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Chekhov’s flock of birds

chekhovFor free via Amazon Prime, yesterday, I watched a hard-to-hear-with-aging-ears version of The Three Sisters, directed by Sir Olivier, and featuring him in a central role, from 1970 or so. It’s basically a stage play, produced as a stage play with some more elaborate backdrops, performed as you would see it on a Broadway stage. It was the first time I’ve watched or read the play in decades, and I got drawn into it for the full 2:20, even though I was constantly imagining how impatient younger people would be as they watched it. What I was thinking, though, was how much nothing has changed since Chekhov wrote the play, except that our aristocracy is in large part newly rich, and our bourgeoisie is what’s shrinking and disappearing–not the aristocracy, which is fading away in the play, during the last years of the 19th century. But the dynamics are the same: the world is defined by the vulgarity of the culture driven by new access to wealth and the decline of older values that once gave meaning to life. But I remembered, as I watched, how much Chekhov could pack into a play: many of the philosophical reflections by these idle characters about life remain just as powerful. Why are we doing anything at all? What is the point of all this? Why is it that no matter what we do, since we always want something else, we’re always looking toward some other place or person for happiness? I remember first reading him in college and our professor pointed out that he’s only one step behind Beckett and the theater of the absurd, and you can see this constantly in the play, but Chekhov has heart, where the absurdists are all head. Beckett transcends any quibbling expectations you bring to him, but I’d much rather sit through Chekhov than Beckett. Anton sees the same absurdity and mystery as Sam, but he feels the plight of the characters and shows how it enacts itself in actual daily life, rather than a stylized stripped-down setting. (Again, not to knock Beckett, who is one of my favorites.) Aristocratic characters dream of the life of laborers: how wonderful it would be to get up in the morning and drive a bus! (A little humorous nod to Tolstoy at the end of his life, I think. But it’s true. Many of us think the life of a contractor or plumber or motorcycle mechanic would be far more satisfying than “the life of the mind”. Painting is another way to avoid “the life of the mind” for me, but that’s another story.) Chekhov is always funny and absolutely accurate–and chilling even when he’s funny. I started watching another, more recent production of the play on film, with Kristin Scott Thomas, to see if it was easier to hear the dialog, and it is–for another day–and it actually looks less mannered, maybe closer to a film than a play. But Olivier’s version conveyed the power of the story, which is moving, full of affection for the little troupe of lost souls trapped in a town 900 miles from their beloved Moscow.  It would be hard to make a mess of Chekhov, though I’m sure it can be done.

The worldview of the play in a few quotes:

IRINA. Tell me, why is it I am so happy today? As though I were sailing with the great blue sky above me and big white birds flying over it. Why is it? Why?

CHEBUTYKIN [kissing both her hands, tenderly]. My white bird. . . .

IRINA. When I woke up this morning, got up and washed, it suddenly seemed to me as though everything in the world was clear to me and that I knew how one ought to live. Dear Ivan Romanitch, I know all about it. A man ought to work, to toil in the sweat of his brow, whoever he may be, and all the purpose and meaning of his life, his happiness, his ecstasies lie in that alone. How delightful to be a workman who gets up before dawn and breaks stones on the road, or a shepherd, or a schoolmaster teaching children, or an engine-driver. . . . Oh, dear! to say nothing of human beings, it would be better to be an ox, better to be a humble horse as long as you can work, than a young woman who wakes at twelve o’clock, then has coffee in bed, then spends two hours dressing. . . . Oh, how awful that is! Just as one has a craving for water in hot weather I have a craving for work. And if I don’t get up early and work, give me up as a friend, Ivan Romanitch.


VERSHININ . . . . I think that I do know and thoroughly grasp what is essential and matters most. And how I should like to make you see that there is no happiness for us, that there ought not to be and will not be. . . . We must work and work, and happiness is the portion of our remote descendants [a pause]. If it’s not for me, but at least it’s for the descendants of my descendants. . . .

TUZENBAKH. You think it’s no use even dreaming of happiness! But what if I’m happy?

VERSHININ. No, you’re not.

TUSENBAGH [flinging up his hands and laughing]. It’s clear we don’t understand each other. Well, how am I to convince you?

[MASHA laughs softly.]

TUSENEACH [holds up a finger to her]. Laugh! [To VERSHININ] Not only in two or three hundred years but in a million years life will be just the same; it doesn’t change, it remains stationary, following its own laws which we have nothing to do with or which, anyway, we’ll never find out. Migratory birds, cranes for instance, fly backwards and forwards, and whatever ideas, great or small, stray through their minds, they’ll still go on flying just the same without knowing where or why. They fly and will continue to fly, however philosophic they may become; and it doesn’t matter how philosophical they are so long as they go on flying. . . .

MASHA. But still, isn’t there a meaning?

TUZENBAKH. Meaning. . . . Here it’s snowing. What meaning is there in that? [A pause.]

MASHA. I think man ought to have faith or ought to seek a faith, or else his life is empty, empty. . . . To live and not to understand why cranes fly; why children are born; why there are stars in the sky. . . . You’ve got to know what you’re living for or else it’s all nonsense and waste [a pause].


MASHA. Happy people don’t notice whether it is winter or summer. I think if I lived in Moscow I wouldn’t mind what the weather was like, . . .

VERSHININ. The other day I was reading the diary of a French minister written in prison. The minister was condemned for the Panama affair. With what enthusiasm and delight he describes the birds he sees from the prison window, which he never noticed before when he was a minister. Now that he’s released, of course he notices birds no more than he did before. In the same way, you won’t notice Moscow when you live in it. We have no happiness and never do have, we only long for it.


IRINA [lays her head on OLGA’S bosom]. A time will come when everyone will know what all this is for, why there is this misery; there will be no mysteries and, meanwhile, we have got to live . . . we have got to work, only to work! Tomorrow I’ll go alone; I’ll teach in the school, and I’ll give all my life to those who may need me. Now it’s autumn; soon winter will come and cover us with snow, and I will work, I will work.

OLGA [embraces both her sisters]. Time will pass, and we shall go away for ever, and we shall be forgotten, our faces will be forgotten, our voices, and how many there were of us; but our sufferings will pass into joy for those who will live after us, happiness and peace will be established upon earth, and they will remember kindly and bless those who have lived before. Oh, dear sisters, our life is not ended yet. We shall live! . . . .  it seems as though in a little while we shall know what we are living for, why we are suffering. . . . If we only knew — if we only knew!

CHEBUTYKIN [humming softly]. “Tarara-boom-dee-ay!” [Reads his paper.] It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.

OLGA. If we only knew, if we only knew!

Second Friday at Kindred Spirits

Second Friday at Kindred Spirits

Second Friday at Kindred Spirits : The Love of Music, February 12 at 4pm, Talent, OregonPlease join us for a celebration of art and spirits starting at 4pm Friday, Feb. 12.  The theme for the February 2016 second Friday at Kindred Spirits is the Love of Music.  Live entertainment by “Plain Folk,”  from Rogue World Ensemble.  Drum circle follows at 9:00 PM.

Featured artists:

  • Cathy Dorris 

  • Pat Moore

  • Margaret Stermer – Cox

Invite your friends to experience delicious food and engaging art every second Friday at Kindred Spirits.  Stay tuned for March’s 2nd Friday theme, A Celebration of Birds, on Friday March 11, 2016.

Ashland Art Center Additional Class Offerings

Ashland Art Center, Ashland, Oregon logo imageAdditions to February 2016 & beyond…

Ashland Art Center Adds More Class Offerings in February and March 2016

Additional Class Offerings in February and March



Ashland Art Center Additional Class Offerings, February 2016 : Portrait Drawing and Painting with Jenay ElderPortrait Drawing and Painting with Jenay Elder

$260 (8 sessions), $35 day-rate

Mondays, Feb 1- March 14 @ 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm


This workshop is designed for artists who require guided, in-depth study with a portrait model. Welcoming beginner to advanced artists, Jenay will teach drawing and oil painting fundamentals. This class will focus on structure, proportion, color principles and composition. Every Monday will begin with three hour poses and proceed into longer themed poses/compositions. Students are encouraged to bring in costumes and participate in creating a story with the model. Please arrive on time.
Find out more »

Ashland Art Center Additional Class Offerings, February 2016 : Academic Life Drawing with Sarah F Burns

Graphite Drawing by Sarah F Burns

Academic Life Drawing with Sarah F Burns

$300 (11 Sessions) Plus $85 Model Fee

Wednesdays @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

March 30- June 8 (11 Sessions)


This class will guide students through each stage of drawing the human figure. Learn to capture the gesture, proportion, character, volume, light effect, anatomy and spark of life. Through demos, handouts and individual guidance, students will gain a clear method and set of tools to approach long pose drawing the human form. Held in the AAC main classroom, class size 8. Visit online for materials list and to register for workshop. Questions? Contact Sarah at [email protected], 541-621-7767

Find out more »


Ashland Art Center Additional Class Offerings, March 2016 : Painting: Oil Painting Techniques with Jenay ElderPainting: Oil Painting Techniques with Jenay Elder

$150.00 (two-day intensive) Supplies list available online

March 19 & 20th 3:00pm- 6:00pm
Discover the joy of working with oil paints. Learn different painting techniques, palettes and approaches to approaching oil painting. This mini-series will be full of fun and rewarding exercises, demonstrations and one on one instruction. Students will complete two color block studies with a full palette, in both natural and artificial light. Students will also create a color chart based on the “Zorn Palette”. The final day we will create a small finished painting applying learned techniques.

 Find out more » 

Ashland Art Center Additional Class Offerings, March 2016 :  Art Matters – Panel Discussions with Rebecca GabrielArt Matters – Panel Discussions with Rebecca Gabriel


Thursday March 17 @ 5:30 pm- 7:30 pm

Art Matters – A Series of Panel Discussions about Art

Please join us for this exciting series which explores vital issues and topics concerning today’s art and artists. The panels will feature prominent artists, gallerists, collectors, educators, and art activists; and will incorporate audience participation. Topics will range from the creative process and education, to success in the art market, and beyond.

The panels will be moderated by artist Rebecca Gabriel who holds a Master of Science in Art Education and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting. Come to these dynamic and interactive discussions to be informed and inspired.
Panel Topics:

By the Seat of Their Pants – Those Who Make a Living with Their Art & How They Did It”
Thursday, 5:30-7:00 p.m., March 17, in the classroom at the Ashland Art Center.

The Evolution of Style-Putting the Cart before the Horse
Thursday, 5:30-7:00 p.m., April 21, in the classroom at the Ashland Art Center.

Modalities of Education in the Visual Arts: Atelier, University, Workshops, or Outsider Art?
Thursday, 5:30-7:00 p.m., May 19, in the classroom at the Ashland Art Center.

Panel participants to be announced.

Find out more »



All Classes and Events held at Ashland Art Center unless otherwise specified.

Ashland Art Center, 357 E Main Street, Ashland, Oregon 97520 

[email protected]

Horace and Pete

louie-season-4-review_article_story_largeA little news in my inbox from the funniest man in America :

Hello friend guy lady or other,

Some of you are aware that, last Saturday, I launched a new series on my site called “Horace and Pete”. I’m writing now to tell you some stuff about it….

Horace and Pete is a new show that I am producing, directing, writing, distributing and financing on my own.  I have an amazing cast: Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange, Aidy Bryant, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger and other guest stars.  Also Paul Simon wrote and performed the theme song which is beautiful.

The response to episode one has been great so far and there are more coming.  We are making them now and having a lot of fun doing it.

Part of the idea behind launching it on the site was to create a show in a new way and to provide it to you directly and immediately, without the usual promotion, banner ads, billboards and clips that tell you what the show feels and looks like before you get to see it for yourself.  As a writer, there’s always a weird feeing that as you unfold the story and reveal the characters and the tone, you always know that the audience will never get the benefit of seeing it the way you wrote it because they always know so much before they watch it.  And as a TV watcher I’m always delighted when I can see a thing without knowing anything about it because of the promotion. So making this show and just posting it out of the blue gave me the rare opportunity to give you that experience of discovery.

Also because we are shooting this show in a multi-camera format with an emphasis on a live feeling, we are able to post it very soon after each episode is shot.  So I’m making this show as you’re watching it.

Okay so let’s talk for a minute about the five dollars of it all.  If you’re on this email list then you’re probably aware that I always make an effort to make the work I do on my own as cheap as possible and as painless as possible to get.  That’s why my specials are five dollars and that’s why I sold tickets to my last big tour here on the site, with our own ticketing service at a flat price with no ticket charges and we have worked hard to keep my tickets out of the hands of scalpers.

So why the dirty fuckballs did I charge you five dollars for Horace and Pete, where most TV shows you buy online are 3 dollars or less?  Well, the dirty unmovable fact is that this show is fucking expensive.

The standup specials are much more containable.  It’s one guy on a stage in a theater and in most cases, the cost of the tickets that the live audience paid, was enough to finance the filming.

But Horace and Pete is a full on TV production with four broadcast cameras, two beautiful sets and a state of the art control room and a very talented and skilled crew and a hall-of-fame cast.  Every second the cameras are rolling, money is shooting out of my asshole like your mother’s worst diarrhea.  (Yes there are less upsetting metaphors I could be using but I just think that one is the sharpest and most concise).  Basically this is a hand-made, one guy paid for it version of a thing that is usually made by a giant corporation.

Now, I’m not complaining about this at all.  I’m just telling you the facts.  I charged five dollars because I need to recoup some of the cost in order for us to stay in production.

Also, it’s interesting.  The value of any set amount of money is mercurial (I’m showing off because i just learned that word.  It means it changes and shifts a lot).  Some people say “Five dollars is a cup of coffee”.  Some people say “Hey! Five dollars??  What the fuck!”  Some people say “What are you guys talking about?”  Some people say “Nothing. don’t enter a conversation in the middle”.

Anyway, I’m leaving the first episode at 5 dollars.  I’m lowering the next episode to 2 dollars and the rest will be 3 dollars after that.  I hope you feel that’s fair.  If you don’t, please tell everyone in the world.

Meanwhile, we’re going to keep making Horace and Pete.  We’re going to keep telling you the story.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy it.  I’ll write you again later and tell you more about it.  It’s fun to talk about.  But for now I want to shut up and not ruin the experience of you just watching the show.

Here’s the link for the website.  Enjoy episode 2 of Horace and Pete.  We’re shooting it now.  You’ll get it on Saturday morning.

This person,

Louis C.K.

Mysterious Presence

Sun bouncing from one structure to another on the University of California Irving Campus.

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L’esprit Du Soleil

Sunbeams along Wagner Creek Road in Talent, OR

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DIY – Square Envelope With Interlocking Heart Closure

After designing my square Valentine’s Day card, I decided to make a square envelope to go with it. I wanted an easy envelope, but one with a little extra pizzaz. So here’s my square envelope with interlocking heart closure. My … Continue reading

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10: Professional Wrestling

Episode 10: Professional Wrestling! This time the gang heads to Newark to see WWE Smackdown live! This is the first time any of them have seen professional wrestling live, and the most wrestling any of them had ever seen in their lives. Why? Professional wrestling, love it or hate it, is massively poplular. With over […]

Continue reading 10: Professional Wrestling

“Ten Octaves” is inspired by the mystic, scientist, artist…

“Ten Octaves” is inspired by the mystic, scientist, artist Walter Russell’s diagram of integrating light octaves. “These octaves constitute one complete cycle of the transfer of the universal constant of energy into, and through, all of it’s dimensions in sequence. “

Purchase inquiries may be directed to [email protected]

Continue reading “Ten Octaves” is inspired by the mystic, scientist, artist…