Author Archives: Joe Bucemi


The Cliché

cliche man

My family and I sat down and watched a movie last night. ‘San Andreas.’ It starred Dwayne Johnson who some of you may know as “The Rock.” Glad I didn’t pay to see it in a theater. Not that I would have. This type of thing is best held off ‘til it’s released on DVD.

One recurring thought kept going through my mind as I watched this film. Clichés. Good Lord. They threw ‘em at you one after the other. Almost literally, really, because the film was also released in 3D.

But, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t expecting a great film. First of all, it’s a disaster movie. Secondly, it has The Rock. Now, I actually like the guy. Back when I used to watch the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), he and Steve Austin used to be my favorite wrestlers. But no one is ever going to accuse him of being a great actor. He knows that, though, so he knows what kind of movie scripts to pick. He’ll never do a remake of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ Boy, just think of it. The Rock as Stanley Kowalski. “Stellaaaaaaaaaaa….”

He wasn’t the problem with this flick, though. It was the writers. I kept wondering, as someone who now writes, how they can look at themselves in the mirror after penning this stuff. Okay, I know. It’s those huge Hollywood paychecks. But, still…geez!

First of all, we have the hero pilot. That would be The Rock. We are witnesses to his awesomeness early on in the plot (I use this word very loosely). We soon learn that he and his wife are getting a divorce. All of the clichés you know of are used, here. The ex-wife and her boyfriend are getting married. The Rock puts on a hurt face. “I’m sorry, I meant to tell you,” she says. The boyfriend seems like a great guy, but we later find out he’s a complete creep and coward. You didn’t see that coming, did ya? He gets killed, of course. Another shocker.

One by one the clichés fall all around you like the debris dropping from the wrecked buildings in the movie. Think The Rock and the ex will get back together before the movie ends? Need you ask? Will they find their missing daughter amongst all of the millions of people in San Francisco? Will she be alive inside all of that wreckage? Stay tuned!

The writers made no attempt to surprise the audience. You’ve seen it all before. Every word has been spoken, every scene already done. And how many times can you pull that tired old trick where the car falls off of the cliff just as someone gets out, the building collapses just as our heroes escape it, the bridge goes down just as they cross it. I mean, after a while…c’mon!

When I write I try hard not to do something everybody else has done. I don’t want my characters to be all that predictable. I don’t want the reader to say, “Oh, I know what’s going to happen, now.” I want to hear that they said, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.”

I couldn’t write the kind of character that The Rock played in the film, either. He was almost super-human: never messed up, did everything right. The perfect hero. Unrealistic and two dimensional. My heroes will always be flawed individuals. They make mistakes. Sometimes, big ones that get people killed. They are unsure of themselves. And they often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

No, I thought, as I viewed this with my wife and kids. I couldn’t write this stuff. Not with a clear conscience. It was painful to watch. It did have one good thing going for it, however. The special effects were nicely done.


Be here next week for Captain Cliché’s first adventure!

The Color Purple. Or Red Or Blue Or…


I’m building a man cave. A writing cave, really. But I’m a man, so it qualifies as a man cave, too. It’s a third garage in our new home, right now, but we only have two cars so now it’s mine to do with as I wish. I’m looking forward to finishing it ‘cause right now I’m on the couch balancing my laptop on my knees and I’m not getting much done. I know a good writer should be able to write anywhere. Well, I must not be a good writer.

I tried working at the kitchen table but that was no good either. The atmosphere just wasn’t right, and those kitchen chairs were killing my back after sitting there for too long. And I find that if I sit on the couch and get too comfortable I start dozing off. This one’s too hard and this one’s too soft. I feel like Goldilocks. So, I’m going to set myself up with something just right.

Besides a good seat for my cave, what I also need to pick is a good color. Color has a definite psychological impact and triggers certain responses in us. So, for my writing cave I need a good writing color. A hue that gets the imagination going and keeps your mind sharp.

We used some red in our dining room. Looks good. It’s the color of passion and very stimulating. That’s why, of course, it’s been the traditional color of bordellos. But no, I can’t see myself sitting and writing in a red room. Unless I start writing erotic novels. They do sell well, though. Hmmm…I remember that I was thinking of using the pen name of Hugh B. Hornee and trying it.

Oh, forget it, never mind that!

Anyway, my daughter loves purple. Leonardo Da Vinci said that purple increases the mind’s meditative abilities. It supposedly also has mystical powers and even generates healing. I’m sorry, though, sweetheart (and Leo), I need to write and not meditate. And nothing hurts at the moment, I’m happy to say.

Forget green. The original owners of this house had painted much of the interior of the place a dark version of that particular color. At night I could almost hear the sounds of jungle animals and the distant thumping of native drums. Green was out of the question.

There’s yellow. I actually started painting the room yellow. A pale yellow. It’s supposed to be a high energy color and stimulates the mental process. But I stopped. I didn’t feel my energy process being stimulated. All I felt was that the room was looking ugly as hell!

So, blue. I’m going with blue. A very nice and relaxing blue. A calming blue. The color of lakes and the color of the sky. I feel like writing just thinking about it.

So, hopefully, I’ll soon be sitting in a perfectly comfortable chair (but not so comfortable that it makes me fall asleep) surrounded by calming blue walls and typing away at my next epic. I anticipate getting a lot of writing done in my blue man cave. I’d better, or my wife is going to want to know why we wasted so much money on that damn room!

Listen To The Voices


Oh yes, they can be mean, those voices. They’ll lead you down the primrose path and then, suddenly, they’re gone. Like a tribe of helpful desert nomads who have agreed to take you across the Sahara. You wake up one morning and they’ve abandoned you to the vast, endless, sea of sand. You find yourself alone. They didn’t even bother to leave you a compass.

They come back, though. At least, they have for me. But I’m aware of the fact that there have been those extreme cases where they didn’t return for years. I can imagine that would be a bit of a problem if your writing is paying the mortgage.

But, most of the time they just leave for a while. Question is; do they really leave or do we stop listening to them? I think, sometimes, what happens is that we stop paying attention to them and head down our own path. As if we know better than the voices. They were doing fine but somewhere along the way we decided that the voices were wrong. The voices hate that.

I wrote a story, a while back, that involved a character going to a gypsy camp to steal a potion that his friend desperately needed. The friend could not go because he knew the gypsy witch who had the potion and he knew that she would not give it to him. They had a history, you see. It was going great and the words were just flowing out of me. I was really in the zone on that one. I got to the point in the story where he was about to get the potion and I decided that the story needed some action. “No,” the voices insisted. “It’s not that kind of story.” I told them they were wrong. I decided that he was going to snatch the vile from the sorceress and there would be a thrilling chase through the woods on horseback with whips slashing and guns blasting. But, no matter how I tried, it wasn’t working. I just could not get it to where I wanted it. I stopped writing and paced up and down, complaining to my wife that the voices weren’t talking to me. It was their fault, of course. She told me to let it go for a while.

“Forget it for tonight,” she said in her infinite wisdom. And I did. We watched a movie and I went to bed.

The next day I went back to it. I was ready to listen to the voices, again. “Okay,” I sheepishly said.  “What do you want me to do?”

It was simple. The sorceress would just give him the vile. She’s a witch. She knows why he’s there. And for whom. “How did you plan to get it?” she asks him. “Grab it and run? Your throat would have been cut before you even left my wagon!” And, laughing, she simply hands it to him! It was perfect. I also realized that the action scene would have taken a lot away from the surprise ending. Yes, the voices had been right.

That hasn’t been the only time I’ve tried to ignore them, I must admit. There have been others, and yes, it always went badly. Always I returned to the original direction. I’m getting better at listening to them, though.

Now, there are times, of course, when we can’t hear the voices because we have too many other things on our mind. Real life has a habit of interfering with our writing. That can’t be helped.

But sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck in the middle of the desert with no oasis in sight, only endless sand dunes. Most likely its because you tried to tell the nomads which way to go. They hate that.



immortal cavemanWhat’s the most important part about getting published, to you? The money? Rolling around in all that green paper? Fame? Having people say, “Are you the one who wrote…?” Or maybe it’s the sheer satisfaction of having, “made it,” as a writer.

Hell…all good reasons. Why not? Money is good. Don’t let anybody kid ya’! And it would be cool to have someone recognize you from a picture on your book cover. And, of course, we all want to “make it.” It all means that you’ve reached the summit, as an author. Or, at least, you can see the top.

But I can’t also help thinking that being published makes you sort of…well…immortal.

Imagine long after you’re gone. Okay, nobody likes to think about that but…yeah, we’re all going. No one is here forever. I just read a news article that said even the Universe is slowly dying. But don’t panic! It’ll be awhile.

Imagine, though, that one hundred years from now, someone is reading that book you published. They saw it on whatever people will be using to buy books and they ordered it. Now they’re sitting at the space center waiting for the next shuttle to Mars and they’re reading your book. How cool is that?

All right, most likely it’ll just be someone sitting in their living room. But they are reading something that you wrote and it might even have your picture somewhere. Words that you’re writing, right now, could be entering a person’s head over one hundred years from now. It’s hard to even think about that without it blowing my mind. Your name is being mentioned by someone living in the year 2115. “What are you reading,” someone asks them. They tell them the title. “Who wrote it?” comes the next question.

And then…wait for it…they say your name!

Yes, someone in the year 2115 is saying your name.

It’s not true immortality, of course. But you will never be truly forgotten as long as something you have done lives on. We’re still reading the works of men and women who have been gone for hundreds of years. Everybody has heard of Mark Twain. He’ll live forever within the pages of his stories and books.

So, think about that as you write. You could be writing for the ages.

But I like the idea of that person at the space center, waiting for the next Mars shuttle.

He’s reading a book on the holographic reading app that he’s wearing on his wrist. It’s also a phone and a computer.

“What are you reading?” asks someone.

“It’s called, ‘Jenny,’” he answers.

“Who wrote it?”

“His name is…” wait for it… “Joe Bucemi.”

You hear that? Someone in the year 2115 said my name. I’m dust, but my name is still being mentioned.

“How is it?” they ask.

“Ah, it’s okay, I guess,” he says with a shrug.

Just okay. Oh, well. At least I’m remembered. Someone waiting to go to Mars in 2115 is reading my book. How cool is that?

Are Writers Crazy?


Why do I write? Why do I allow myself to agonize over typing words onto this laptop screen? I really don’t know. But it seems that I need to do it.

It can’t be because I’m hoping to get rich by doing this. Let’s face it; I’m sixty-three years old. According to Amanda, who heads our Twisted Writers writing group, you need about ten titles out there before you really start to see a significant amount of money from your efforts. I’ll never get ten books out at the rate that I write. I’ll be about eighty or so by that time. Closer to ninety most likely.

So, why bother? Why put up with the writer’s block that makes me want to scream, sometimes. Why drive myself crazy from the pressure of trying to finish a novel or a short story? Why do I subject myself to the indignity of hoping that someone likes what I’ve written? I don’t know, but I seem to like it.

It doesn’t really make sense. There are more reasons not to do it than to do it. When I’m trying to write and the words just aren’t coming it can put me into the sourest of moods. And so I stop and then I’m in a lousy mood because I’m not writing. It’s like I’m out of my mind.

But when it’s working and the thoughts are flowing out onto the white surface in front of me then all is right with the world. You may not be able to tell by looking at me as I write, because I may look the same as I do when I’m in a bad mood. But it’s different. This time it’s because I’m not here. You only see my body. My mind has passed over into another plain of thought. You should never bother a writer when they are in this mental state. It’s like waking a sleep-walker. It can be dangerous. You never know what they’ll do! Again, it’s like being out of your mind.

So, I have to ask myself that question again. Why do I want to do this? Is it because I am out of my mind? So, is that the answer? Are all writers, nuts?

No. I don’t think so. I actually think that we have to write to keep from going crazy. We are people with vivid imaginations. We have characters in our heads and even entire worlds and stories about it all that have to be let out. If we don’t…then we start going crazy.

Of course, having people in your head who need to come out may very well be one of the definitions of what crazy is!

So, okay. Maybe we are a little off. But walk into a library or a book store and look at all that great stuff written by all of those lunatics. It’s a good crazy. With the condition that the world is in, maybe everybody should sit down and let all of their stories out of their heads.

Kids Need To Read



Enough said!

Sunday Snippet


I’ve worked long and hard to complete my first novel. Any of you who have done it certainly know the work that goes into it.  For our Sunday Snippet I would like to offer you the opening scenes of the book. So, for your reading pleasure (I hope), here is a sneak peek at my novel, ‘Jenny.’ Please remember that this is not the final draft version of the book, so there may be some errors that will be corrected during the final edits. Also, the copyright lies with me. I hope you enjoy the snippet.

Jenny cover as a painting


George Price lifted his goggles and rubbed his eyes. He had been flying all day and now the sun was turning red; the sky a darker shade of blue. He needed to put the old biplane down before the black sheet fell over the Earth, hiding all of its features and obstacles. He realized that he should have landed miles back, near that little town he had seen, but it was too late. The sun would be down before he would be able to find it. George could see that there was certainly plenty of open space to land, below him, but none of it seemed to be anywhere near civilization. He slowly shook his head.

It’s 1928 and the land down there probably still looks the same as it did when the Mexicans owned it.

He lowered the goggles back down to protect his eyes from the blast of air finding its way around the small windscreen.

His right hand gently eased the throttle back and the sound of the big OX5 engine dropped back to less of a roar. As he peered down onto the earth’s muted colors and ever lengthening shadows, he could see a large field off of his lower right wing with a road running through it. Looks to be as good a place as any, he thought. Maybe if I’m lucky, a car will come along and I can get a ride to the nearest town.

If anyone, down there, even owns a car.

He flew in low over the field, eyes fixed on the ground, trying to spot anything that might interfere with his landing. A gopher hole could ruin his whole day, and he had seen enough ruined days. All looked good as he flew only a few feet above the terrain with his head hanging over the side of the JN-4, the air slapping his face and the motor’s exhaust smoke filling his nostrils. Once satisfied he pushed on the throttle to climb and turned to come back around and land. As he circled the field he spotted two riders on horseback, their upturned faces standing out as white spots against the darkening Earth. He waved. They did not wave back.

George pointed the airplane’s nose at the landing spot and slowly dropped down to meet it. He felt the big biplane’s wheels gently touch the ground, and he cut the power back, the engine now idling quietly and the propeller blades revolving lazily in front of him. The machine bounced along the uneven landscape, the wooden tailskid scratching the hard surface like a hand trying desperately to find something to grab, until it finally rolled to a stop. He switched off the engine and suddenly the only sound was the crackling and popping of cooling metal. The field was endless and empty; the departing red sun just above the horizon. He pulled off his leather helmet and goggles, unstrapped himself from the wicker seat and climbed out of the wood and linen fuselage. His feet had barely touched the hard dry surface when he heard the sound of horse’s hooves pounding the ground. He looked over the faded green tail of the airplane and saw the two riders coming his way, ahead of a widening cloud of dust. As they got closer he could see ten gallon hats, rifles; one rider on a large black mount and the other sitting atop a brown and white Appaloosa. He smiled.

They aren’t cars, but a horse will work, too.

They stopped a few feet from the tail of the Jenny. The smile left George’s face quickly as the rider on the black animal pointed the rifle at his head. The other slid his weapon into a saddle holster and climbed off of his two toned horse. “What’re you doing on my land?” he asked as he slowly walked toward George. He appeared to be about fifty with a tanned, weather beaten, face and a large greying moustache.

“Uh…yes, I’m…lost.” answered George, his eyes on the man with the rifle. “Say, could you not point that thing at me?” George turned back to the older man and watched him warily as he stopped ten feet in front of him. The man quickly glanced at the airplane and then, just as quickly, his attention was back on George.

“I’ll have him stop pointing that there rifle at you, boy, when I hear some answers to my questions!”

George could feel the anger welling up inside of him, but had to remind himself that these were two armed men. He did not know them and that made them unpredictable. He willed himself to calm down. “Well, I’m lost, that’s all. Not trying to do anything but find out where I am.” Price kept looking at the man pointing the Winchester Repeater at him and very much wished that he could grab it and beat him about the head with it.

“Lost?” asked the older man. “Don’t you have a compass or something in these machines?” George watched him walk over to the airplane and peer into the rear cockpit.

“Well, yes, but they don’t tell you where you are. Just the direction you’re going.” George turned his eyes back to the rifle still threatening his head. “Is this the way you greet people around here? Up north we say ‘hello’ and offer a handshake.”

The mustachioed face continued to examine the machine’s interior. “Flying up in the air in one o’ these damn things seems like an awful stupid thing for a man to be wasting his time with.” Then he turned around and said, “Tommy, put the rifle down.” He turned back towards George.

“I don’t really care how you Yankees do things. I don’t trust strangers who pop out of nowhere and wind up on my property.”

As the rifle was lowered, George took a good look at the other man. He appeared to be in his twenties, and although it tried, his scowl could not hide his baby-face.

“That there’s my son, Tommy. My name is Earl. Earl Baker.” George was preparing to see him extend his hand, but he never did. “I own this land.”

George scanned the darkening terrain all around him and slowly shook his head. “All of it?”

Earl Baker nodded. “Bout as much as you’ can see from here,” he said; but not, it seemed to George, in a bragging way. The tone sounded matter of fact. Like he was simply telling you the way it was. George was almost ready to forgive the rudeness and even the fact that a rifle had been pointed at his head. Maybe if I owned land I wouldn’t be too happy about some dumb pilot landing on it, either, he thought to himself. I’d better just find out where I am so that I can get out of here first thing in the morning.

“Speaking of ‘here’…where is ‘here’?” he asked. “I don’t know how I got so lost. I passed a town back that way. I should have landed.”

“Yep, that was probably Corsicana. It’s about the nearest thing to a big town around these parts. You want bigger; you’ll have to go to Waco, about thirty miles southwest of here. And we’ve got Dallas about the same distance north.”

George looked out toward the darkened horizon. Thirty miles seemed as far away as thirty-thousand miles. He turned back to Earl Baker and shook his head. “Yeah, I don’t know…I just…”

“Pa, it’s getting dark,” interrupted the baby- face. “We’d better be getting home.”

Earl looked up at the sky and nodded in agreement. “Yeah, we better.” He walked back over to his horse and lifted himself up onto the dark brown saddle. “I’ll come back in the morning and check up on ya. Good night.”

“You’re going to leave me here?”

“Hell, son, it ain’t my fault you landed here,” said Earl. “And I don’t ride two people on ole’ Sandy.” He patted the horse’s long white neck and then turned to his son. The baby face shook his head, quickly, back and forth.

“Don’t look at me, Pa, I don’t want him riding with me!”

Earl shrugged his shoulders. “Well, there you have it. Guess you’re sleeping in your machine, tonight.”

The two men wheeled their horses and rode off, disappearing quickly in the dust and darkness, the younger one laughing. Like two ghost riders they vanished as if they had never been. He pulled himself out of his horsehide flying jacket and angrily threw it onto the lower left wing of the airplane. So much for southern hospitality, he thought. Yeah, guess I am sleeping in my machine tonight.


The haze and smoke almost obscured the earth but Lieutenant George Price knew that only a few thousand feet below him there were men who were dying, ugly, mud covered deaths. He gazed down over the side of his airplane at the dark brown, pockmarked landscape of no-man’s land that separated the antagonists and thought that it was as close to a vision of hell as he ever hoped to see. His DH-4’s motor drowned out the sound of the thousands of, seemingly endless, exploding artillery shells that blasted away at an already featureless landscape. Suddenly there was the sound of an engine even louder than his own and the tak, tak, tak, of a machine gun. Above all of the deafening noise he could hear the sound of a voice, screaming, “I’m hit, I’m hit!” and the bullets making a drumming sound as they pierced the doped canvas sides of the big DE Havilland observation plane; and finally, the stabbing, burning, pain…


“What…?” George opened his eyes and was startled to see a dark haired woman, looking at him and beating on the side of the airplane.

“Lord…finally. I was starting the think you might’ve have died!” she said; her voice sweet and calming. Sleep left his eyes and they began to focus. He could now clearly see the small, delicate features in front of him.

“C’mon, now. You climb on outta’ there. C’mon back to the house.” As he came awake his eyes panned the field all around him with the night, hot, and coal black. He gazed into her face and her pale skin made it seem as though someone had turned a light on in the darkness.

“What are you doing out here?” he finally asked her.

“I heard Earl telling how he’d met a pilot who landed his airplane out on his precious land. I couldn’t believe that he and my husband left you!”

Ah yes, Earl, one of my visitors from earlier this evening.

She frowned and let out a deep sigh. “I’m afraid they aren’t too likeable at times.”

“Yeah, I think I met them during one of those times.” George shook his head. “No, I think I’ll stay right here. I don’t think they’d be too happy with me showing up at their house.”

“Oh, I know how to handle the Baker men. I’m not afraid of them.”

George let out a nervous laugh. He remembered the rifle pointed at his face. “Yeah, well I am.”

She folded her arms tightly and a determined look came over her face. “I’m not leaving without you! C’mon out of this thing.” Looking around at the airplane, she added, “It, for sure, can’t be comfortable in there.”

George smiled as he adjusted himself in the seat. “No,” he said. “It, for sure, isn’t.”

“Well, then, what are you waiting for?” She stepped back away from the plane.

George sighed deeply. You must be getting old, Price, he thought to himself. There was a time you would never have turned down a beautiful women’s invitation to go back to her house. And this one is sure hard to say no to.

Oh, what the Hell.

He shook himself awake and began to lift himself up and out of the airplane. He attempted to make as graceful an exit as possible but his foot caught on the edge of the cockpit and he tumbled out head first. Before he knew what had happened he was on his back, in a cloud of dirt and dust, staring up at the young lady’s horrified face. She quickly knelt down beside him. “Are you hurt?” she asked.

George took a deep breath and shook his head. “Only my pride.”

Her horrified expression suddenly changed as she covered her mouth with her hands and began to laugh. He started laughing, too, and held out his hand. “I’m George Price.”

She moved her hands from her face and was smiling. “Well, I hope you fly this machine a lot better than you climb out of it, George Price.” She shook his hand. “Jenny Baker.”

George sat up, pushed against the side of the airplane for balance and was back up on his feet. As he dusted the dry Texas soil off of his trousers, he said, “Jenny. That’s funny.”

Her smiling face suddenly frowned. “My name is funny?”

“No, no…it’s just that this airplane… it’s a Curtiss JN-4 but everybody calls it a, ‘Jenny.’”

The smile returned. “I knew there was something I liked about it as soon as I saw it.”

George stepped up unto the lower left wing of the JN-4 and reached inside the front cockpit. He pulled out a small leather bag.

“Is that all you got?” she asked.

George stepped down off of the wing. “These things don’t carry too much,” he said as he patted the airplane’s fabric side. It made the sound of a bass drum as the vibration bounced around inside the box-like fuselage. He grabbed his jacket and draped it over his arm. “If it’s not absolutely necessary, I don’t take it with me.”

She led George back to a Studebaker pick- up truck with a red body and black fenders. It was hard to see for sure, in the dark, but it looked new. Jenny slid into the driver’s seat and George climbed into the seat next to her, his jacket and traveling bag on his lap. They both slammed their doors shut and the sounds bounced off into the darkness. He watched her as she stepped down on the floor mounted starter button and threw the truck into gear; the motor rattling through the, no longer quiet, evening. They lurched forward and made a bumpy U-turn with the truck’s headlights valiantly trying to light up the darkness. But it was a weak attempt and it seemed as though they had left the earth behind. With no city lights to interfere the stars ruled the night sky and George thought that he could plainly see every constellation that he knew of. Ahead of them, rabbits were caught in the cones of light and disappeared. A coyote, its eyes glowing an eerie red, flashed by quickly across the dirt road. She took her eyes off of the path for a brief moment to look at George. “You can see that I need to go real slow, so it’ll take a while to get to the Baker house.” She locked her eyes back onto the dark road, again.

“I’m in no rush,” George told her. “I’m enjoying the company.” She looked at him and smiled that smile again. In spite of himself, George felt a flow of warmth through his entire body.

Remember, George. She’s married and her husband likes to carry a rifle.

“How did you find me out there?” he asked her.

“Oh, that was easy, really. Earl said that you had landed near the road. This road runs through the entire property.” She made a sweeping motion with her hand as if demonstrating the hugeness of it all. “I thought I’d just keep driving ‘til I saw an airplane. Figured an airplane would be hard to miss.”

George scanned the, ink-like, blackness. “Seems to me that an ocean liner could be sitting out there and I’d miss it.”

She covered her mouth with her hand and giggled. “Well, now, that’s the second time you made me laugh, tonight, Mister Price!”

“Mister Price?” George rolled his eyes. “Oh my God. Please, call me George. My dad is Mister Price.”

She hesitated, but finally said, “Well, okay…George.” Then her expression suddenly changed. She was serious now. “It feels good to laugh. We don’t laugh, much, in the Baker house.”

The drive was quiet after that.

















Opus Is Back!



Opus is back! What do you mean, “What’s an Opus?” Opus is not a what…he’s a who. He’s Opus the penguin. One of the best and funniest characters to ever grace a comic strip page. He was one of the stars of “Bloom County.” And in my humble opinion, he was the star.

Bloom County was a terrific strip. Written and drawn by a cartoonist with the unlikely name of Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County was peopled (not all were people) by some of the most unforgettable individuals on the comics page. Yes, page! There were newspapers then. That’s how you got your news. Well, there was also the television. But that was it. No. I’m not kidding. There was no internet and people didn’t walk around, and drive around, staring into little hand held screens. You younger types can stop looking at me as though I’ve lost my mind. It’s true. Ya’ can’t make this stuff up.

It was popular as all get out. But then, twenty five years ago, Breathed decided to call it quits to the horror of all of his fans. I was one of those horrified millions. I’m sure there were millions. I hugged my stuffed Opus doll all night.  Let’s see…I would have been…um, thirty-seven. So I was thirty-seven years old and had a stuffed Opus doll. So what!?

But he’s back! And the whole crew that populated Bloom County is back with him. I found out when I jumped into Facebook a few days ago. Breathed has decided to put the strip out on Facebook for some reason, and I think it’s great. Some suspect that the return of Donald Trump to the race for the Presidency has also brought about the return of Bloom County. The comedic value of this cannot be overlooked. Every cloud has its silver lining, they say.

I was a real fan, back then. And yes, I really did have a stuffed Opus. Bloom County even made me want to do a comic strip. I came up with an idea and submitted it to a cartooning syndicate. I got a very nice rejection letter. I’m still a fan, of course. And I see, on Facebook, that so many others are too. How can you not be?

Opus’s followers are legion. Breathed himself has said that he can’t understand how so many people can become so infatuated with a character that isn’t real. His exact words were, “I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.” I think he’s being humble. Opus’s combination of mischief and innocence makes him  fascinating and hard to resist. If you aren’t familiar with Bloom County, start following it. Or look up the old archives on the internet. Or pick up one of the many Bloom County books. You’ll soon want a stuffed Opus doll of your very own. I may even get another one!

Writer’s A.D.D.


I’ve read a fascinating story that claims we’re heading for another Ice Age. Some strange goings on inside the sun is going to cause it to cool down to the point where we will experience another Ice Age by 2030. I want to write a story about it.

But wait. We just saw Jurassic World. I’ve always been interested in Dinosaurs. Maybe I’ll go back to work on that illustrated kid’s book I was doing about a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Then again, I’ve been dying to try a Western. I’ve started one that involves a Confederate soldier returning home from the American Civil War and getting into trouble in a small town in Texas. I should finish that.

And that Science Fiction novella I’m 20,000 words into. I should get that done.

Oh yeah, there’s that second novel that takes place in the South Pacific during World War Two that I still have to complete.

Oh God! I have writer’s A.D.D. Bad.

But there are so many terrific ideas out there. And being the type of person who is interested in just about everything, it’s hard to stay focused. I can’t understand anyone who claims to be a writer saying they can’t think of any ideas! My head is filled with them. Getting ideas is the easy part. Now, getting them finished…ay, there’s the rub. That was Shakespeare, by the way, in case some of you heathens didn’t know.

What I really need to do, I realize, is to lock myself up somewhere until I’ve finished what I’m working on. Somewhere that has no internet connection. No information from the outside world. I shouldn’t even be able to talk to anyone. If I do, something they say may give me, yet another, story idea. My meals would be slid underneath the door. I’d have a bucket for…well, okay. That may be going a bit too far. But you see where I’m going.

My first novel, ‘Jenny’, took me three years to write. Writer’s A.D.D is part of the reason. Not all of it, but certainly part of it. During the course of writing the book I found myself being distracted by shiny objects and wrote a bunch of short stories. I should have been concentrating on Jenny! But that damn A.D.D.

I’m trying not to let that happen with this present novel. I want to finish it this year. I know for some of you that doesn’t sound like such a daunting task, but that’s probably because you aren’t afflicted. But I can’t be the only one out there. Surely there are others. Maybe we should start a self-help group.

Really, though, I think that if I finished half the stuff I’ve started, I’d be one of the most prolific writers on the planet. I have a folder filled with the beginnings of stories, and maybe even entire books. If I could just sit down and get all of those going I’d…Hmmm…what’s that book over there on the shelf? Submarines? Yeah! A story about submarines. Love submarines. Maybe an American sub during WW2 sinks a Japanese ship and takes some of the survivors aboard as prisoners. The prisoners get together and try and take over the…Oh geez. I’m doing it again.

Help me.