Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Speechless Tuesday

Farewell to zeitheist. Come see me at Che Goulash.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So Long, Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

So Long, Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Irma the Night Stalker

This week we entertained a friend for dinner who we typically play cards with, Cribbage or Texas Hold 'em. He pulled a fast one, however, and switched up the program by bringing something to watch. Neither I nor the gal had seen an episode of the short-lived 70's television show, Kolchak the Night Stalker, though it is the kind of entertainment we enjoy. Darren McGavin in the lead role won us over with his panache and fashion sense.

Of the three episodes we watched, that night and on subsequent ones, Kolchak wears the same clothes in every episode: white loafers, seersucker suit, and raffia hat with blue and red band, the last described as giving our hero that unmistakable maverick heretical recusant look. I knew I had seen that hat before, but where...?

Then I got it: Jack Lemmon. He wore the same hat or something very like the same hat in the 1963 romantic comedy, Irma la Douce. One look into the old archive and my hunch was confirmed:

Granted it isn't exactly the same hat. Kolchak sports a modified porkpie and Jack Lemmon's is a boater. The band could have been handed down. It's Hollywood, maybe they do that kind of thing. Regardless, it is a mark of quality.

Kolchak caters to fans of science-fictional/supernatural entertainment. I can see how it wasn't the most popular thing going in 1974. As tv shows go, it's a bit too esoteric for general audiences. That said, me and the gal can't get enough. Could be we're in suspense of ever seeing him change his clothes. Darren McGavin is outstanding and surrounded by great actors. It makes a tremendous difference.

As for Irma la Douce, the caliber of actors is through the proverbial roof. That's Shirley MacLaine sharing the picture above, in the title part. She's wonderful, as is Lou Jacobi (to my left). I could go
on about Jacobi. I could bore you to tears about Jacobi. He is Moustache. No first, no last, just the one name. It goes well with his Rue Casanova establishment, Chez Moustache. He was once a Sorbonne professor and before that a field surgeon at the Battle of the Somme. How did he come to run a chintzy dive for pimps and streetwalkers? That's another story...

Jack Lemmon rules the roost. He is in fine fettle as the hapless Paris beat cop who falls in love with Irma, and his alter ego, Lord X (to my right), who exists because... as they say, that is another story. To even begin about Lord X gives the game away. I will say only that he is not to be missed. The movie, if I may be so bold, is a pearl of great price. Rent it yesterday.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Wednesday Wandering

The yarn revolution is in full flower. From seat coverings on New York and San Francisco subways to lamp posts in trendy West Seattle, soon enough yarncore hi-jinks will be as voguish as all-girls' roller derby. The significance of incorporating the anarchy symbol into the name eludes me. It does go well with the skull and crossed needles. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that the aestheticians behind all this are brigands and unwashed scalawags.

My little dream house, down the road a piece from the gal's West Seattle apartment. I'd love to pluck it up with my imaginary helicopter winch and go live on a plot on Mount Constance in the Olympic Mountains. A strategic cupola warms my heart.

"illusions Hair Design" sounds like the wrong kind of magic, Doug Henning wrong. This is the only salon in town to employ hypnotists and prestidigitators so the competition to lease a chair is ferocious. The air was flavored with something crisp as I passed, a crispy hint of potions. It could have been eye of newt but who knows what that smells like? Who among the unitiated mesmerists that compose the general public, I mean to say. I'd have gone inside to prove my hypothesis but fear of emerging again with track braids turned me away at the last minute.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Saturday Slideshow

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011


My love letter to Nooksack, WA, for dear friends and memories cultivated in that fertile northern land. The song is by Swell, and if you listen carefully at about the halfway point you can hear a sample from Drew's News. I'm enamored of VideoSpin, superior freeware to cut your editing teeth on.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Forget My Number

Recently transferred a bunch of home video onto DVD and have been playing with Live Movie Maker to unearth some hidden gems. From back in the day when your telephone plugged into the wall not out of some Luddite urge but because you had no choice. Like, the 80's, dude. Tubular. We had wonderful answering machines to field and screen our calls. How else would you know who was calling? The dark ages, indeed, but not entirely without charm. Making the message for your answering machine became a kind of Outsider art form, created by folk from all strata of life. I remember doing a temp job calling Nordstrom customers and coming across these hilarious messages across the nation. Though I'm sure people are creative with cellphones, I haven't come across any that show the same level of creativity. The above is a message I made with my college roommates that proved so popular we'd get calls at all hours of strangers just wanting to hear what the hubbub was about, which is why we made the video. Don't go thinking I did this for every message!

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Know What You Are?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Remember Fukushima

(photo: Paula Bronstein)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Speechless Tuesday

Friday, March 04, 2011

Building a Better Locomotive

Taking breaks from editing the manuscript is a dangerous indulgence, eleven times out of ten resulting in complete derailment. This has been the case going on years now. Indulgent and dangerous, that's what my little columbarium plaque will read if I'm not careful. Lately I've stumbled on a remedy. It may yet prove temporary, as others have in the past, but so far so good. I find that modifying an image on Picnik keeps my creativity on track and enables me to come back to the real and arduous task of editing with concentration intact. Perhaps it has something to do with work/play balance. I hesitate to be too analytical, gratified to be productive and playful and leave it at that.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cylon Sermon

Monday, February 21, 2011

International Day of Napping

I love my sister's cats. Maya and Jessica are American Shorthairs, a breed I've never encountered anywhere else in my life of feline devotion. Of course, they don't know from breed names, but I always worry that I've offended them by chuckling at theirs. Could be they don't share my predilection for juvenile humor, which is only natural; most cats don't, bless their whiskers and paws. Size is a real advantage for this breed, bouncy and bantam even when full-grown, ten pounds at their chubbiest. Ideal for a good shoulder snuggle. On the flip-side, being small also gives them access to your pillow -while your head is resting on it. You haven't lived until waking at the midnight hour with a purring fuzzball parked on your forehead. It just goes to show that cats have much to teach us about harmonious living. Pillow democracy is rooted in naps, the more the better, a political vision that has secured feline world dominance for centuries. Perish forfend that foolish mortals question such wisdom; on the contrary, canonize it. Establish International Napping Day in its honor. Now there's a UN resolution no one will dispute: Pillows Not Bombs!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Misanthropic Oneironaut

On week-long holiday in San Francisco, a story idea downloaded into my head and took over and I stopped writing only when relatives put a gun to my head.

I'm taking dictation and they want, what, conversation?


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Daniel Berrigan

Endless experimenting at Picnik. As William S Burroughs famously complained, "Images. Millions of images. That's what I eat." Tonight's recognizes the great example of Dan Berrigan, priest and provocateur.

Fertilizer for the Moon

It's good to have something on the horizon, a sense of destination to beguile the hours and days of our mundane lives. George Gurdjieff thought so, maintaining everything else was just so much fertilizer for the moon. This and other obiter dicta appealed to his many followers, cosmic Buddhahood the prize; the rest of us have to settle for lunar gardens.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Tiananmen Take Two

Friday, February 04, 2011

Egypt On My Mind

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Happy February


Pronounced "Make a Vow"

Still Life With Beast

The Puget Sound Wishes You a Happy and Productive Shortest Month of the Year!

Friday, January 28, 2011

25 Years

I was home from school that day and remember the Challenger explosion as something so unlooked-for, so unhoped-for, it painted the world in a new light.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Which would you rather lose, vision or sound? That's a question, not a threat, by the way.

I'd have to go with sound. While pondering this question on various perambulations, I realized a preference for vision as beneficiary of the Sense of a Lifetime Award. The auditorium of sound all around us is vital and juvenating, absolutely, but if I couldn't see words, it would leave me a hollow shell. A wreck of a man. A useless twit in sunglasses. Words are life and I'd keep my eyes at the cost of my ears, if it ever came down to it. Some kind of Van Gogh syndrome, I suppose.

All of this thinking out loud is predicated on the loss of hearing, as opposed to being born without it. I'd retain my memory of the sound of music. I might even remember The Sound of Music, seen once as a wee sprout. It's a remote possibility, but not impossible. Working at an Alaska cannery years ago, it amazed me how many movies I recalled on long shifts of mind shattering tedium. We were as good as deaf in the roar and tumult of massive machines. Sometimes unbidden an entire movie would reel through my head, sharp and clear as if it were being projected on a screen. I still needed to see to perform repetitive tasks, simultaneously reviewing the large catalog of a dyed-in-the-cotton cinephile. It spared my mind from otherwise maddening ravages of the job.

I can hear morning gridlock outside as I type, rough ambience. Yes plays on the stereo. Doors open and shut throughout the house, boards creaking as people move from room to room. Blessed sensorium.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK: I've Been to the Mountaintop

The first half of Dr Martin Luther King's rousing final speech:

Second half:

Monday, January 10, 2011

His Zen Thing, Man

The itinerant 90's. I carried with me, from state to state, nation to nation, a copy of the Tao Te Ching. In hindsight it wasn't necessary, it was really one passage that hit home every time:
The Tao is like a bellows:
It is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
The more you talk of it, the less you understand.
Hold on to the center.
I take these words to heart, and consider them with the Gospel of John the finest examples of spiritual wisdom produced by our race. Because I'm qualified to make such assertions. Back off.

Something else on which I'm an authority, and I think readers will agree, is TRON. The main character in both films knows a little something about spiritual wisdom.

Zen hacker Kevin Flynn is unique in the annals of science fiction. Nowhere else can you find a guy so actively indifferent to his circumstances. Zapped into the computer? No problem. Improvise a solution and don't sweat the small stuff.

Trapped in the computer for twenty years? Pfft. Catch up on yoga. Grow a beard and wear white Zen-appropriate robes. Do the Yoda thing, man. Don't play by the so-called rules of the game and remove your self from the equation.

Of course, any resemblance to Jeff Lebowski is pure coincidence. Played by the same actor, true, but Jeff Bridges has played many kinds of dudes and Kevin Flynn just happens to be the top of the pig pile.

I went through my dude phases. I'm not an actor, in the theatrical sense. Usual stuff people do, stumbling around trying to grab onto something, anything that makes sense. Even came up with a word for myself: idiosyncretic. A funky portmanteau, I know. What do you expect from a blog called zeitheist? This is where language comes to be mangled. Like Stephen Hawking's theory of black holes, where information is sucked in and spit out in a state of violent rearrangement. That's this blog all over.

Idiosyncretic is what today people think of as the mashup, in spiritual rather than musical terms. Silly word, representative of piling up wisdom from every corner of every belief system you get your hands on. Sooner or later that pile starts to make sense and you realize that you own it. Takes some dude phases (and phrases) to do it, but you get there.


Flynn takes it all in stride. Whatever misfortune falls his way, he goes with the flow. Chips are down, he leaps to do the right thing. "You're messing with my Zen thing, man," but he goes to it. Things calm down. Flynn goes back to meditating, to "knock on the sky and listen to the sound." Not many sci-fi heroes talk like that.

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound. Probably sounds like a pile of mixed-up something. That's what is so weird about Kevin Flynn: he's not trying to tell you what you want to hear, not like every other hero you encounter. How many of them talk in such a way it makes you think?

How many people talk like that?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

For The Birds

This first month of the new decade is going to be an exercise in disarray. I say this with confidence. Moving out of the house where you've lived for years is a big deal, it means organizing and compartmentalizing the wide range of items that have collected in the corners, in the closet and under the bed. Lots of things to purge, while the priceless value of others will be renewed. For all I know there may be folks who enjoy this activity. In my mind it's strictly for the birds.

Curious phrase and apropos, That's shit for birds is old army slang. Somebody in 1944 observed birds pecking at horse droppings, road apples if you will, and saw how it represented all that's meaningless and irrelevant in the world. I can get behind that, not only in the symbolic sense but literally as well. Look at some of the crap that has ended up in my possession over the last six years and it might well have come from a horse's ass.

The pile of old shirts, for instance, growing in the dusty corner of my closet for who knows how long. The very definition of irrelevant. Yesterday's fashion whim is tomorrow's landfill.

I like birds. I felt bad last week when that flock of blackbirds fell dead from the Arkansas sky. One thousand of them, perished in an instant, plummeting to the ground like the world's biggest, blackest feather pillow. Explanations as to why so dramatic a synchronized death plunge took place on new year's eve will never satisfy the awestruck among us. If Voldemort suddenly appeared and felled them with a blast of Hogwartian halitosis, that might come close to making us feel like it really happened. Reality, however, is not quite so, shall we say, stimulating.

Splashed by lightning or felled by a fusillade of hail, theories abound as to what croaked the sorry flock. The leading theory is that being too close to fireworks startled the blackbirds to their mortal demise. Takes the fun out of the whole idea, doesn't it? Explosions in the sky have never been more deadly.

It isn't my intent to keel over on account of fireworks. To the contrary, that's what I'm migrating toward. It's the time of year to head for spring climates. I'm like the cat in the window. For those who missed my post, Petula Clark sings poignantly of the cat in the window with a tear in its eye. The poor kitty is birdwatching and sad it can't fly. I know how it feels. Then again, it doesn't have to move out in a few weeks. Chin up, tabby: sitting in the window is a luxury.

The move comes at a time when I've spent too much time gazing out the window. I'm looking to have a more complete, more fully rounded experience. Living at Zoo Station has been fine. I'll remember it as the house where I worked harder at writing than anywhere else I've ever lived. That's a decent springboard for vaulting into the next phase. Just as the smoky peat of single malt whiskey doesn't come to life in the senses with quite as fulfilling a round wholeness as it does when accented by pipe tobacco or a Dunhill Red, this house has delivered a fair share of flavor but without total fulfillment. I can't very well spend the rest of my days at the window with a tear in my eye, can I?

As if I had anything to cry about. Consecutive to the aviary apocalypse, I was at home recalling the happy old year. It was a Friday night and the imminent new decade hours away hastened my sentimental thoughts. Fireworks over the city punctuated good memories, simultaneously obliterating them and clearing the sky for new ones.