Monday, December 27, 2021

Between Times

 Between Times

Not much time for work this last week. We had rain (HOORAY!) And we had Christmas. I wouldn't bother posting at all, except my phone has been ringing all day, the email inbox is overflowing, and folks are even knocking on the door to find out how the stone is coming along. So here are a few pics. I did get a little bit done...
So we'll revisit a little. Go back to the start, and see what progress looks like:

And it's cold and clear this morning. Emphasis on cold. Rain is on the way, and should be here by noon. Maybe I'll be able to sneak in a little work time. And it looks like rain all week. Here in So Cal you never complain about the rain.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas


A most blessed Christmas to all my friends who drop by. May we all see better days.



Monday, December 20, 2021

Starting With Rain

 Starting With Rain



It's 12/14, Tuesday morning, and this is the first really rainy day I've seen in quite a long time. The tarp that serves as a canopy over the carving table is old. I have to get a new one; this one leaks, and drips. Everything's all wet. I got nothing done yesterday, either. Too cold, and windy. So I'm sitting here trying to type. But Buddy the Cat decided to sit on the keyboard. Then he left, and The Most Mysterious Skinamalink took his place. I'm typing around the cat. Mary is in and out fixing Christmas decorations, and doing laundry. Rainy day stuff.

Most of the week was taken up with getting the house together for our Christmas party. Mary has a gift for turning  the simplest  preparations into art. She is a practicing Buddhist, but she goes all in when it comes to Christmas.  She took what we had on hand, some strings of lights, battery powered candles, some teddy bears, and tinsel garland, and turned the living room into a department store window.

We worked together preparing  tacos for the party,  I chopped onions and cilantro, and barbecued the chicken and beef on mezquite charcoal. Mary did the beans and rice, and I seared the tortillas. We laid out a feast for our friends. Holly brought her guitar, and everyone sang. Food, drink, friends, a lot of candy, a little music, a lot of talk. It's been a couple years, now but our home remains a sanctuary from the madness of this age. And this Christmas, oddly enough, feels more like Christmas than any of the seasons I can recall since childhood. As I type this I think of the old Peanuts Christmas cartoon, where Linus, in his understated wisdom, recites the passage from Luke. This is the core, and the heart of the season. We, all of us, know this in our heads, but for me, it has taken the better part of a lifetime to have that knowledge migrate to the heart. I could gripe that that core is buried under the noxious slime of our current culture, but I suppose it's always been so. Christmas back in '63 wasn't about the plastic robot from television. Christmas '21 is not about Amazon, or supply chains. I know that now, in a way I could not know before. I guess that's what you get for sayin' yer prayers.

 I haven't made a lot of progress on the stone. Weather, and short days cut down the available working time.


Even so, I'm happy with the way this piece is coming out. Going forward, the next phase will be teasing out the hollows in, and behind  the long 'snout' that drops down the front from the crest of the carving.



   Soon I'll be making the through-cuts along those troughs, and hollowing out the ball, and claw looking thing in the front. But it won't happen fast. It's Christmas. We got rain coming. It is winter, after all.

I wish for a joyous Christmas for my few readers here at the WFB. We'll do our footwork, say our prayers, and one day, God willing, see an en end to this madness and evil.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Big Loo. A True Christmas Story

This story was first posted on Robot-Japan in '03. The pic came from google images. jwm
I saw “Big Loo-Your Friend From the Moon” for sale on e-bay. Asking price was just over $1800.00. One thousand, eight hundred dollars for a forty year old plastic robot from the Marx toy company. Big Loo was a “Christmas toy” from the early 1960’s; kin to the likes of Great Garloo, Odd Ogg, Robot Commando, and Thinkatron. Big Loo was the most desperately wanted toy on my 1963 Wish List. He could shoot balls out of one hand, and bend over and grab things to destroy with the other. He had blinking eye lights, and a crosshair sight for the dart shooters, missile launchers and water squirter. He could talk too. He had a crank operated voice with ten different sayings. Not to mention the warning bell, a two-tone whistle to further terrify the bad guys, and a compass and Morse code clicker in case you were lost in the wilderness and needed to send a message in code. Not only that- Big Loo was huge. 37” tall to be exact. He was just about everything I wanted in life that fall. But late in that summer of 1963 we had returned home to Trenton Michigan after visiting friends who had moved to California. My younger brother had asthma; the pollen laden eastern summers were killing him. He had done remarkably better in the dry southwestern climate. Instead of spending time in the emergency room he had been running around, swimming, and skinning up his knees and elbows riding a steel wheeled sidewalk surfboard. Sometime around Halloween a ‘For Sale’ sign appeared in front of our house. My folks announced that we too would be moving to California. We were going to a place called La Habra- sort of near Disneyland, and sort of near the beach. The house sold in November, and one Friday afternoon a fragment of broadcast broke across the loudspeaker in sixth grade Music class. The teacher turned directly to me. "John. Get down to the office right now, and find out what happened". Against all school rules, I ran down the ramp, through the lobby, and into the main office. “What Happened?” I asked. The secretary looked at me for a moment and said in a flat, stunned voice,” Someone shot the President.” That was Friday, November 22. Three weeks later, Friday, the Thirteenth of December was cold, and wet. The moving vans had gone. After school we said goodbye to our friends, finished packing, and took a last look at our home. The tree out front was a bare stick. The lawn was brown, the windows black, and everything else drizzly and gray. It was dark by the time we left. Mom piled my two brothers and me into the car, and my Dad drove south that night, into Ohio. Many days later, our bedraggled family pulled up to the door of our friends’ house in La Habra California. It was after ten o’clock at night when we got there. The moving vans had been delayed, so we spent several days sleeping on the floor in their living room and everyone got the flu at once. One of the moving vans arrived Christmas Eve with half of our furniture and goods. We spent that Christmas Eve moving into a shabby sprawling ramshackle house right off Whittier Boulevard. There were avocado, persimmon and loquat trees all overgrown in the huge shaggy yard. There were real poinsettias, too. Somehow in the midst of all that confusion my parents managed to get a Christmas tree set up and decorated in our otherwise empty living room. My Dad explained that Christmas might be delayed this year. At eleven, I understood what he meant, but my younger brothers still believed in Santa. He took my brothers and me to “Freight Outlet” and gave us each a few bucks to spend so we’d have gifts to give. My brothers and I never knew how broke we really were then. We got dinner that night from Burger Q, which was right across the street from our new home. And the next morning my brothers and I woke up to Christmas. The house was half empty, and strange. Stranger still, it was warm, and sunny out. But it was still Christmas. I don’t know how my parents did it, but they did. We had presents. All the silly, wonderful Christmas-toy junk that my brothers and I had coveted, wished for, and figured we just wouldn’t get, appeared beneath the tree that morning. Including my talking 37” tall, ball firing, dart shooting, missile launching, water squirting eye blinking, waist bending, thing grabbing, bell ringing whistle blowing “Big Loo Your Friend From the Moon” robot from the Marx toy company. That was Christmas 1963. By the spring of 1964, I had discovered car models, surf music, and then the Beatles. Big Loo went the way of most real toys, which is to say that I don’t know when or how it disappeared. And now there’s one for sale for eighteen hundred and some odd dollars on e-bay. There’s not a chance I’ll bid on it. Nonetheless, if it were mine I wouldn’t sell it. A merry, and joyous Christmas to all my friends in the Coonosphere. John M

Monday, December 13, 2021




 I started last week in a deep funk. As always, I'm going to leave the source material for the aforementioned funk under the umbrella of "politics and current events".  I spend a good four hours or more every day combing the internet. It's not all heavy stuff, but it's hard to take even an overview of the headlines, and stories of interest without coming away from it all with a free floating sense of dismay. But I'm not going to focus on the negative stuff. Life has been pretty good these last days, despite the ongoing shit show of the news. 
Saturday was our monthly bike club ride. As always I left the house early, and got down to the meet up spot with a couple of hours to kill. I brought hot coffee with me, and had a cup and a wake n' bake sitting on the rocks by the Santa Ana river. The morning was cold, and the early day as clear and fine as it gets. 
December ride. Four years ago I was just a couple weeks away from retiring from the school custodian job. Mary came out to ride that day, and when we stopped for coffee on the way down to the beach, I dropped a quarter tab of some LSD. It wasn't a heavy dose, but it was the first trip I'd taken in forty some years. Dang, it was fun. I wrote about it here.
But I wasn't going to be tripping this day. Too risky with all the bad mental health floating around. The last psychedelic excursion I took was about a year and a half ago. I took a mushroom adventure up in the hills, a post script to finishing the Lost Canyon Project. I had high hopes for the trip, but the hills on that fine spring morning were crawling with Chinese hikers, all masked up like plague zombies, all of them with their diapered faces shoved into their goddamn cell phones. When they saw me un-masked in the hills they would run to the far side of the trail, and clutch their children to them like I was a threat. (I'm not exaggeratin' here either.)
This is not the kind of thing you want to put up with when you're trippin' balls. Trust me here.
But I digress. 
This Saturday was a sweet a day as ever we've had. Just the club, and a few guests. Warm, despite winter. Ice cream at the Fun Zone. There is much to be grateful for.

Here's where I move from stoning out to working the stone. Cold mornings make for a late start, and the short days of December make for an early end to the sessions. Even so, I'm making progress on the rock. I spent less time on line this week. The funk lifted as I got my perspective lightened up. The weather was beautiful, clear and warm. 

We're working on separations.  The inner shape folds over at the top. This is where a hole becomes a slot, becomes a line, becomes an opening, becomes one figure cradled in another. The stone will have the illusion of being in two pieces. The hollows will fill it full of light. 

We're getting the house ready for Christmas, putting up decorations, and making plans for our party on Saturday. Rain on the way as well, so there probably won't be a lot gets done this week. That's OK, too.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Closing in on Winter

 Closing in on Winter

I usually make a few notes for the blog during the week, but this Monday morning greets me with a blank screen.
Yesterday was the monthly Cyclone Coaster ride. I've mentioned it before. Cyclone Coaster is the antique, and classic bicycle ride, every first Sunday of the month in Long Beach, CA. I brought out the 1950 Schwinn B6 for the cruise. Love this old cruiser!

Our club, RatRod Riders B/C, started in the Cyclone Coaster gathering. We had almost the whole gang out Sunday, except for Jim, who was in Arizona with his father. Jim's dad got the bug. It looks like he'll be OK, though. Dave came out to ride again, and that was a blessing. Dave is recovering from a bout with cancer. He's still on the electric assist three-wheeler, but bit by bit, he's doing better.
But there was hard news from the on-line  world. I've been a commenter over at (best site on the internet) Gerard VanderLeun's American Digest for a few years. On-line- friendships, and acquaintances  are strange creatures. There is nothing to identify an on-line friend except a nic name, maybe an avatar, and a style of writing. Yet we become friends after a fashion. We trade notes, get some idea of who the person is we're "talking" to, and come to care about that individual, even though we'd not recognize him if we were sitting at the same bus stop. That web of coincidence that catches us up, and connects us with others is mysterious, indeed. There are some wonderful metaphysical implications in this.
Jewel, is such an on-line acquaintance. We've traded notes on blogs for years now. Last night Jewel posted that she may terminal with the virus. Nothing is working, and they're going to put her on a ventilator.
Now, as I just said, I would not recognize the woman if we met face to face. Nonetheless the news hit me like a fastball to the gut. I woke in the night thinking about it. Many of the commenters over at American Digest are offering up prayers for Jewel. Ever think how a prayer gets routed? Somehow, the Almighty knows who is praying and for whom, even if the one offering the prayer does not. I guess that's taking it on Faith. It's all we have sometimes.
As far as the business of playing artist goes, I've been dragging my heels all week. Low energy. Malaise. Just plain feeling low and lousy. Even so, I made some decent progress on the stone. The last week or more I've been excavating the space at the base of the form.  It's kind of cool to see all that air and light open up in the middle of a rock. It's gratifying to see all this  space that started out with a single well-placed 1/4" hole. 
There is much much more excavation to come. I'll be working up in the top section this week, hollowing out the "head", and the troughs on the inner forms. It's all about working the light. 

This is the darkening season, and soon we'll see the shortest, and darkest day of this long, unhappy year. And in this darkening of days,  we wait for the light of Christmas.
"O Come Emanuel..."