Category Archives: Books

I’m currently in the process of getting my first novel published. I’ll give you the inside scoop of the process.

UFO’s & The two dakotas

Let’s Take a Ride

We ask questions in this family. Especially now that the two of us are in lockdown. We don’t ask hard questions, we prefer timeless conundrums, tantalizing brain teasers. Our concerns are all Main Street. Wall Street is of little value to us. For example: what makes the stock market go up or the price of oil go down? The noxious weed problem in the backyard is a bigger concern.

Here in my personal kingdom we are consumed with what to wear, when will I ever get another haircut or where to take my walk today. Under the current circumstances what seems to matter most has little to do with markets going up or down.

Alternate Realities

We do have a glee club. We are giddy of private equity’s sorry state of affairs. Whatever the hell private equity has to do with business remains a mystery. Work in the oil patch will always be a story of boom and bust, a rag to riches and back to rags again story. Credit default swaps and leveraged buyouts are both the frothy concoctions of conniving hucksters. Sympathies under this roof are reserved for the development of more efficient solar panels, wind turbines and desalination water systems.

Of the big questions asked I have much to say even if my outsized opinions are not even a beauty mark on a gnat’s ass. For one thing I thought voters standing in line in Wisconsin during a pandemic was a crap idea. I got a few takers for this Jim Dandy. I don’t feel so alone.

I know I am important because of the great number of mirrors installed in my home and the familiar looking man gazing back agreeing with everything I have to say.

Complexity isn’t just for Marriage

One of our big problems the world faces is to do with knowing when we will be able to restart the economy. There is no one answer to this question. Best I can tell we’ll open sooner or later. Sooner is what most would hope for. Later consists of a percentage of sentient beings (slightly larger than gnats) that have bothered to consider the facts and circumstances humanity has found itself cornered by. Then, you have the odds, are you willing to bet your life? How long we can hold out?

We are between a rock and a hard place. Doesn’t help the situation one bit that the scalding verities confronted are located somewhere in the midst of Russian roulette, Saudi Arabia bone-saw justice, and a mobbed-up money laundering traitor working for a former KGB agent.

That corner we are all in has made viewing just released UFO footage a form of comfort video viewing. I like knowing things are out there that have no explanation. I do not understand why we have an electoral college, why there are two Dakotas when one is more than plenty, or if Liz Cheney has enjoyed sex with a coal miner in a Motel 6 just outside of Casper, Wyoming?

This is how the theory of everything is all puzzled out while on this unscheduled global extended holiday. Making popcorn now.

minding your own business

Man and Mind

I tend to listen to my inner voice and believe every single word. I trust that voice. It’s my voice.

I know that it is just a shameless mind speaking to me. Minds have no pride, they’ll say anything, and never stop talking to you even when they have nothing new to tell you, then they’ll worry, or repeat the same worn out gossip they’ve told you a thousand times before.

I think vacations are more about getting our mind out and about in the world. Keeping a mind confined to one place tends to trigger the onset of idle chatter and then the mind will start yammering on and on about the usual matters often described as having to do with our insecurities.

My mind has enjoyed sleep. We go early so we can get up early. My mind has decided with so much less socializing there really is no reason to remain up until all hours of the night. My mind has been treating me to performing dreams. We suffer engine failures, windstorms, no audiences, funny stuff that is so funny that it has to be a dream because the funny stuff can’t be that funny. Maybe, dreams are funny even without a joke.

Certified Head to Toe

There have been mental apparitions. I’ve been seeing things. It’s all about having the right mentality when you begin hallucinating. I think my mind is concerned about how long this new simple life is going to last and if I did have some sort of mental breakdown it might get us out of the house for an adventure. The lengthy isolation is beginning to take a mental toll.

I’m luckier than most. I have a spouse. I have a spouse I like to talk with. My mind I’ve noticed thinks variety is missing. Every now and again things happen, complaining starts in, there’s this grumbling about not getting out enough, that they’d like to go somewhere and do something. I take my wife along and my mind finds being out and about more soothing to have her company.

On television there is this funny show with this odd man, and he’s got a mind too. You can tell. When he talks, he can’t help giving his audience a piece of his mind. It is funny because when his mind is on display you can tell his mind is kind of different than most minds.

More important to me than demanding optimism from my mind is getting my mind ready, ready mind means I am prepared to pounce upon the next moment and willing to go wherever that next moment may take me. Being in self isolation mode makes this a pretty nifty free ride to the nearest new shiny object my mind might wish to dance with.

My mind reminds me of a yappy chihuahua. Small, noisy and ready to bite your hand. This is what has come of my mind.  

prepare for Landing

Women of the Oak Savannah’s

November 2015 First Draft

The drumming wafted about baiting the ears of the raccoons looking down from the shroud and canopy. At first it was one, then two, then twenty, the pregnant protectors stood swinging their hips and raising their arms and teasing the flitting moths and nightjars with their fingertips. The spherical silhouettes of swollen bellies and swelling breasts were to glimpse a fleeting gestating succulence, humanities ripest state of being. On and on, eye to eye, one almost ready to burst belly after the other. The women of the oak savannah’s prancing before the ocher flames dancing away the doubts, bonding to the womb and wonder, nature’s anointed soul maker’s kneeling for prayers at the foot of the wooded altar.

Work progresses on my fourth novel. I had to rebuild the end of the novel, I am still filling in final touches, but most is done.

I had put the novel away two years ago. I had nothing to contribute to the work I had done. I hadn’t felt satisfied with the manuscript.

Much of the dialogue required very critical combing through. Lots of shit that doesn’t ring true had to be tossed. Other tossed material more to do with overwriting that needed pulling back.

If you look at the teaser at the top, that is the intensity of prose I have been looking to put into the story. This is at its core a story of the destruction of Napa County by developers and their billionaire clients and the environmental activists opposing them.

Waltham Wristwatch 1958

Fourth novel’s have an even higher hill to climb. I think my third novel is a successful sexual farce. In writing beyond that third novel, writing a fourth dramatic metaphysical soul struggle to preserve and protect the wild hillsides of Napa County requires entire different set of emotional muscles. I have had many failed drafts of chapters that didn’t work. I had to write them over, change them, try something else.

There are a number of outlandish elements in this novel. Some, many or all my readers may find some scenes implausible to simply unbelievable. I’ll give any reader space to make up their own mind. But, the words have been carefully constructed, the quality and effort of every sentence has been examined, revised, changed, studied for continuity, if necessary abandoned altogether.

I’m sending this out to a new reader with a iPad as a PDF file, all of this is copyrighted material. I could use a few more readers if any have the time and energy. After a few scrubbing’s I’ll prep for submission to contests and literary agents. This will not go to Amazon for self publication.

“Talk to me,” her doula urged. “The muse of sperm and egg are here with us. Tell your goddess angel what you want…Let your body speak. Listen to her roar, mother nature’s prying opening the soul-maker’s passageway.”

soothing eternity

Turkey Visits

Going has been replaced with staying. Every task assigned in this time of staying is given bare boned attention, as a monk might say when you brush your teeth brush your teeth. The instructions hold up for folding pillowcases, transplanting sentry plants or washing cars. Much of what I knew as true about living in this world is from the now ended “before times,”

I didn’t characterize my previous life as being distracted. I left room in the schedule to do chores. There were routines. The dog ate each day at the same time and from the same bowl.  Dogs can be such sticklers.

Potted Sentry Plant

I always thought when told to, “work hard so you can play hard,” as an excellent homily. Until my first lost summer in France I had no inkling what suckers’ American workers had been. Knowing there is a nation where its people stop everything and spend August on holiday sunbathing in the Riviera forced me to reconsider the merit of having a work ethic.

Roses need pruning, mail needs to be trekked in from the curb and a squeak in a door hinge out in the workshop is in desperate need of oiling.

Friends, family and colleagues do call. There is little time for this conviviality. Until the gutters are clean, the windows spotless and crumbs beneath the kitchen table are dispatched there is not a second to waste.

Quercus suber or Cork Oak Tree

Since receiving orders to remain in place the first error made was allowing the mind time to imagine leaving. Replaying the scene time and again the result was the same. The initial days here in the after times have been part of the “all dressed up with no place to go,” epoch.  

Settling in for the long haul is rife with inaccuracies. In addition to the domestic chores there is the matter of work. Ambition, enterprise and success vary much as the weather.

Before Times with Dog

A neighborhood crow finds my juggling eye-catching. My fan lingers to watch. I enjoy speaking to birds. Results of these conversations are meager. Crows have difficulty with trust. Sweet talk is for parakeets.  

Hummingbirds are free riders. Crows, jays, finches and common house sparrows have to fend for themselves. Fanciful hummingbird flight style is popular. Crows, pigeons and gulls can wear out their welcome.

Stove and Pots

Fairness is in short supply. With nowhere to go while in lockdown any bird is welcome to stop by. I find time spent admiring the less appreciated birds a worthy pastime. Putting the garbage cans out on the curb, spotting a new nest in the eaves is a major event. Whittling away time on the stoop with a pot of my grandfather’s pinto beans slow cooking on the stove soothes.     

all about the Inner tube

Weekend Brunch

Wait a minute what do you mean? You’re saying I can’t eat avocados, no more cashews, sautéing vegetables in olive oil is out?

I’d run into some trouble with my numbers. You wouldn’t know by looking, but under the hood, the engine had issues. The warranty on my chassis had started showing its miles and after a look my mechanic hit me with the news, I was going to have to start doing some preventative maintenance.

Sacred Recipes and Olney Tips

From here on out it would be lettuce and lemon juice for as far as the eye could see. No more cooking Richard Olney’s Veal Sweetbreads and Macaroni Timbale. No more making a gelatinous veal stock with blanched calf’s foot, no more 3 tablespoons of butter in the macaroni, no more egg whites and immeasurable vats of heavy cream.

I am a besotted California cuisine dining French envying cheap red any vintage non-Grand Crus Bordeaux wine drinker. Berkeley is rife with my kind. Turns out the Left Coast liberals get Château induced sticker shock bellying up in the Left Bank for a glass of Margaux and a succulent morsel of Cistercian monk inspired Epoisses.

Breaking up is hard to do

“Excess in everything,” was Ernie Kovacs motto. Not bad, but good to understand the brilliant comedian was dealt a one-way ticket out of here at 45. Voraciousness and longevity are incompatible bedfellows.

Palate shifting takes time. You are not just moving minds you are training stomachs too. Imagine you are one whole integrated tube with a hole at one end and another hole at the other where what goes in one hole comes out the other. In the middle of the tube is a broadcasting company sending information to the most prejudiced bought and paid for criminally negligent judge and jury the human condition can buy. We want what we want when we want it.

Corkage, as in put a cork in it…

That may not be who you truly are, but it comes damn close to describing what I’ve found lurking just beneath the impulse control deficient less preferred parts of this closeted Château Margaux craver.

Because of my biased jury and out of control inner Ernie Kovacs the Executive Producers of my dinner theater demanded the director try editing the big show before it turned into a Mayo Clinic flop.

I rounded up the usual suspects. Dairy, eggs, red meat, chicken and fish were arrested and tossed into the culinary hoosegow. Denial fueled the Mediterranean diets unsubstantiated claims that olive oil was good and more olive oil was even better. As these things went the use of olive oil had to go. I had to get rid of the oil burner under the hood go all renewable or run the real risk of having my very own existential Kodak moment and climate change emergency.

Tools of the Oil Free Trade

Scanpans are a Scandinavian cookware creation. Coddled socialists that our Northern Europeans are during their eternal winter while soaking in saunas the dashing blonde and blue-eyed wonders spent the other part of their day and invented safer nonstick cookware. A ceramic titanium coating over stainless and aluminum creates an oil free cooking tool that unlike Teflon will not harm the homebound chefs. Think Volvo of cookware.

Secret Sauce

Add to your arsenal a scanpan and vegetable broth, low sodium of course, and you are now set to go all oil free all the time. The tyranny of craving will drive behavior at the outset, but with practice the lust for oil cools to a simmering whimpering muffled then muted tummy tickling grumble.

In the sport of survival your referee will be left flummoxed. Instead of putting up the big numbers you’ll be playing in endothelial hardball league. Stints, pig valves and triple bypass will be relegated to the dustbins of John Hopkins Research archives.

Sicilian wine is an affordable must have

That’s it. There you go. Easier said than done. As to be expected my beloved inner Ernie Kovacs is still there, and that’s a beautiful thing. We wrestle with each other, and it’s a fair match, immortal comic versus fragile wise guy. The thing to know is an oil free Kovacs works and I’m doing pretty good too.

Kicked up quite the ruckus when I dove into this dietary quagmire, but now it’s just what we do. As Tony Bennett sings, “I want to be around to pick up the pieces when somebody fixes your heart. Some somebody twice as smart, as I….”

cairnal knawledge

Rock Arrangments

Stacking rock is the latest here at Self-Isolation Central. Building a rock wall is an open-ended three-dimensional chess match. Out in the arena, also known as the front yard, there in the field of dreams the player towers like the Grand Canyon over the rocks.

Procrastination might not even be a word if we were not suddenly having self-isolation thrust into our lives. Still with a snazzy past life now at full stop, and having all the time in the world to idle away arranging and rearranging rocks the reverse of whatever a blessing might be gets to the essence of what the rock stacking sport is all about.

Baby Rocks

Having admired more than a few gifted, more patient rock stackers I approached the challenge with humility. A rookie rock stacker has to earn their stripes.

Here’s the first thing to know. A good course of stacked rocks starts at rock bottom. Got that? You want a foundation that the higher rocks can count on. After a few stacking sessions you knew the moment would hit you like a ton of bricks. Once all those ideal rocks, all those born to be stackable rocks have been used up what a rock stacker is left with is all those other rocks, the unpopular rocks, the rocks nobody wants, you’ve seen those rocks before, they’re all scattered across the rocky road of life.

In the Sierra foothills as you approach the gold country’s Sutter Creek from the west Chinese immigrants worked stacking rocks. To appreciate the enormity of the Chinese wall stackers talent all you need do is pick up and carry one fair sized rock from one side of your yard to the other side of your yard and set the rock down. To appreciate Chinese rock stackers continue this rock moving exercise sunrise to sunset, day in and day out, for a decade.

Amateur Rock Stacker’s Lament

Meditation may not induce the level of serenity a rock stacking consciousness requires. You’ll need to self- appoint yourself your own chain gang guard. Eat boiled eggs, smirk, and recite this line over and over, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” A stacking mood is rare.

The contemplative life I have come to learn consists of both concepts in the abstract and objects in the concrete. In both the abstract and the concrete things get heavy quick. Toss a potent mushroom into the mix and you’ll regret having ever thought what you wanted to do was stack a wall of rocks straight and plumb. A straight line as all of you know was discovered by the earliest rock lovers, the Sumerians.  

Tribal Rock Indentation Discovery

Still with the vaccine so far off in the future and rocks and time being what they are I’ll probably not only stack the remaining rocks into a wall but I can see that I’ll also be getting involved in deconstructing rock walls and launch my career as a rock wall rearranger.

Think of rock stacking as a leisure activity, the ultimate stealth thinking man’s game. Since this pandemic has hit so too has arrived at our location the penetrating inviolable truth. Take each day one rock at a time.

Tables are empty

Millennium on College Avenue has been a favorite vegan hangout. I’d hustle over early grab a seat at the bar with my wife. Glass of wine, appetizers and a main dish was a bullseye. The joint fills up most nights. Getting a table is impossible, a slot at the bar, you’ll wait.

Just Looking

Shangri La Vegan on Telegraph is another favorite. Here is a fixed menu where the only variation is size. My wife orders a moderate and I go for the full plate. You self-serve your flatware, water and tea. They offer wine but it never seems right to us.

Dinner for Two

Thursday nights we’d meet up at The Trappist just off Broadway on 8th. I don’t drink beer but everyone else does. We’ve been meeting there for some years for beer, wine and conversation.

Near my boat in Emeryville is The Prizefighter. Love this bar. Love the staff. Drinks are meticulously crafted. Bottles of booze are shelved floor to the rim of twenty-foot ceiling. Like Alice’s Restaurant you can get anything you want. Conversation is plentiful, Wifi is swift, and dogs are welcomed. Friday night happy hour is not to be missed.

The Prizefighter (Best of the Best)

We will all miss mixing with colleagues, acquaintances and friends. For some indeterminate length of time we won’t be dropping into our favorite saloon. If we wait for the vaccine, and that’s my plan, with luck we’ll be out of this viral fix by the end of 2021. Sooner than that is a roll of the mortal dice and I’m not so smitten with booze to try to beat the house given the bet you’ll have to make.

?

Rebel Riders on the Rim of Hope

Nothing remains the same. Neighborhoods are a mix of people and places. Staff that work in the restaurant and bars can’t hold out for work and wait 74 more weeks while our research and laboratories find a cure for what is ailing our world.

Ordinary Life Please

Maintaining science experts on staff at the National Security Agency isn’t something I’ve spent much time thinking about. Expertise on how to fight pandemics seemed a third or fourth order issue on my stove of hot topics. You know I’m interested in the good stuff. Pandemic doesn’t sound fun and like a clock I’m right twice a day.

I have spent my life as a showman. I have worked solo for most of my forty-four-year career. Variety show entertainment won’t work while this virus is on the loose. Until the world is immune the show will not go on, the show can’t.

What the World Needs Now

If you had an occupation serving customers jokes, tricks, food and drinks you’re out of luck. Imagine all the nuance that is going down the memory hole? The pesto pasta dish served at Crossroads on Melrose in West Hollywood is the best I’ve ever had. I imagined it best because the cook in the kitchen had been practicing and perfecting this dish day in and day out for year upon year upon year. If genius is pasta this dish might well be a plate of brilliance.

Now that we all have so much more time there is no hurry, there is no rush, “the tables are empty, dance floor is disserted, you play the same love song, like a hundred times you’ve heard it, it’s only the beginning, its one of the clues, you’ve had your first lesson, in learning the blues.”

Steady as you go, better times are ahead