Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Yesterday was the final Friday of season four (number 31 of 30!) of the Frost Park Chalk Off. It was filled with pumpkins and ghouls of various types. Troy's Work Table headed in a different direction.

TWT played homage to his various cephalopod pieces this season. He also played to the notion of it being the final chalking until April 2012, as well as to the "end-of-the-world" feel that permeates our metaphorical public square.

And, TWT won!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The Wife, The Child, and Troy's Work Table braved the first real fall rain—drizzle, sprinkles, showers, full-on rainstorm, repeat in random order—to wander the UW and WSU corn mazes at the Carpinito Brothers Farm in Kent, Washington.

[1] Entering the UW corn maze.

[2] Corn, endless corn.

[3] Punching my map at one of the landmarks.

[4] "The corn is alive with the sound of music..."

[5] Corn, endless corn, and more corn.

[6] A completed corn maze map and a background of miniature pumpkins.

Friday, October 21, 2011


For today's Frost Park Chalk Off, I decided I would pay homage to one of The Child's recent pieces of artwork. I think I did a fair job of capturing it's essence, although it was more difficult than it would appear.

"Scarecrow" by The Child. Crayon and watercolor wash on paper, 2011.

"Scarecrow Homage" by Troy's Work Table. Sidewalk chalk and chalk pastels on concrete wall, 2011.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Pumpkin Spice, a Pumpkin Ale by Two Beers Brewing Company.

Served on tap in a pint glass at The Red Hot.


It works like this:

A quick punch of pumpkin flesh that turns to pumpkin pie and finishes on the spices, which linger for a long time.

The only negative is a bit of alcohol burn that sneaks in here and there, but it's a minor complaint.


It arrives with a slightly hazy orange body and a thin, brilliantly white head. The nose is pumpkin and spices—allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. The flavors are pumpkin and spices galore. The spices continue for a long time, with a long spicy finish, which is mostly cloves.

The mouthfeel is medium. My first impression is that it is a bit watery, but after the first two or three quaffs, that impression changes.


I had this with a Chicago-style hot dog, but this would be even better with cookies, especially snickerdoodles.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Frost Park Chalk Off Challenge 4:29 saw me delivering more cephalopod goodness. I drew over the site of previous octopus pieces "Octopus Rides a Bike" and "Ghostopus," which still had elements of both visible. I simply utilized the colors/forms of those and other works as part of the background canvas for "Khronos."

A detail of "Khronos"—blue octopus and red tentacle.

A detail of "Khronos"—motion lines and underside of purple octopus.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


"I came upon the gnawed torso of a seal, silver fur agleam against the sand like a coin thrown down in a losing bet."
—from "I came upon the gnawed torso of a seal" by Melanie Braverman, as found in the October 2011 issue of Poetry.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


"Being blasphemous, profane, poetic, ridiculous, and funny is what makes us human."
—Sherman Alexie


Sherman was all of those things and more this evening, when he spoke at the Pioneer Park Pavilion as part of Banned Books Week. He used coarse and vulgar language at times. He told personal self-effacing stories. All of this was a way of cutting through the bullshit that we build around ourselves as barriers to keep others away, to keep others defined as the Other.


It seems weird to refer to Sherman as Mr. Alexie, especially with the confessional tone he set during his talk, so "Sherman" it is.


Sherman challenged everyone present. He took on liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, whites and Indians, Christian fundamentalists and vegans. He questioned our cultural assumptions about sexuality and violence. He spoke truths. Oftentimes, those truths brought the audience of 350 or so gathered to a place of complete and uncomfortable silence.


Sherman wondered about how ideas in a book could rattle someone to the point that they would feel threatened by it and then move to have it removed from a library.


Sherman wove personal tales and family tales and cultural tales into and around astonishment at how fearful we can be about books and ideas that we don't understand because of our own ignorance and naivete and biases.


Sherman spoke about overcoming his own demons of depression and poverty and abuse through books. He read to become something more than an object: a someone.


Sherman talked about exploring the world, exploring worlds, through the pages of books.


Sherman summed all of the above with one powerful sentence: "I push and push and push myself and, likewise, I push and push and push my audiences."


As I laughed and squirmed and reflected and laughed some more, I thought of how wonderful it was to have this man challenging us by speaking truths. It felt like a good sermon, except that it was "blasphemous, profane, poetic, ridiculous, and funny." It felt like the words of a modern-day prophet, of one willing to speak truth to help us save ourselves from ourselves, to allow us to learn from his mistakes and missteps and misfortunes (and from our own).


Sherman spoke for eighty minutes to a crowd that laughed and lingered upon his every word. Then he signed books.


Even signing books, he was generous and challenging. He smiled and cajoled and conversed. He took pictures with those who asked.


As I waited in line, I was given a Post-It note and a pen, in order that I could write down what I wanted him to sign in my copy of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. I asked him to include the final sentence of the book because it summed up the story as well as the stories of the evening (and his hope for the future).


Sherman looked at the Post-It note and said, "That's one of my favorite lines from the book." I replied that it was mine as well.


"To Troy: We didn't keep score. Sherman Alexie."

Monday, October 03, 2011


I discovered last week that Northwest Bookfest had been resurrected. In its glory days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was the Pacific Northwest's premier festival of books, so I was excited to see what it would look like, especially in the shadow of Portland, Oregon's upcoming Wordstock (which is now the PNW's largest book festival) and amidst an embattled book industry (in an increasingly digital age).

Many of the exhibitors were local authors or homegrown presses representing one or a handful of books. One of the larger exhibitors was Seattle Center for Book Arts, which made its booth interactive and lively. SCBA had a working letterpress on hand and various mini books for kids and adults to make. Otherwise, with its outdoor tents (in Kirkland's Peter Kirk Park) on a drizzly October day, it felt like a literary farmer's market. That wasn't a bad image to portray, but the gray and rain seemed to be keeping crowds away. Next time, an indoor location for a fall event, seems a better idea.

For the most part, the exhibitors, authors, presses, publishers, literacy groups, and book industry services that participated were passionate about being present. The constant threat of rain couldn't dampen their spirits. Attendees were greeted with smiles and stories and welcome arms.

In addition to the booths, workshops, author discussions, book signings, and literary events took place in nearby buildings. The Wife, The Child, and I saw "Junk Puppet Land" by Zambini Brothers. It was a creative collection of five vignettes told with puppets made out of second-hand or discarded household items. The crowd of gathered children and adults loved the imaginative take on folk tales from around the world.


I left Northwest Bookfest somewhat sad. I remembered what it once was, and this wasn't it. I know that it will difficult to try and be the large, well-attended events that took place on the Seattle waterfront, for those glory days are past. But I hope that the organizers of Northwest Bookfest have the same passion and tenacity as the authors and publishers that were present to make next year's event bigger and bolder.