Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In A Mood Today


I've been working on two plays for a little over a year. Worked on both of 'em at the same time.

The first was completed a couple of weeks ago.


The second was completed last night!


Woo-woo! Party on Saturday! Be there! byob ...

Friday, February 22, 2008

103 Things You May Not Know About Me

These are not listed in the order in which they occurred, only in which I thought of them. Nor are they necessarily the most important things about my life.


1. What I do, I take very seriously. Myself I never take seriously at all.

2. I know a man who was born when Franklin Pierce was President. (I haven’t seen this man recently.)

3. I was in the first grade for two years.

4. My agent used to advertise me as “the third dead Indian from the left.”

5. When I was five my best friends were Jeff and Tony.

6. At one time I herded sheep as a part-time job.

7. The people who mean the most to me don’t fall comfortably into “types.” (Nor do they wish to.)

8. I love sailing and horseback riding.

9. I make tuna salad better than anybody I know.

10. Judy Piper was my first girlfriend.

11. I retired unbeaten as a master swordsman.

12. My first play was produced when John Kennedy was President, but I don’t think he saw it.

13. The rum I like best is not imported into the United States.

14. I am ambidextrous.

15. My favorite colors are greens and browns. Earth colors.

16. I’ve lived in five states. One of them was California. The others weren’t.

17. One of my best friends in the whole world is a small dog named Herman.

18. I have driven several hundreds of miles through Canada.

19. I have driven several hundreds of feet through Mexico.

20. Beating on a hollow log with a stick was considered cutting edge technology when I first started working in broadcasting.

21. I can handle any answer except “yes.”

22. I’ve always wanted to visit Russia.

23. For a peanut butter cookie, I’ll say nice things about you in my next play. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a commission.

24. I’m still waiting to discover what I’m qualified to do in real life. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UCLA.

25. I’m an Evangelical Christian.

26. I like model airplanes made out of wood.

27. It’s much easier for me to avoid temptation if it isn’t offered.

28. I enjoy mowing the lawn.

29. My birthday is on December 26th. It’s been on the same date every year for as far back as I can remember.

30. I can communicate in four languages, and read a fifth.. After I learned the third one, I discovered I could no longer spell in any of ‘em.

31. Both of my eyes are brown.

32. I danced with Marge Champion once. Given the opportunity, I’d do it again.

33. I have a great appetite for real Greek salads.

34. I’ve picked my way along the edge of both North American oceans. I’ve waded out the length of a city block into the Gulf of Mexico.

35. I’ve always enjoyed being married except when the toilet overflows.

36. I directed my 100th stage play in 1994.

37. To my true astonishment, I’ve discovered I thoroughly appreciate fine poetry. When did that happen?

38. I am one-quarter American Indian, but I don’t know which quarter.

39. I’ve been in 42 of the United States. I’ve never been in one I didn’t like.

40. When I’m not writing, I’m reading.

41. My first car was a very old 1939 Chevy coup.

42. Hugh O’Brian once asked me if he could use my telephone.

43. I never learned how to skate backwards.

44. I’ve always wanted to fly in a B-17.

45. Everyone I vote for, loses. This knowledge could be a real source of power.

46. I collect unusual teapots.

47. The more words I learn, the more aware I become that I haven’t learned that many words.

48. I’ve been in one opera and one ballet, just so I could experience what that was like. I learned that whoever designed tights probably hated men.

49. Until recently, I always thought a pod was something aliens came out of, in order to take over our bodies while we slept.

50. I’ve been told I’m a romantic in the classic sense of the word. After a great amount of deliberation, I think I like that.

51. I’m a feminist. On purpose. I think I like that, as well.

52. I believe in miracles. I’ve seen too many of ‘em to be a doubter.

53. I have a suit that was hand made for me in Hong Kong. It looks almost like the suit I bought in the mall down the street. As a rule I don’t feel completely at ease around those people who can easily spot the differences.

54. Every time it snows I wonder why I still live in a part of the country where it snows.

55. Friends can talk me into doing things beyond my normal inclinations. This post is a prime example.

56. I couldn’t catch a ball if it had Elmer’s glue on it. That’s a line from A CHORUS LINE, but it applies.

57. I spent a short season employed as a Flamenco dancer. I was so embarrassingly bad that even I couldn’t stand me. Since I had no sword, I’d occasionally throw myself on a bottle of Tequila. Ole’.

58. I’ve always had a fierce wanderlust.

59. I was thrilled the first time an actor spoke words that I had written.

60. Roger was my best friend in High School. He died in an auto accident right after we graduated.

61. I’m not comfortable sleeping where there’s a possibility that a buffalo might step on me.

62. I consider myself an old-fashioned adult Sunday School teacher.

63. If I was asked to select a hair color that most represents me, I probably couldn’t.

64. I’m strongly opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens. I’m strongly opposed to rewarding anyone’s illegal activities, except for maybe grey squirrels.

65. I’m also not in favor of global warming. Just because I don’t want it to snow here doesn’t mean I don’t want it to snow where my ex-wife lives.

66. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m sleeping.

67. My favorite art style is Art Deco. I like Max Parrish, Vinny Van Gogh. My favorite living artist is Steve Hanks.

68. I don’t have a favorite performer, however I have two favorite film directors; John Ford and Leni Riefenstahl. I like them both for exactly the same reasons.

69. When I’m working on a play, I’ve done my best thinking while walking. I’ve gotten lost a few times.

70. I’m beginning to really like Lutherans.

71. 23-28-13 was our Post Office Box lock combination when I was three. I was told never to forget that number, and I never have.

72. I am most impressed with how sophisticated Canadians are. They put gravy on their French fries.

73. I think children should be seen and not often.

74. I’d like to win a Pulitzer Prize, and I’d like to be interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today show. There. Now you know all my secrets.

75. I have a friend who has six children. I admire the fact that she doesn’t seem all that much different from the rest of us.

76. I rarely wear shoes and socks. I’m most comfortable in moccasins, an old pair of jeans, and a flannel shirt. Maybe it’s an Indian thing.

77. When I was a college freshman, I worked as a busboy in a sorority.

78. When I was 12 I had the biggest heaviest meanest Schwinn bicycle known to man. A few years later I hung it up on the side wall of the garage. For years I never gave it a thought. Lately, and for reasons I choose not to dwell on, I’ve wondered if that bike was still there. Probably not. I’ve wondered if that garage was still there. Probably not.

79. There have been times in my life when I’ve wanted to just pick a direction and go. And I’ve done it.

80. I used to sing in a quartet. We weren’t very good, and that’s a fact. But it was fun.

81. I can read Egyptian hieroglyphics reasonably well. (It’s not a gift – it’s a language class like any other.) Problem is – with whom do I correspond?

82. I enjoy eating raw peanuts right off the plant.

83. Contrary to how much fun Gene Kelly makes it appear to be, I’ve never tried singing in the rain.

84. My mother used to make soap, and I used to eat it when she wasn’t looking.

85. I’m qualified by the FAA to taxi certain specific airplanes around an airport.

86. I like being a part of other people’s lives, and I like having them be a part of mine.

87. I have a fondness for cucumber sandwiches.

88. The last time I wore a necktie was three years ago.

89. The last time I wore a horned Viking helmet was … Oops. Never mind. I’m still wearing it.

90. I think red M&M’s taste much better than the green ones.

91. I used to be quite good at falling off a horse.

92. I have two Emmy awards. A TV station is holding one, and the other one I use as a doorstop.

93 I search blogs for samples of personality eccentricities.

94. I am roughly 40 in hippopotamus years.

95. I’m getting tired of watching sound bites of people running for president – even the people I like.

96. I was born in Chicago, in the hospital where the TV show ER is supposedly filmed.

97. At one time I belonged to a military organization called “Pershing’s Rifles.” Colin Powell belonged to the same organization, but I don’t remember seeing him at any of the luncheons.

98. I once found a high altitude weather balloon. Nobody I know ever thought it was part of a flying saucer.

99. My first paying job was stacking firewood for a grade school teacher.

100. I have a younger sister. What I really wanted was a border collie.

101. Sometimes I drink too much coffee.

102. I used to hypnotize people.

103. I’m amazed that so many trivium can be stuffed into one life.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

MORGAN! Chapter One

CHAPTER ONE

“You will teach me.”
- Morgan


Merlin decided it was time for a rest. They had been steadily climbing the hill, and for a considerable length of time. Although the long trek had become an almost daily occurrence, it was obvious that some in this aggregation were far more physically gifted than others – more than one, certainly.

“Children … children!”

As a teacher, the white bearded mage was having a bad day – worse than usual, if such a thing was possible.

“Here you will find one of the last bastions of Roman rule. A fortress taken not in battle, but within. As it were.”

No one was listening. It appeared his students had decided now was the appropriate time for their daily screaming competition. They hadn’t bothered to inform their reluctant teacher, rightly concluding that eventually he’d figure it out for himself.

“One day staffed fully, the next …”

He felt a tug on the sleeve of his robe. It was one of the more odious and grubby children. Squirming. “Teacher, I got t’ go.”

“… the next, uh, taken because the Legion was recalled to defend the heart of the Empire …” Ignore the child. Mayhaps it will fall into a deep crevasse somewhere.

“I got to go BAD!”

“Over there, over there.” Merlin pointed, and watched with bemused detachment as the child scurried toward a stand of what he sincerely hoped was poison oak.

Decisions. All his life Merlin had been forced to make decisions – those that had been both personal and painful, and those that had impacted people around him. It had seemed more than advantageous for him to leave his father’s small farm and join the Druid priesthood. It had been his decision, in hot heartfelt guilt, to continue his love affair with one of the handmaidens dedicated to the gods. And what had eventually and inevitably become of her … that had been his decision as well.

Decisions. As the acknowledged high priest of the Druids (not a high priest, the high priest), it had been his decision to throw the full weight of the priesthood behind the one who could unite the Britons and drive out both the Romans and the growing clans of Christians. And when that worthy effort failed – not his fault – it had been Merlin’s decision to hide (craven coward that he considered himself), in the guise of a simple teacher of children. And, while most of the civilized world – men of Cornwall, men of Pendragon, the Romans, the Christians, and – truth be known – remnants of the priesthood – were searching for him everywhere and with impassioned hunger, it had been his decision that the best hiding place would be to camp literally just outside the gate of his old enemy’s stronghold.

All of these decisions had seemed logical and correct at the time. But today, at this very moment, he was faced with doubt. On the one hand, he could give himself over to angry men who would rip him apart. On the other hand, he could continue teaching these children. Not for the first time he wondered if he had made the right decision.

“Now, the… uh, the …” Back to business.

“Did the Romans have any children?” Was this the same child? Or another? They all looked alike.

“Yes. Of course they did. They do. Rome still …” Merlin felt himself on solid ground here, at least for the moment.

“I never saw any.”

“In all probability you are descended from one.” Dear child. Sweet child. Not for the first time Merlin regretted his vow to eschew turning people into lizards.

“What does “ ‘scended’ mean?”

For a brief moment the old man searched for an answer that might conceivably be understood. ”Descended means …” He had waited far too long. Mentally and physically the child was gone.

“I see a butterfly!”

“Descended’ means…” Merlin was talking to the sight of children disappearing into the underbrush.

“Children! Children! I want you to …!” Going …

“… see who among you can find the most …” Going …

“… unusual flower, and we … can …” Gone.

The former high priest sighed, but inwardly he smiled. It was always the same. Some time before dark he would gather them together, herd them back to the village, and receive just enough food and grain to keep him alive for another day.

In the meantime, Merlin now had a few hours for his own pursuits.

Wrong again. One child remained. Perhaps if he pretended he hadn’t seen her, she’d go annoy someone else. It was a good thought. For a few moments Merlin inspected a greasy spot on the ground without actually looking at it. Was she still there? Of course she was. Try a different approach.

“Why have you not gone, as well?”

No response. She continued to stand at a distance, staring at him. He took an unintentional step in her general direction. Like a wary animal, she backed away.

“I beg your pardon.” Merlin found a convenient outcropping of granite, and reclined in as non-threatening a position as he could manage.

“Is this better?”

There was still no response – not even a reaction. Almost against his will, Merlin studied the young girl. He couldn’t help himself – curiosities always fascinated him.

First of all: this child, in fact, appeared to be female. It wasn’t always easy to tell. She was perhaps ten years old, tall for her age, and thin. Although her hair was as matted as every other child he’d seen in the area, it was still thick and black. This fact should have put Merlin on his guard. Almost all of the villagers in the area spouted hair that was dirty mouse brown in color.

The girl was wearing a shapeless robe, tied at the waist. Patched and thread bare in places, the garment was patterned in the now decimated Cornwell clan colors. Initially, this had given Merlin a twinge. He had been an unwilling participant in the fall of the house of Cornwall. Unreasonably, those few surviving clan members considered him, Merlin, to be the only man yet living who was directly responsible for the massacre. They had expressed a great interest in remedying that situation. Still, Merlin recalled, there had been much in the way of looting following (and during) the siege, and Cornwall colors had therefore appeared in most unexpected places.

Having reached what he considered a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence, Merlin relaxed. The girl was, after all, a girl, and therefore no threat. Or, if she was a threat, she had no weapon … that he could see. Or, if she had a weapon, he could likely outrun her if his life depended on it. Or, if his life depended on it, he could most certainly outrun her.

“Hello? Can you understand me? Do you speak? Would you say just a word for a bit of cheese?” He opened his knapsack, and made a show of placing an incrusted wedge of cheese on a square of cloth. “M-m-m. Good. M-m-m. Fills the tummy.”

“You are a fool.”

“Probably,” he replied, taking note that the child had the ability to both hear and speak.

“And the worst teacher I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s not a position I covet.” Merlin was beginning to regret that he had encouraged conversation. “Are you hungry? The offer was made …”

“I don’t want your stinking cheese.” The bitterness in the child’s voice carried well beyond the subject of food.

If she was trying to provoke him into some form of rash verbal combat, he was equally determined to disappoint her. “Really not too bad. If you hold your nose.” To prove the point, he swallowed a dollop of cheese. Whole. Without chewing. Also without gagging. Barely.

The girl hesitated, unsure. Her voice softened slightly. “Who are you?”

Instantly Merlin detected the change in tone. “For the now, your teacher … more the pity to us both.”

“Who WERE you, then?”

Now she had him. To lie was not his inclination. To tell the truth, however, was to potentially sacrifice his carefully crafted fa├žade. All things considered, it was an easy decision to make.

“At one time, I was advisor to the high king Uther Pendragon, if that means anything to you …”

He detected a look of fear, perhaps mixed with loathing, briefly cross the young girl’s face.

“… and I see it does.”

And as quickly, the mask was once more in place. “Not at all,” she stated flatly, “You be the one I seek. The one called Merlin.”

“Who I be,” the Druid priest matched her tone for tone, “depends upon who seeks, and for what purpose. Do I know you?”

“I am no one.”

Merlin smiled. Her answer had come just a bit too quickly. “I might believe that, but ‘tis obvious you do not. Well. It matters little. In these – shall we say unsettled – times, a man’s business is his own.”

The old man forced himself to appear casual, relaxed. He wasn’t at all sure his performance was being fully appreciated. “Although I will admit,” he decided to try a lighter approach, “many pretend to be someones they are not, and someones who be, claim to be not.”

He smiled. Alone. “A jest. You might smile, at least. A courtesy.”

“I’ll smile when it’s funny.”

“Who are you?” He had blurted this out, and immediately regretted it. “No, no. Since we both would have answers, I suggest a small sport. I ask a question, and then you ask one.”

“What sport is in that,” the child questioned. The voice was still level, the eyes again revealed nothing. Merlin began to wonder if the small person before him was entirely human.

“We must both answer in the absolute truth. Well? What say you?”

Now the child smiled. “How do I know you won’t lie?”

Merlin returned the smile. “Because I never lie. That was your first question. Now, my turn. Who are you?”

“I told you. No one.”

“An evasive answer doesn’t count.” Once again he felt at least marginally in charge of the situation.

“What are you,” she asked.

“What am I? A curious question. What do you see?” Merlin was genuinely interested in her answer to this.

“A man. Old.”

For the first time one of her responses pleased him. “Then that’s what I must be.”

She appeared to have read his mind. “That’s what I see. It’s not what you are.”

Merlin leaned toward her. This time she didn’t back away. “You tell me, then. What am I?”

The sudden confidence in her answer surprised him. There was no hesitation, no hint of questioning in her voice, only the security of absolute knowledge.

“I’ve been told you be a mage. The greatest of your race, maybe the last of your race. I perceive age, aye, but age unlike the span of allotted years. And at the same time, a clouding, a disturbing … mayhaps you be not old at all – as though the word has meaning to you only in regard to others.”

She stopped to take a breath. Merlin had stopped breathing altogether.

“Child,” he worked to control his voice, “your imagination tends to run romantic …”

“Then I ask again. What are you?”

This time Merlin was prepared. “No, my turn.” He had a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. Something – a familiarity – long forgotten, was emerging just on the edge of his memory. “Why have you come to me? You are obviously versed in the fundamentals. By your very speech you acknowledge high birth.”

She almost spat out the words. “I want you to teach me.”

“Teach you?” The conversation had taken a different turn, and the former high priest was again surprised that the girl was yet capable of surprising him. “Teach you what?”

“Everything you know,” came the answer.

Now Merlin scoffed. “Everything I know – you won’t live long enough to learn everything I know.”

“In time I’ll surpass you.”

“The affront of the child.” In frustration, he had addressed this rebuke to a convenient clump of trees.

She was neither impressed nor intimidated. “I’m here because I’m sworn to walk the secret paths only you have trod. And you will guide me, because you’re obligated to do so.”

“I never saw you before in my life.” (And he fervently hoped that was true.)

“Shall I recount the tale for you,” she began. “It’s well known – of a woman enchanted one night into thinking another was her lawful wedded husband? Of the birth resulting from that enchantment? Of the lord who died, defending his honor? Of his house which fell, shamed and disgraced?”

He laughed, but lacking in amusement. “Enchantment! Ha! A convenient excuse for any embarrassing issue.”

Everything she had been holding back was suddenly alive in her eyes. Years of passionate hatred welled through tears in narrow slits. “She was Igraine, who bore the son of Uther Pendragon! I am MORGAN, eldest daughter and heir to the Duke of Cornwall!”

Was this even possible, Merlin wondered. He was almost positive none of the immediate family had survived to this day. He tried, almost desperately, to bring into focus the blur of events that had haunted his memory. Could she actually be the one she claimed to be? That night came back to him, as it so often did, in a flood. He could still hear the sounds of swords clanging, the screaming, and the oaths from dying men. He could still smell the acid stench of burning pitch eating through the walls of the keep, not all that far from where he now stood. He could still see the … yes! The girl had been telling the truth. He had seen it in her eyes. Those familiar eyes. Those same eyes that had pierced the armor so carefully fashioned around his soul. The same eyes. But in another face.

“What say you now? Do you yet claim no obligation to me … sorcerer who enspelled my mother?” She spoke softly, her fury spent.

Merlin had waited years to tell someone … not to shirk his own responsibility – certainly not! But … circumstances, and the lust of others … It had happened so quickly. No one had understood him, not even one. Perhaps, in the same fashion as a master mason constructed a worthy barricade, perhaps if he carefully placed one word beside another …

“When a man – any man – would support … another man, and would acknowledge him … King, would avow him Sovereign Lord, then … the first man is constrained to follow the dictates of the second. In all matters. He … cannot … obey one edict and ignore the next, as it pleases him. He obeys all, even when he knows … No! I owe you nothing! Lay claim against Uther Pendragon if you will!”

“Uther Pendragon is dead!”

“And with him, that which might have been, alongside what was.” So far as Merlin was concerned, this conversation was over. Done! Finished! If her intention had been to irritate, berate, pour hot guilt through one of the few chinks in his emotional barricades, then, he was forced to admit, she had admirably succeeded. “Go away,” he demanded. “My memories are bitter enough without the burden of yours as well.”

Morgan stood directly in front of him. “After you teach me what I must learn,” she stated. Conviction had returned to her demeanor.

“For what purpose? So you may …” Merlin chose not to complete his thought. Rather, he fought to regain a measure of composure. “You do me too great an honor. I am no more a mage – no more! If you want an adept in the sacred arts, seek elsewhere – else WHEN!”

She was still blocking his path.

“You will excuse me,” he stated. I’m reminded I must do that which keeps bread on my table.” To emphasize the point, he called out, “Children!”

“You ARE a mage,” she demanded, “and you WILL instruct me!”

“I REMIND you,” he countered, “I give instruction in letters, numerals …”

Merlin considered physically brushing the child Morgan aside, but then thought better of it. Instead, he attempted to simply go around her, and this was his undoing. With one step off the path, Merlin realized the heavy underbrush on the hill concealed a much greater incline than he had anticipated. Before he had even time to react, his feet went out from under him. Still clawing the air, he hit the ground with something less than grace and dignity. Worse, he found himself sliding, face first, in a great tangle of weeds, wild bushes, and mud, down the hillside. One ankle caught in the giant root of an ancient tree. In the process of wrenching himself free, and allowing himself one great editorial “whoop,” he now pitched backwards, rolling through a patch of briars, and landing solidly against the side of a slime incrusted boulder.

From somewhere up the hill he could hear her. “All your craft – your art. Every bit I will learn.”

“Never,” he croaked as he willed himself to stand.

He staggered, more carefully now, in the literal path of least resistance – down the hill. As he lowered himself from tree trunk to tree trunk, he thought with longing about the other children. Almost desperately he wanted to be in the company of others – many others. Even these.

With his many distractions, Merlin had forgotten that the path he had ascended circled around the very grove of trees through which he was now descending. As a result, when at last he crashed through the downside of stunted trees and underbrush, there she was. On the path. Arms crossed. Patiently waiting.

He was limping, his robe was covered in mud and brambles, he was scratched and bleeding in a quite respectable number of places, and twigs entwined his hair. Had Merlin wished to present himself as a drooling senile idiot, he couldn’t have come up with a better plan.

“Would a mage as clever as you say I am, be reduced to this?” That was his only comment as he hobbled down the rough path.

If Morgan had been less than impressed near the top of the hill, her capacity for sympathy was no stronger near the bottom of it. “Here’s what I would first learn – don’t walk so fast! I can’t keep apace!”

The path had led the teacher behind a large outcropping of crumbling rock. Whatever else she had to say was lost in the indignity of pain and the sound of his own labored breathing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

MORGAN!

Okay, so I'm workin' on this new book ... actually I started it almost a year ago and lost it ... knew it was in a file SOMEWHERE. So now I found it again. It's a bio of Morgan LeFay, King Arthur's half sister. Set in 550AD England. I've written Chapter one and am well into Chapter two. I've just finished a short intro to the whole thing, and here 'tis.

Whadda ya think?

JB

THE EARLY YEARS


One day of hard walking west of Dunn’s Crossing lies the county of Gore. It has been widely rumored that in the time before time, giants unto gods here waged unthinkable war against monsters beyond imagination. In this, the fifth century of our Lord, the evidence yet bears witness to that legend. In seeming agony the land revolts against the gentle plains. Devastated crags of rock, wrenched from churning earth, overhand deep and cascading gouges in the ground that the uninspired call rivers and streams. In many places brackish liquids ooze and bubble in stagnant pools. Vapors gift the unwary with convulsive death.

In confounding contrast, a road cuts through the heartland of Gore. Built by the Romans more than a century ago, in places it has been washed away or conquered by encroaching mud and vine. Still, enough remains to follow it beneath the barren peaks and above the mired valleys. It passes by isolated and openly hostile villages. It passes by other remnants of civilization, perhaps Roman, perhaps local, long abandoned and forgotten. The road ends at the foot of a high tor, a natural fortification, covered on three sides with granite. The forth wall drops away to the sea, several hundred feet below.

Once considered insignificant for grazing, occupation of the hilltop was first disputed by local clans, later taken and thickly walled by the Romans, and eventually settled by the forces of the Duke of Cornwall. A formidable keep was constructed behind the Roman walls. The present state of disrepair was obligingly provided after a prolonged siege under the name of the latest petty chieftain, one Uther Pendragon. The ruined castle, and the area surrounding it, boasts a rich history in blood and violence. The name of the fortress is Chariot, and roughly translated from the language of the Druids, it means “the land of the dragon’s teeth.”

No one has come here for a very long time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yes, I know.

I haven't written to you in awhile ...

I've got a good excuse - I really do! I just completed a play. (The people who had commissioned the work were into big time heavy breathing.) I'm almost finished with another play (written at the same time and for fun). And I've begun two novels.

Hey. I don't plan these things. I don't. I just enjoy putting words on paper.

So hang in there with me for a little while longer. I'm on a roll at the moment. I'm sure that will wear off soon enough ...

JB


And how was your day?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

If I Didn't Know Better, I Wouldn't Believe This Was Real

A man I know went to visit his mother on the occasion of her 100th birthday. While he was snapping pictures of friends and family who were also there for the modest celebration, the man noticed an expression of peaceful contentment on the elderly woman’s face. Turning in the direction of her gaze, the man took this picture.



Monday, February 4, 2008

Who should read the Bible?

The question has been raised regarding who should read the Bible. One response was that only those with understanding should read it, and only those with extensive training should be allowed to interpret it. And finally, it was suggested that without this understanding and training, reading the Bible can actually be harmful.

I'd love lots of comments on this.

JB

Sunday, February 3, 2008

People Are So Interesting - Part Three. Passion in written expression



When you watch a speaker, you can see muscles in the face contort. Listening, you hear the voice raise, lower … listen to not only the tone of the voice, but also to the fluctuations in that tone, emphasizing any number of subtle subtexts. If you favor the speaker, it’s easy to be caught up in the moment.

In writing, you have words. Period. Just words. I’m a writer, so I’ve naturally been more than impressed when those same strong emotions are evoked within me by something I’ve read.


Following are two examples of what I’m talking about. Written by truly gifted people, these two commentaries have nothing in common – not in author, subject, style, not even in purpose. Yet they reached me with the same degree of passion, at totally opposite ends of the spectrum. And it’s this ability to go from one extreme to the other, often with no apparent effort whatsoever, that makes people so interesting.


JOY

I come to these golden... endless fields because I find myself abundantly free here. The
silence in this place - it's unchanging. .The stillness eases the restlessness of the world out of me.
This quiet has the tendency to soak into every fiber. There are broken valleys in this heart of mine, where quiet and stillness are strangers to me. I've been too busy listening to noise and distraction in one form or another. If I wait long enough here, then I'll know a secret - a secret that lasts and surprises. A secret that will reveal itself in the form of a gentle whisper, that graces my ear like the sound of the ocean in a seashell. Be still and Know that I am God. That comforting wave crashes into me and sustains, but only when I am so still I can sense the trees growing. My heart, it's beating like an Indian drummer inside this hollow chest. I wonder - do you hear Him here ... now? I wonder - do you sense him here ... now? He's close ... so close. If you listen beyond the silence, you'd understand what I'm trying to tell you. Did you know the sun - it follows me whenever I come. The sunlight rises up over my shoulders. The warmth upon my back makes me understand how frail and human I am, but it also over joys my spirit, too. Sometimes I come in the middle of the night and the moon - it's as bright as a streetlight. There is something important about the light and the counting of my steps to this sacred ground. And it's only sacred because something profound is about to take place. It's in the silence surrounded by the simple pleasures of grass and sky and sun that my heart feels ready. Ready for what you wonder? To start the eternal conversation. To start what was from the beginning and what is now, already beginning, and what will be beginning. The conversation really is another secret because it never ends. You see...God is always listening. My heart, it's undone and naked in these fields and I begin...I begin to Worship. Hallelujah's pour past my lips. And there is nothing but You are worthy, You are worthy, you are worthy.


SORROW

It's 4 weeks since he left. Not a word. He conveniently managed to avoid my birthday, Christmas, Boxing Day (our traditional party) and New Years. "and a Big Yellow Taxi took away my old man"...sing it Joni. You know. When Joni sings "I wish I had a river I could skate away on" I can relate. Very Canadian, that. A river to skate away on. But something so appealing, just glide away, cold air in my face, a subtle "woosh" from the skates...on and on until there is no one around, no one left, not even me.So cliche, but "I can't believe it's been 4 weeks!" I have been dutifully practicing the D's---denial, dissociation, drinking (not so much, just a bit). I only cry when it attacks me, grabs me by the throat and explodes through my eyes and diaphragm. And I don't know why I cry, and it scares me, and the cats. Peaches comes over all concerned and mows and sniffs my face. And then it is gone and I go back to D1 (denial) for a bit. I hate myself, I hate this body. I wish I were one of those alien creatures who only inhabits a corpse to move around in, and when it is destroyed, they just climb out and move on to something else (I'm sure I saw it in a movie once...one of those science fiction ones I never wanted to watch but did because he loves science fiction and I would do Anything to spend time with him and make him happy). I would crawl out of this fat, ugly body and inhabit Posh Spice or Keira Knightley. I'm not angry at him. I think that might be why I am passively, indirectly killing myself.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

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