Sunday, September 30, 2012


When it comes to basic home repairs -- audible drips, pipes that groan, drains that gurgle, and things that otherwise go bump in the night -- I'm not totally inept, thank you very much. I may not be a deft hand with the wrench, but I can switch on a stereo.

For the modest price of some decent speakers, over the years I've fixed the grumbling of the toilet, a rattle in my refrigerator motor, and the plunk, plunk, plunk between my shower and fireplace just by blasting Beethoven, Beach House, or Wilco.

Funny how they never teach these basic survival skills in school. The stereo works magic on a car as well. That annoying sound your brakes are making or the tap-tap-tap under the hood? Gone. It's all a matter of volume and adjusting the bass. Recently I silenced a squeak in the rear wheel with the proper application of some Screaming Jay Hawkins.

A disclaimer here: A stereo won't fix everything. I've found even Bartok won't repair a severed cable, fix a short, sew a button, or mend a broken heart. That's why god gave us duct tape.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I see it, do you?

They say the mind always searches for patterns. This looks just like a half-awake mastiff or sighing boxer to me.

Or maybe an angry old woman.

In actuality, it's a ... it's a ... (tell you later, gator.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


When I was a child, my father would take me to art museums. Not to make this sound like we visited an art museum every week, because we didn't, still we popped into one or another maybe twice a year. In Seattle, Los Angeles, the Art Institute in Chicago, and so forth.

But the thing that struck me then, and that strikes me now when I visit such places, even the Louvre, is that it's a very unnatural way to see a picture.

Because in a museum, you can't see a single picture, by itself; the picture has uninvited company, hung shoulder to shoulder with others it never asked to meet. And even if you want to concentrate on a single painting, that's very difficult, because you're distracted by the one on the left and the right, and the halls and rooms that follow with further pictures. My eye travels, gets confused.

These men and women, they painted their picture to be seen as the only one, all alone, with a real estate unto itself. Not next to a Leonardo or a Van Gogh, fighting for attention. There is a point where too much significance becomes insignificant.

I guess my favorite art museum was the one with the impressionists, in Paris. As I recall, the place had once been a train station, with uneven wooden boards as flooring. I liked it because the paintings had something in common, but most of all, I liked it because a man I loved in Amsterdam took me there. And I probably studied his back as he viewed the paintings more than I studied the paintings themselves. Committing him to memory, the way he stood, with his shoulders and head straight and tall, not doing the head cocking thing to imply that I might be missing something.

That day I burned his image into my brain. Purposefully. His back,the straight crop of his blond hair just above his jacket, the elegant pleat in the upper part of his jacket just between his shoulder blades. I see him still, standing there, in front of some masterpiece or other.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yeah, I'm Back

I've been away a long time, on a job, feeding the monster. The news monster, and not the big one either, just a local, pocket monster. But really, the way news works these days, what's the difference, other than salary, awards, respect, and prestige.

It's all about shoveling the fuel as fast as you can. Regardless of size, the monster never chews, just gulps and belches and asks for more.

When the job finally ended last Friday, I thought I'd hop right back on the blog train. I was wrong.

When you spend all day and all night scouring the internet or attending meetings for more monster-fodder, the first thing to go is literary style -- your voice. The second thing to go is the butt. You spend all day in a chair, need I say more?

It's a Titanic effort to turn my mind from the act of writing to the practice of relaying information, and an equal effort to reverse course. Some people can dance between both sides of their brain; I have to get down on the mat and wrestle. My brain is slow to turn, but it's a reliable chap and eventually follows the compass.

I like my brain. Not to sound too Cartesian about this, but we've been friends for a long time. And though, from a young age, I've been told it could do more if pushed and shoved into more rigorous action, I kind of doubt that.

Though not the best brain in the world, it can do a lot of things, just not all at once.

When I ask the wheels to turn in a different direction, we get all physical about it, and hike heart-thumpingly long and fast. It helps the voice and it's good for the butt.

Property I found last week when feeding the monster. The agents were nice enough to let me snoop around today (with Albert) because they saw the post.