Thursday, March 31, 2011

What a night.

Read Grump.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ben Kramer Memorial Poker Tournament

Mike, the poker room manager gives some pre-tourney instructions. Cat Balou is sitting next to the dealer, with Opinh Bombay to her left. 

Clockwise from Cat balou: Opinh Bombay, Beermantm, Mad Mosby, gizzlewick, Sandman 

Down at the end of the table: Bricks and Cactus52 

Sandman's "nuts" are a card protector made with buckeyes that PA member Crash gave him last year as part of our protector exchange. The chip stack is what we started with: 6k. The coinage is actually Hannukah chocolates provided by my Dear Wife.

Sandman's other nuts against Opinh Bombay's AK. 

Salt in the wound but amongst good friends: Short-stacked, Sandman pushed with The Bronson. I called with 89 off, flop a straight to his top pair. He hits trips on the river. KevinB56 look on.

Good game, ladies and gents. For a recap, please click through.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Vegas

In that I am here with a group from Poker Academy, news of the trip will be posted on the PA forums. The first installment is up. If anything outside of that subject merits additional verbiage, I'll post it here. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the PA forums.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vegasm, Baby!

Yeah, right. That's me alright. Party hardy.

I am ready to hit the tables.  I've allotted two buy-ins a day, just in case I have the worst run of bad luck in my poker 'career'. Not that I'm counting on that to happen. I am hoping the trip pays for itself again.

Long time readers will remember that I went last year with a disadvantage that kept me from the tables for all but 12 hours in a five-day period. Gone. Two rivered three-outers this afternoon with all the money in on the turn, and I didn't bat an eye or miss a beat.

Today I packed my bags and stacked a cord of firewood. I made someone chuckle. I made a stranger shed a tear of joy. I watched a mother cut her son's hair on their patio and saw a young girl playing in the lower branches of a flowering tree.

Tomorrow DW and I are going to spend the day on one long date that will continue up to the point when she drops me off at the airport. I have promised to keep my phone charged.

Maybe by the time I get home those salamander newts will be swimming around in the pond.

I'll keep you updated.

High Contrast

I recently had an opportunity to sit and talk with a local artist whose name automatically is mentioned when the discussion turns to the fluxus movement, a genre, or perhaps over-arching theme encompassing a range of largely performance-based arts that continues to have a certain panache forty years hence. It was an easy conversation to have, we of a similar age, a shared love of themes in art-making, and a passion for poker. I discovered in our conversation that he had also been one of the more prolific arts writers for the area some thirty years ago.

With such a pedigree and our budding camaraderie, I asked him what exhibits he had seen this month that he found interesting. His response was “None.”

“None?” Not that I was that surprised; yet, even in the worst months, I manage to find at least one show with enough merit to write a thousand words, and I pressed him with specific artists who had work up.

“Didn’t see it.” And after I had gone through my list with the answer being the same time and again, he clarified, “I don’t go out much anymore. The crowd is just a little too young and hip for me these days.”

Again, we had found common ground, the difference being that despite the demographic that perpetuates the mutually congratulatory, trendy scene, I feel a need to view the art that mutely sits along the periphery. I am present in support of the lonely and try to ignore the fact that I am only one of two people in the room with gray hair.

Now, I recognize flaws in the position I take here, because, depending on whether it is a solo exhibit or group show, there is at least one other person in the room who has a vested interest in the art being shown; yet, for that day, the attention still is focused away from the art. Plus, I will admit a little distraction myself on opening nights, for the youngsters  often manage their best to outshine the bride. It is with this in mind that I make a point to schedule a second visit after the hullabaloo subsides.

So, when DW reminded me in a very specific monotone that we had to be present as early as 1030h to see the unveiling of a new video by an up-and-comer, it was with mixed emotions I tersely responded that I needed no reminder. What I needed was a cup of coffee.

We had stayed overnight in the city, which we are wont to do when cultural events run late. And the coffee I required would have normally been for the ride home had we not run into the art star the night before. When asked after his well-being and what he was up to, he told us about the next morning. After taking note that the conversation was not in the least bit reciprocal, and without consultation, I said we would attend, for I had yet to find inspiration for the month’s essay. My punishment the next morning, if you will, was to get dressed early enough to go out onto the streets and find coffee, and bring it back to the hotel room.

I knew that area of downtown well, and had my choice of coffee shops and cafes. So, when I found the line of those in need extending past the entrance at my first choice, I had but to walk thirty feet to another establishment with suitable joe. The line, perpendicular to the service counter, was only three deep, making me the fourth. I grabbed a local weekly newspaper and took my place.

Although I was scanning the arts section for something I might have missed, I was aware enough to know when I was second in line and looked up. What I had missed with my head in the paper was the shifting of the queue from what it had been when I first arrived. It now ran alongside the counter and was ten deep, and I was standing somewhat awkwardly outside of the line. 

What followed is a bit hazy, for I still lacked that certain acuity that coffee provides of a morning, but I do remember making overtures to the guy who ostensibly was third in line and getting no reaction. However, the first in line, ready to place his order, plus the barista were both engaged in the small commotion, and I could tell by the look on the server that he was not buying my lobby. The customer in front, a gentleman younger than I but still older than anyone else in the shop, said to the room at large, “It’s okay, he’s my lover. What do you want to drink, Honey?”

Clearly a ruse to all observers; and whether or not it was meant to expedite matters with a certain compassion or embarrass the old fellow who was clearly out of his element (I will let the reader’s own disposition choose), it nevertheless allowed me to place my order for both a large coffee with an extra shot and a medium soy latte. I handed the guy a ten, took my coffees, thanked him, went out the door, tripped over the leash of a dog tied to a parking meter, and, although saving myself from the same fate, both beverages fell to the sidewalk. 

Well, a little surge of adrenalin will go a long way, and sufficiently stoked myself, I knew enough to not return to the hotel room empty-handed, nor stand in the line from which I had just come and that was now sixteen deep, so I moved down the street and around the corner to the café my wife and I like and frequented nearly every time we are in town.

The host greeted me with a smile that said he recognized me, and in his Italian English asked, “What can I do for you, my friend?”

Seeing they he was busy and perhaps beyond patience myself, “Latte. Soy.” was my sole response.

“Ah, I have one just made, but the customer left without it. Here it is. No charge.”

Need I bother to relate what happened to the top half of the foamy contents when I sneezed?

DW was only half-pleased as well, but since the gallery was in a neighborhood away from downtown, a promised refill before hitting the road for home soothed and we headed out the door.

Portland  prides itself on being bicycle-friendly.

(To be continued.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

He says he can shout, don't hear you. — Firesign Theatre

Not much for writing the last day or so. It happens when I'm writing and other topics intrude that seem to merit attention. "Write about me!" "No, me!" "I wanna be written about!" like a bunch of little brats. Can't they see I'm busy?

Then they start acting up, like that's going to get me to react in a good way. One even called me 'draconian', of course misused in the context.  I'll tell ya, you don't want to get on my bad side.

"At first blush, the rejection of a group formulation in favor of another of a smaller scale may pose some of the same problems: hierarchical structures that may or may not be explicit, or an economy en masse may require some legislation. Yet, in the spirit of the exhibit, if the rule of thumb is an ebullient purge of said appendage to a nose with another like digit as butt plug, the mayhem, while seemingly liberating may be more an exclamation of a resolute, reactionary alienation than an enduring communication of intent."

I rather like some of the paintings; nevertheless, I struggle to find something nice to say. 

Apologies for the stupid html copy/paste font problems.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where You Find It

That's the name I have chosen for this photo: "Where You Find It." I would add, "but you have to be looking for it," except sometimes you just stumble upon it. Still, in a given place and time you recognize it as having some intrinsic value. Or potential.

In this case (and there is a clue immediately behind the cart), for me, it was provided a context. It fit, and in that synchronous moment, it may have been the best thing I saw that day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Phoning it in

My initial impulse was to post this photo without commentary. That was last night. But I've been doing a lot of posting late at night, either without the advantage of a cuppa or a loosened frontal lobe, and wake the next morning with the nagging feeling that I didn't give my best effort. (In the words of an old roommate of mine and assuming that the beverage contains alcohol, "Never apologize for something you do while drinking.") And now, after retiring early last night, waking and putting away four or five espressos, the photo seems a bit too dark, but I can safely blame that on the google rescrambling or my monitor.

Yet, all of this doesn't explain why I would choose this photo to share.

I am reminded of a second-semester session with my primary adviser in grad school. I had just finished a group of smaller sculpture, some that I have shared here, that now in hindsight, were merely formal exercises, despite the narrative implicit in their materials. Perhaps I was just lazy and irresponsible, for when he asked me to explain the "about,"  I replied, "They're just beautiful. Fucking beautiful." At the time, that was all I was prepared to share, not certain that even he was interested in the fact that the found materials commented on the manufacturing process from whence they came or the societal aspects of their intended usage as end products. Still, my response did little to stimulate further discussion during the hour slotted. And it may not come as a surprise that by the end of that first year, he and the full committee of three overseers suggested that my experimentation without an accompanying discourse indicated that I might be ready to consider removing myself from the program for a while.

Well, that didn't happen. Instead, I quit my full time job in security and took a part-time job in a bookstore. (Kid in a candy store, let me tell you.) I often slept in my studio at school, dropped a couple stones on a dry bagel diet, and fought back with a prodigious body of work that was so rich in a self-contained narrative that it required little explanation. It was accordingly received.

That said, I like the photo.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A number of things

Had I stayed home today, I would have continued to clean the greenhouse. I started the project the day before yesterday, first dismantling two growing tables I built in year two of our experiment in farming. The tables were actually elevated troughs for growing greens in late winter, if not to sell, then to at least have fresh lettuce and spinach for our own table.

Each table top was eight-inches deep, one somewhat larger than the other, the larger longer with a storage shelf below. Both were lined and had drainage systems.

As I took them apart, I studied how they were put together, and although I could not remember the process exactly, I came to the conclusion that much time and thought had gone into the construction. And knowing the speed at which I work, I estimated that these two tables, plus a third that has weathered outdoors for several years and will therefore be taken to the burn pile, account for three days of planning and building. This is what I occupied my mind with for the two hours, from removing the first screw to lumber stacked in the barn where it now awaits repurposing.

But clearing out the under-utilized shelves, rusting tools and spilled soil would have to wait another day, for the city called.

My editor suggested a couple exhibits. He thought they'd be right up my alley, given, perhaps, my most recent essay. This is not to say he assumed I would appreciate the work, but nonetheless be inspired to put thoughts to page. This, despite my notice that nothing would be forthcoming in the week before Vegas and I was squeezing in another trip to Portland against my better judgment and additional pressure from a 'Dry-Day-Honey-Do' list.

"Ah, Vegas," he added over coffee when we met a bit later, "I will be giving a presentation there this spring with DH (a rather well-known arts writer).

But style has gotten ahead of a time line. I saw one exhibit, about which (jumping back to coffee) I will write over the course of three weeks, not only because of my schedule but there is so little to remark on that I will be able to attach other contemporaneous issues of concern. There are reasons, both realized and delusional, for making failed art, and the level of expectation that the viewer brings is contingent on oh so many of life's variables. I am grateful for such latitude; yet, as I come to understand more completely, it is the depth of experience that allows me to both draw from and readily dismiss an object in a very short span of time. That said, I have also learned to circle back around a couple times and try to understand why someone would spend the time in the creation of. Therein lies my continued learning.

I could leave it at that and be content to let the parallels sit as a pair, if I was not aware that what comes after the sophomore endeavor is that most telling; that, and while two is a number, an implication has been established that more would be forthcoming. Therefore, I don't suppose my editor would take umbrage with the observation that a conversation with him is akin to reading several chapters that require only that one take notes. The man can talk, and it behooves me to indulge in a shared fuel of choice, not so much to stay awake but keep up, be at-the-ready, and bolster an efficient cogency.

A tennis player and a furrow-stepper walk into a coffee shop... It ends well.

Coming and going, I counted four mattresses and two utility trailers alongside the highway.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Small celebrations

Yesterday, I finished an essay for an artist's series of paintings that he is publishing as a book. His response started with a one-word paragraph: "Beautiful."

Ah, what a joy! for this man's wit and intelligence far surpasses mine and is able to parse shit from shinola beyond the norm.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's in a name?

For starters, at this late hour on this particular day, I am stone cold sober. Never a specific need of a reason, and without guarantee that sometime after the clock strikes again, it all behooves me to make this quick, at least under 45 minutes. More for the time stamp than the bottle, mind you.

No, my grandfather's nickname was Paddy for some reason, perhaps because he drank, I couldn't say; and it is also doubtful I would have understood an explanation, as French as he was. And on the other side, German, though lineage does indicate some Anglo in there somewhere. So I will leave it by stating a distaste for green brews.

And I suppose I should be grateful that a more formal moniker was attached, although the shortened version readily rhymes in the ten-year old mind. I was not built for speed. But young minds test fate, and misjudge patience as passivity plus distance of a reach, the grasp of a bale-bucker. It ended soon enough.

I have a patch of hair quite lighter than the rest, and once the mind of others was developed enough to make associations, I acquired my own nick. "Spot." That was fine back then. But you know, you'll always be seventeen years old in your home town.  Don't.

A certain level of sophistication occurred about the same time I decided I was going to be a poet or philosopher, still folks insist the shorter and familiar, family in particular. And farmers.

Today I have another name, one truer than than a button pleading, "Kiss Me! I'm Irish!" and answer to it readily. And in ten short days, if  you see me, holler it loud, clearer than bells, and prepare to lose your green to me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Been weird for birds recently. The sandhill cranes came through a couple weeks ago, way early, and today I saw my first violet and green swallows, birds that typically don't arrive until the bluebirds are sitting on eggs. So odd. Yet, I'm inclined to think they know something I don't.

Even so, it's been an odd week for weather. A lot of wind, wildly shifting temperatures (again, wind), rain, sun, rain, sun, and this morning, snow. The pond is full and the ground soaked through. Puddles everywhere going nowhere anytime soon. The blooms are starting to finally show on the decorative plum, but at least four weeks later than last year, and we're down to about a quarter-cord of wood.

No salamander newts to be seen in the pond. Maybe the pair of mallards and another of wood ducks have something to do with that. I am still caught unaware when I hear the quacks, wondering for a split second if I somehow forgot to put our long-dispatched ducks in the coop the night prior.

Wednesday is the day the local paper arrives. Usually,  the first thing I'm after is the fishing report  but the front page caught my attention. After a thirty-year hiatus, FFA is coming back to the high school. An agricultural area without an FFA. So odd.  Yet some folks have had the foresight to provide some initial funding for the group, which I also would be inclined to do if I could somehow finagle one of their jackets for myself.

Saw this today:

 A bit odd, no?

Under coverings

There are parts of my world that are rather insular. That does not mean that I refrain from going outside to have a look around. Or form opinions.

Call it a change in the weather, but lately, I've been peeling off a couple layers, and in that the dungeon is already a bit too cluttered, find another place to lay these dearly/closely-held, stylishly padded vestments.

Later this spring, a three-day conference will be held in Portland, and I will be 'covering' it for PORT. The purpose of the conference is to present and discuss the type of art that the gentleman in the video below, Hennessey Youngman,  satirizes.  Weather permitting, I'm thinking I might look good in a sarong for the occasion.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Here's what it is: I'm in the middle of another essay, this one for a friend's book, so I'm writing a lot. (Come to think of it, I'm not certain you can call what I'm trying to write is an essay.) And when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing the "essay", this blog and other things that are rather like writing.

 (A reprise of a work I made in 1993, because it fits now.)

And reading, for the writing (two books) and for the pleasure of the writing I'm reading.  And then seeing gets in the way again.


But just for a little while. 


Saturday, March 12, 2011

And when we return...

Man, I'm tired.

A couple nights ago after the Japan earthquake, I got it into my head to stay up all night to wait for whatever repercussions there would be for Hawaii. For good reason, I thought, with the kids there and all, so I had a cup of coffee at 2300h. Answers were predicted for 0500h my time, made it until 0400h, woke at 0600h to hear that very little made it past the shoreline, BUT WAIT WAIT WAIT, Oregon, Washington and California were next, A DIRECT SMACK FLAT UP AGAINST THE COAST... God, that weatherman looked serious drawing all kinds of crazy lines on his map. Dead serious. A direct gaze for several seconds into the camera as they cut to commercials. So seriously full of himself. I went back to sleep without a care.

Of course, things are totally fucked in Japan, but you knew that already, and I've never been one to belabor the obvious within these diodes, or whatever it is they're using these days to make it all shiny and cozy.  Yeah, cozy.

Because I'm exhausted. But I can't really blame it on the tectonic activity. Something else, maybe bad art combined with good conversation. Maybe just back to the television. So fucking inane. All of the news. Yeah, all of it.  All of them. But there I go again, stating the obvious.

Yeah, tired. Wish I never heard the word "deconstruction."

Hey, you know what's better than when you have great implied odds with a gutter ball and hit it against two flopped sets?

I'm going to go let the frogs sing me to sleep. Saw a big, swollen female making her way to the pond. At least they're having fun.

See what I did there? Tried to end on a halfway decent note. A bit of the pastoral and then all pissy again.

Here. Let me try again. That bare branch that cuts in from the left foreground of the picture. Love it.

Tree frogs and their small cousins here don't croak, so to speak. I'll take suggestions.

Sometimes art needs no commentary

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dodging raindrops

I went for a walk in the woods. The lichen glowed as it does with an overcast sky.
 The further I walked, the more elk trails I saw, and I couldn't help but think of cougars.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What level, this?

The joys of poker. I didn't play
yesterday, yet hands were dealt.
boards read, and shenanigans.
Some took notes.
(I guess it's about time.)

Things you already know like arms folded tight and legs fixed crossed,
but I will tell you this: a hand offered and one's name uttered prior to
introductions and a yet another hand placed on one's back
when all before was gendered revulsion...

Imagine a world
where phone technology
developed without
personal computers.
(I could more readily share.)

Then again,
as the flames move back and again from one's belly to the wall
in a snicker and sneer,
it is best that we settle for the inadequacies of an emoticon.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Or honk. I haven't decided yet. Or it may be a little bit of both.

In eight minutes I have to shower (unless a song holds me a bit longer) so I may once again be presentable and undetectable within a given proximity. Therefore editing will be at a minimum.

But I digress.

At eight thirty this morning I will be eating a grease pillow and chasing it with coffee as preparation for three hours of examining and discussing the art of young aspirers (aspirants?). This will be followed no doubt by sandwich stuffing on bread that is hard on the fascia cells before another four hours of look and yadda yadda. Oh, I do so enjoy it. Truly.

That takes care of the first part. But before that I must make the trip, and a look out into the mercury-lit yard shows a bit of frost.

In rush hour traffic. To and fro.

So, there you have it.

Oh, and tomorrow, more yadda yadda with just the fro.

(14 minutes.)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I would have, believe me, but it wasn't my piece to make that decision.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Toward daylight this morning I had a dream that we once again owned ducks.  Not the same ducks we had before. This time we had an even wider array, and as dreams are wont, some variations approached the absurd, not only in body configuration, but also offspring, for they hatched chicks instead of ducklings.

I had laid out my clothes last night, and when DW laid eyes on me fully dressed, she was pleased. "My, don't you look handsome!" From my city eyeglasses to wing-tipped brogues,  not a thread of Carhaart was to be found on my body.

On my way out of town, I stopped to get a couple lottery tickets at the same place I get them every week. Ladies: "You clean up real good!"

I was prepared.

Except Friday turned out to have happened Thursday. Despite my earlier confusion this week, this was no fault of my own.

Still, I looked the part.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I'm missing a day. More that I refuse to recognize it. Today is supposed to be Thursday.

It happens sometimes, seemingly a blend from working/not working day in and day out. Except this time it's different. Wednesday was gone as early as Monday.

You see, Friday was supposed to be Thursday until I checked the calendar, which freed up Thursday, so I gained a day. And then Thursday filled up.

Now, there's no denying.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The last of it

I promise. The old stuff, I mean.

Oh, there's still a lot more. A lot. So, maybe I can't promise. But then again, the other is not near as old as the below.

I think I've mentioned this before: I can remember the place I was sitting, but if there was a reason, I cannot recall why I decided I could do without the written word for a while. I was sitting at my desk in the old factory building I was living in at the time. I had made some big wood sculptures. But before that I had made some rusty die cast-off plaques that looked like they could have been writing, arranged like a haiku, and they didn't cut it for me. The wood did. So I said bye-bye to my old Kaypro for a while. Just a couple years, maybe three. Until the drawings below.

I guess I got to missing words.