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September 2002


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For technical support for these newsletters, please e-mail: arachne@pantarbe.com, Attn: FOKUS Tech Support

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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

August FOKUS Sharing

Sunday, September 8, 2002
4pm - 9pm
Kafka's Kastle (Bruce Taylor's condo)

For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.

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Art Sharing
Sunday, August 11, 2002

Roberta Gregory shared her latest issue (#36) of Naughty Bits. Bruce Taylor read his story "Altair II" from The Final Trick of Funnyman and Other Stories. Jennifer Diamond read her unpublished story "Unscheduled". Judith Lowe shared prints of her two spiritual watercolor paintings titled "Veil" and "Spirit Birds". Lida Sloan shared inspirational, ecological, smart-aleck poems. Carl Sloan read some of his poetry. Bob Olson performed a comic story-telling monologue on "Wheels". Pippin Sardo and Seiko Olson provided an interested audience.

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Other Stuff

The October FOKUS meetingwill be at Bob & Seiko's beachfront home in Ocean Shores - October 4,5 & 6th bring a pillow, sleeping bag & necessities. Directions and a map will be in the October newsletter. We look forward to a great time. (Possible clam bake)

Pippin Sardo is providing costume crew, wardrobe and dresser services for Donna Rae Davidson and Robinski Jones' new musical, Claudia Kelly's 500 Hats, opening at the Seattle Fringe Festival Sept. 19 - 29 in the Richard Hugo House. Call the Richard Hugo House, 206-322-7030, for dates, tickets etc. (Tickets are $12 each, unless you wear a hat, in which case you get $1 off ticket price)


Book & Lyrics by Donna Rae Davidson
Music by Robinski Jones


Thursday, Sept. 19 - 730pm
Friday, Sept. 20 - 6pm
Saturday, Sept. 21 - 230pm
Sunday, Sept. 22 - 1015pm
Monday, Sept. 23 - 945pm
Thursday, Sept. 26 - 6pm
Saturday, Sept. 28 - 11am




PHONE: 206 322 2018
ONLINE: www.seattlefringe.org

Pippin's volunteer citizenship class was featured in a very positive and informative article in the Sept. 1 Kirkland Courier.

Bruce Taylor will be reading poetry at Wits End Bookstore, Fremont, on Sept. 22, 7 pm, and on October l3th, at Barnes and Noble in Issaquah.

Bruce will also be reading from his book, The Final Trick of Funnyman and Other Stories at North Seattle Community College, in October. Date to be decided.

As President of the Seattle Writers Association, Bruce invites writers and would be writers to the first meeting of SWA for the year, Sept. 5, 7 pm at the University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. NE, Seattle. Topic: Inspiration. For a full listing of the program, please go to our website: www.seattlewriters.com.

Thanks Judy Smith for the informative message enclosed in this newsletter and for your $15.00 newsletter contribution.

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial: Short Takes

After I wrote the last editorial, I realized I left out the most important element about global warming, namely, with the discovery of so much cold water dumping into the ocean of Nova Scotia from glacial melt, there is danger to the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is a deep ocean current that girdles the globe and provides a heat-transfer mechanism that brings cool water to the tropics, making them livable, then takes the heat from the tropics and transfers it to the Northern hemisphere, making the Northern hemisphere livable. Guess what? If there were a mass melting of Greenland, that process would be stopped. What would/could happen within a matter of a few years? Well, without the gulf Stream/AKA Deep Ocean Current, the Northern Hemisphere plunges into an ice age, and the middle latitudes/tropics heat up to the point of being uninhabitable. Happily, I guess, Discover Magazine, September, 2002 issue, now on the stands, goes into detail as to how exactly this whole heat-exchange works. Frightening? You better believe it. And according to one atmospheric scientist who wants to be a consultant for the book that Brian Herbert and I hope to be writing soon, (The Long Night), we're at least 25% into the process of the Gulf Stream shutting down. It's happening right now. This is the stuff the media needs to be telling us; this is the news we are not getting. 40 billion dollars for the War on Terrorism? Or what if that money were spent on preventing North America and Europe from plunging into another ice age and making the tropics uninhabitable by 2020? After all, which is the Greater Terror?

(Elevation: 6000 feet. Sitting on an unnamed ridge on the side of Morning Star Peak, looking over unnamed glaciers, near Monte Cristo, Central Cascades.)

It's been a fabulous hike: off the Mountain Loop Highway, just a few miles beyond Big Four Mountain, and just before the gate in the road leading to the old town site of Monte Cristo. The turn off, known as the Sunrise Mine Road, goes into a vast glacial cirque with stunning Switzerland-like views of Vesper, Del Campo. and Sperry, all above, 6000 feet. Todd Christoffel, his son Max, and I spend the morning of the August 9 hiking the trail beneath the 6,600-foot massive and blocky mountain of Del Campo, then up to the hanging valley of snow -filled Weden Basin. Then, clambering across a seemingly endless upward trudge through talus and busted rock, we find the Headless Pass Trail. Up, up on a trail that clings to the side of a steep scree slope we climb, with full packs. The trail, unmaintained so far this year, spooky in places because of its steepness, finally leads to Headless Pass in an area of mountains like rocky broadswords, darkly spearing the skies around us. Though the cleft, across another scree slope, entering into another hanging valley/glacial cirque, and it looks like the pocket glacier was here only yesterday. A bowl of glacially polished rock awaits us. At the bottom, Lake Elan, just now thawing out, sits surrounded by snowy slopes that, in some places, almost go up to the ridges some 500 feet up. The next day we climb the lowest unnamed ridge that bridges Sperry Peak with Morning Star and forms the 6000-foot high undulating rim of the cirque. Down below, 4000 feet down, the Mountain Loop Highway. Just below, a few hundred feet down, an unnamed glacier. We go up higher by way of the trail, and 4000 feet down over there, Copper Lake, green because it's tinted with copper. And we all sit up here having a bite to eat, the sun peeking out from clouds drifting over the ridge. August, 2002, I think, looking around this immense paradise of granite, heather and ice. Wow. It's incredible being up here, but what also comes to mind is that 2002 is an anniversary for several events in my life: July, l962, I'm diagnosed with juvenile-onset diabetes, yet a physical a few days before revealed me to be in basically perfect health. And 40 years later, no complications, sitting up here, 6000 feet, surrounded by stunning beauty. How do I thank the Gods, The Fates, the Universe for this honor of health, even though I have a chronic illness? I am overwhelmed by Gratitude.

And another anniversary: 30 years ago I was in Clarion West Writers Workshop. It was the "Tough Love Era", I guess, where one was supposed to learn how to care enough for one's talent to be able to hear stuff like, "What's the matter with you? This isn't fiction. This is garbage." And, "Why do you waste our Xerox budget?" And, " This really sucks." Manuscripts were walked on, shredded, and, in other workshops, burned. Even as I sat there at 6000 feet on that fine day, thinking back to that, I could still feel the bite of tears, and even as I write this, I still feel the pain. Sadly, such an environment simply made me, albeit unconsciously, aware of all the covert, negative messages about my creativity that I got from my family. Being in that workshop turned out to be an experience of post traumatic stress and I didn't know what hit me. What I did know was that I had to keep writing. I dared not stop. I had to learn how to make my art matter--to me. And I did. A dream I had about a year and a half ago told me that. As I walked in my dream into a building that was lit by many individual lights, each light was a symbol for a story. I was with a few friends who had appreciated what I had done, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of beauty. I had created beauty. And that was the most important thing. Yes, it would be wonderful if everyone else knew that, but I can't control that, can I? What I can control is creation of beauty--my art. And I know, even if no one else knows it, I know that I have created beauty and maybe in some way, made the world a bit better place. Sitting up on that ridge, surrounded by beauty, I knew that I, too, was a part of that beauty. I have my health and my art and knowing that my art truly matters, if to no one else but me. It was a fine, fine day, sitting there, with Todd, with Max, with this knowledge and with immeasurable gratitude and--serenity. In spite of the pain, it's wonderful to be here, in this wonderful, wonderful world.

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Interview with Todd C, lead songwriter for the band, "Don't Ask"
Interviewer is Bruce Taylor.

Q: "How would you describe your music?"
A: "High energy, eclectic, acoustic, electric," (Editor's note: even his off-the-cuff comments rhyme!)

Q: "How long have you been playing guitar?"
A: "Since '72, but I began doing music on autoharp when I was younger."

Q: "Which musicians do you admire?"
A: "Singers, songwriters of the '60's: Beatles, Elton John, Paul Simon, James Taylor"

Q: ":Is there a message to your music?"
A: "I write stream-of-consciousness, (but) I feel the message is about hope."

Q: "Make a statement about your band, 'Don"t Ask'."
A: "They're a bunch of great guys who've stuck with it for a very long time. They all bring their unique talents to bear in the final product. Chris (Faget) is a musician with a guitar, Doug (Auslin) is subtly complex."

Q: You refer to your music as a 'final product'--meaning--?"
A: "I've always thought of a song as a sculpture almost in a wiry shape, but it has its unique form; I've buffed it out, made it shiny; it's the best form I can make it--hence a product."

Q: I questioned your comment re. 'final product' because it sounds like you saw it as merchandise rather than art."
A: "I'd love to have songs on the radio and I do feel some could be a commercial success, but that's not what 'I'm really in it for'. However, there's no denying commercial success would allow more ears to hear the material and affect a wider audience, and that would be fine, but I won't lop off the limbs of any of my sculptures to get it there."

Q: "You'd like to be a commercial success--wouldn't we all--what's it like to not be 'commercially successful' at this point in time?"
A: "I'd be lying to you if I told you it wasn't frustrating--but right now I'm in my best position to move forward and that's all I can do. Taking it a step at a time, keep moving forward."

Q: "I know you've gone through The Artist's Way and The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron. What impact did these books/her philosophy have on your music/art?"
A: "Well, one of the biggest things I got out of her was 'refilling the well' so I don't have to worry about a dry spell. Another thing was, trusting the process of creation. The biggest thing I got was a perception of what Art does for me, perception of my story through my whole experience as a song writer--I let it go for a while and then it came back to me like a promise."

Q: "You let it go for awhile. Why?"
A: "Because it caused me great pain when I tried to do it in Nashville. Then, I wanted to be a regular guy with a regular job until I saw that it wasn't songwriting that gave me pain, it was being ill-prepared to get out and have a life of my own."

Q: "Tell me more about Nashville."
A: "Well, like the song says, I was just a scared kid down there trying to survive out on my own. So I left Nashville before I did anything of substance (l976). But like the song, 'Murder In Nashville' said, 'I made it out alive'."

Q: "Your next project?"
A: "A (new) CD, titled, 'Nothing'. It has many songs people have been asking for, such as, "My Heart Is Taken", "No One Said Love Was Easy". Release date will be set for September and we're really excited about it. It will have l4 songs and we've spent a lot of time and money to get it ready."

Q: "Can you say something about the title?"
A: Because one of the songs is titled, 'Nothing'--a fairy tale gone awry."

Q: "How does it compare to your first CD. 'There's a Monkey In My Grape'?'"
A: "More up-front lead guitar, vocal harmonies and percussion. It has a bigger, richer sound. Regarding the release party, we'll be sending out announcements or contact us at toddchristoffel@yahoo.com. There's real hope for the project; we're really proud of it and it turned out phenomenally well."

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Bob Olson's new venture:

Bob feels his best calling is that of a storyteller - thus his new identity, Bob Clause, the Storytelling Twin of Santa. Let Bob give a free performance at your next celebration. Just give him a call.
Bob Olson

Bob Clause, the Storytelling Twin of Santa

Bob grew up in the rural suburbs of Chicago developing intellect and mischief simultaneously. Strangely his life sprouted adventure as he experienced school, athletics, girls, travel, poverty, wealth, war and death. Adopted as an infant by Milton and Lenore Olson, Bob Olson became an old man before he found out that he really was the prodigal twin of Santa, and that's just one of his stories.

Stories by Bob

Pick your topic, from one of those below or name your own, and Bob will tell you fitting stories from his life that tickle your humor, tweak your sensitivities and stretch your imagination. Stories for any occasion, all ages and every season of the year.

Other Seasons
Boys & Girls
Miracles, Healing & Godly Dreams
Public Speaking
Poverty & Wealth
Memory & Forgetfulness
Repair (the "Duct tape Kid")
Hunting & Fishing


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A letter from FOKUS member Judy Smith

August 8, 2002


I'm writing in response to Bruce Taylor's (July ) editorial on global warming. (And also wanted to send in my $15 to continue getting the newsletter.) Just want to let folks know that my ex, Patrick Mazza, has been studying and writing about global warming for some time. Bruce's editorial talks about issues Patrick has been scaring me with for years such as the likelihood of new plagues being set in motion as well as islands, coastlines and cities disappearing underwater. Venice comes to mind.

I have a hard time grappling with all that but believe if the collective unconscious began to work on it things could change. But first it means getting the word out to the collective consciousness. Bruce was right about urging people to call their government representatives, but there's other things people can do as well like buy the book Patrick co-authored - Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Warming. It's a practical book with action plans for individuals, communities and corporations. Stormy Weather is available in bookstores around town. Or call Patrick Mazza at 206-720-6150 for a copy. (Twenty bucks, includes shipping.)

Just wanted to let people know there were other options out there. Thanks for keeping the newsletter going too!


Judy Smith

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A Short Poem by Carl Sloan


Shifting alliances of grays, whites, blues
each point of the compass
a different hue
where gambler clouds
rush to hedge their bets.

The naked sun a streaker
is quickly covered by the cloud police
with their thirty shades of gray.

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Last updated:  September 5, 2002