Friday, November 27, 2009


"When the aliens came down, with their limitless energy machines and their limitless food machines, and told us they would give us all their technology if we would only promise to listen and heed the sad tale of the home world they so nearly destroyed with a juvenile civilization's ignorance at what terrible damage to nature can be wrought from a thoughtless use of technology, well, the environmentalists down here on Earth became a bunch of insufferable know-it-alls."

Thursday, November 26, 2009


we take pause in West to think about europeans coming to new land and supping with natives. we eat food. we will not be able move for a day.

we get ready to plan 3 free nights of food court merriment for winterfest. each night = different show. we promise not smash your food with hammers that have fake blood in them.

we enter new year aggressively preparing West for one last pre-OtB presentation in bellingham.

in meantime, johnO and kirk play at northwest film forum on december 5th, same day as new jose bold album is released.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

cowboy haiku

hell is others, sure

but riding solo ain't some

grand picnic either.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The True Story of Thanksgiving

In case you missed it:

Kids are so cute!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hello Trees

As I’ve been thinking about West, I’ve been interested in the landscape, the ecosystem, the non-human part of nature as a character. And of course, many Native American cultures took this idea to be more than metaphor: the trees, the water, the hills are actually alive. So, in that spirit, I’d like to introduce you to three trees:

The Tree That Owns Itself.

In around 1830, Colonel William Jackson, who loved this white oak tree very much, deeded the tree to itself:

I, W. H. Jackson, of the county of Clarke, of the one part, and the oak tree . . . of the county of Clarke, of the other part: Witnesseth, That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet of it on all sides.

So, supposedly, the tree owns itself and the land around it.

(I’m reminded of what Young Chief of the Cayuses tribe said in 1855, upon signing over their lands to the U.S. Government: “I wonder if the Ground has anything to say? I wonder if the ground is listening to what is said?”)

Now legal experts say that this has practically no legal force at all for several reasons: One, in order to become the legal owner of something given to you, you must have the legal capacity to receive it, and it must be accepted by you. And some would say that the tree does not have the legal capacity to receive property. A related legal notion is that nothing which can be owned can own anything else. For example slaves: Can slaves legally own something? Some would argue that their being owned by something means that the slave’s so-called property is defacto the property of the slave’s owner. But more interestingly: can anything own itself? What would it mean to own yourself? We have a good idea of what it means to own ordinary objects like cars and houses: you have the right to use the objects as you like (so long as you don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights), you can sell the objects, you can destroy the object if you want, you can move it, or change it. But it’s a little stranger to apply these ideas to yourself. You can’t sell yourself or destroy yourself (though suicide has been officially decriminalized in all US states, it is still considered an unwritten “common law” crime).

Anyway, the tree fell down in the 40’s, and a cutting of the tree was planted in its place. They call it Son Of The Tree That Owns Itself. The state of Georgia basically acts like it owns the land, and takes care of it like it’s a park.

The Lost Monarch.

It's 26 feet in diameter (82 feet circumference). It would take about 14 people to hug it. Its about 320 feet high. It’s the largest known Coast Redwood. The tree is estimated to contain 42,500 cubic feet (1,200 m³) of wood. It’s probably pretty old. There’s no pictures of it because it’s hidden. They don’t want us to know where it is. That’s okay. It’s probably better that way. I like knowing that it’s out there though.


Okay, now Pando isn’t really a tree. It’s a clonal colony of a single male Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) located in Utah. Basically, it’s a giant root system that sends up stems that are taken to be trees (Aspens). But it’s actually a single organism. Pando weighs 6,615 tons, and is approximately 80,000 years old. It is the oldest, and heaviest living organism on the planet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Travel log

The East is still very much the East now. Perhaps even more so now that the leaves are off the trees but no snow has yet fallen. The bare trees, still brown and gray, lend a transparency through yards and into homes otherwise masked at other times of the year. People are still lured outside by the crisp, dry weather when they ought to be in, closing their shutters and thankful the witches that most certainly walk the old rail beds and deserted cattle paths and long-abandoned mills don't take a sudden interest in them. This quiet time, this cold stillness before the white shroud descends, this is the time to exercise the most caution. That fallen-down house is not empty. That mirror-lake is only fixing on its prey. As you look past those empty trees, their inhabitants are tracking you. Best now to fix the cracks in the floors and window frames, take down the scarecrow (make sure the crows see you doing this) and dismantle it, just to be thorough. Smile at the Pastor today. For this is not the calm of Springtime. This is not even the joyful resignation of Autumn. This is the between-season that one in the East should not stop too long to observe. The sun will drop from the tiny sky in a moment and there will be no moon. You will not enjoy the darkness tonight.

Better to pick up the pace, pull up your collar and hurry home.

Better still to pack up your own ghosts and head West.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the Thirteenth in Phoenix

I'm sitting in a dark theater, building a sound design for a new play called "Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells". This is the second time I've designed in a fly house, which means the theater has lines that raise the scenery up and down. Matt is our man on the rail, which means he hauls in the scenic pieces using a counterweight system. Most of our time is spent bringing these pieces in and watching the actors move their desks on and off stage. My job is to try to time out the music with the scene changes, so that everything flows smoothly. I wrote some of the music myself, but the main piece of music I'm using is by my friend Barbara Lamb, a great fiddle player from Nashville. There are lots of bells and whistles, since the show has lots of flashbacks and dream sequences. We just started tech for Act 2 today, which has lots of burping sound effects from an imaginary toy called a "Squeeze-a-burp". That toy is a genius!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Elder Statesmen of nerd-rock

A few highlights from Tuesday's amazing They Might Be Giants show celebrating the 19-years-later platinum status of their major-label debut, Flood:

-Every song on the album. Even the ones they couldn't remember all the lyrics to.
-Cameo by Avatars of They (shabby sock puppets of the Johns mugging for a live-feed camera).
-Lounge-funk update of "The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas" to "The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma" (for science).
-Linnell's effective use of Kaoss Pad and my corresponding feelings of validation.
-A clear demonstration that after 25 years they still entertain each other as much as they entertain us gathered geeks.
-Encore: Fingertips. Fingertips. Fingertips.

It's not often I get to bring my 14 year-old self out for a night of pure delight. Thanks for aging gracefully, TMBG! You still rock, hilariously.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled bloggings of inscrutable imagery.


After the nothingness and the spark, it explodes in fractal growth (it grows itself into art / language) until we finally get that moment of cultural apoptosis that brings us inexorably to the crash.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hello from sunny Arizona! I made it here safely with my accordion. Everyone is very nice and polite. Wish you were here

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ah, The West

According to teh internets,

This huge tree was cut down by an entrepreneur in 1853 who concocted a plan to take the thick bark (just the bark!) on a worldwide exhibition and charge admission. He ran into a problem, though: it was all thought to be a hoax and people didn't believe a tree could be that large. The stump itself soon afterwards did become a tourist attraction here though: dances were held on the stump and the felled tree (still visible in the background) was shaped to form an elevated in-place bowling alley. Later the stump was used as the floor of an enclosed office building, and now it's open to the light again.

What an asshole.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Notes on a future dream

Stars at the beginning, stars at the end. Sun swallows earth. We have always remembered this. Seven sisters escape the bear atop a flat rock tower. Bear sees seven new stars and feels time unspool. Prophecy is blood's memory of past and future cycles. We are all freed by the coiled death our life creates. He comes from the left, always from the left. Sleep is a compass. Death is West. Out is the only way.

Monday, November 2, 2009