A Modest Proposal

Memorial Day can be emotional three-day weekend, starting with the empty chair at the table that will never be filled. Wishing someone a “Happy Memorial Day” risks walking into an emotional minefield of sorts. Some will use the day to advance political agendas, and others just want to have a guiltfree barbeque to escape from their real lives. As a holidays go, it’s a mixed bag.

CC and I chatted about this day and other days dedicated to veterans, and she rightfully said there are no days dedicated to dependents like the spouses, partners, children, and loved ones of those on the front lines. There is no national holiday set aside for the Blue Star and Gold Star heroes who support our troops.

A modest proposal, then, maybe to refocus on important things: while we plant flags on graves, we as a nation expend an equal, if not greater, amount of energy to remember those left behind. Reach out and let them know they are not alone. Tell them that while we’re pouring one out for a fallen soul, that we are also there to help ease the burdens of those that must carry on. A phone call or a hug or something that let’s them know they are not alone.

Well, I can dream.

For now, I hope y’all remember all of our heroes on this solemn day. Somebody somewhere misses them. And if that happens to be you, you’re in my thoughts this day.

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The Dying of the Light

The one where we get personal about Death, along with the challenges of presenting the great equalizer in fiction. This episode is our most intimate podcast to date. Have a listen and let us know what you think. As always, scroll down and subscribe. Thank you much.

Triggers: COVID, Death.

Spoilers: Harry Potter, Twilight, Supernatural, Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula.

The Seinfeld Episode

The one where we don’t talk about much at all, other than old casinos, being kind, and developing characters through watching people. No spoilers in this one, folks.

Have a listen, and don’t forget to scroll down and sign up for notifications. Take care of you, okay?

HW: A Bridge Too Far

With my last cold breath,
I cross a colorless bridge.
I will not be back.

Almost a suicide note, huh? But that was not the motivation. I purposely went dark while drafting it as I remembered lost family and friends, one of whom had passed from colon cancer in the December before this was written. She always made me smile, and I would have liked to have said goodbye, but was never given the chance. The thought still makes me angry. Time passes and, boom, the chance for closure is gone, and you find yourself saying goodbye to a picture on the back of a funeral home pamphlet.

So why the “colorless bridge” and not the “rainbow bridge”? Not all of us live a life that’s worth remembering or revisiting. A shitter, in other words. And the colorless bridge transitions into “will not be back.” Some cultures and religions believe in reincarnation with all their being, but I could see someone pushing back on the chance. If they didn’t get it right the first or second or whatever time, why would they come back?

Yeah, this one was a picker-upper, but writing it helped purge some ghosts from my psyche. Maybe it will help you, too.


Technical note: The above haiku was not the next in line from my book draft:

Whispers from afar
Of a slow dance, a kiss, love.
Real or not, I smile.

Way softer than the first haiku, yes, but I don’t remember the idea or motivation behind it. A chance encounter at a high school dance? A dream I had the night before? A happenstance of words? All possibilities and more, but the one good reason is lost in the mists of time. And I like this one better than the first, even if I don’t remember why I wrote it.

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If you listened to yesterday’s podcast (please do) or follow me on social media, you know I have an unfortunate habit of falling down and going boom. God does grace some of Her blessed creatures with a superior sense of balance, but She also averages things out so, I’ve ended up in the deficit column, I suppose.

I spent much of elementary school with scabbed up knees, and the scars look something like a Tolkien map to this day. In the Air Force, I slid into second base in shorts, and that may have been one of the first time CC had to apply her medical skills to my poor body. During my running days, a big German Shepard took me down by running between my legs because he thought I was playing a game. I tested the resiliency of a concrete wall during a test drive of a bike. And on and on and on.

In my life, falling down is evitable, but I always get up.

Since this is a writing blog, that’s the key sentence. I’m dealing with the world’s worst case of writer’s block, but it won’t last. Given time, the rips and tears in my writing soul will scab over, I will stand up with a fully formed book in my head, and I will mercilessly pound away at a keyboard.

If my physical crashes have taught me anything, it’s that time, healing, and CC’s gentle care will solve most wounds and challenges. I’ll get back to writing someday. Just you wait and see.

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Our tenth episode already! CC and I talk about our personal writing inspirations as we grew and matured into professional writers. We go from our childhoods to the Air Force to our college professors to our favorite inspirations: our readers. Lots of stories and lots of fun for the two of us.

Have a listen and let us know what you think! As always, scroll down to join our mailing list, too. Thank you and take care of you.

Edit: Here’s the links to JT’s missing books and to SM Reine as mentioned in the podcast.

A Sheriff In Nevada

A Sheriff in Nevada: Downfall

Emma Parks CPS Worker

SM Reine, NYT Bestselling Writer

HW: Vegas, Baby!

Neon attracts chumps
To one armed bandits with smiles.
All fools bad at math.

Ah, Nevada. Top of the naughty lists and bottom of the nice lists, all for good reasons, yet we draw so many sane people with urgent needs to be separated from their hard-earned doubloons. Why is that? [If state histories bore you, stop now and go do something fun.]

Statehood for Nevada was pushed through Congress during the American Civil War to send our electoral college votes in the 1864 election to Abraham Lincoln. Mining was the territory’s big moneymaker with silver and gold strikes in Virginia City and other sites throughout northern Nevada. Those stakes dried up over the following decades, and our legislative leaders were desperate to find economic relief since our state constitution prohibits a personal income tax.

Their solution: SIN. You can’t spell “casino” without “sin,” you know.

Laws passed in the 1930s shortened residency requirements to obtain a divorce, thus creating a “Reno divorce” (my mom had two or three), and legalized gambling as a mainstream business. Divorcees spending their days yanking the arms on slot machines designed to keep their money was a fair stereotype for the times.

(Related to this: a story from a Lake Tahoe showroom where a very famous comedian asked a front-row couple what they were doing in the hotel. When they said they were play slots, he said, “Oh, so you’re working for the casino?” He was not wrong.)

Skip forward to now, and what’s changed in one hundred or so years? Not much. The slot machines are prettier with lights and music and such, but they still grind nickels and quarters out of the Social Security grandmothers in the smaller casinos. For those who can’t resist the manufactured “grandeur” and “style” of the big casinos on the Strip, we thank you for your continued contribution to Nevada’s general fund.

As for technical notes on this week’s haiku, the above picture says it all. I’ve been seeing grandmothers like her in casinos all my life, and probably will until the day I die.

(Check out our Podcast page for more fun! And subscribe below to get updates!)

Erin go Bragh

This week’s podcast is the one where we talk about Ireland’s literary and historical heritage. CC goes in depth on how Frank McCourt‘s life and his most famous book, “Angela’s Ashes,” parallels her own mother’s upbringing, and how they influence CC’s life and writing. As always, we learned new things about each other despite being together for nearly 40 years.

We left a lot on the table, so Ireland will also be tomorrow’s Monday Blog post, and we’ll be posting related images tomorrow to our pictures page.

We’re hitting our stride on these podcasts, and we hope you’re enjoying them as much as we are making them. Have a listen and let us know. Thank you!

Edit: On further review, we’re taking the week off on Monday Blogs. We’ll post the Ireland pictures when we get the post going. Thanks.

HW: The Chairs Lean Back

Rockets launch as the slides click.
Stars with a deep voice.

If I ever compile these haikus into a book, I might name it “Shitty Words” or some such nonsense because my poems do not flow or fly, but stutter along like John Wilkes Booth limping from one side of the stage to the other (too soon?). Even so, the above is a personal favorite.

Fads and fashions aren’t what they used to be, so younger folks might not grasp our level of passion for NASA’s exploits of the Sixties and Seventies. A love affair measured in years and across industries, it was a golden age for science fiction, too, with Star Trek and a host of literary maestros (Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, Le Guin, Niven, etc.) priming the pump for Star Wars (1977). You couldn’t swing a cat in K-Mart without hitting something related to space. I loved it.

Part of my journey was (dramatic pause) the Fleischmann Atmospherium Planetarium. Opened in 1963, it was “the first planetarium in the United States to feature a 360-degree projector capable of providing horizon-to-horizon images and through time-lapse photography showing an entire day’s weather in a few minutes” (link). I mean, how cool is that?

But, yes, there was more! Every show was a low-tech extravaganza disguised as a high-tech personal journey to Mars, the moons of Jupiter, or a trip through a prehistoric swamp. And how about a little love for those laser shows set to rock music? We’d sit back in chairs declined at 45-degree angle to watch pictures displayed on the big globe above us to hear narration set to film strips, slide projectors, music, and the very-deep-monotonal-bass voice of our narrator acting as our guide to a more wonderous time.

I haven’t been back since they dropped “Atmospherium” from the title, but the memories remain. I can still close my eyes, watch the Saturn V explode to the stars, and wish I was still the kid who wanted to fly with a rocket.

(Check out our Podcast page for more fun! And subscribe below to get updates!)

Podcasting with One Brain Cell

On a whim, JT and I began podcasting for writers a little over a month ago and have recorded eight episodes so far. We didn’t do any research before starting this adventure. We just decided to try it out and see what would happen. Turns out we’re having a lot of fun with what we decided to call “The CC & JT Amateur Hour for Writers.”

The reason for the name is obvious – what we’re doing is very amateur. Our setup consists of a microphone, a laptop, a “recording booth” made up of a quilt draped over a photographer’s backdrop frame, and the podcasting program that comes with our WordPress website. Neither of us has any experience in this area and we’re not doing anything too technical. We have no catchy theme song. Our sessions aren’t edited. What we record is what we post. What you see is what you get, so to speak.

Since what we’re doing is so amateur, I started wondering if it could really be considered podcasting. Surely creating an actual podcast couldn’t be so simple, right? There must be more to the process.

Not really. According to my research, a podcast consists of free on-demand episodes of people discussing things. It can also be considered an audio blog and can cover any topic imaginable.

That definition indicates that “The CC & JT Amateur Hour for Writers” is an honest-to-goodness podcast. We’re posting regular episodes to a variety of platforms for listeners to enjoy on-demand at no cost.

Whether we’re doing an official writers podcast didn’t really matter to me, of course. We started this project to try something new and to inspire ourselves and others who might be interested in writing. We’re also hoping to provide a little entertainment along with the information we discuss.

The added benefit to me is the half hour JT and I spend talking to each other with no other distractions. While the two of us spend a lot of our free time together, we’re not always paying attention to each other since we’re often involved in something else, like chores. We can’t be distracted while recording. At least we try not to be distracted, though I admit I lost my train of thought during the earthquake that happened while we were recording one episode!

Check out “The CC & JT Amateur Hour for Writers” to find out what we’re doing. Feel free to ask questions or to suggest topics that might be of interest to you for future episodes. We’d love your feedback.

Don’t be afraid to create your own podcast. They’re not too difficult and you might find yourself having a lot of fun in the process.

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