksellers cannot compete. Publishers and book distributors don't offer the same discounts to the independents that they do to bulk retailers and the major book chains. What these same publishers may not realize (or perhaps they don't care) is that they are pricing themselves out of business. A good percentage of their sales come from their backlist titles. Bestsellers are essentially a loss leader that gets people in the door of bookstores to look at other books. If customers stop shopping at independents and they go under because their sales are gone, then there are fewer places to shop for books. Once we are left with one or two big non-bookstore chains (that don't carry any backlist titles) and maybe one big bookstore chain (because Borders is on its way to its own demise), you and I won't have a place to pick up the latest novel by Steve Erickson or Alta Ifland or Rebecca Brown or Anne Carson. You and I will only have the latest Dan Brown and Danielle Steele to choose from, and that would be a shame.

The major publishers and book distributors had better wake up and put some pressure on large chains, especially of the non-book variety (Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Target, Costco), to once again reasonably price their books. The survival of the same publishers and book distributors will be at stake if and when they actually kill off their vehicles (actual bookstores) for getting their backlist into the hands of their readers.


Support your independent bookstore. Support your independent publisher. Buy local and buy direct!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


At one time, I loathed visiting my MySpace and Facebook accounts. I kept them around primarily as vehicles to direct people back to this very blog. (Look at me! I need attention! Waaah!) But, I have recently discovered that they are good for my health, good for my soul, and good for my ego.

(I don't check my MySpace account much anymore. Twitter drives me crazy with its barrage of information. Facebook, is a nice balance of craziness, and where I find myself a few times per day.)

On Facebook, I am connected to family and friends—a slim few known in a Biblical sense, more due to the blood we share, and more still due to interests we have in common. I am connected to people I went to high school with, people I went to elementary school with, and a few that I attended public school with from kindergarten through my senior year. I am connected to writers of all stripes—those in my writing group, those who I rub elbows with at readings and literary events, those who I know only through a network of connections of writer to writer to writer. I am connected to my fellow connoisseurs of craft beer and to other disc golf aficionados. I am connected to members of the Jaycees, to members of my church, to members of my chosen city of residence. Many of these people fall into multiple categories.

These people, for better or for worse, have become a fabric of voices and ideas that are ever present. A few of my favorites are those who have really embraced this new medium and made it their own. Their voices sing the loudest, in good ways.

A few of my favorites are:

T., who is the Hunter S. Thompson of my friends list. He posts links, photos, and status updates that are an insane examination of our current culture. His page and FB persona are a mix of yellow and gonzo journalism that is uniquely his own, warts and all.

K. posts her "Daily Dose of the '80s," where I have found a curator of songs that I didn't know that I needed to listen to at work. Except that now I realize that I do and have needed to listen to them, so I do.

D. is a writer who I have never met in person. I know her through friends on FB that also happen to be her friends. She writes about robots. She runs an online website/journal/social network/"third place" of poetry. She leads writing workshops with elementary school kids that also involves hermit crabs and how we relate to the world we find ourselves.

A. is someone that I have known since kindergarten. We spent the night at each other's homes. We ran around in the woods together. We played the same instrument in junior high and high school, even if in separate bands (mostly because I was late to the whole idea of playing an instrument). FB has been a way to connect after an absence from one another from high school forward, with us occasionally meeting by happenstance here and there. I am glad to have rediscovered him and his fertile mind.

I have also rediscovered myself. I don't have "to be on" all of the time here. I enjoy a modicum of control, while also allowing for some risk. It is a place that I can speak, if I so choose, although I find that I more enjoy listening to the words of others in this world that they and I have carved out of bits and bytes of nothing.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I have nicknamed hole number four on the summer course layout of White River Disc Golf Course "The Devourer." I have lost two discs there—one returned later the same day; one yet to be seen again. I almost lost another.

I threw my current favored driver, my red Discraft Avenger SS, from the tee and watched where it landed. When I arrived at the spot I saw it land, I couldn't find it. After about ten minutes of thorough searching I was just about to consider it lost and move on to the next hole, when I saw a bit of red peeking up from the layer of mulch and dead leaves.

The Devourer thought she had won again. Fortunately, I narrowly escaped her insatiable appetite for plastic.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The wife, the child, and I needed to get out of the house and into the autumnal sunshine and wander. We headed to Kent to do such in the corn mazes of the Carpinito Brothers Farms.

We wandered the Werewolf Maze, treading the same paths over and over again, finally finding all six of the landmarks for which we were searching.

After a brief break to visit the Honey Buckets and buy some caramel kettle corn, it was off to the easier Tombstone Maze.

We navigated paths carved out of row upon row of corn stalks heavily weighted with ripe ears of corn. We looked to the blue sky for answers for where to turn next and found none.

A map helped to guide us, but we found ourselves intrigued by the sense of being lost. The wife and the child were done after one trip through each maze, but I could have continued to walk through the corn, the green leaves whispering my name to me in the tender breeze. I could still be there now, walking and listening.

Friday, October 09, 2009


It was a day of wandering. It was a day of memory. It was a day of lost memories.

It was a day of visiting the graves of the maternal grandfather, the paternal grandmother, the paternal grandfather. It was a day of trimming long blades of grass missed by the groundskeepers and a day of digging moss from the grooves where metal meets stone.

It was a day of helping move the brother from a house he once shared to a townhome now his own.

It was a day of pizza and Oktoberfest lager as we reminisced about our youth and better days. It was a day of our mortality looming large. It was a day of change. It was a dynamic day in many ways and a static day in others.

It was a day of sorrow and a day of laughter.

It was a day to drive back home and climb into bed with a book and read and fall asleep with the book on my chest. It was a day that ended in dream.

Monday, October 05, 2009


I am wandering in the same spirit that began this blog more than three years ago. The ghost of Walter Benjamin still speaks clearly to me, his voice ringing loudly in my ears.

I fear, however, that I have wandered into parts unknown. I have no map. I don't know where to place my foot. I can't remember how to take a step. My senses fail me. Shadows dance before my eyes. My nose is filled with the smell of wood smoke from logs that are being burned too green and wet. My tongue is thick.

I contradict myself.

Perhaps it is due to the length of summer and the great joy I derived from it—walking through woods and across fields, wandering up the sides of mountains and alongside rivers, plastic discs in hand and baskets within sight. Perhaps it is the sense of loss that comes as the leaves begin to fall and lighter fabrics are replaced by wool and artificial fleece. Perhaps it is the draining of light and the sickly salmon pink and gray that fills the sky just before dawn and daybreak.

At one time, I loved autumn. I don't dislike it per se, but I am less attracted to it. It mocks the twilight of my own summer. It hints at the winter that waits out there, somewhere.