Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Monday, June 30, 2014

When Things Get Tough, Get Tougher

In the days of my youth I spent an extraordinary amount of time wishing life could somehow be made easier. I expended an incredible amount of energy and resources experimenting with various methods of trying to make life easier - losing myself in relationships, moving from one part of the country to another, exploring various religions and philosophical doctrines, etc.

My quest wasn't due to feeling like some disenfranchised white middle-class hetero slacker that nobody understood (primarily because I had never been a white middle-class hetero slacker - though, you know, two out of four), it was simply because life was damn tough, at least tougher than I wanted it to be.

It took me years of slogging through the crap to realize that it wasn't a matter of wishing and hoping that life would get easier. It was a matter of working like mad to make myself tougher - tougher than anything life could throw at me. 

I know, I know - kind of obvious. But I'm a slow learner when it comes to certain subjects...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Just Sliding By

They all bragged about where they were from as if they had some control over the circumstances of their birth, some influence on where their parents had decided to settle down. It was an odd thing to listen to, the loud boasts, even then as a kid, when I was just as likely to join in with a loud boast of my own about the neighborhood I lived in.

That was one of the many things that struck me as strange in those pre-teen days, that and taking pride in the color of your skin. I was always confused by both. Not one of us had a say in either matter, and not one of us worked for either - they just happened to us, and that was that.

Eventually I learned that everyone needed something that gave them a sense of self-worth, that made them feel worthwhile. But even then I marveled at how few people actually were willing to put in the work to develop talents or abilities that could be considered worthy - most just seemed to want to proclaim nothing was something and deem that enough to make them worthy.

I still see it in practice nearly everyday.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Parking Lot Carnival

My first real job was as a ride jock for a parking lot Carnival. I was 15. Mike M. and I operated the Spyder. It was just a two week gig, then the show moved up the coast to the Costa Mesa County Fair. Mike and I went along with them. To this day I cannot believe our parents let us do it. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Crow's Disagreement With The Latvian

How can anyone who has never seen 
Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France
Claim that life is an excruciating bore 

You desire fundamental human experiences
Yet you won't let anything or anyone past your defenses
Nature doesn't give two about your imagined foibles
Let them go - feel something real
Stop trying to hide - feel something real
Take a risk on feeling joyful

You're willing to pledge to save a child in Africa
Yet you won't spend a dime on the homeless in Nebraska
Blame overpopulation on the policies of the Vatican
Lies that feel like truth - nothing but lies
The twisted truth - nothing but lies
A nonbeliever with hands on a talisman

How can anyone who has never heard
Post - Romantic harmony
Think they understand compositional drama

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Putting A Face To The Disaster

Feel your laughter like a hammer 
Breaking down a wall made of paper
Weaker than dive bar rum
What you thought was a party
Became your own private little catastrophe

Have no patience for deviations
From the truth, from the promises
Lose your grip there for a minute?
Was this the mistake you were hoping for?

It really was nothing special
Just another flawed attempt at being reasonable
In the face of obvious unbalance
Build a bonfire of wooden platitudes
Sacrifice your dignity in the night

Cut your foot on a blade of grass
To prove how sensitive you are
Well, the jury isn't buying the story
They've heard it all before
Time to pay the Piper
Yeah, the Piper is wantin' his due
You've been one to call the tune
But the Piper is wantin' his due

Too late to beg for mercy
No ears will bend for that
Your tears could fill the Grand Canyon
Maybe time to buy a yacht
Seventy-two monthly payments
Not a bad price to pay for the chance
To diminish the memory 
Oh, what I wouldn't do
Back-flip off the Burj Khalifa
To diminish the memory of you

Have no patience for deviations
From the truth, from the promises
Lose your grip there for a minute?
Was this the mistake you were hoping for?

Friday, June 20, 2014

All Those Misunderstandings To Look Forward To

I could tell immediately
That I liked her
By the way I wanted to hide
Certain aspects of myself

Maybe, just maybe
If I revealed the whole mess
A little at a time, in small enough doses
It would be alright

Or at least too late

If she could reach the point
Where she accepted me
Exactly as I am
I wouldn't have to worry about improving

Maybe, just maybe
I'll accidentally do right by her
Every so often
And she'll think it's worth the while

Or at least she'll be confused

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Denver Comic-Con 2014

"Did you go to the con this year?"


"Why not? You love the con!"

"Had to work."

"Couldn't you go after work?"

"Con closed at 7:00 on Friday and Sat, and at 5:00 on Sunday."

"Wow, that does seem a bit early."

"Too early for me - had to work untill 8:00 Friday, 6:00 Saturday, and 5:00 Sunday."

"Bummer. Well. maybe next year, eh?'

"Nah, think I'll just use the cash I would have spent there on something else."

Sketching Roses With A Ballpoint Pen On Paper


Monday, June 16, 2014

Tony Gwynn, 5-9-1960 ~ 6-16-2014

Most every baseball fan has one player that defines the game for him or her. It may be a player who excelled at the position the fan played, or maybe possessed a skill the fan wished to emulate - a pitcher with a wicked curve, a shortstop with a great glove, an outfielder with a canon for an arm, or a hitter that was nearly impossible to strike out.

Those last guys, the pure hitters, were the ones I admired, and the one pure hitter I admired most was Tony Gwynn, the right-fielder for the San Diego Padres who came to be known as "Mr. Padre."

Being reared in San Diego I naturally became a fan of the largely woeful Padres baseball team when I was a wee lad. The Padres were flat out awful then, with the only players of note, guys like Dave Winfield and Ozzie Smith, around only long enough to garner attention from larger market clubs, who would then sign them away with fat contracts that Padres ownership could not or would not match.

However, in the third round of the 1981 MLB draft, the Padres took hometown hero, Tony Gwynn, who, though initially signed to play basketball at SDSU (he was a highly skilled point guard, and was drafted by the Clippers, but turned them down to play baseball), had become quite an able baseball player after joining the Aztec ball team in his second year of college.

Tony Gwynn wasted little time getting to the big show, spending just a year in the minors before making his debut for the Padres on July 19th, 1982. 

His breakout year came in 1984, which was also the year the Padres went to their first World Series. I morphed from casual baseball fan to dyed in the wool aficionado that year, opening the paper every morning to the box scores and checking how Tony did before I read any other news.

From 1984 on that ritual became one of the ways I would maintain a connection with the city of my birth. Whether I was living in New Mexico or Alaska, every morning during the baseball season I would check Tony Gwynn's stat line first thing. 

Tony Gwynn exemplified to me the best example of working tirelessly to achieve a goal. He didn't possess the ideal build for a ballplayer (barely 5'11", and weighing over 200 lbs), but he made the best of what he had. He studied videotape of his swing for hours, looking to improve even after winning multiple batting titles (He finished his career with 8 batting titles, tied with Honus Wagner for most all-time).

Tony Gwynn was determined to be the best he could be at what he did, and that to me is an admirable character trait.

He was also loyal to the people and city of San Diego, remaining a Padre when he could have easily earned bigger paychecks in larger markets. 

He gave every baseball fan in San Diego a lot to cheer for over his twenty-year career, bringing his A game to the field day in and day out.

And for that Mr. Gwynn, I say thank you - life well lived.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Old Firm Match, Glasgow Scotland, January 2nd 1998

             Celtic Park, the home of Celtic F.C in the Parkhead neighborhood of Glasgow

It was while we were watching Colombia easily take apart Greece that the question was asked. Had I, as an American, ever attended a "real" soccer football game?

My answer, which was met with not a little doubt, was; "Yes, I have. I've been to an Old Firm match in Glasgow."

My answer was greeted with a "Pics or it didn't happen," response, so naturally, I pulled out a photo album and presented the proof.

                     Celtic supporters generally identify with Irish Catholics, hence the Irish tricolor

It was, of course, when I was living in Glasgow. A friend, Mark W. was a Celtic season ticket holder and offered me a seat at the 1998 New Years Day Old Firm match (pronounced "Ne'ers" and played on January 2nd). I had never attended a soccer football match and I had no idea what to expect, but Mark assured me I would have the time of my life.

The "Old Firm," I should explain, is the collective term used for the rivalry between the Glasgow Celtic F.C and the Glasgow Rangers F.C.

The two teams, which have home stadiums that sit more than 50,000 fans each located less than 5 miles from one another, have played each other 399 times. The Old Firm match I witnessed was match number 350 or so.

  Notice the San Diego Padres baseball hat. Pretty certain that's the first one ever seen at Parkhead 

From the minute we parked I knew this was going to be an experience completely unlike any I had ever had at a sporting event in the States. For starters, we had to give a few pounds to a group of ragamuffins to ensure that Mark's car was unharmed while we watched the match - Mark explained that was just how it worked in the east end of Glasgow.

Inside the stadium, I was surprised to find legal sports books all over the place, plus a split-the-pot raffle. The clubs were originally organised to raise funds for charities, and they still do - but they also contribute more than 100 million pounds annually to the local economy (hence the term "Old Firm," btw)

We sat on the Celtic supporters side, which was kept separate from the Rangers supporters side by a large contingent of police that divided the stadium in two, with an entire row of seats left empty between the two sides.

                     All those yellow jackets are police...gotta keep 'em separated indeed

The supporters have to be kept apart for a number of reasons, the least of which is football related. The worst of which is, unfortunately, religious. The Rangers supporters have traditionally been Protestant, while the supporters of the Celtic have traditionally been Catholic. 

Add to that the socialist/conservative & national identity divides, and well, it barely leaves room for an actual sports rivalry.

The funny thing to me was, at the time, Rangers best player was an Italian Catholic, and Celtic's best player was a Norwegian Protestant. The irony was tangible.

                              Rangers Goalie Andy Goram is about to be scored on   

Despite the fact that the fans are kept apart, they still manage to nettle each other. Both sides sing and chant snide digs at their foes. The one that cracked me up the most was sung by the Celtic supporters, aimed at the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, sung to the tune of the Monkee's classic, Daydream Believer.

Try to imagine 30,000 people singing, "Poor old Walter Smith, oh what can it mean, to be a shite football captain for a shite football team..." 

                                             Harald Brattbakk misses by inches...

The place was electric from the minute the match started until the final whistle - it actually felt as if a riot could break out at any moment. Not one person sat down through the entire match, and the energy of the crowd was nuclear. 

I have been fortunate enough to attend the NBA and Stanley Cup finals, the Superbowl and the World Series. None of those games can compare to the excitement of the Old Firm match I attended on January 2nd of 1998. There's not even a close second.

Celtic won 2-0 to bring an end to Rangers 9-game winning streak, and to turn their own season around. Immediately after the game ended Mark and I rushed out to Mark's car so that he could race home to watch the broadcast of the match on television - the match is broadcast after it has been played, and oddly enough, all the people who just watched it live watch it again on television!

Well, probably the supporters of the winning side watch it again - I can't imagine the supporters of the losing side wanting to relive the defeat.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sketches W/Ballpoint Pen, 6/11/2014

Just Another One Of Your Regrets

You knew she would never measure up
For whatever reason
She just didn't have the stuff

She'd become a vague memory
An annotated footnote in your history
Future generations would regard as a mystery

Just another one of your regrets
A girl a sane man easily forgets

Just another one of your regrets

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Topsy-Turvy Knuckle-Chuckle Flip-Skip

For what seemed like the hundredth time Mossie, Tigs, Gregor and Flowers went over the checklist. They had each read it quietly to themselves, and out loud to each other. They all could recite the explicitly detailed steps by memory now, and as Tigs read them from the sheet of paper aloud, the rest of them chanted along in perfect four-part harmony.

To an outsider, the preparation would seem a bit over the top. Not to the four men in the small, windowless room. All of them had made mistakes due to being under-prepared. Big mistakes, ones that cost a lot of money and time.

There would be no mistakes. Each of the men had committed hundreds of hours to his area of responsibility, and each of the men were now absolutely confident they would be able to execute the plan flawlessly, with their eyes closed if need be.

Tigs finished reading the checklist and they stood around the card table in silence. 

Suddenly the sole door that allowed egress to and from the room swung open. A small, smartly dressed man stood in the doorway, backlit by what appeared to be a harsh spotlight.

His right hand came up quickly from his side. He looked down at the clipboard it held and then sharply at the men standing in front of him. "You four ready? This is it, less than a minute to action. I know you're nervous, I've seen the same look on your faces that I've seen on countless others. Just take a few deep breaths and relax. You have all put in the time and effort necessary to pull this off." He smiled the artificial smile of someone paid to reassure others who were about to risk everything.

"Oh, one more thing - what's the full name of this little dealio you have planned?"

Gregor looked at the small man with undisguised contempt. "It's not a 'dealio,' It's a dance, and it's called the Topsy-turvy, Knuckle-chuckle, Flip-skip.'

"Right, right, got it." The small man stood aside the doorway and made a gesture to an unseen lackey. "Alright, the stage is yours, knock 'em dead guys!"

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Rox Vs Dodgers, 06/08/2014

                                   Ryan and his father Tim, Brother-in-law Ron and CRB

Great seats in the suite for today's Rockies vs Dodgers game. Great pitching match-up (De Le Rosa vs Kershaw). Unfortunately...

Rain. Thunder. Lightning. And lots of it.

Still, six innings were played so the game is in the books as a 6-1 win for the Dodgers. We left around 5:00 - the game was finally called around 6:00, by which time we were all back in Lakewood. Still a great day, and I made it home in time to have some of the taco salad my sister had made for dinner.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fluffernutter Sandwich Of Doom

The pants were the first to give up. They had held out far longer than anyone had thought possible, especially after the "double lutz" incident. However, even the strongest thread has it's limits, and one afternoon in late April the limit's of the thread holding the inseam of the pants together gave out. At first it was just a slight separation at the mid-point of the thigh...but then the dam burst, and in seconds a large chuck of bare thigh, as well as a glimpse of underwear, was visible to all.

If it wasn't a work day, there wouldn't have been much of a problem. As it was a work day, that meant finding a replacement pair of pants. An embarrassing trip was made to a nearby clothing store, and after trying on a few pair, suitable replacements (read; one size up) were found.

But that was just a pat of butter on the twenty-five pound 3-hour over-cooked turkey. The cause was not effected. The cause needed attention. And the cause was Fluffernutter sandwiches.

A Fluffernutter sandwich, for those not in the know, is basically an artery-hardening time bomb. You take a bite and instantaneously, your body cringes in fear.

Fear of death.

That fear should be enough to keep one from eating even the smallest nibble...but no, that was not the case in this instance, for no sooner had the new size pants been welcomed when the tension began anew...right after the first Fluffernutter sandwich of the day...*

*Okay, I admit it - I only wrote this because I love the sound of the word "Fluffernutter."

Seriously, who doesn't?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sitting Around, Wondering How

Toss a coin into a fountain 
           With a wish upon your lips
Build a fire on a mountain 
           To appease the gods during a full lunar eclipse
                        Broad jump 
                               Over bottomless cracks
                               Tiptoe through the garden 
                        Leaving caterpillar tracks
            Climb a ladder to the moon
When you're in need of a little more space
            I saw a cow do it in a cartoon
It may take awhile, pack an overnight case
                        There's a rind from an orange
                               That's beginning to turn purple
                               Hang it on the door hinge
                        It's bound to make the milk curdle
Nice try said the salamander to the parrot
            Who struggled with his wicked New England accent
Perhaps if you slur, said the inebriated ferret
            It'll bring an end to this insufferable torment   

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Six Weak Fast

Now, later
One won't stay in
One won't shy away
Not fear another
Before one's dry shower
Young women aren't a lot older
Not fiddle-fern brushes
Growing among the rushes
Necklaces light up young necks
Not poverty less taking one from the worst

One loss blinded the common
Ours was its failure
Not, above
Its natural frown from the Gala Dali
Real bones
Unlike organic stones
Out fulfillment
From poison without subtleties
Un joven de la gracia

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Preliminary of TMP In Burnt Sienna, June 4th 2014

             Preliminary of TMP in Burnt Sienna and pencil on 11" X 14" gesso treated masonite,
             Chris Bakunas 06-04-2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Lines Are All Jammed

There may come a time when  
All the beautiful blind flying saucer women
Get a glimpse of who you really were
They'll rip that mask off your face
Force you into exile in outer space
You'll be such a fine disgrace
Like an interstellar serpent

No one will see you shrivel away
No one will bid you adieu
The lines are all jammed, no one can get through

So many doors opened up then slammed shut
Just a little torture
To help you fall asleep
But not to deep
Make you count all of Marco Polo's sheep
While wearing the wrong man's trousers
In the midst of psychedelic meteor showers

The lines are all jammed no one can get through
The lines are all jammed, it's all over for you

Butterfingered dowsers call on the telephone
Hoping for a chance at enlightenment
But all they get is a busy signal
That's just how it is, the lines are all jammed

The lines are all jammed no one can get through
The lines are all jammed, it's all over for you
The lines are all jammed

Monday, June 2, 2014

Original Thought Theory

So a theory has been proposed that postulates, what with in excess of seven billion people now living on the planet Earth, anything you have ever said or thought or will ever say or think, has already been said or thought.

I say bullshit, and I bet I'm not the first person to say that.

Gawking At Chalk On The Sidewalk