Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Adding To My Collection

Recently circumstances encouraged me to collect a third artwork by Lino Tagliapietra. Lino, of course, is the premier glassblower of our time. In my opinion, he is our greatest living artist in any medium. 

The work, "Saturno," is inspired by the planet Saturn. Its translucence, detail and exquisite artistry aren't adequately described in words; you need to experience the work in person to appreciate its majesty. Three-dimensional glass art has ineffable qualities that draw you closer, open your mind and touch the heart.

I feel privileged to possess this art for the next few decades.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

"Sono Lino"

Our greatest living artist is glassblower Lino Tagliapietra. 

Now in his 90s Lino has made art since he was a young boy growing up in Murano, Italy (historic capital of the glass world). Lino's work is universally acclaimed, displayed in many museums, and possesses striking beauty. I'm fortunate to own two Lino artworks which are the pulsating heart of my burgeoning art collection.

A documentary about Lino just won an award at the Seattle International Film Festival. You can stream the movie (link below) but that costs a few bucks. I'll let you know when the film is available elsewhere for free.

Sono Lino ( 

Monday, May 20, 2024


Long before they became popular I was a fan of post-apocalyptic dramas. Like the terrific, overlooked "The Blood of Heroes" (1989). Such films explore human behavior when the comforts of modern life disappear. Given the direction we're heading in, that may be useful information.

In the 1970s I got hooked on the work of George Miller, a vigorous Australian who made several "Mad Max" movies. Miller creates futuristic worlds with vivid imagination and uses real-world stunts, not computer gimmickry. I'll admit to having at least one nightmare after viewing his films.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015) proved Miller still has mojo. At advanced age (70) he revived the franchise with Charlize Theron delivering a powerful performance. A pre-quel to that film is coming out this week telling the origin story of Theron's character "Furiosa" (2024). It stars Anya Taylor-Joy, whom you admired in "The Queen's Gambit" (2020), and Chris Hemsworth.

These films aren't Robin's cup of tea. Who wants to go with me?

Saturday, May 11, 2024

My Mother

A person never dies if their memory survives. My mother, Barbara Jo, passed away 33 years ago but she's as present in my life as ever. On this Mother's Day weekend I thought it'd be fun to share some stories about her.

Everyone in and near my family recognized Barbara Jo as a potent force. We feared her as much as loved her. Like Stalin my mother surveilled everyone, knew everything and issued edicts. Opposition was futile and destroyed before it could germinate. You could argue with my mother, as my rebellious brother Richard did, but without success. My father, who had been a carefree rogue before he met her, learned his lesson and walked the line. He knew better than to confront the potentate who reigned supreme over our family and friends. 

It wasn't my mother's size that intimidated us (she was under five feet tall), it was her tenacity. A pitbull, Barbara Jo would latch onto your ankle with locking jaw and razor-sharp teeth. If the pain didn't force you to surrender the endless struggle did. Her will was stronger than yours and that won her every battle.

I was shown my mother's power in earliest childhood. I possess a fundamental character that was then considered socially deviant. My mother, who carried the hyper-anxiety of an immigrant, made it her mission to conform me to society's expectation. Given her omniscience and omnipotence the outcome was never in doubt.

In 1971 the book "Summer of '42" became a bestseller. I bought and started to read it. Halfway through my mother extracted the book from my bedroom and refused to return it. When asked for an explanation she declared the book had "too much sex" for a 14 year old boy. I guffawed but knew argument was useless. The book was gone.

A year later my mother discovered the draft of a story I was writing. I had hidden the draft deep in my bedroom but, as noted above, Barbara Jo was omniscient. The story, written as science fiction, was about a man dating a woman and preparing to have relations with her. During sex he's shocked to learn she is a robot. I thought the concept was intriguing but my mother got unduly hung up on my detailed description of the female robot's genitalia. "How do you know about this?!" she shrieked. I was well-read.

This episode taught me the humor of a joke then circulating: "What is pornography? Anything in a sock drawer that isn't a sock." :)

My final tale demonstrates how my mother's rule continued into my adulthood. In 1985 I moved into a new home with my girlfriend Maura. My mother insisted on keeping tabs on us and offering advice (with which we frequently disagreed). Trying to gently avoid her advice I was deliberately slow in getting a telephone at the house. I figured without a phone my mother couldn't call and pester us.

 One Saturday morning, at 5:30 a.m., Maura and I are asleep in bed. BANG! BANG! BANG! "Who the hell is that?" we asked. I go to the front door and see my mother standing there. My 4'11" mother. Fully dressed and irate. Agitated. Hot as a habanero pepper. "GET A TELEPHONE!" she yells, turns around and drives home. 

I can only laugh at these events which display how deeply my mother loved me. She wanted me to have a happy life; we simply disagreed on what that was. Barbara Jo did her best to raise two boys and I'll always love her.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Small Victories

If you looked through my eyes, you'd start to cry. And not stop. I have the least amount of vision possible: a small, dark periscope-view with no peripheral awareness. A physical limitation like this can plunge one into emotional despair. 

And yet... I'm not giving up. Buoyed by unfounded optimism and innate grit I push forward. Today, for example I achieved something I initially believed was beyond my ability.

After handing my beloved motorcycles to friends I'm now trying to sell my two cars. (A beautiful red convertible [2021 Mazda Miata] and sporty hatchback [2013 Fiat Abarth].) Obviously it'll be easier to sell them if they're clean, not dirty, but the cars haven't been driven in a year and have a thick layer of dust from storage.

I contemplated washing them. I quickly concluded I lack sufficient eyesight for that task. But then... today... I felt strong. Powerful. Irrationally exuberant. So I thought, "Why not try? What's the worst that can happen? I fail?" So I endeavored to wash my cars.

One thing you need to know to stand in my shoes is that everything -- everything -- is three times harder and takes three times longer than it used to. Activities now require searching for objects sitting in front of my face, misjudging and correcting distances from my hand to destinations, and cleaning up inevitable messes. At first these added burdens were dispiriting but I developed patience and fortitude. I gradually adopted a mental attitude of moving slowly and deliberately while expecting frequent frustrations.

Washing my cars wasn't easy. A job that used to take one hour expanded to three. Assembling materials, lugging our hose up from the basement, searching for a damn water-nozzle that mischievously hid itself on my workbench all complicated the project. Multi-step jobs like this are more easily abandoned than completed.

But I wanted it done. So I persevered and waded through cold pools of effort and annoyance. There were a few surprising bright spots like being reminded of the sinuous curves of my sporty vehicles whose bodies I'd lovingly handled in the past and feeling muscle-memory from those experiences. I instinctively knew when and where to move closer, deeper and probe the curved surfaces with my wet fingers and soapy sponge. 

Eventually I emerged from the driveway with two clean automobiles and a sweaty t-shirt. Best of all was feeling accomplished. I performed a task that might have defeated others in my condition.

And good news -- I didn't accidentally wash my neighbor's car. :)