Books · Performances

Those Sucking Sounds


The Puzzle Solved

I would be more comfortable with the trade negotiations now taking place if the titans of industry were bellyaching.

I don’t hear them complaining about the labor provisions.

I don’t hear them bitching about the environmental regulations they would have to obey.

I haven’t heard word one about currency manipulation.

What the hell is wrong with these miserable complainers? If they don’t like something they usually will moan and groan day and night right through the mouths of some of the best bellyaching lobbyists money can buy.

You see they’re just not miserable enough and that must mean in my book that they are skinning the cat just the way they like it while you and me are getting left with the fur and the fleas in the deal.

You see I am a free trader. I am also a fair trader. I like doing business with other countries. Trade negotiations by my reckoning are handled by the wrong people. They have by way of training focus upon particular aspects of trade. We call those focal points special interests.

Well, you see we have special interests too. I know a waitress with a cute fanny and she indeed has a whole legion of gentlemen who are especially interested in what they find so interesting about her fanny.

Believe me there are sincere trade negotiations taking place over access to her marketplace. And let’s just say I know her to be beautiful through and through and expect the final agreement to be of loving benefit to both interested parties.

That’s the miracle of a good trade deal right there. You want all interested parties to be pleased with what they get in the end.

I’m not a scholar, I read the same things you do, we all get to look at the same things, and those of us on the outside of this impending deal are being denied a good look see at the terms to this deal they’re cooking up.

If I had Wall Street bitterly complaining that labor was eating their lunch in this deal I would sit up and take notice and I’d start having some confidence that maybe, just maybe we are finally on the right path toward a fair deal.

No sir, things have the odor of a day old catfish left to rot in the sun. That’s what a no good deal can do to a nose sniffing around for sweeter terms. So come on stop pulling my leg. You trade negotiators stop pretending like this is going to be good for all of us.

It just ain’t so and if it was you’d be screaming to high heaven how the country simply cannot afford to consummate this deal.


So How Come YOU Know So Much?

“The airline industry has spent untold millions on quieter airplanes and noise mitigation around airports. Telecoms lose money on the copper wire landlines maintained to comply with universal-service requirements. If corporations want to dance in the discothèque, there’s a cover charge called the public good.”

Rumble Seat, Dan Neil (My Favorite Auto Feature Writer)

May 11, 2013Wall Street Journal

Marilyn for web


So where do you go for fun?

We have this love/hate relationship with literary sexuality. Like for example not all of what we find in the commons is suited to all our tastes. Some is too risqué, some too burdened with a genders point of view, some is too sappy and some too blunt, and some not revealing enough of the human condition to be worth the read. It ranges from dull to obscene, wild to pedestrian, straight to gay, and that’s just the short list. I am interested in the human condition. It includes who a person loves, and how that is expressed. I’m interested in sharing elements of a person’s life that illuminates a reader’s self-knowledge. I’m trying to invoke identification and seeking to ease a person’s sense of alienation, especially in a culture where for reasons paradoxically- hard to explain and easy to understand- many of us end up not at all sure whether we’re having the same rewarding experience others seem to be having. Writing long fiction that doesn’t include all the messy stuff we all know as life is hardly worth the trouble of writing at all and nearly worthless to bother reading once completed. And so kisses and squeezes, first dates, and hitting the sack with someone for the first time, the last time, or for a wild time are all pieces we use to build what we know as a human life. And dare I say that a writer needs to handle the sex with an expertise that rivals the virtuosity of an Italian artisan who has an appointment with a customer who has come to be fit for their leather brassier…


“You’d think it would be easy for us to find a man brave enough to have the courage to love a woman with his whole heart.” Bunny added.

Faith came around the fire and bent down right in Fletcher’s face. “But, so long as we’re giving you privileges we don’t get out and try and do anything about it.”

“Worse than that, when we do try another man, he’s got no imagination. Sad truth is a good man just isn’t rotten enough for us.” Sharlene said.

“He’s ruined us all.” Jolene said.

“Bachelor scared of his own shadow,” Sharlene said, “makes love like the executioner’s waiting for him at sunrise, and we’re his last meal.”


The Greatest Human Folly of All Time

“There is a bottleneck in human history. The human condition is going to change. It could be that we end in a catastrophe or that we are transformed by taking much greater control over our biology.

“It’s not science fiction, religious doctrine or a late-night conversation in the pub.

“There is no plausible moral case not to take it seriously.”

                                         How Are Human Beings Going to Become Extinct

                                         Sean Coughlan BBC 

End time



Characters in a story make choices. One choice and things might go well, make another and matters may spin out of control. What if the nuclear waste in Hanford, Washington spins wildly out of control and ends up irradiating most of the North America? According to an article by Valerie Brown published in Scientific America on May 9th that is indeed the problem technicians face as they race to find a method of securing 177 underground tanks so they might not face a chain reaction hydrogen explosion that result from leaks from the metal corrosion. When writing a comedy it is wise to factor into the stories equation the consequences of human folly. What is being made clear at this moment in history is that our political and economic system seem ill suited to our navigating the harm our use of the world’s resources seem to be causing. The matter is not whether or not we should do something, all of us know better, but it is a question of how in the world to arrange the world into some collective means of doing what we all know must be done. Underlying our species survival is an enormous reservoir of powerlessness, something approximating a Shakespearean tragedy. We are having an impossible time trying to not be the cause of our own demise… on the one hand it is tragic and on the other, through the lens of human folly it is a comedy. All’s Well That Ends Well.



Fletcher walked back and stood in front of the assembled audience. The valance for the altar was made up of chiffon and taffeta square dancer petticoats. They’d been strung together into an awe inspiring kaleidoscope of turquoise, ruby, and purple laces and satin sheers intended to tickle an eye. Undergarments for this shaman were near where sublime and sacred might meet. He gleamed in the candlelight, a bird of prey perching upon a nest of fine ladies lingerie, a complex matrix of turquoise miner, town’s most notorious lover and now the biggest miracle of all… a virgin shaman. His spiritual powers were a revelation.

Biography · Books · Performances

Sustainable Comedy and the Folly of Capitalism

For years, economists have posited that prosperity requires growth, with environmental damage as the regrettable but unavoidable consequence. A growing number of critics are now challenging this equation, though, calling for a radical revamping of the economic system.

                             Nils Klawitter

touring vehicle

My Cowboy Cadillac and the Place I’ve Called Home for Near Four Decades

I’ve drifted the American West as a juggling act for much of the last four decades. Crossing vast landscapes, pulling into isolated towns, spying all manner of misguided enterprise or not. A good drifter knows how to pull off the paved highways and roll out into the wild lands on the dirt tracks. Time stills the pace of the modern world and in its place the chirp of bird, the dusk, the breeze, the silence. Surrounded as we are by so many man imagined systems, especially the concept of money and the economy in all its shapes and forms, what we are awakening to is the inadequacy of capitalism’s various configurations. Large scale businesses have proliferated until we sense the festering clash of purpose between their zeal for profit and humanities need for survival. It is out here in Nevada where I have placed my latest novel, Hot Spring Honeymoon, and it is here where the struggle of a small community being overrun by the globalized economic system that the story plays out as comedy.

British economist Tim Jackson. In his 2009 book “Prosperity Without Growth,” he outlined a “coherent ecological macroeconomics” based on a “fixed” economy with strict upper limits on emissions and resources.


“Let me have a look,” the scientist said examining the side of Keefe’s head. “How do you feel?”

“I see things now I didn’t see before. I hear things I never listened to.” Keefe said. “My ex-wife looks at me like I’m nothing but a piece of vulture bait.”

“You think something’s wrong?”

“There’s always been something wrong with me. But, since I got bonked on the head I see an eternity of beauty in a thimbleful of whiskey. I love this hot spring; know what I’m doing now. It seems to come natural to me…And I got to tell you, man to man, I’ve never seen anything in my whole life that has riled up my thirst more than the sight of that woman they call my ex-wife.”


When Time Stood Still


Speed as Histrionics

I set out on the outline of Hot Spring Honeymoon on January 1, 2012. I’d finished Bankrupt Heart in June of 2011. By finish I mean the manuscript was completed and the only thing left was to scrub the thing for errors in spelling and grammar. I rested my imaginations muscle for six months until on that first fateful day seventeen months ago I embarked on this latest novel. I’d wrestled with the outline and settled on April Fool’s Day as the best day to begin writing my first comic novel. We count the words of this current effort at forty thousand headed to 60 thousand at the finish. I am a pace of 3000 funny words per month, a hundred funny words per day, somewhat longer than a tweet, somewhat less than prolific. Of course for every three grand I make I’ve spent three times that amount getting there. This is not a lesson, it is an experience. If this is going to be what I say it is, a comic novel, it is going to require a vastly greater effort than any other writing project I’ve attempted. Here is where the practical limits of the creative process meets the modern worlds sense of pace. A book of this type takes as long as it takes and not a moment sooner.


“Morning,” Keefe said.

“God you scared me,” Dusty replied as she came out the front door. “How are you Mr. Kenny?”

“I don’t have the whole of my life in front of me like you, but what I got left will do.”

“You got a long life ahead.” Dusty said as she loaded sheets and towels into her arms.

“Got honeymooners coming in this afternoon.”

“Newlyweds…” Dusty said, “Vow your whole life away for two weeks of hot fun.”

“You’re not ready to settle down.” Keefe said.

“Making love to the same person for rest of your life?”

“Right partner could make for a happiness that runs deep.”

Dusty wasn’t having any of it, “Only thing I’ve learned about getting married. That’ll make a life seem long.”


Close Your Eyes and You’ll Miss YOU…Tomorrow I’ll….

Dress in Window



 Blinded By the Light…


What is your narrative? How much of the story do you know by heart? How much of your narrative remains hidden from you? Thought experiment! “I’ll never get that job. I’m no good at math. I’m always late.” Some of our narratives are harmless while others are not. Writing fiction is an opportunity to endow characters with a narrative, part of which they are caught up in and part consisting of the things that they believe to be true, but in fact are simply false. Characters trapped in this web of self-deceit offer an author a means of advancing an improbable plot because readers are smart enough to know that even brilliant characters can be blind to the things they claim to know about who they are.



“Keep yapping Sal, might just get a notion to put that up to a test.”

“A test? You’re self-centered, get angry, yell, never close doors, don’t seem find much of anything that makes you happy, hell you don’t listen to nobody about nothing; got more problems than most and almost nothing about you that anyone thinks they can make a friend out of.”

“Aren’t you a sweet talker…” Keefe was looking dead into Sal’s tirade.

“Boss, sometimes I think it might be just me making things up,” Sal tap tapped his steel spatula against the grill.

“Making things up?” Keefe said.

“Yeah, but then it hits me, como un toro, like a bull.”

“What’s that?”

“What a king-sized pain in the ass you really are,”


Fill in the Blanks




After drafting a new chapter I return to the previous three. I’m keeping a sharp lookout for a drop off in energy. It may come from going too long on a topic not central to the plot. I have something like sixteen separate scenes in the four chapters. So, I will break up the scenes in each chapter and then review. Hardest of all is that the writer attaches to a sentence that is just too good to do without even though the other sentence it is next to has already done the job. An awful lot of writing is not about writing at all. It is crucial to contents mission that its form is devised with as much care. The thoughtful writer makes the effort during the drafting of the novel so that the reader might not be burdened with having to do any of the authors work for him.



Gretel bucked up and smiled. “I’m going to see what I can see,”

“Not going to get any answers down at this end of the bar.”

She started to cross the room. She stopped turned to Keefe. Gretel unfastened one more button down her blouse, “Most of the time they’ll do the trick.”

“Can’t hurt,” Keefe said regarding her low cut blouse, “gives a man some hope,”

“Does it now?”

“They make a man feel the world is a better place, like blue sky, warm day, being with your two best friends…”

Gretel looked down to check how she appeared, “Great, now they’re a weather forecast.”


Books · Performances

Comedy as Balancing Act


Comedy requires concision. As I’ve been building my story I’ve had to battle filling in enough narrative to make the mind’s eye see the scene while maintaining the pace of the story so as not to derail the momentum. It is a brutal dance of first building the chapter and then removing anything that does not propel the plot or is not funny… There is a degree of difficulty here that I would not have been capable of understanding had I not written two bigger novels.


“Always use a high roller at a card game,” Fletcher said.

“Poker playing, men play cards all the time.”

“Mormon’s don’t…” Gage said.

“Give a Mormon half a chance,” Fletch said, “and they’ll be most hung-over rooster crowing at sunrise.”

“Enjoy a game twice as much,” Keefe said, “and be three times as ashamed.”



Sunday aboard our Sailboat

aircraft carrier



What about a gentle breeze, warm sun and our dear friends Lori and RJ aboard our yacht Sweet Seas for an afternoon of conversation? While basking in the light, dining on guacamole, eating enlightened chips… toss in a beer, a glass of wine, steady beats from our favorite  jazz station….

We do a lot of kids shows. I wrapped a weekend at BayFest in Berkeley on Saturday, a fundraiser at Indian Valley Grammar School in Walnut Creek on Friday! Where we raised a handsome sum, you see those of us that have learned how to play to kids, we didn’t just learn to play to kids because it was another gig, another revenue stream. We play to kids because it is our passion…

The world wobbles and the world gets it right. Today at Emery Cove Yacht Harbor four of us dialed in the love and did one afternoon right down the middle, we pitched the perfect game, the hole in one… and we’re ready to do more…


Books · Uncategorized

A Day in the Year of a Life of an Author…

Calella Eileen Sycamores web

The Sycamores of Calella, Spain

February 2013

Sixteen months ago I put my second novel Bankrupt Heart on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I printed off 50 copies and those have been distributed to influential helpers or sold to fiction readers.

At the same time I began plotting my third novel, a comedy with the working title Hot Spring Honeymoon. I began drafting this third novel on April Fool’s Day of 2012. I thought a comedy started on such an auspicious occasion had if nothing else good timing.

Writing long fiction is complex enough and is made even more so when added to its list of goals is that it must pass the test of being not just in structure a comedy but in fact it turns out that it is indeed funny.

I worked along steadily beginning in April through August. After five months I had the seven of the twenty chapters drafted. I had other work consume my attentions until the middle of December and that is where the book has remained. I resumed my efforts and sit one year later at work on the eleventh chapter.

I have noted that each chapter more or less requires as best I can judge one month’s time to become high enough in quality to join the others. Where a dramatic scene might be put together in two weeks a comic scene requires another two weeks to discover the rhythms, twists of plot and insight of character to birth its comic potentials.

I’ll leave you with a fragment… and for Bankrupt Heart a few new readers reactions to my second novel. To those of you happening by this blog I hope you’ll keep in touch… a comic novelist is in fact lurking in one of the least visited corners of the Universe!

Fragment from Hot Spring Honeymoon

“You just stay here.” Fletch explained. “Come on back for you after I’m done doing my work.”

Wasn’t a word of truth to what he was saying, Bambalina knew all too well he’d be coming back stopping at the Brewery, leave with one of those easy women he ran with. All she had to look forward to was switching her tail and twitching her ears until that man has had his way with another one of his so called girlfriends. Might not be whip smart but a burro had a keen sense of when her master was not forthcoming about how important her welfare truly was to the man her whole life depended upon.

Fletch stood on top of his trucks running boards. “Don’t give me that look.”

Bambalina knew she’d be stuck in this no good miserable dirt lot with nothing to do but count pickup trucks driving up and down the Hot Spring Highway. She looked right through the miner she had cast her whole lot in with. Might fool some of those women he ran around with but not this burro.

“There’s too much dog and too little cat in you.” Fletcher complained. “I don’t want to have to explain myself to nobody or nothing. All I want is a burro.”

Bambalina’s head drooped, she was inconsolable. She lifted her sad eyes and looked up and down the highway, must be a better miner to devote her life to. The burro turned and walked away last thing she had to say came out of her business end, a greenhouse gas exclamation mark. That’s what disappointment can do to a relationship.

 Bankrupt Heart

 Reader Reviews…

“I read a few novels a week. Bankrupt Heart concerned me, it started out slow for my taste, but by the end I thought that this was a great read.”

Anonymous Reader,  Emery Cove Marina, Emeryville, California

I did so enjoy your novel.  It had great elements,  A shining star on your forehead for a stellar first (actually the second, Highway Home was the first) novel.  Laughed my ass off at the restaurant staff commenting on the musicians and their influence on the fidelity of former lovers.

Max Frobe,   Jeweler, Filmmaker,    Nelson, British Columbia

An effortless read, there’s a natural flow to it, and theirs a nice unpredictability, you get caught up in the saga. His new life at the boatyard was unexpected. How Ry Waters came in as an outsider and became part of this group of misfits and how this set of new relationships alters him. He was forced to reinvent himself. I liked the attention to detail. It all felt quite real. It goes places other books don’t go. It opened a door to a whole new world…

Dom Ferry,   Street Act, Yamba New South Wales, Australia