Category Archives: Writing

Coming Soon: Dime Magazine #1

It’s really hard to make money if you’re not selling anything.

Not making money is fine in the case of Cabal FangThat’s the point.  It’s a charity whose only purpose is to provide free support, to anyone who wants to practice martial arts as a form of personal development.

But I got bills to pay and a retirement to fund.  So, in addition to Cabal Fang, I started Bobcat Martial Arts as a for-profit club and opened a shop that really doesn’t sell much in the way of martial arts stuff.

And then it occurred to me: It’s really hard to make money if you’re not selling anything.  What kind of chuckle-head takes three months to figure that out?  Anyway, at least I did.

I’m starting with the “Bobcat Martial Arts Dime Magazine Series.”†  These will be .pdf magazines for download, all priced at ten bucks.  They will contain all kinds of new material, tightly focused on specific subjects, and they’ll include links to unlisted YouTube videos that you can’t access any other way.

Cool, huh?  Stay tuned.


† Those of you who’ve been following this blog since the beginning will immediately see the inspiration for the format and style of this product.  Although I’m no longer active, I have been a zinester since the 80s, on and off.  Zine culture roots are pulp and indie.  And since Bobcat Martial Arts is my vehicle for teaching Frontier Rough & Tumble and walking stick self-defense — both of which reached their pinnacle in the 19th century — a penny dreadful, dime novel kind of vibe just made sense.  Nowadays a dime is ten bucks instead of ten cents, which is also my price point.  And so voilà!

 

I Want to Collaborate with Blue Öyster Cult

BÖC

The cover to my book “Chatters on the Tide” inspired by the music of Blue Öyster Cult

News broke that Blue Öyster Cult is working on a new album.  While that fills me with joy and anticipation, I’m also disappointed that I won’t be showing up in the album credits.

I want to collaborate with Blue Öyster Cult.

I truly believe that the band could return to packing stadiums like they did in the 70’s — and I think I could show them how.  Yes, I know that’s a bold statement , borderline whacko in fact.  But let me break it down.

How am I qualified to be a collaborator with Blue Öyster Cult?
  • My moderately popular novel Chatters on the Tide , inspired by their lyrics, themes and music, has been downloaded thousands of times and is currently #11 in Metaphysical Fiction at Smashwords.com.
  • Blue Öyster Cult is my favorite band.  I know their lyrics backwards and forwards (pun intended) and I practically have the Blue Öyster Cult FAQ memorized.
  • I’m a martial artist master, spiritual teacher, executive manager, and skilled negotiator.  I’m not intimidated by big obstacles or difficult situations and my specialty is consensus building.  I’m an expert at bringing people together to realize a common vision.
What makes you think Blue Öyster Cult could return to packing stadiums like they did in the 70’s?
  • Talent deep and wide.  They’re a team of master musicians featuring seasoned veterans as well as cracking young guns.  See video below.
  • They’ve got legs.  Here’s a sample of their YouTube view totals: Don’t Fear The Reaper 6.8 million views, Veteran of the Psychic Wars 3.3 million views, Burnin’ For You 1.3 million views.
  • Elite Prog Rock roots. Modern Prog Rock bands like Coheed and Cambria are selling like hotcakes and filling venues,  Why not the masters?
  • J. K. Rowling is a big fan. She named a book after one of their albums and referenced their lyrics.  Doesn’t prove my point but it’s a fun factoid though.
What should I do if I think you’re right?
  • Share this post.  Tweet it, Facebook it, go hog-wild.
  • Reach out to the band.  Six degrees of separation, right?  Somebody reading this right now knows somebody who can get me in front of the band for a sit-down.
  • Share your ideas with me. Post in the comments.
  • Watch this space. I’m going to start sharing poetry and ideas that could be used for thematic and/or lyrical inspiration.  Follow and share.

Now watch this preposterously good video featuring Blue Öyster Cult’s youngest member, Richie Castellano.

 

Pinking Shears and Fishers of Men

Pop passed away back in 2008 and Mom followed him in 2016.  But the home in which I was raised — the home my parents bought for nine thousand dollars in 1962, back when nine thousand dollars was a lot of money — is still in the family.

Although the house has been rented out for almost ten years now,  Mom and Pop have yet to be driven out.   They are in that house, in every crack, nook and cranny.  A house that old, inhabited for so long by a family, cannot be emptied of its essence in a mere decade.

Their belongings still come to the surface in that house, emerging like clay tablets from the sands of Mesopotamia.  Things are drawn out from the backs of closets.  They shake free, fall out, bubble up.  Slivers of paper, notes, ballpoint pens.  Old keys.

The other night I was over there getting ready for the next tenant and I found a tiny box in the attic.  It contained a letter and a Bible.  The letter is dated November 19, 1957 and was sent from my grandmother to my father to wish him a happy birthday while he was in basic training at Fort Gordon, GA.  The Bible is The Testament for Fishers of Men. and the inscription says it was given to him my Aunt Jane in 1954.

Tucked inside the Bible was a newspaper clipping my mother gave him.  How do I know Mom gave it to him?  Because it was cut out with pinking shears, and because it’s a love poem.  My mother was many things.  First, she was the woman who loved my father most.  Second, she was an accomplished seamstress who definitely owned a pair of pinking shears.  I know this because I still have her shears stowed away in an old sewing box.

Here’s the poem, a love message from Mom to Pop from long ago.

This Much I Promise

This much I promise you my sweet
By all the stars above
There is no other soul on earth
To whom I give my love
I cannot promise I will be
The picture of perfection
Or that you will not know a day
Of sorrow or dejection
I cannot sear that you will use
A gold or silver spoon
I cannot pledge a kingdom or
The surface of the moon
For I am only human as
A being God created
And I can only undertake
The things He contemplated
But I can promise  you this much
Whatever else I do
I love you, and as long as life
I will be true to you.

21st Wedding Anniversary Trip to DC

Me and my honey at the top of the famous steps from Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece “The Exorcist”

Every year the little lady and I celebrate our anniversary by getting away for a few days.  Last year we went to Oz.  This year we decided to be a little more tame.  We went to DC.

Have we been there a gazillion times?  Sure.  Without the kids and/or grandkids?  Never.

Here are the highlights of our four-day trip in no particular order.  Pics and details below.

  • We had dinner at St. Anselm in Union Market.  Best steak I ever ate — full stop.  Named after St. Anselm of Canterbury.
  • We went to Sunday worship services at the National Cathedral.  Breathtaking!  Episcopal service was lovely and everyone was welcoming.  Parking is free on Sundays.
  • I went for a 3.5 mile walk/run from the hotel down to the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.  Ran down with the phone stowed away so I could experience everything fully, then got out the phone and took pics on the job/walk back.
  • Toured the National Archive — saw the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.  If you don’t get chills your American is broke.
  • Had lunch at 2 Sisters Deli.   A Chinese family culturally appropriating traditional NY-style Jewish deli sandwiches — fast, cheap and A+.  I love America.
  • Toured the Smithsonian Air & Space museum.  I was a model rocket nerd as a kid (Richmond Vikings NAR #25374) and I am a lifelong Trekkie.   We saw the original Starship Enterprise and lots of cool rockets — including the Aerobee and the WAC Corporal (all three of which I’ve modeled in scale but never seen up close).
  • Had Ben & Jerry’s ice cream down at the wharf.
  • Drove Embassy Row at night looking at the buildings all lit up.
  • Shopped our brains out at Potomac Mills.
  • Ate breakfast at Firehook Bakery.  Coffee, bagels and baked goods that were dead bang on the bulls-eye.
  • On the way home we stopped at Squash-a-Penny Junction in Doswell.   Really interesting and quirky general store converted into an antique joint that’s so packed you can barely walk through it sideways.  Limited hours.
  • Didn’t have time to get down to Souk on Capitol Hill.  Too bad — I love everything about this place.  There’s always next time.

Point Zero: The Navel of the Modern World Has Burned

la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

This week there was a fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.  I hope I speak for the entire world when I say that any damage to this treasure is a devastating  loss to all of human culture.

Notre-Dame means “Our Lady.”  It’s a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Holy Virgin.  Before construction began in 1163 there had been at least four different churches on the site.  Before those four churches, there was a Gallo-Roman temple.  And before that, some believe, there was pagan goddess temple on the site.  There’s no proof of that.  But what we do know for sure that, for some time following the French Revolution, Notre-Dame was renamed the Temple of Reason and the Goddess of Liberty replaced the Holy Virgin on some of the altars.

Fifty meters in front of the cathedral you will find le Point Zero des Routes de France. When a French city’s distance from the capital is measured, it is from this point that the measurement is taken.  Notre-Dame is the center of Paris and, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment, Paris was the center of Western culture — the home of the greatest academics, the greatest universities, the greatest libraries, the greatest museums, the greatest fashion, the greatest food, and more.

With all this in mind, is it a coincidence that le Point Zero is an 8-pointed star — the Star of Isthar?  Is it a coincidence that this cathedral would be so central to Western culture, given that it is the Holy Virgin who gives birth to the babe who changes the world forever?  Is it a coincidence that the famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame depicts the Holy Virgin and Christ child at the center —  surrounded by 88 circled images?  No, it is not a coincidence at all. 

Because Notre-Dame de Paris is the navel of the world.  Surely we must grieve for her, pray for her, support her,  and see her restored and preserved forever.

The Famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame de Paris. At the center are Mary and the Christ child. Surrounding them are 88 circles. Image not in the public domain. Shared via Wikipedia.

Le Point Zéro des routes de France

Star of Ishtar

XVII The Star from the famed Tarot de Marseilles, one of the oldest fully preserved Tarot decks, and certainly the one most often copied. Note that there are eight, eight-pointed stars and that 17 reduces to 8 (1+7=8)

Happy Birthday Mickey Spillane (b. March 9, 1918 – d. July 17, 2006)

I used to send Mickey Spillane a birthday card every year.  I never expected an answer.  Imagine my surprise back in ’03 when out of the blue there was a letter in my mailbox.  If you want to read it, there it is at the bottom of this post.

He was 85 years old at the time, getting ready to embark on a book tour, and he took the time to sit down at the typewriter and reply to my card.

They just don’t make guys like that anymore.

If you’ve never read a Spillane book, I recommend you start with Vengeance is Mine! and if you like that one, read One Lonely Night.   For those who don’t even know who he was, Spillane wrote hard-boiled pulp fiction novels and comic books, including a stint writing Captain America for Marvel.  His claim to fame was the fictional detective Mike Hammer.  He had a colorful life.  He had been a lifeguard, a circus performer, and a fighter pilot in WWII before becoming a writer.  At the height of his popularity he made a series of hilarious beer commercials.  His quotes are legendary.

  • “Inspiration is an empty bank account.”
  • “I’m a commercial writer, not an author.  Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book.”
  • “I don’t give a damn about reviews. What I like to read are royalty checks.”
  • “I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends.”

Just starting out as a writer, he was an inspiration.  I don’t know how many of you have been following this blog since I started it back in 2008.  But back then it was called 808 Hackard Buidling because that’s the fictional address of Spillane’s famous detective.  Plenty has changed.  Blog has a new name and a custom url.  Focus has shifted from fiction to non-fiction.  But what hasn’t changed is my blue-collar approach to this craft.  

You show up every day, you punch the clock, and you put in an honest day’s work.  And while you’re on the clock, you don’t stand around smoking cigarettes or hang out by the water cooler waiting for somebody to tell you what to do next.  You get your butt in gear.  And above all, you never act like you think your crap don’t stink.

Spillane was a hack writer.  He was not politically correct.  He wrote violent books.  But he was authentic.  He was honest.  He respected his fans.  And he didn’t take himself too seriously.  And from him I learned three very important things.

Number one, put the reader first.  Number two, write like it’s your job.  Number three, tell it like you see it.

I write at 500 words a day whether I want to or not.  Otherwise I’m a lazy bastard and I can’t look at myself.

Thanks Mickey.  Happy Birthday, wherever you are.

 

New Book — Pre-Orders Open

Pre-orders are now open for my next book!

The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation & Survival releases on Feb 15th.  If you pre-order now you can get it for just 99 cents — price goes up to $3.99 the day after release.

Just to tease you a little, take a look at the table of contents below.

This book is the product of 30 years of wistful, windswept  wanderings in the wilderness.

Gitcha some!

The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and Survival

TABLE of CONTENTS

Introduction

  1. Make Yourself a Possibles Bag and Dress Appropriately
  2. Memorize the Survival Formula
  3. Learn When to Run and When to Fight
  4. Learn First Aid
  5. Make a Debris Hut
  6. Find and Purify Water
  7. Start a Fire
  8. Find Some Food
  9. Decide to Stay or Go
  10. Find your Way
  11. Understand How the Sun Works
  12. Understand How the Moon Works
  13. Get Accustomed to Being Outside
  14. Observe the Weather
  15. Get to Know your Neighbors
  16. Get to Know a Piece of Dirt
  17. Get to Know A Patch of Woods
  18. Start Making Friends with a Few Plants
  19. Give a Tree a Name
  20. Carve Yourself a Bowl and Spoon
  21. Practice Being a Raccoon
  22. Give Thanks and Avoid Waste
  23. Get Wet and Forage Some More
  24. Make Some Leaf Stamps
  25. Make a Pine Needle Basket
  26. Sketch Some Tracks
  27. Put Yourself in an Critter’s Shoes
  28. Open a Window
  29. Get Fit for Hiking and Woodsrunning
  30. Your Final Exam — Spend a Night Alone in the Woods
  31. Encourage Continuing Education
  32. Take a Snow Walk
  33. Revisit a Piece of Dirt
  34. Discover Springtime Edibles
  35. Make Some Spring Observations
  36. Do a Spring Cleaning
  37. Discover the Meaning of Summer
  38. Reflect on Summer
  39. Discover What You’re Thankful For
  40. See What Falls First
  41. Make Some Acorn Bread