Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Some kind person just dropped this off on my porch over the weekend. (I didn't get to the door quick enough to see who it was.)

It's the 2017-2018 Yearbook from Del Mar Elementary School, with a 2-page spread devoted to James— and the 5 murals he painted with the kids there over the years!

I especially love the handprint motif around the edges of the pages! It was James' idea to replace his trademark border of Runic glyphs with the students' handprints dipped in paint when he did school murals — a way to give every child who painted a creature on the mural a chance to "sign" his or her work.

I think it's so cool that the designer of the yearbook layout not only adopted this pattern, but put a negative-space heart in the center of each palm!

Thank you, Del Mar School, for this tribute to my Art Boy!

Monday, September 24, 2018


Michael Moore finds some hope amid outrage in Fahrenheit 11/9

Got some rabble to rouse? Take 'em to see the new Michael Moore documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9. No matter what side of the political "aisle" you're on, you'll come away in a fighting mood.

It's sort of a companion piece to Moore's 2004 doc, Fahrenheit 9/11, which excoriates George W. Bush and the horse he rode in on in the wake of the Twin Towers attack, which then became an excuse to systematically erode civil rights at home (in the name of "security"), and launch endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But this time, Moore's principal target is you-know-who, the current occupant of the White House. Still, he has plenty of outrage to spare for the contamination of the water supply in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan, thanks to the venal actions of Governor Rick Snyder. Or the ongoing crisis of gun violence in America, and the politicized response of a band of teenage survivors of the Parkland shootings who organize a global protest march to school their ineffectual elders.

This time, the move opens with Election Night 2016, not 2000. "Was it all just a dream?" narrator Moore muses once again. The champagne corks are already popping at the massive Hillary Clinton victory party as the early returns come in. But as the night wears on, the impossible truth begins to surface.
Match point: the CEO golfs while democracy burns

As the tragic aria from Il Pagliacci engulfs the soundtrack, the victor, with his family and handlers, takes the stage to address his supporters. "It looked like a perp walk," notes Moore. By the next morning — 11-9-16 — the nation awoke to the grim reality of President-Elect Trump.

As usual, Moore is preaching to the choir, and stunts like aiming a fire hose of Flint water over the gate into the courtyard of Snyder's governor's mansion aren't likely to win him any new converts.

But Moore's relentless drive to connect the dots between past transgressions and current crises and expose the bad guys is as revitalizing as ever — especially in this era of lockstepping conformity among the political establishment of both parties.
(Read more in this week’s Good Times)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


 The Legend of Art Boy continues!

This came in the mail at the end of August from the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Jimmy Panetta has introduced remarks into the Congressional Record in honor of James Carl Aschbacher.

My own Art Boy is enshrined in the Congressional Record!

He would be surprised, and honored. And then, I can just hear him saying, "Now if every one of those congresspeople would go out and buy an Aschbacher painting . . . "

Read the full text here.

Thank you, Congressman Panetta!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


It could almost be a Third World country. The overgrown landscape is lush and green, with rambling, clapboard houses tucked in here and there, and a swimming hole hidden under and outcropping of trees.

It's an Eden for two of three young brothers growing up half-wild in the woods of upstate New York while their parents are preoccupied with each other — but a challenging proving ground for the youngest brother struggling to come of age in We The Animals.

Documentary filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar makes a impressive transition to fictional storytelling. Adapted by Zagar and Dan Kitrosser from the acclaimed novel by Justin Torres, the movie is a lyrical plunge into the subconscious of a boy on the brink of manhood trying to piece together his own identity.

Zagar manages a very deft balance between powerful, evocative visual style and the casual poetry of Torres' narrative voice, using minimalist dialogue, documentary realism, and fanciful animation to tell a simple-seeming, yet complex and moving tale.
(Read more)

Saturday, September 15, 2018


Okay, it’s taken me awhile to get a grip!

But let me express my huge, heartfelt thanks to every single one of you who flooded the Rio Saturday night, August 25, for the Celebrating James event. You made it such an amazing success!

You came from all aspects of James' life: friends, neighbors, far-flung family members, comic book and monster movie fans, yoga classmates, artists, artisans, art instigators and collectors, art buddies, chess buddies, food buddies, travel buddies, trivia buddies, harbor buddies. The list goes on and on!

They stashed me in the front row, so I couldn’t always tell what was going on behind me. But I was blown away when I stood up from my seat and got a load of the size and scope of this crowd.

It all went by in a blur for me, as you can imagine. But now that a photo slideshow of the event has been made available online, bits and pieces of the night are starting to come back to me. I also get to see who all was there — and just how jam-packed the Rio was.

Just wow!

It will take me awhile to process all these images (visually and emotionally). But here's an early favorite from the front rows. I don't know what we were all laughing at, but that's the kind of night it was — full of tears and laughter, usually at the same time.

There wasn't a dry eye (or nose) in the house when Joe Ferrara sang his aching rendition of "For Good" (from Wicked), with James' smiling face beaming down on us all!

James’ Swedish relatives (brother David Aschbacher, his wife, Maria, niece Helena Ashbacher Malm,and nephew Tobias Wallster) took the stage to honor “Uncle Jimmy.” They were among the biggest hits of evening!

 The one and only Wallace Baine led the crowd in a champagne toast to James!

Lime Green Productions cohort Donna Mekis was there with Marcia and Bruce Mcdougal. She spoke about all our many adventures together!

And two more Lime Green co-conspirators, Ann Ostermann and Jana Marcus! Thank you, ladies for your tireless efforts on behalf of my Art Boy!

So pleased to see Robbie Schoen from Felix Kulpa Gallery out and about (foreground, front row). Go, Robbie!

I'm so sorry I didn't get a chance to speak to every single one of you — I'd have had to get myself cloned. But I'm so grateful to everyone who was there. And you know who you are!

Big kudos to the intrepid fearsome foursome of Lime Green Productions — Ann Ostermann, Linda Bixby, Jana Marcus, and Donna Mekis — for pulling off this extraordinary event.

And above all, thanks to all of YOU who helped me give my Art Boy the celebration he deserved!

Big thanks to photographer Jade Loftus! (And thanks to Jana Marcus for helping us access these pics!)

And even more heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to celebrate my sweetie. James would have loved it!

Thank you, Santa Cruz! You people rock!

(Above, right, a view of the poster table. Thank you, Karen Kefauver!)

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Once, on a TV talk show interview, Janis Joplin scoffed at critics who pounce on rock music for hidden, deeper meanings, when (as she put it), "it's just some guy going 'shoobie-doobie.' "

Janis might have been describing the middle-aged music fan whose obsession with an obscure, has-been rocker fuels the plot in Juliet, Naked. It's a wry divertimento for three voices: the obsessed fan, his neglected, fed-up girlfriend, and the reclusive rocker himself, the fantasy figure whose unexpected appearance in the others' reality throws all their lives into comic turmoil.

The movie is based on a novel by Nick Hornby, that droll English scribe so adept at probing those tricky places where pop culture fantasy and messy reality collide, especially in his first novel, High Fidelity.
In an English seaside town, Annie (a chipper and charming Rose Byrne) runs the local history museum inherited from her father. Approaching 40 herself, she's spent years in a relationship with Duncan (Chris O'Dowd), a transplanted Irishman who teaches literature courses at the local college.

But Duncan spends most of his time in the basement, administering his website devoted to all things Tucker Crowe, an American singer-songwriter who was on his way to cult status among a chosen few fans before he disappeared from the music scene 25 years earlier.

Fan Meets Fantasy: Hawke, Byrne, O'Dowd

When Tucker Crowe himself shows up (a frisky Ethan Hawke, rebounding from the gloom of First Reformed), an uneasy triangle between the three of them is inevitable, or there'd be no story.
(Read more)