Friday, August 29, 2014

ON FOOT now available!

ON FOOT: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories edited by Rick Kempa, is now available! Featuring my essay "Holy Water" among many good ones.

Vishnu Temple Press is offering free shipping through September. Click on any link to go there and order.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis

My review of Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis, over at Comics Bulletin. Click on the image to journey there:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Books I've Read At Least Three Times

In no particular order, but with some comments. Share yours in the comments section!

Moby Dick—Herman Melville
Completely different novel every time I read it

Blood Meridian
& The Border Trilogy—Cormac McCarthy
Third time Blood Meridian en español, which felt fitting

On The Road
The Dharma Bums
Desolation Angels—Jack Kerouac
OTR third time was in Spanish—also fitting. D.A. is not his best, not for everyone, though moments of beauty. D. B. is my fave.

Lord of the Rings—JRR Tolkien
All three times before my 21st b-day I think—not sure I'll ever read it again

Thus Spoke Zarathustra—Friedrich Nietzsche
I count this as a book/novel—I may have read Beyond Good and Evil 3X too, not sure, and probably The Nietzsche Reader too

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—Robert Pirsig
Not counting the 2X I tried and gave up before I got through it and loved it—needed to be older to appreciate it I think.

The Sun Also Rises
A Farewell To Arms
For Whom The Bell Tolls
All the short stories—Ernest Hemingway
and most everything else twice

Catch-22—Joseph Heller
The 3rd time it didn't feel as profound— I wonder if you need to be younger? not sure—will probably read again sometime.

Tao Te ching
or Dao De Jing—Lao Tzu
not a novel, not really poetry—philosophy

The Sutra of Hui Neng
also called The Platform Sutra

The Lover—Marguerite Duras
Third or fourth time in french! one of my goals! Again, not as profound now—maybe need to read when younger. But! Prepares the way for The North China Lover, which I just re-read for the second time. It's a re-telling of The Lover, only better.

Catcher in the Rye—JD Salinger
Everyone says this novel needs to be read when young, but still stands up. I just reread it 2018. It's so good. I think the people who don't like it (anymore) have grown up to become phonies.

The Republic—Plato
also Phaedrus

Slaughterhouse Five—Vonnegut
last time in spanish—not quite as fitting—translator didn't 'get' "so it goes"

1984—George Orwell
The dystopian novel that started it all. Surprisingly holds up, even with all our new technology. Just re-read it in 2018.

The Great Gatsby—F. Scott Fitzgerald
Last time in spanish, which worked ok.

The Lorax—Dr. Seuss
Probably others of his too, though this one for sure.

Desert Solitaire—Edward Abbey
Plus various essays, like "Down The River with Henry David Thoreau."

Walden—HD Thoreau
Everyone (or those who claim to not like him) thinks this is about becoming a hermit, but it's about living simply, or living more simply. His humor is underrated too.

The Stranger—Albert Camus
Troisième fois en français!

The Watchmen—Alan Moore

The Dark Knight Returns—Frank Miller

Post Office
And almost everything else by Charles Bukowski including all his books of poetry. His best novel is probably Women. More than anything, his books critique capitalism, and work, and how they affect our relationships, including with ourselves. With humor. Satire, mostly of himself.

Historias del Kronen—José Ángel Mañas
Kind of the Spanish Trainspotting. My latest third-timer.

Now what are yours third-timer books? Please share in the comments section!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What I'm Reading: Moby Dick

This is maybe the fourth or fifth time I've read Moby-Dick, and I loved it all over again. It becomes a different novel each time I read it, mainly, I think, because I skip whole chapters (which is legal—it's not necessarily a linear book). That fact that it was a flop when it came out breaks my heart....

Friday, August 8, 2014


Piñata appeared in the literary journal RiverSedge, which is still going strong, in 2006.

He had hoped to have his son Matt to himself for the weekend and so was disappointed when Janet told him Matt was going to a birthday party that afternoon. She sensed his disappointment and rolled her eyes. Jeezuz Dan, like I don’t drive him to school every day and to soccer practice and a hundred other things.
He was about to reply that was why she got paid the big alimony bucks but then Matt came in and hugged him around the waist yelling Daddy!
By unspoken agreement he and Janet put on their smiles and their bright kid-talking voices.
Hey kiddo ready to go?
Daddy’s going to take you to Jimmy’s party. She handed him written directions along with a wrapped package in a bow. Here’s Jimmy’s present. Matt should know how to get there, right Matt?
They got in his truck and both waved goodbye to her. He patted Matt on the head. Ok kiddo so no Pizza Hut tonight huh?
No I guess not. But Jimmy said there was gonna be pizza there.
Yeah but Suzie won’t be there will she?
Suzie the waitress at Pizza Hut that they always asked for. He had thought of asking her out but it seemed ridiculous since she was in her early twenties if that but still he enjoyed going there as much as Matt did.
They got to the neighborhood outside of town, pines and cedars everywhere swaying in the warm wind. He pulled his truck up behind the row of cars parked at the curb. They got out and he followed Matt to the door.
A woman answered and stepped back to let Matt go running on in. She held out her hand. You must be Dan. Janet called and said you were coming. I’m Donna. She had pale skin and hairsprayed blonde hair, wearing a black dress with nylons and black flats. You are staying right? Some of the parents are just going to pick up their kids later.
Well I don’t know what else I’d do. As long as it’s no inconvenience.
Oh no not at all. I just need to know for the pizzas later on. Come in.
A group of about ten boys tore around the house and out into the backyard. Two other mothers sat at a picnic table in the backyard, smoking. He spotted Jimmy, he assumed it was Jimmy, wearing a gold cardboard crown swinging a plastic lightsaber at the other kids. Zzz! Got you! Sliced your arm off!
Matt had gotten a lightsaber also and was chasing some other boys around some cedars in the back.
Donna introduced him to Celia and Georgia and they shook hands. He poured himself a Coke into a plastic cup and wished he were at Pizza Hut. He saw the ring on Donna’s finger and asked where her husband was.
She paused to light a cigarette, inhale, exhale, then flick the ash in the grass. Tom’s got tennis this afternoon. He’s not into birthday parties.
Jimmy came running by. I killed you all! Let’s go play video games!
And all the boys ran into the house.
The woman who he thought was Georgia laughed. Thank goodness, I thought I’d have to get a real lightsaber to shut them up. She too had a wedding ring.
Donna got up. Well I might as well order the pizzas. I know I’m hungry.
Dan got up. You need me to go get them?
Oh no it’s Domino’s. They deliver.
He went into the house with her with the excuse of checking on the ‘men folk’. The women laughed at that.
In the living room the boys were piled around the tv watching Jimmy and another boy chase each other through a dungeon of some sort. Matt was off to the side watching. Dan sat down next to him. Hey kiddo. He realized he’d made a mistake when some of the boys snickered and Matt didn’t look at him. So he just watched.
Jimmy died a lot but kept playing. It’s my birthday I can play as much as I want! The other boy, Brian, seemed to be in favor, as he didn’t give up the controls either. Just when Dan decided to say something the doorbell rang.
The pizza guy’s here! The boys all jumped up and ran to the door behind Donna. Dan walked over and took the pizzas from the young man while the boys jumped and reached for the boxes. After Donna paid he followed her out to the picnic table and helped her open the boxes, with the boys crowding around the table while the adults stood and held single slices.
After the boys were somewhat satiated, Donna brought out the presents for Jimmy to unwrap. Matt’s present, a Hardy Boys Mystery book, didn’t seem to interest Jimmy much, especially when the next present was some purpley ooze stuff called Purple Ooze. He couldn't figure out what one would do with it except get it in the carpet. Donna was next to him smoking another cigarette. A book huh? That’s a creative gift.
I read the Hardy Boys when I was younger. I think I was in love with Nancy Drew too.
Who’s Nancy Drew?
She motioned him into the house. Before they get rambunctious again I was wondering if you’d help put this up.
She pulled out a doll-looking thing. A blonde girl, or woman, in a pink outfit, with kind of a leotard with pink legs.
What is it?
It’s a piñata.
A piñata? Aren’t they supposed to be like, animals?
That’s what I thought but Tom took Jimmy out to this piñata store out on seventy-one on the way to Bastrop and this is the one Jimmy picked.
What is she?
A ballerina I think.
Is it a girl or a woman?
Well I guess she doesn’t have boobs so it must be a girl.
They took the piñata out and when Jimmy saw it he started yelling, Piñata! Piñata!, and then all the boys were yelling it. Piñata! Piñata!
He got on a stepladder and tied it to a thick overhanging pine branch. The string tied to a loop on the back of the piñata’s neck so it almost seemed like the girl was being hanged. He wondered if anyone else thought so.
Jimmy had run into the house and returned with a baseball bat. He ran at the piñata with it overhead yelling. Donna and Dan had to stand in front of the piñata to protect it. Jimmy! Be still! I have to blindfold you first.
She tied a pink bandanna over his eyes while the other boys laughed. Jimmy started to swing and everyone pulled back out of range. While Donna spun him around they counted one two three go! and Donna sprinted out of the way as Jimmy raised his bat and began swinging.
The boys started yelling. Get’er Jimmy! Hit her! Hit her!
He looked at the women but they were bunched together smoking and hardly paying attention. He looked for Matt, trying to make eye contact but Matt was watching Jimmy, his voice breaking from the strain of yelling.
It took a few minutes of wild swinging before the bat finally connected, hitting the piñata girl on the leg. The boys cheered but the leg had only cracked. Crooked but still connected. The piñata girl spinning by her neck.
Jimmy stood smiling. With a yell he pulled off the blindfold and charged. The bat came up over his head and smacked into the girl’s face, shattering the whole piñata, sending candy flying everywhere. The boys cheered again and scrambled for the candy.
Jimmy’s face grew red. Hey! That’s my candy! I hit her, I get to choose!
He bent and pushed Matt over on his back. Hey! I want the Reese’s Pieces. They’re mine! I hit her!
That was it. He walked over and lifted Matt into his arms. Gotta go kiddo. See ya Donna! He waved to her as he walked around the house, the three women looking at him oddly, not having noticed what had happened.
Jimmy started yelling nyah nyah Matt’s running away, Matt’s running away! The other boys joining in.
When they got to his truck he put Matt down and opened the passenger door. Matt jumped in and he closed the door and walked around to his side. Matt leaned over and unlocked the door for him. He got in, turned on the truck, did a u-turn and headed away.
Y’know kiddo I don’t like Jimmy much.
Me neither Dad.
Let’s not be friends with him anymore ok?
Would you like me to buy you some Reese’s Pieces?
No that’s ok.
Dan thought a minute. Want to go to Pizza Hut anyway? I bet Suzie could get us some breadsticks.
And then we could get a video! Jackie Chan!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Deathless: A Review

My review of the graphic novel Deathless, over at Comics Bulletin. Click on the image to go: