Friday, June 25, 2010


We're going to Portland, Oregon, and couldn't be more excited. This isn't just a weekend trip; it's a pilgrimage. A visit to Powell's, the Mecca of books, the greatest bookstore in the world, is at the top of the list. We will make a beeline from the train station and might not be seen again for years. Okay, maybe not years, but we'll be dug in for a good spell, let me tell you. Watch this space for updates!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hearts in Seattle

"Heart and Lungs"

"Pillow-Shaped Heart"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Holy cow, what a game!

From the edge of elimination, the US team is vindicated by a single beautiful strike. They beat a stacked deck for an incredible finish in stoppage time. I was this close to a heart attack.

It was a contest of champions, with so many breathtaking attempts at the goal that fell wide or bounced off the bar. Again and again. The nil-nil score stretched into tense infinity until it felt like the field was going to crack open.

Then that explosive kick by team captain Landon Donovan.

They earned it. The talent on this year's team is amazing, and they have had to fight every step of the way. Blind referees and six-handed goalies were not enough to stop them.

What a beautiful goal that was.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Speechless Tuesday

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Song

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When We Were Five

Pitchforks and overalls don't leap to mind when I listen to this song. That's just me. It reminds me of my sister, who introduced me to Alphaville when we were teens, when she was the hip pop maven and me the burgeoning dork. But that isn't why I've posted it...

Today officially marks five years of zeitheisty goodness. On 6/17/05 we pulled the trigger on this time stealer. The date is mentioned in the song, a piece of kismet that made posting this irresistible. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spring Effects

Unless you're acclimated to it, Seattle this time of year can be miserably fickle. As I type it is overcast and gloomy, the ground resplendent with last night's rain, the air a breath of wet grass disturbed by crows guarding their nests. This sublime misery, as a local once stated it, is how isolationist Seattle prefers the world see us. It's terrible here, stay the eff away, and so on. That attitude takes some adjustment too.

Yet the sun doth shine upon these lands. Forsooth, tis not strange to see thither orb of honey gold appear as if by appointment Friday afternoon, coincident with happy hour, lofting hearts like boulders in a trebuchet into the very heavens. And behold, there is much rejoicing.

Last week the dodgy bastard showed up right when the World Cup was getting underway. Oh joy, oh love. We set out to see the US/England match at an early hour. It was like the planet turned benevolent, sky a blue blaze over the George & Dragon where it was already at capacity before 8am. Love a duck. You need more than a mob of Brits to deter the intrepid Seattle football fan, not least of all when it's been sixty years since the last match between our nations.

Brilliant match. We ended up at Murphy's to watch. Our team scored on an error (it's not easy being Green) but we'll take points where we can get them. Bob's your uncle.

A draw is better than a defeat, which is honestly what I had expected for our side. It was a rare day indeed when I was cheering for American interests abroad. Post-game, the mood everywhere we went was jubilant. The game played on screens in every conceivable format, from family dining restaurants to neon-lit dives, and streams of humanity took to the street afterward to bask in the pillowy afterglow with an attitude of hey, we didn't lose.

With the sun shining, we had nothing to lose. The city on golden afternoons is a fat slice of heaven pie. People smile and say hi. This is epic, believe me, for staid Seattle. We smiled right back and got ourselves some Sapporo and sushi at Issian, Japanese stone grill restaurant without equal.

Though it has resumed being crappy outside since those shining weekend days that now seem so long ago, our solar batteries have been tickled. They retain sufficient juice to see us through to the next bright patch. They have sustaining power for the week, which is spent primarily indoors anyhow. No big loss. Anything that drives me to the keyboard is a good thing!

The gal is also keeping busy. She has been working on her next manuscript and maintaining a daily regimen that is really admirable. Rainy Wednesdays may not be her idea of fun, but she makes the most of it. Case in point: she's into fuzz.

Fuzz is not technically accurate, but I can't say felting without feeling dirty. It sounds illegal. Nevertheless, the results are so damn cute, it doesn't matter what labels you want to use. That's the gal's handiwork on the left; the vampire bunny, which recently made an appearance at Vault of Story, served as inspiration.

She's hooked on Totoro. At the end of a tiring work day, I watched the gal rip open her newly-arrived parcel of felting materials and tools and set about crafting this sweet little piece of anime into a tiny wonder. It stands a few inches tall. It weighs as much as baby's breath on your palm. I suspect that soon her apartment will be teeming with these guys!

Spring is the occasion for renewal. How better to recognize this event then with a fresh lid? I was growing out my mane not truly from vanity but more along the lines of torpitude; also, I don't enjoy getting my haircut in public. If the gal would allow it, I'd be back to my clippers and shorn to the veritable scalp. However, she does not allow it. She might love Captain Picard, but she doesn't want to date him. Very well. Her wish is my hirsuteness. I got myself to Rick's in her neighborhood, a fine shop known around town as the Psychic Barber.

The story goes that a psychic once operated adjacent the salon. This isn't so unusual in West Seattle, where you can find metaphysical storefronts of all kinds, from gem-sellers to self-improvers, and someone with special sensitivity fits right in. Add the tonsurial element and you've got something special. The psychic left behind their neon sign which just so happened to look good with the barber's. Imagine my disappointment, even so, when Rick refused to confirm or deny if he knew what I would be doing in five years.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Speechless Tuesday*

*Profiles in Love edition

From the top: Dad, Mom, Bowie.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I'm a baseball guy, but every four years you'll find me hollering my lungs out for the World Cup. Way back when I pulled the 3-11am shift at Trader Joe's in San Francisco, and after we would hit a taqueria for drinks -we weren't going to sleep so might as well do the next best thing, right? So there we were half out of our minds and something exciting was happening on the tube. Football teams from around the globe were playing their hearts out. The year was 1998, the host country France, and the excitement was infectious. I've never quite recovered.

It's my buddy's birthday tomorrow and we're celebrating in style at The George & Dragon, a Seattle institution. The US-England match starts at 830am local time, a wee bit early for the weekend, but we don't care, it's the World Cup!

Interesting to note is that the World Cup is being held for the first time in Africa. Here's some footage. Check out Bishop Tutu!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Scan Arcana No 5

The last in a series!

I know a little about other novelist's process when it comes to creating a manuscript. Most that I'm aware of don't bother with the handwritten stage. My first stories were written by hand and I've been doing it for a long time now. It wasn't until I got serious about completing a novel that I realized some typing would be in order... eventually. Thankfully I'm well past that stage now but thought it would be fun to wrap up the "Scan Arcana" series by showing off the different phases of the manuscript.

You know me. Showing off is like breathing.

I started on the endless voyage years ago, around the same time that I started this blog. The outlook was mighty different in those days. My ideas for the novel were too many to list here. I was excited to get it written but had no idea how I would actually do it. Heady days.

In its initial form, the manuscript resembled what I'm doing over at Vault of Story: I serialized it. Rather than sharing online, however, I put new sections into a notebook behind the counter of a local coffeehouse where I happened to spend way too many of my waking hours. People were very encouraging with their comments. Those pages are awful in hindsight; then again, I've never been the biggest fan of my own writing, which tends to go the vinegar route with age.

Still, it was good to produce. I got into the daily groove of putting words to the page and the pile slowly grew.

After abandoning the public approach, I went into overdrive. Churn it out, I told myself, just get the words where they belong. A Steinbeck quote recently posted at Secret Forest would have been my credo, had I been aware of it: "Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on."

I didn't quite get the whole novel written. My premise was half-formed, a mistake I'll never make again. Lots of waffling ensued. I didn't know precisely where the tale was going, which is a little like sailing without a compass on a cloudy night. Sailing a sea of perspiration, because that is what you are doing all the time, sweating buckets to finish what you started.

Thus came the part I dreaded: editing.

It wasn't as torturous as I thought but editing a half-baked manuscript does take forever. This marks the beginning of the typing phase. Having a brain that only works in the morning, I'd go into work early and type for an hour. Do this every day and you'll wind up with a manuscript, it is inevitable. It worked fine as a process and the novel suddenly, magically, marvelously, had a beginning, middle, and, yes, the best part, an end. What I didn't know yet was that having a completely baked manuscript means more not less editing.

Sailing the seas of perspiration was never less fun.

Listen, writing is work. It is the hardest thing to do. You are the only one who can convince yourself to do it. Friends and family think you're a good writer and say nice things about what they've read, but it comes down to you, baby, nobody else, to make the damn thing readable.

Every writer's mantra is the same: Make The Damn Thing Readable.

Make it or break it, you have to do something -because stopping is not on the table. Finishing is non-negotiable. You would let down the people in the novel you've come to love, for one, and it tears you up to even consider fating them to the gloomy purgatory of an unfinished story. There's no pressure like that exerted by fictional characters of your own making. It sounds weird but in some ways they are more real than real people. They have startled you with their decisions. They have made and atoned for mistakes that got people they love hurt. The last thing you want to do is make existence worse for them. Nobody can live with that kind of guilt.

We're in the home stretch, the horizon is in sight. The manuscript -toot! toot!- looks the best it ever has and I'm optimistic it will be really and finally done this summer.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Speechless Tuesday

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

My Brain Hurts A Lot

As of this week, we've been up in this joint five years. Five years. We so dope. The best part? The Thin White Duke sang a song for us...

Solidarity with Accompaniment by Magnetic Fields

Versions of what happened Monday morning are flying fast and furious, and whatever you want to believe, the situation is outrageous. Humanitarian aid should be allowed to reach those who need it, and the fact that it requires a "freedom flotilla" to bring food and medicine to people living in a state of siege is insane. Rather than pound you over the head with rhetoric, which would be easy here from my cosy armchair, allow me to express solidarity for the suffering peoples of Gaza and the West Bank and offer a prayer for their swift relief from oppression by Israel and Hamas, who appear to be connected with the organizers of the flotilla.

I listened to The Magnetic Fields this morning, always good for lifting your mood. Here's one of their songs for your listening pleasure:

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Speechless Tuesday