Archive for the ‘tangents’ Category

The Art of Surfing: Paintings & Prints
September 26, 2012

One of the cool things about taking an interest in surfing is that the activity itself comes with an entire culture built around it, ranging from a huge pro-am athletic component to niche equipment builders, clothing, language, spirituality and everything in between. For a nerd like me that leaves a ton of room to explore! As stated in an earlier post books got me to surfing but they may not be the best art the culture has to offer…

Hands down, one of the coolest elements of surf culture that I have encountered thus far is the art work. For the purposes of this post, I will narrow the “art” I have found to paintings or prints, specifically. Surf photography is a world unto itself, as is board designs, surf sculptures and so on I’m not dismissing those by any means I’m just taking this adventure very slow.

Drew Brophy

Disclaimer: I have no skills as an artist or as an art critic. I am not educated in the vernacular or the methodology and I have no plans to be. Accordingly, the pieces posted on here are here because I dig them, period. That said, the first prints that caught my attention (and made me smile) were the ones I encountered by Drew Brophy. Whatever his style may be called I think of it as surf graffiti art. It pops! His pieces are vibrant and frenetic, fun and inspiring. The one above, in particular, places a picture perfect swell, golden local and the entire cosmos in accord an idea that whether true or not is wonderful.

Phil Roberts

When I first saw some of Phil Roberts pieces, it wasn’t JUST the turtle that sold me. Though, it is worth noting, I am obsessed with turtles. Have been most of my life, no plans to rein it in either. Love turtles. The turtle DOES make this my favorite Roberts piece but what I dig about his art is the realism. It may be the polar opposite of Drew Brophy’s fantastical art but it still strikes awe in me. Like Brophy’s, the painting above combines a perfect swell, a golden local, and (I would argue) the cosmic alignment. Though, in the case of Roberts painting the cosmos is not represented in ‘the great out there’ night sky but rather it is in the foreground where the turtle conveys ‘the great out there.’ <—You don’t even know, turtles are ancient bad asses.

Speaking of realism….

Fernanda O’Connell

Fernanda O’Connell’s wave paintings are unbelievable. I can only imagine, what with my no art skills, that it is her use of light  and color that makes the waves in her work:  a.) look like they are in motion; and b.) look like waves. About that b, having just spent weeks and weeks obsessing over them and so staring at the water for extended periods of time, it turns out that waves are a myriad of colors…erm, all at once. EVERY wave. Not just in the aqua heaven that is the tropic but out there in the plain old Pacific, too. What’s more, the way the light moves through waves is etherial. Too, much? Stunning. Transcendant. Uniquely beautiful. O’Connell’s paintings reflect the qualities of waves which make them ‘magical,’ color and light in motion.

Drew Brophy

SEE!! Even Drew Brophy depicts sea creatures as representatives of ‘the great out there’ sometimes!

There ya have it, these are a few of my favorite surf prints.


Long Slow Surf: Drowning
September 24, 2012

Ten minutes late for my first swimming lesson. How’s that for kicking off my big surf adventure?! Could be kind of concerning, I guess? As I already know how to swim I’m not particularly worried about it though. I’m just not a “strong” swimmer. I’m a “gettin by” swimmer. <—And, that is in a pool.



It occurred to me sometime early this summer that I had to learn how to surf. Blame it on the books I was reading. Desire, books and a whole lot of inaction sums up my “summer of learning how to surf.” In my defense, I spent the early weeks of summer with a boot on my left ankle and/or in physical therapy working to regain a full range of motion after a “small” tear. (Quick FYI on tears: big or small, when the attending medical staff offer condolences that your ankle isn’t broken they mean it. <–Months. M-O-N-T-H-S.)

After the boot came off and the PT began…June…I started asking my therapist at every session, can I run? No. Dojo? No. Run? No. Really? No.


A couple weeks in I was informed I should be swimming. Specifically, a kick board was mentioned and laps. Boring. Can I run? No.

So, I swam. No kick board, some laps. Whatev. Then, in mid July, at a session I asked, can I run? No. Dojo? No. Run? No. Surf? Yeah, we’ll tape your ankle like a gymnast. Uh….really? Yeah, tape it up.


Suddenly moving along my ‘learn to surf’ obsession, from the theoretical to the real, was hinged entirely to my ACTUALLY learning how to surf! Conveniently, I got the ok to surf just days before the US Open of Surfing came to Huntington Beach. There was exactly no chance I was going to try to get near a wave while that circus was in town. I was, however, going to go to the circus.

The US Open of Surfing



In the days between my PT therapist green lighting surfing and the start of the Surf Open all my concerns regarding surfing had an opportunity to ferment in my psyche. First and foremost, drowning. No, kids, not sharks. D-R-O-W-N-I-N-G.

It is with pure awe that I stare out over my local beaches, on any given day, and see dozens to hundreds of people of all ages and shapes charging out into the Pacific like it ain’t no thing. It seemed to me that everyone everywhere that could swim had somehow been blessed with the ability to take that skill into open water. That is not how my swimming skills developed!

I have been in the water since I was a kid, lakes, pools, rivers, okay. None of the aforementioned experience has led me to believe that I could charge out into the ocean and handle my shit with complete competence. If there was a class on that, I missed it. And, it must just be me, right? There are toddlers with boards, grannies, too, not to mention, athletes and seriously out of shape folks. Further proof that the whole world can swim came by virtue of the fact that nobody ever talks about swimming relative to surfing. I had gone through a half dozen books, read a couple back issues of Surfer, lived in beach communities for years at this point…swimming or, more specifically, not being an open water swimmer is not a subject that had come up.


How does one explain to a surf instructor that they were not gifted with an innate ability to swim in open water? Sure, sure, that three year old appears comfortable but this 30+ year old has some concerns…

Enter the pros. My intention with the US Open of Surfing was to simply stop by mid-week, have a look around, see a heat or two and bounce. Accordingly, I grabbed a coffee and headed down to the pier in the early hours of the morning. Sitting in the bleachers with half-a-dozen others, coffee in their hands, calling into the office, etc. it seemed like an interesting enough way to spend an hour. Then the characters from those books I had been reading came to life on the waves before me, names I had never heard of and ones that I had. My first heat was Rob Machado’s only heat. Awesome! I saw my first heat, second, third…two and half-hours later I had a new plan. Be back first thing in the morning, dressed appropriately with everything I could possibly need for the day and not move again.

And so it was.

Sitting on the beach the next afternoon surrounded by thousands of people the event announcer made mention of a life guard charging into the rip tide, what he said was (and this is a paraphrase) ‘nothing ruins a life guard’s day like a board from Cost Co and a kid that can’t swim.’ Holy. Shit. ←Right. There. That is when it hit me, half those people may not even know how to swim! They are just hauling their dumb asses out into the ocean on some kind of ‘what could go wrong’ faith! Awesome!

Just so we’re clear, had I just charged out into the ocean and gotten caught in that rip tide I would be that fool out there flailing trying to swim back in while being sucked out. What do I know about swimming parallel to the beach?!

In the interest of driving home the ‘start with your swimming skills’ lesson, the Universe, saw fit that night to move Laird Hamilton’s book, “Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul (And, of course, Surfing)” to the top of my reading pile. The book had been in the pile for some time but it is not as if I only have one book pile, people. Thus, it was not until THAT night that I cracked THAT book. Rather than a ‘chapter’ book it is more of a ‘section’ book, there is no need to read it from beginning to end so I didn’t. I skipped around pen-ultimately getting to “fear” and “training to surf.”

On “fear,” Hamilton writes:

“You can spend your whole life fence-sitting because you’re frightened of something bad that might happen—or you can launch yourself into it with all of your conviction and all of your intelligence. Here’s my advice: Meet up with your fears. If you’re afraid of sharks, go learn all about sharks. Get into the water with one. If you respect fear, face it straight on and act anyway.” (P.8)

On “training for surfing:”

“SWIM: Get yourself a pair of fins, and hit the water.” (P.198)


I’m afraid of drowning. Swimming is a part of training for surfing. Got it. Facing that fear, for me, isn’t as simple as grabbing some fins. Unless, of course, fins come with an explanation of rip tides and any other inherent risk of open water swimming I would need to know about? Assuming that they don’t, for me, surfing begins with swimming lessons.

Swimming lessons have begun…give or take 10 minutes.

Book Surfing ( a return to the sea)
June 27, 2012

As I sit down to write this, I can’t help but wonder if, when my reading tangents begin they never really end so much as their primacy ebbs and flows? I’ve returned to the sea in my reading choices and it occurred to me that I had been here before not to long ago, right? Right? I looked up my last blog on books about the sea…December 2009. Daumn. Just so we’re clear, in my reading mind I was just there! JUST there, reading histories of the Caribbean, Treasure Island and Under the Black Flag. Hemingway. December 2009, really?

Well, whatever. In June 2012, I can say, I’ve returned to that sea tangent albeit from a slightly different take. The ‘call’ began with Susan Casey’s The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean. This particular book while coming at waves from a myriad of perspectives, scientific, cultural, sporting, etc, introduced me to big wave surfing. For the record, I think big wave surfing is insane. I still want to see it, though. Maybe, I would want to try it too…? Here’s the thing, I take great comfort in knowing that there are boys and girls around the world, watching the weather and willing to drop everything and head out into the middle of the ocean on the off-chance that they will get to ride a stories high wall of water, that might kill them or might set them free. So I’m not among them, I still feel better knowing their out there.


The ethos of surfing appeals to me, so does the courage and the athleticism. My distinction between the ethos and the courage inherent in surfing is not arbitrary. Among the surfer stories that I have read the ‘ethos:’ the mindset and belief system attached to surfing speaks to an intelligence, flexibility, attentiveness and a faith but very few surfers make mention of their own courage. From where I sit, courage is a huge part of this cultures make up. Beyond faith and an undeniable skill set the men and women who take to the waves whether in the middle of the Pacific or just a few hundred yards from the shore line excercise a reserve of courage not often witnessed in folks sporting activities. I kick box and run, take the occasional yoga series and dance classes, there is no danger inherent in any of those sports/leisure activities. Can I get injured? Sure. Am I going to drown? Am I at the mercy of the elements? Am I banking on my ability to safely negotiate THE OCEAN? Nope.  My awe of the courage of surfers grows as I make my way through the stories in Clint Willis’ Big Wave: Stories of Riding the World’s Wildest Water.

On deck in my surfer books is Laird Hamilton’s Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, And, of Course, Surfing, I expect, though I can not yet be sure, that Hamilton’s book will only reinforce my admiration of surfing culture. As for the athleticism inherent in surfing? One need read no further than Kelly Slater’s Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey. Slater’s story details his rise to world champion…oh…six times over. Though I have no illusions of professional surfing, Slater’s story more than any other has fueled my more than passing interest in getting up on a surf board. (Heal, stupid ankle, heal!!) If a world champion can start surfing on a body board, the least a woman can do is enroll in a surf boot camp (with an instructor, wet suit, and an actual surf board) and TRY.

Lest you think that my current tangent is bereft of any broader oceanic interests, let me be clear, my inner history nerd is alive and well. The TOME I am currently entrenched in is Walter R. Borneman’s The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King–The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea. My initial concerns that the span of this book could not possibly be covered in the biographies of four men (They won the war at sea (WWII), really?) have been entirely allayed. I had no idea. The scope of the impact these four men had on naval history is staggering. To the degree that this book and the inevitable direction this book is sending me deserve a post unto themselves. Maybe I will even write one!

My Week Or Yours?
January 29, 2011

“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date…”

-White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland


This post is one part confessional one part prompt. I didn’t post last week after having signed on to the post a week challenge(?) just three weeks ago! Is it a challenge? Not in any public sense, at least not for me, the idea as I embraced it was to serve as a motivator to get words down on pape…er, uh on the screen. That said, who blows a challenge in the third week? Obviously, and quite naturally, my first impulse was to just throw in the towel all together. Then I thought just a moment longer and it occurred to me that I could just confess my sin post twice this week and carry on. Thus, the prompt part of this post. I missed a week. I am NOT quitting as a direct result. That is all.

ThisILove, Pt. II
January 5, 2011

This post is the follow-up or conclusion to this post: This I Love, Pt. I. Yeah, it’s only taken 5 plus months to get it off my draft clip board. Eeesh. Having owned that these are 6-10 on the short list of works of art that have shaped my identity.



James Galvin’s, The Meadow is easily one of the most beautifully written books that I have encountered. I understood upon completion of this reading that I would very much like to be James Galvin when I grow up. Or, barring that I would like to be able to string a sentence together half as well.



It was in my first visit to the Museum of Modern Art, Queens (Manhattan was being remodeled) that I encountered Umberto Boccioni’s, Dynamism of A Soccer Player. I was rendered mute. The colors and the motion of the work suggested that the painting itself was ACTUALLY in motion. I can not even begin to guess how long I stood there agape.


I have been in love with guitars for as long as I can remember. As a 4 or 5-year-old I saw my first guitar up close in the hands of my Great Uncle. I can recall sitting on my knees with my face inches away from the guitar watching him play for hours. There is not another object in my life that I can meet and simply upon sight be rendered giddy, awed, eased, turned on and comforted to my core.


Alexandre Hogue’s dust bowl era paintings and sketches are inspiring to me on a couple of levels. First, as a history nerd with a particular investment in the Dust Bowl (my paternal grandparents met in a migrant camp in Arizona), the fact that Hogue’s work invokes not just a fascination with painting on my part but also gives rise to my love of history makes him a favorite of mine. Second, Hogue’s critique of ‘environmental policy’ lends itself nicely to my own politics on the matter. His dust bowl pieces are critical and heartbreaking as they should be.



Last though certainly not least, Wrigley Field! Or, is it just the Cubs. Or, Cubbie culture. Wrigley Field embodies every aspect of baseball mythology-it is legend AND it is real. The Cubs, losers though they may be have HEART. That I respect. And as for Cubbie culture, I’m not sure there is a club, sect, base or label in my life that I am prouder to be a part of.

I’m Posting every week in 2011!
January 5, 2011

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now. I will be posting on this blog once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.


What She Said

The Happy & The Crappy: XIII
December 26, 2010

Yeah, about this holiday…not so fucking much. Why won’t this day end?

from the stacks:July, August, September & October
October 26, 2010

Books Bought, Got, Borrowed or Read


  HA! As if I could possibly recall all the books I’ve encountered in the last four months. That said, I’ll just hit the highlights and then be back up to speed. The end of my summer was largely spent reading Steig Larsson’s ‘Girl’ trilogy. If you’ve not read these books, DO. And, no, seeing the movies does not count.

It was not all Girls with tattoos however. Happily, Justin Cronin returned vampires to their long absent eviscerating natures. I am a huge fan of mythology and I am fine with the notion of vampire love, really. The thing is, I am also fine with vampires as the soul sucking scourge of humanity. For so long now it seems we’ve been held rapt with vampire lite stories, it was thoroughly enjoyable to read The Passage! All hail wide scale carnage!

From the polar opposite end of the spectrum, early this Fall I was given Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea to read. Not entirely certain what to say about this book except that it makes me want to be a better person.  It is a carry it with you read beyond any shadow of a doubt.

And, this month I find myself in complete awe of Willie Nelson and Joe Patoski’s Willie Nelson an Epic Life. Wow. Just wow.



On Radar  


Postcards from The Edge


Wishful Drinking

-Carrie Fisher




ThisILove, Pt. 1
July 28, 2010

In the interest of staying busy I have picked up a couple of writing prompt books, the scope of the prompts ranges from simple 3 minute free-write exercises to multi-part complex pieces. This particular post is the result of a prompt that in anyone else’s hands would probably fall under a “simple” exercise. The deal was list 10 works of art that you enjoy. Just 10. The list (of 10) that follows has taken weeks to narrow down, spans a huge portion of my life and requires being posted in two parts. The net result however was worth the work, I think. The following are 10 ‘pieces’ of art that have shaped the very core of my being, not to put to fine a point on it. In sharing them I make only the slightest effort at conveying what each piece means to me.



AFD, speaks for itself. Or, it ought to leastways.


The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. Growing up, I spent as much time as I could roaming the halls of this place, in complete awe of the weirdness. Weird, I love. 



 Chewy. I am a complete Star Wars nerd. Chewy was is and will always be the moral center of that troop of weirdos and I love him still.


 Black & white. I’m a huge fan of black & white. It seems so simple. In addition, some of the most spectacular experiences of my life have occurred in the outdoors. Last, though certainly not least, I am not much of a photographer but I do love the perspective others manage to take.




Music, imagination, alternate worlds (with in worlds) what is not to love about Fraggle Rock. Jim Henson was a genius.

The Best Laid Plans
February 28, 2010

This month (or this year) began with some ideas (read:plans) on how things were going to go and none of that has worked out exactly. Let’s start with reading, as an example, the *idea* was to jump into Hemingway. After a suggestion on a previous post I started with Islands In The Stream, great. That read, in theory should have plunged me into a Hemingway tangent and the plan would have been realized. What actually happened? The kids died. If you don’t know what that means, it’s cool, I will elaborate in another post at another time. Will have to suffice to say, the book got set down and it took several fits and starts over a few weeks for me to pick it back up. Not to worry though, there was a tangent and it came under the author heading of Christopher Moore.

And the Book of the Year goes to….


My friend said, read these books, Christopher Moore is doing a book tour and we’re going.  Truth be told, I was reticent as I had read a Moore book before, Practical Demon Keeping, and I did not care for it. At all. Alas, I am *still* not in charge. I like vampires and his (Moore’s) new book is the third in his vampire tales, alright. My Moore-ish adventure began with Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck the precursors to the upcoming release. Followed in short order by, Coyote Blue (well, sort of), A Dirty Job, Lamb and currently The Stupidest Angel.

On Demons & Coyotes

Not entirely certain what it is about these two books that did not work for me, but, yeah, did NOT work for me. I *suffered* through Practical Demon Keeping as it is not my habit to leave a book unfinished. Not entirely certain why I can’t walk away from a book if I don’t like it, BUT, I do have the satisfaction of knowing that if I can just get through it I never have to read another one again.

About that.

My friend’s enthusiasm for Moore, he is her favorite (and she is one of my favorite people, see how this works?) is the means by which I found myself roped in, again. Maybe I missed something? Maybe *I* got it wrong? well, had I begun my latest foray into Moore’s works with Coyote Blue it would have ended right then and there. I can tell you that what bothered me, right off the bat, was his depiction of an Indian, any Indian. It is a button and a peeve. As an American historian by training and a culturalist to boot most depictions of ‘Native Americans’ irk me. Moore, no exception. What is of note here and it has nothing to do with the merits of his work? I closed the book. Not going to do it. Several chapters in, I quit. Then I returned it to my friend and said, ‘Nope. Stopped reading.’ It’s her favorite. Ha! Nothing to be done for it, however, I had already told the truth.


And the Lord said…


Read this book. Okay, the Lord had nothing to do with it. If you only ever read one Christopher Moore book, in your life, let it be Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. Sweet Mother O’ God, this is hands down one of the funniest books that I have EVER read. Not only did I laugh, chuckle, guffaw and peal may way through this book-the ‘message’ (you know the one) in the end (you know which one) remains completely intact. Brilliant.