The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter

Some time in 1990 I was wandering through the Karcher Mall in Nampa Idaho (it might actually be in Caldwell…the line between those two gets a bit confusing) and I happened to walk into the Sam Goody music store when they were playing Windham Hill: The First Ten Years over the sound system.

I don’t remember exactly what I was there to get.  Something by Nirvana or Sting or Nine Inch Nails or Damn Yankees or…or something.  What I was NOT there to buy was acoustic guitar music.

I listened to the music coming from the speakers with very conflicted emotions.  On one hand, at one level, I had an incredibly visceral reaction to it.  It touched my emotions directly without going down the usual path of stories and words.

On the other hand, it was really unlike anything else in my music collection.  I couldn’t really parse it’s “cool” factor without some kind of frame of reference.  I was a teenage boy who lived in a dormitory with all my peers.  We basically had two groups, rocker/metal/grunge listeners and country music listeners. The two groups didn’t particularly get along, and teenage boys aren’t very good at social independence…so ultimately I walked out of the store without buying anything.

Thirty minutes later I walked back in, laid down my twenty bucks, and walked out with a two-disk CD collection that has been a staple of my music library for almost two decades.

For the rest of my high school experience (and on into “real life”) I pretty much exemplified eclectic tastes in music, books, and pretty much any other media you can think of or define.  While many things contribute to my overall tastes and preferences, that moment in a Sam Goody was a watershed event in my musical development.

So it was no surprise that on Saturday evening, as I was taking pictures of an Oregon coast sunset, my iPod was gently playing the first disk on repeat.

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For starters, I was listening to George Winston play “Peace” as I took the following shots.




And then Michael Hedges’ “Aerial Boundaries” came on at almost exactly the right moment.

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Based entirely on the theme of the music, I hope you can see why it was so moving as I was taking the following photos:











And then, because album repeat is a beautiful thing, Will Ackerman’s “Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter” began to play as the last strains of light fell on the coast.

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If I ever get married again, AND I get to have any say in the whole event, I’d like to have an outdoor wedding at sunset.  On a beach.  And this is the music I would like to have played as the bride’s processional.

It captured the moment of my last shots so perfectly I couldn’t walk away until the song had ended.




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Yes, I am about to head off for the infamous K-B Family Reunion (if your family reunion was 200-300 people, your’s would be infamous too…trust me).  This year we convene in Seaside, Oregon; and if any of you happen to be in the area, and happen to see someone who looks strikingly like my avatar (or at least, so I’ve been told), feel free to wave/point/stare/run away.

I will be spending all day on Friday attacking the area golf course with gusto and a certain reckless abandon that will terrify anyone else within 300 yards, give or take the effects of wind variance.  That’s 300 yards in a 360 degree circle people…be afraid.

I will also be taking my beloved Canon EOS 10D with me, so expect lots of ridiculously silly photos of people (who may or may not be related to me) to appear in the days to come.

As I depart for a weekend of silliness, pot-luck food, beloved family-members, long conversations, a hilarious talent show, and AT LEAST one round of the hokey-pokey…let me leave you all with this link:

Garfield Minus Garfield

I’m pretty sure the July 29th entry sums up my entire blogging existence.

[EDIT: But, the June 04 entry is my absolute favorite; It's so "me" it's scary.]


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Where the Magic Happens

I’ve spent the last week struggling to finish ANY of the four drafts I now have in Live Writer.  At some point earlier today I finally gave up and decided to go a COMPLETELY different direction.  My Love has been running images from the random places in her life, and I decided to follow her lead and post up something I’m sure ALL of you are dying to see: my home office.


As you can see…I like my workspaces BUSY.

Equally important to a writing and drawing environment is a great source of reference material…so I also have a bookshelf full of some of my favorite things:


I also have two 6′ x 5′ bookshelves full of history, fiction, literature and reference works…but they aren’t out of storage yet so the books are sitting in boxes just out of sight to the right of this picture.  Eleven of them.  They look exactly like the one to the left of my desk:


Yes, I am a geek.  Yes, that’s a Sun workstation.  Yes, it’s running Solaris 10.  Yes, I am a BIG geek.

Alright, so what exactly IS all this crap on my desk???

First, we have my favorite books from the last century.  At least the ones that aren’t by Robert Jordan or L.E. Modesitt Jr. or Daniel Keys Moran or…


Starting up the left-hand side we have “The Oz Tales” in two volumes and “Wonder Tales” in one volume by L. Frank Baum.  Then we have “The Works of Jules Verne” and “The Works of H.G. Wells”; and then “The Looking Glass Wars” and “Seeing Redd” by Frank Beddor.  Those two aren’t really on my “Favorites” list…they’re just recent reads.  Then we have “The Gormenghast Novels” by Mervyn Peake, “The Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien, Hassain Hadaway’s translation of “The Arabian Nights”, “The Call of Cathulhu and Other Stories” by H. P. Lovecraft, “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” and “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and the venerable “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman.

Then from left to right I have the exceptional “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” and the utter magnificence called “The Ladies of Grace Adieu” by Susanna Clarke.  Then two big omnibus collections by Glenn Cook in “Chronicles of the Black Company” and “A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire” which were both very dark and yet surprisingly entertaining.

Then we get to two of the utter high points of my library…my ENTIRE 5000+ book library…the delightful “In the Night Garden” and the sheer pleasure that is “In the Cities of Coin and Spice” which comprise the two books in “The Orphan’s Tales” collection by Catherynne M. Valente.  Mrs. Valente has a very entertaining blog and a few wonderful short stories here and there, as well as a couple of other books that I haven’t yet found, but have every intention of owning simply as soon as possible.  I really can’t recommend these two books with mere words that do them justice.  The language, the imagery, the very tone and texture of her expression of thought…it’s simply transcendent literature.

From there we progress into my “pulp classics” horde…First we have four collections of stories by Robert E. Howard in “The Coming of CONAN The Cimmerian”, “The Bloody Crown of CONAN”, “The Conquering Sword of CONAN” and “The Savage Tales of SOLOMON KANE”…which really cover so much of Howard’s work.  I need to get the collections that cover Brand Mac Morn and Kull of Atlantis, but there are always more books to buy.  Next we have three volumes collecting several books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  “Under the Moons of Mars” collects the first three books in the Barsoom/John Carter of Mars series.  “The Moon Maid” collects all of the books in that series and “Pirates of Venus” collects the first two books in that series.  I have every book by Edgar Rice Burroughs in electronic format, and they are readily available from Project Gutenberg…but as with so many books, there’s something visceral about holding a book in your hand.  I have to admit I greatly prefer these particular reprintings by Bison Press, and I wish I’d bought more of the books in the series when they were available.

Next we get some short story collections by one of my more recent discoveries, Charles de Lint.  They all revolve around his remarkable city of Newford, and I’m utterly entranced by some of the recurring themes and storylines. “Dreams Underfoot”, “The Ivory and the Horn”, and “Moonlight & Vines” are the only ones I’ve picked up so far, but I’m sure I’ll have spent at least a hundred bucks on his books by the end of the year.

Finally, we get to my favorite author who isn’t a British woman or a dead southern gentleman.  Neil Gaiman is, in my opinion at least, the greatest living mind in fiction; prose, poetry or script.  As far as I know I have all of his readily available prose and poetry on this shelf.  “Stardust” is perhaps as beautiful a novel as it is as an illustrated story (which is over on the bookshelf), “Neverwhere” was a BBC miniseries before it was a novel, “American Gods” and it’s semi-sequel “Anansi Boys” topped the NYT and are mind-bending perfection, “Smoke and Mirrors” was his first short fiction collection and “Fragile Things” was his second. I have to point out that “Fragile Things” is probably my favorite collection of words in print.  It includes his poem “Instructions” which I consider to be the most moving words ever strung together.  The final book in the lineup is “Good Omens” which was co-written with Terry Pratchett.

You can also see the two sourcebooks for the Tactical Strategy RPG “Cadwallon” which I will admit I bought totally for the artwork.  The setting is a sort of dark fantasy Napoleonic Europe meets Robert Howard on a bad acid trip.  Did I mention the artwork is friggen STUNNING???  Sadly, there won’t be any further output from the creator (Rackham) as the company has gone through an executive and artistic “reorganization”…i.e. they fired all the people that made their products worth buying so they can drift into the obscurity of being just another Games Workshop/Warhammer wanna-be.

Also sitting on my desk is the leather-bound journal I bought last year, my Schaeffer fountain pen and a bottle of Schaeffer “Azure” blue ink.  All three of these were acquired when I was considering a road trip from Tumwatter, Washington at the start of US 101 and then out along the coast all the way to the Mexican border and from there take Mex-1 to Land’s End at the southern tip of Baja California near Cabo San Lucas.  I haven’t given up on the trip, but I haven’t decided if I’m gonna save the journal for that or re-purpose it for something more likely to happen in the next year.

OH!  Also visible in that picture are my four fuzzy friends:


From left to right we have my Mariners Rally Monkey (which is apparently utterly and completely exhausted of rally mojo), my Pink Ichiro Bear (It’s actually my daughter’s) wearing my shark tooth necklace (which helped me win more than $200 at the craps tables in Vegas), my daughter’s Dragon “Fantasy” who is keeping my bookworm “Munchums” (which I actually had to argue for in the divorce) company.


Moving left we have my PSP, twenty one PSP games (wow, looks like I have a couple RPGs…) and two PSP movies (they were two dollars each), two bottles of Knappogue Castle Irish Whisky 1994 hiding behind the speakers, my BlackBerry, wallet, passport, keys and a stack of CDs I just imported into iTunes (I think I see White Stripes, Raconteurs, Alanis Morrisette, Dave Matthews Band, Cake, Pearl Jam and The Goo Goo Dolls), and below that the notebooks and sketchbooks related to my fiction.  Yep, my deep dark secret is that I draft all my fiction longhand.  The old fashioned way…with a pen on paper.  I realize that costs me all my geek cred, but oh well, now you know.


Here you can see the Mac Mini (iTunes and iPhoto and Photoshop and Painter X), my Wacom Intuos 3 6×8, three Hotoi figures and a Fu Dragon.  The Keyboard and the Griffen Powermate are for the Mini.


This is the “vice” side of my desk.  You have my green tea-set hiding behind the speaker, my Eddie Izzard DVD, my Train concert DVD, and every DVD of Sting that money can buy.  Next to that is my Nintendo DS (my daughter picked the pink alligator case) and 13 games.  My Painter X manual and a book that should have been entitled “Painter 8 for dummies” and “How to Paint People in Painter”…but they went with the much less descriptive “Digital Character Design and Painting” just to confuse people.

Below that is my cigar box for my all time favorite cigar, the Playboy by Don Diego Double Corona (sadly the box holds my pipes and pipe tools and NOT the 25 tubes of tobacco heaven) and on top is my pipe/cigar lighter and a couple of cans of butane and my “pipe boot”.  Next to that is my humidor, which currently has less then twenty cigars and about 4 oz.’s of pipe tobacco.  On top of my humidor is my bronze reproduction of “Pan Consoling Psyche” which I LOVE.  And behind that is my bottle of Glenmorange Quanta Ruban Single Malt Scotch Whisky, still in the box.


This is the semi-random side of my desk.  Ordinarily my drawing desk is somewhere close by and my sketch pads and sketchbooks have their own home, and my drawing pencils and inking pens are over there.  Right now the Drawing Table is in storage, so I’m “making do” with what I’ve got.  You can see my three html/css reference books next to my humidor and my drawing stuff next to them.

From there you have my Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition, two marginal books on writing and submitting fiction, and then Lynn Truss’ marvelous “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” which should be mandatory reading for every English speaking child on earth.

Next to that are three photography books, “Lyrics by Sting” (by Sting obviously), a leather-bound and silver-leaf copy of “The Complete Frank Miller Batman” (by Frank Miller), and my birthday gift to myself, Volume One of “The Absolute Sandman” by Neil Gaiman.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that I haven’t yet even unwrapped the plastic.  I have this desire to pour myself a glass of scotch, light my favorite pipe, and experience the Magnum Opus of my favorite author from beginning to end on a perfect evening.

Lastly I have my “art bookcase” which is supposed to hold most of my art related books.  It doesn’t actually hold ANY of my Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Baroque, Renaissance, Second Empire, Romanesque, Romanticist, Realist or Impressionist books.

So basically, this is my “Fantasy Art” and “Comic/Manga Art” bookshelf.


Charles Vess, Roy Krenkle, Rodney Matthews, Frank Frazetta, Windsor McKay, Masamune Shirow, J. Scott Campbell, Ben Dunn, Jeff Smith and Kazu Kibushi would be the highlights here.

Well, that’s it.  If you made it this far, I’m very impressed…or a little worried…


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Visions of a Better World

Lat Thursday, one of my favorite bloggers talked about being more open and less anonymous on the blog-o-sphere, and I’ve thought about that a LOT over the weekend. So I thought I’d share a little story from last week and end with a very personal revelation.

Last Thursday, I had an evening of revelry scheduled. I was off to go see the pod-person (i.e. the beautiful little girl that burst fourth from my ex-wife innards seven years ago) perform in her end-of-the-year musical performance.

As I had for several performances past, I brought along the Olympus point-and-shoot digital camera and settled in for an evening of excruciating-audio-torture and intense-parental-pride as my daughter’s private school attempted to demonstrate just what five hundred dollars a month is buying these days (and let me tell you, musically, not much).

As intense-parental-pride overwhelmed the excruciating-audio-torture and moved me to my feet, I pointed the little Olympus POS at the stage and clicked the shutter. A lot.

I got 28 of the BEST blurry images I could have possibly hoped for in this lifetime, or the next.  As photos of my daughter, a performance, or…hell, even just a stage with humans on it, they sucked fetid dingo kidneys.

Blurry ones at that.

It was the last straw.  I’ve had “take great pictures” on my personal goals list since some time in the early 90s.  So on Friday morning I hit craigslist at work and hunted for a deal across every distinct area in three states.

That night, after three emails and a slew of phone calls, I secured a Canon EOS 10D with Battery Grip, two batteries, and all the caps, chargers, software and manuals it had when it rolled off the assembly line in 2004.

I then went to Fry’s Electronics and paid more for a 75-300mm EF lens and a 2GB CF II card then I did for the camera.  FUN TIMES!!!

I spent all weekend shooting photos of the cats.  Because everyone needs 302 RAW-format images (at 8MB a piece) of uncooperative felines.  Seriously.  It’s not even negotiable…people NEED this.

Things I’ve learned in the last three days:

1) A decent camera and a good lens really are worth every penny.
2) I need more lenses.  At a minimum a good wide angle and a macro.
3) Downloading off a cardreader as opposed to directly off the camera is MUCH faster.  Like AN HOUR faster.  That should be printed somewhere in the manual.  In RED.
4) I need two more batteries, and a 16GB CF II card.
5) Sleeping cats are surprisingly good test subjects.  Awake cats are HORRIBLE test subjects.
6) Taking just one good picture of my daughter with her beloved pet is worth more than just money and time.

And so, in a spirit of less anonymity on the blog-o-sphere, I present the pod-person and her beloved Moe.  You will never see a more loving and devoted cat EVER.

Pod-Person and Moe...Feel the LOVE

Just LOOK at that face.  That’s his HAPPY face.  If I held him like that I’d need more stitches than all the baseballs used in the major leagues.  EVER. But I know why he lets her maul him…

…no matter what comes in life, she will always be “my brown eyed girl.”


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