Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a candle for the youth of Iran

May this year bring footing to the freedom fighters in Iran, trying to free the people from oppression.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Terror Continues....

Israel attacked the civilian population of Gaza a year ago. There were many eyewitness accounts from foreign journalists of how the Israeli military lured entire families out of buildings with promises of safety then opened fire upon them when they left the buildings. 1,400 people were killed during Israel's "offensive" (a light and pleasant word for genocide), most of them civilians. I have not forgotten. Israel can ignore the UN, the US and anyone else, but we will never forget what they have done. Just like they will never forget what happened to their ancestors in northern Europe, we will not forget what they have done to the Palestinians.

Despite what the TV media says, the Israeli life is NO MORE VALUABLE than the Palestinian one.

Conditions for the citizens of Gaza are worse than they have ever been.

What do we do?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Passing is
ice melting
vapor rises
falls as snow and ice again

Passing is blinking in the sun

Passing is hardest for those still here

Passing is...


Monday, December 21, 2009


I am heavy with sadness and worry. My grandfather Elton, the unstoppable, is in the hospital.
He had a stroke recently and is in deteriorating condition as I write. My mom and her brothers and sister are all there with he and his wife, Lisa. We are praying for him and thinking of him throughout the days. I am remembering clutching his strong, wiry body with all my might as we raced through the twisting streets of Sierra Madre on his motorcycle. I was five. It was terrifying and breathtaking all at once. And, I think of Elton on any number of peaks he climbed late into his days, even with bum knees and other problems that would stop any normal man. I think of his fluency in culture. His many trips to all ends of the earth. His explorative nature I am grateful to have inherited.

I think of Elton and smile, grateful to be descended from such manner of man! Be engulfed in peace and grace and love, Papa. I love you and am pulling for you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas

I would say Happy Holidays but ... I'm not Jewish, Muslim or black so Hanukkah, Eid, and Kwanzaa are out. This leaves me either Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, and since wishing someone happy days-are-getting-longer is less than romantic, I am sticking with XMAS. So let the PC police come drag my ass to holiday prison.

I am all about Christmas this year. Reasons?
1. I do not work in retail.
2. I have little kids who are now old enough to really get into it and enjoy Christmas.
3. Birthday of my favorite real life Superhero.

Here is our little second hand manger scene. I like it. It does not have as much soul as the one my family made out of salted dough when I was a kid, but this one does have one thing our old one did not. The force. Oh yeah.

Don't get me wrong. I have loads of complaints and issues with this historically inaccurate celebration of a mix of 98% commercialism, 1% santa worship and 0.5% each of the blending of pagan and christian traditions. But I don't really care that much. I am just a huge fan of Jesus. Not the one on all the walls. You know. The guy with charming, deep blue eyes and long blondish hair. I know that guy and he ain't Jesus. He is Kevin, the surfer guy I partied with in San Diego. He is alright but I seriously doubt those midwesterners would keep his picture on their wall if they knew some of the stuff this guy has gotten into. I am a fan of the real Jesus.... or at least as close to the real Jesus that I can gather. He is a radical. A revolutionary. A thorn in the side of religious institutions, both then and now. He is a compassionate and flexible humanist whose love of people trumps his obedience to rules. He is inflexible when it comes to presenting the truth even if it offends people whose lifestyles (including my own) conflict with the message. He is worth looking into if all you know about him is that he looks like my friend Kevin and he is an old book. Because nothing is more annoying than either uneducated liberals bashing Jesus for fascist things people have done in his name, or Teabaggers and Stormtroopers using Jesus as their poster-child for war, aggression and plain old fashion idiocy. Damn, that's annoying.
Sermon over.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taken Hostage by Story

This has been a crazy busy week. Tomorrow is the Watson Holiday Sale, etc, so I have so much to do tonight. I've got to print labels and organize books and pack art into the cars. I've got to create title cards, help gather the drinks and answer all my emails. And I really need to get back to work, editing my story. I am too busy to waste any time, even little chunks.

And yet...

... since about 7:30 or so tonight, I have been completely incarcerated by a book. Within the first several pages.... take that back... within the first two pages, I was sucked deep and fast into the world of this story. I had to just read it through to the end tonight. And I did. And it was amazing.

Thompson's art is strong and sincere, his characters painfully realistic. The amount of work spent on this kind of staggers my brain. I wonder how long he spent creating this. Regardless, this is one of my new favorite books. After I return it to the library, I am ordering one.

by Craig Thompson
A beautiful masterpiece of storytelling.

Jesse scale: 7 out of 7
(hell, 10 out of 7)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

old photoz

My uncle Clark taking me for a spin on his Hobie Cat. June gloom in Long Beach.

me spinning solo in Yosemite. Maybe 19 years old? (I don't know. I am not a mathist, I'm an artist. Jeez.)

This pic below makes me laugh every time I wade through the deep water of my plastic box of old photos. When I was around 21 years old, I had a job with my girlfriend's dad as a land surveyor grunt. It was a great job in many ways. It was hard. Lots of hiking and carrying heavy stuff.

One side benefit? Wilderness art. Since we were marking property lines and would tag trees that were along the edge of a property of a timber company with a hatchet chop and a dash of red spray paint, I had a brilliant idea. Why not "decorate" a few snags or trees slated for becoming front decks in Japan?

So I left my mark in the high Trinity Alps. I imagined loggers, buzzing on lukewarm coffee and many other things, running down the hill in their spiked boots and stumbling upon one of my trees. It always made me smile. Still does.

Lastly, I leave you with the end for me. What I am pretty sure was the end for me. The end of creativity flowing. The end of endless potential. The end of unconfined exploration.
My Kindergarten class. I don't mean to be nihilistic or shade schools in any light other than positive, (I AM a freakin' teacher) but for me, school was a long and dim tunnel of disappointment broken infrequently by brief patches of golden sunlight. (Can I say that?) Now, kiddos, don't get me wrong! I am not saying I think kids shouldn't go to school, but I will say that in the 70's there were not many opportunities for kids to experience some of the wonderful, life affirming institutions available to today's youth. Schools nowadays rock. I would give my left ... earlobe, for a chance to go back in time and be nurtured by one of these schools like the one I teach in. I am also not trying to advocate parents trying to keep their kids from adversity. For crying out loud, that is one of the major problems today. Adversity makes good character. Pain creates empathy. Empathy creates kindness and equality and unity.

Another thing struck me as I gazed at this picture. I have never been in contact (knowingly) with a single person from my elementary school. I moved enough so that I am not friends with hardly anyone from any of my schools. Sad, I suppose. I have a few good friends I have kept throughout the years from each of the places I have been, but the wind has blown many away. Ah, thus is life. Blow, wind. Blow.

Can you spot me?

Hint. Whiteboy.
Hint. Bowl Cut.
Hint. Early 70's clothes.
Hint. Central location.
Hint. If you were to segment the photo into eight columns and eight rows.... you know what? If you haven't figured it out by now, I am the one with the pink dress in front.

School Visits over yonder

This time, yonder = Saint Louis.
A grand city, filled with great kids and awesome librarians.
Speaking of . . . Thanks to Carrie Dietz for the photos and for lugging our butts all around the city!

I have really been enjoying our visits. The hit-maker, Greg Neri, and I have worked into a great groove and we really have fun speaking to kids across the country.

One of my biggest treats is getting to play chess with kids.

This is Chess Rumble in action!

Some students are just learning how the pieces move, others are young assassins. I never know how a kid is gonna play until we start. At one charter school in St. Louis, there was a room full of kids asking to play but we only had time for a few quick games. So I used a question to weed out the best players and give them a shot.

Here's hoping they link up with a chess teacher or mentor along their journey.

At a library event one of the evenings, I got to play one of those young assassins I was talking about. He was on the high school chess team and I guess they are for real. We had a good game, though, as is often the case, our game was cut short by talk of pizza by the rest of our crew who weren't enjoying observing the game as much as we were enjoying playing it. (Next time, Max.)

After one of our last presentations and signings, we got to meet the artists who made these great posters for our visit. They also gave us a cool leather notebook holder, which I am now using to hold all my sketches for my upcoming book.

Peace be upon you, St. Louis.
See you next time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

42, 422

Words, that is. But who cares about that. Word count was only a way to help me gage how I was progressing. What really mattered most to me was that I was going to strive to bring a new story up from the dust of my memories and creativity, into the light of today.

And, I am happy to announce that this morning, I am finished with my first draft.
(Of course, I know this is where the real work comes in, but I am looking forward to that. I feel excited about this story. I can see vast possibilities for the art half of it.)

So, like a bookend on a wonderfully blessed month, I close this chapter the way I started it...

with a fine cuban cigar, courtesy of brother in law, Willie.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Not Ashamed

Culture - I'm Not Ashamed .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

This song makes me I-spired to shake up my natty and dance up out of my chair, or in line, or in the middle of a room full of suits, or even in church. Rasta taking over! If you feel me, mek me know.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Maybe you have seen these before. Maybe not. But it is great fun to see how simple elements such as Music and Color, can drastically change the vibe of these movie trailers.

And, who's kidding who? They are fricken hilarious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

37, 600

37,600 Words.
I am not hell bent on 50k or anything. It is done when it is done and that is that. If it needs 100,000 to tell itself, by all means.... Go right ahead.
Not trying to do anything except finish a rough draft in November. And I think I am on good track to do just that. Though, I think I need to stop typing and start drawing for a bit.

After sectioning off the chapters and looking at it from a distance I find I need to take a break on writing so I can fill in some elements with the sketches. The writing is propped up until I get the art under there to stabilize it. This is going to be a fun balancing act. I am looking forward to it!

I was gone most of the week in the wonderful town of St. Louis and did not find much tine to write at all. (Also, my poor laptop ran out of batteries within an hour of boarding the plane, so the flight itself was mostly left to sketching. Which is where I found the need to develop that side of the story for a while.)

Great trip, by the way. Had just a blast talking to the different kids at all the schools we visited. Greg Neri, author of Chess Rumble, and I, shared our presentation with lots of kids. I got to play chess with a bunch of them, too, which is always great.

I will post some pics of the trip when I get copies from responsible people who remembered cameras. Soon come.

A few thoughts on St. Louis:

Spectacular architecture. It was just totally impressive. (Being a west coast dude, I admit I do not have many grand old buildings to look at, but still... St. Louis was nothing if not grand.) There were so many huge, regal buildings. The courthouse, the central Library, the Art Museum..... I was impressed!

Empty. It felt oddly empty. Like there had been a mass zombie attack and the few survivors had only just begun repopulating the city. I drove past these amazing estates all vacant. I want more answers. What is the deal there?
On the other hand, the folks I did get to hang out with were very cool. So, I have to say that the repopulating is going great guys. If you cool people breed and make more baby cool people, St. Louis is in line to become the new center of everything. Keep it up.

Sick Chess Club. Best one I have ever seen. Plus, in addition to the top shelf location and facilities, the sponsor of the club recently purchased an entire collection of Bobby Fischer's chess stuff and is going to display it there. If you are in S. Lew and are itchin for a game, go there! It is amazing.

Wicked Libraries! A big shout to our homie, Carrie Dietz, at Teen Services at the St. Louis Public Library. Thanks for hookin it up! Carrie took us from school to school and was not content to drop us off at the hotel. Instead she spent hours driving us around the city, finding us great food and helping at least one of us fulfill a childhood dream at the top of a panic inducing 600 + feet. (I wonder who stayed on the sensible ground floor and paced the animatronic Jeffersons and Meriwether Lewises, while the others rode to the pinnacle of fear in claustrophobic pods the size of a suitcase. I guess we will never know the answer to some of life's great mysteries.)
The central library is off the fricken chain. Again, regal, amazing architecture and details. Marble, thick glass floors, hand carved detailing, massive wooden doors and coves and secret rooms galore. Oh, and a ghost in the stacks. Sweet. I want libraries like that on the west coast.

Arch-tastic. Yeah, we all know about it but looking up the steel creature in person is quiet stunning. The design of it is superb. I took a bunch of mind pics since I flaked on bringing my camera. There would have been some cool pics of the various ways you could position yourself and make the arch become interesting shapes. At one point I was surfing a giant, 600+' wave of steel. Glad I was able to appreciate such a cool thing in person.

Extra Credit:
I saw a friend and his daughter on the airplane to St. Louis. What are the odds? I mean, I don't know if I have ever randomly ended up on the same plane with anyone I knew before. Well, perhaps they were good luck. Actually, I think they were because we didn't crash. Which I always like. So, thanks friend and daughter. Thanks for the good luck.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Tonight my little family all breathed a huge sigh of relief that one of our most precious birds, who spent the last two days being poked, prodded, tested and checked out ..... was found perfectly healthy! Without giving anymore information or specifics, do a little happy dance with me for the little K bird, who is healthy and to her parents who are brave and wonderful.

Thank you, God.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


25,306 words, that is.
Mind you... not keepers, all, but progress nonetheless.
(Is it not just rad that nonetheless is one word? I think we should begin a rapid hijacking of language and start it off by smooshing three word combos together. I'll start it off....


See? I just did it.
This is the enemy that lurks, waiting to distract me from my task.
With painting gigs, I am much more used to just sitting in my painting chair at my easel or drawing table and cranking away, stopping to check emails occasionally or to get a few moves in on correspondence chess games, but then right back to the art. But writing. Man, it is right here at the fun center. The same screen I watch people drive their scooters into walls with on failblog, bliss out to mystical soaring tunes on youtube with, or test the limits of my compulsiveness with on fb. This is a walking, talking distraction. This very act of writing in the blog is a distraction. A postponement of the real work I need to be doing.

So, I have got to get back to my book. It calls to me in its faint voice, barely audible over the buzz of all the bells and whistles, lights and sirens. Like a whisper it beckons and I must go...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Pause for BEAUTY

I may have mentioned on here about Mono, the Japanese post rock band that makes my heart go pitter pat.

If you have a moment to fade away into bliss, please put some headphones on and watch this short video. Their orchestration is sublime!

This song is like a dance in which the ballerinas begin lightly stepping but before you know it, first the stage, then the curtains, and then the entire world is on fire and falling away and all that remains is the dance itself, while all of creation swirls around it.

I am so in love with this band.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


19,886 words so far, that is.

Beginning to feel it strong. Sorting out issues. Eliminating tangents. Filling in descriptive sections. Feeling out my characters. Staying up late. Wearing headphones for eight hours at a time, melting away into my writing. Icing my back. D'oh!

First week wrapped. I am excited to find more good stuff as I enter week two. I also hope I can keep up the enthusiasm and plug away even when it gets deep into the tedium.

(Again, thanks for the inspiration and the daily nutrients, Molly!)

Back to the keyboard.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Surfing close to home is better than anything!

When I pulled up to *@#$%@* Beach, all I saw from the parking lot was a massive log being thrown up onto the pavement along with a barrage of big beach rocks and foamy water, the six foot cement blockade being moved around like a lego, and a solid overhead wall of wave lining up across the entire beach, with an even bigger set behind that. I was scared to go out, actually. It looked a little hairy. There were lots of surfers in the parking lot weighing their chances and slowly suiting up. By the time I got out of my car, there was another big set and I saw two people getting barreled at the same time, one on the first wave, one on the second. I stripped down to my skin in the parking lot in mere seconds, hiding behind a towel wet from the surf from the night before where I scored waist high play-waves. Before you could count to seventeen, I was suited up in my wetsuit and running down to the shore.

My first wave was head high and very powerful. I was cut off by a sweeper, (stand up paddle boarder) and watched as he stole onto the shoulder and I got effing thrown into the shallow explosion of whitewater. It was one of the first times I got seriously rolled at &%#%^$# Beach. My leash wrapped around my arm and neck and I felt the board being sucked toward the shallows. I paddled back out much more sober and attentive.

The next wave was much better, though again, I was snaked by the sweeper. This time I made to run his ass over, and he got out of the way with a smile. It was a long steep shoulder ending in a backflip off the closeout section of the wave, right before it churned into a heavy shore-pound that tossed two ton logs around with ease. Soooooo fun!

Right before I got in the water, I had called Mariah on the celly and told her to please, come check it out and if she could manage, shoot a few pics. The boys were only just having breakfast so it took her almost an hour. By then the tide was so high there were no more bombs, only fun smallish waves. Still. This is five minutes from mi casa which is so so mui bueno! Normally I have to drive an hour and a half to get good waves.

These are some shots she got that don't depict the amazing power that had been bashing the beach when I first arrived, but are fun anyway. By the time she started taking pics, the swell had been sabotaged by the tides, yet again. One of the consequences of living almost a hundred miles from the ocean. Ah, but that is what makes scoring bomb ass waves SO much better. The rarity of it.
I think I'll set the alarm for 5 tomorrow and hit it one more time before the swell disperses. See you out there?

This was my last ride in, below, and it was tiny but so fun. There is nothing as sweet as riding all the way to the sand on your last wave, regardless of how small it is.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

One for the (long long) Road

Courtesy of my brother in law Willie, and in reckless gambling style, I toast the progress of my month ahead of time.
Cuban no less! This is full commitment here. Its like betting on a gut shot straight before the flop.

November! A good month to do the spring cleaning I should have done last year. Mentally, that is. And, with the aid of the kind and talented Molly Blaisdell and her 4th Annual Golden Coffee Cup, I am getting some serious work done. This corresponds with the Novel in a Month movement that has inspired so many people to get off their butts and go out and ... sit on their butts for long periods of time.

Anyways. Thanks, Molly! I needed this. AND, I am making good progress, though the third day into it may be too soon to start celebrating anything, much less firing up cigars. I am worried about the trips I have to take this month and the other bits and pieces all fitting in. But, heck... to quote the Unfiltered Mouth of the Republican Party (also known as that college kid in Borat who charms millions with his thoughts on slavery and women's rights), "I don't give a F. I'll do it."

Speaking of progress, if you are using a Mac, you may consider trying this awesome program out! Mac Freedom. You set the time and it turns off the internet for that period of time. Kachow, to borrow from Lightnin' McQueen. An amazingly helpful tool if you are like me and you check your email after quitting the email program, in case that sound you heard upon its closure was a new message sneaking in. I saw it on someone's blog recently and while I cannot for the life of me recall whose it was, I am grateful I found it. Very glad to find a way to escape the clutches of the social media machine.

Ok. Well, got to go check Facebook...


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Kid + Scissors. You know the story.

Mariah has done straight up Karate on my ass anytime I even talked about cutting his hair from that awesome bowl cut he rocked for so many years. I tried to see what a short haircut would look like on him but ... No dice. He started telling her he wanted a mohawk. No dice. He asked her for a buzz cut. No dice.
So.... as they do about now, he took things into his own hands. (Specifically, the scissors!)

The boy walks in and stands there smiling at me for a few moments before I jump out of my chair. Too late to do anything to save it, (though Mariah tried to convince me we could comb it together...) but ultimately I know when to cut my losses, so out came the clippers. A few minutes of buzzing and DANG he looks more like his bro.




See, Mom? He rocks it whatever the style.