Saturday, June 30, 2012


Caroline said, "She's terribly, terribly disruptive." "So is reality," Hawthorne said. 
—page 228, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, in the Library of America edition (Four Novels of the 1960s).

Friday, June 29, 2012


Frost Park Chalk Off 5:13 was "fireworks" themed.  I decided to play around with Queequeg from my beloved Moby-Dick, including a "tomahawk" pipe, harpoon, beaver hat, and his idol Yojo.

"Queequeg Fireworks" in progress.

"Queequeg Fireworks" completed.  A quite different Queequeg than the one I chalked nearly a year ago.

Monday, June 25, 2012


A small moth, orange body, black-on-ivory patterned wings.  Living room wall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Stencil graffiti seems to be more commonplace than I once remember.  "We Exist Jackalope," hidden away in an alley on the side of a building. Main Street, Puyallup, Washington.

Monday, June 18, 2012


The Dog loves to walk, which is as good an excuse as any to wander about, trying to keep one's eyes open to the wonders of the world that surrounds us.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Father's Day saw TWT acting as grill master for The Father and various other assorted family members.  Hamburgers and hot dogs were plenty.  Fun was had by all.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Top-hatted iron crow enjoys some kettle corn at Puyallup's annual Meeker Days street festival.

Friday, June 15, 2012


It had been quite some time since I had played disc golf (almost two months), and only the third time since the beginning of the year, but The Wife and I decided to take advantage of some nice weather and time together to tackle the course at White River in Auburn, Washington.  Rustiness and some tree shots meant a 68 (+14), but it was great to be outdoors in the fresh air with discs flying from our fingers.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


TWT reads two prose poems from a longer piece at King's Books as part of Puget Sound Poetry Connection's Distinguished Writers Series.  The Distinguished Writer was Wisconsin poet Timothy Walsh.  TWT was part of the open mic portion that followed.  Friday 08 June 2012.

Friday, June 08, 2012


Frost Park Chalk Off 5:10 was a wet one.  The rain was steady.  Sometimes a light sprinkle.  Sometimes heavier.  But definitely steady.  Then the downpour came and we ended early.

Fifteen minutes into chalking I decided to take a picture of my progress, since the rain wasn't stopping.  Here is a portrait of Highline Community College's Marine Science and Technology Center octopus, Ophelia.  I have layers of color down and am beginning to add suckers on the tentacles.

Half an hour into the hour of chalking, the downpour began.  I added the lettering between bursts and buckets of water and called it a day.  "Ophelia Graduates" commemorates the release of Ophelia back into Puget Sound after a six-month residence at the HCC MaST aquarium.


Update: view video of Ophelia's release HERE.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


"I am Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness of the Aztex and I am getting fucked in the head and I think I like it."
—Opening line of Atomic Aztex by Sesshu Foster.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


"The shitty takeout containers and the trick-or-treating monks seemed but a hallucination.  This right here—this vibrantly colored orange— this was the real world, clean and alert, confident and rejoicing.  She slipped a seedless grape into her mouth and closed her eyes as her teeth punctured the skin with a snap.  She poured a glass of orange-guava juice and downed it in five gulps.  Satiated, she pranced into the bathroom, where she faced her wall of soaps, exfoliants, conditioners, and moisturizers, the balms, muds, glosses, and creams.  She cranked the shower up to steamy, stripped out of her pajamas, and proceeded to enjoy a forty-five minute session under the nozzle."
—page 323, Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot.

Monday, June 04, 2012


I kept seeing a title of a book crop up on Facebook, Twitter feeds, local alternative newsweeklies, the websites of Elliott Bay Books and Powell's City of Books, and various literary blogs and review sites.  The book was Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot.


One night, I found myself wandering the stacks of Elliott Bay, killing some time until my writing group began, and there it was: Blueprints of the Afterlife, its cream cover adorned with "AFTERLIFE" spelled out in the skyline of New York (Alki) under construction.

(The layout of the cover alone, both inside and out, is attractive and enticing.)


On the front of the book: the sticker: "Autographed Copy."

And inside: a line drawn through "Ryan Boudinot," a few humps of squiggly ink lines, and a cat body drawn upon the Black Cat imprint logo.

Mr. Boudinot had read from Blueprints the night before, when I was unable to attend.


The cover was strewn with names dropped and blurbed like nobody's business.  Comparisons are many.  Philip K. Dick (many times over).  China Miéville.  Kurt Vonnegut.  Charlie Kaufman.  Thoman Pynchon.  Neil Gaiman.  Neal Stephenson.  Chuck Palahniuk.  George Saunders.  William S. Burroughs.  Aldous Huxley.  David Foster Wallace.  Haruki Murakami.  J.G. Ballard.


Other authors they could have name dropped and blurbed, but didn't.  Jeff Noon.  William Gibson.  Paul Di Filippo.  Bruce Sterling.  Rebecca Brown.  Kathy Acker.  Matthew Sharpe.


Anyway, it looked and sounded like something I would read, so I skimmed a few pages, bought it, and brought it home.

I was instantly snared within its pages once I sat down and began to read.


Blueprints of the Afterlife is one of those books that really defies comparison.  The authors that Boudinot were compared to speak in their own voices, as does Boudinot.  Even though he may share elements here and there with each of them, his voice is unique, his vision his own.


"I tried to determine if these sad thoughts were just the results of growing old.  Probably, but that didn't make them any less real.  Maybe I had lost so much myself—my family, my friends—that I couldn't help but project my grief onto the world at large.  It was no longer enough for me to grieve for a lost mother, father, sister, or friend.  Now my grief intended to encompass the planet."
—page 333, Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot.


The novel takes place a couple hundred years in the future, after the Age of Fucked Up Shit, or FUS.  Time is measured as pre-FUS and post-FUS.  We get glimpses of the FUS—a marauding malevolent glacier apparently bent on eliminating human life, robot (newman) armies fighting against corporate militias (Boeing, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and the like) for the control of the United States, hinted-at cataclysms.  The world isn't in good shape, but has been somewhat put back into place, albeit with a lot fewer people.  Some areas have been rebuilt and some areas are abandoned.


Much of the action of the novel takes place in the Pacific Northwest.  Bainbridge Island figures prominently as it is the site where New York Alki (a to-scale replica of Manhattan) is being built.  Seattle, Portland, Lake Chelan, and Vancouver BC all make cameos.


To say too much about the story ruins it.  There are plenty of things that go unexplained.  The novel is a labyrinth filled with turns, twists, dead ends.  Its minotaurs are giant floating heads that communicate with some of the characters.

Strangeness abounds.

There are plenty of false starts and stops along the way.  Storylines are sometimes introduced or dropped without warning, although the core stories that emerge feel like the right ones.  In the end, the novel feels as "complete" as it's going to be, which, for me, was alright.


Blueprints is a hypercube onion, with layers peeled back to reveal other possibilities.


I feel a bit pummeled and sore (and sad) at the novel's conclusion.  What was it that I just experienced and witnessed?  It was compelling and unlike most other novel's I've ever read.  It reminded me a bit of many of the novels and short stories of Philip K. Dick, but perhaps was a closer cousin to Sesshu Foster's Atomik Aztex or the novels of Jeff Noon (Vurt, Pollen, Automated Alice).


I highly recommend this novel.  It is not one you will soon forget.

And don't let the list of science fiction authors Boudinot was compared to on the cover of the book scare you away.  This is not your dad's science fiction, and definitely not your grandmother's.  This is a good, solid read that will make you examine your own life, the culture we share, the world we live in, and what we are currently doing to each of them.

Saturday, June 02, 2012


The day was nice.  Partly cloudy.  Warm but not too warm.  It was a day to weed and garden.  The Dog saw me digging in the soil, so she decided to do the same.  Two hours later, there was a twelve-foot long trench along the fence line.  In most places it was about six inches deep, but in some sections up to a foot deep, and in a few select spots two feet deep.  It followed the tunnel of one of the moles that has ruined our yard over the past few years.  The Dog was determined to remove that mole.

This wasn't the first time that The Dog tried to dig out a mole, but definitely the most concerted effort to date.  Needless to say, our yard is visited less frequently by various rodents.  There is no longer a rat living in our shed.  The activity of the moles has diminished overall and ceased completely on some of the more accessible tunnels and mounds.  The squirrels make occasional forays to our hazelnut and walnut trees, but not in the numbers (of squirrels or visits) of prior springs.  The Dog has found her calling and is living out that vocation with great joy and energy.

Friday, June 01, 2012


Frost Park Chalk Off 5:9 was a rain-filled event.  It was mostly drizzle, although steady, with the occasional heavier downpour thrown in here and there.  The sun came out as soon as we were done.

This week, I decided to do a piece I've been wanting to do for some time.  I paid homage to a few favorite modern artists whose work seemed appropriate for the medium of chalk.  Obviously, I wasn't going to be able to pull off Jackson Pollock.  I did, however, leave a few others out, since I knew (a) I only had an hour; (b) it was raining, which changed the texture and application of the chalk; (c) didn't want to do anything too technically complex; and (d) wanted to concentrate on the work of artists that I've been able to a few pieces of in person.  So, "Modern Art Cephalopods" was born.

"Johns" = an homage to Jasper Johns, his flag paintings, and his other works of Americana.  So a flag cuttlefish came into being.  The only thing I would change on this one is to outline the star eyes so they pop off of the yellow "canvas" a bit more.

"Rothko" = an homage to Mark Rothko, his canvases of color, and their subtle variations.  I liked the idea of an octopus, red with anger and spraying its black ink as it departs.

"Mondrian" = an homage to Piet Mondrian, his geometric pieces, and their five basic colors—white, red, yellow, blue, and black lines.  I made sure to include a red mantle, yellow eyes, eight black lines representing tentacles emanating out from the mantle, and sections of blue and white water.

"Picasso" = an homage to Pablo Picasso, one of my favorite artists.  I imagined what a simple squid or octopus might look like to him, something in the style of some of his tribal-art-and-Cubist-inspired portraits of women, and let my chalk do the rest.  I even included some "ink hair" in the upper left corner.


This was another set of chalk pictures that was rather fun to draw.  The wetness of the concrete, the difference in the application of the chalk, the inspiration of the "giants" of the art world, and the call of my Octopus muse all came together in what was a satisfying hour of playing with chalk.