handsome sketch

The Problematic Painting

This is "Amaryllis" by Piet Mondrian from 1910.  I found it on a list of the most important floral still lifes, and I think it's so beautiful. Daria thought so, too, but she also said she thought the colors were "screaming at her a little bit".  She didn't think she'd want it in her house.  So, of course, I'm wondering about the people who do own this painting as it is in a private collection.

Hortensia:  Gah, Edmund.  It's only 7 AM and that painting is already blindingly awake.  How is it so unrelenting every single day?

Edmund:  Dear, it's not alive.  It's a painting.

Hortensia:  I promise you it is alive, and it's assaulting me with its Fauvist cheeriness.  Jeeves, have a phalanx of potted palms installed to block my view of that at all times.  Except when I want to look at it.  Which might be often.

The story I was writing last month is indeed finished, and after having one beta reader review it, is not very good. I may go back to it, but currently I'm too demoralized to work on it, and I probably won't try to make the deadline. The story involved a terrible museum of art where the paintings are so bad it's a "veritable flare of hellfire."  I need a new idea to write about now.  Perhaps something where two people steal a fabulous painting, then can't live with it because it's too bright, so they give it back and...live happily ever after?   Wait, they try to give it back only to have the original owners say, "Oh, no you don't.  You took it.  It's your interminable blast of sunshine now."

I dunno.  I'll keep looking for ideas. 
  • Current Mood
    gloomy gloomy
handsome sketch

Four years later...

I'm not sure why I'm interested in this blog all of a sudden, but I'll go with it.   My ADHD is a fair amount worse than it was a few years ago, so I rely more on  numbered lists.  Let's see...

1)  My non-Gavin book came out in summer of 2018.  I tried pretty darn hard to promote it, but I think I only sold 100 copies including about 40 my mom and sister bought.  I did go to three conferences:  Louisville, Fort Worth, and Memphis.  I loved Fort Worth (Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth Zoo) and Memphis (Brooks Museum of Art, Pink Palace Museum, Memphis Zoo, Civil Rights Museum).  Louisville (the silly lorikeets at the zoo) was pretty darn cool, too.  I hand sold about 30 copies total.  Honestly even though it wasn't the big success I dreamed it would be, my mom LOVED the book and she is not an easy critic, and I received strong reviews from people I don't even know so that was wonderful.

2)  I had a big birthday in 2019 in Cleveland, and it was amazing.  My mom, dad, and sister came along.  We had phenomenal weather and great food.  The art museum there is beyond brilliant, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was so much better than I expected.  We also went on a trolley tour and saw a botanical garden.  My health is not super-great, so I'm not sure I'm up for all kinds of international travel any more, but this was perfect.  Loved every minute.

3)  Re: Covid-19  Though I feel lucky to have been spared deep heartache, I did lose a friend (an ex, actually) in early April of 2020.

This is Tony Donato.  He was a member of the band, Jack Bragg, and I told him I loved telling people "My ex is in a band" and that made him laugh.  We did not date long, but it's crazy how often I think about him.  I remember he had recorded every single episode of The Simpsons, he was directing a movie and doing his own editing, and he had unforgivable taste in music.  (He tried to get me to enjoy Nico and Yoko Ono, but perhaps I was/am too narrow.)  Based on his Facebook page, he was so loved and cherished, and I can understand why. He truly was one of the most sensitive and kindest people I've ever met.

4) I've been writing a little.  I wrote perhaps 4 or 5 stories which I wouldn't call misfires, but I couldn't find my way to the endings.  Two of the stories I finished were published.

I'm happier with the first story (Hurricanes and Rainn) and I think the publisher really liked it. (The editor said it was cute!)  It was about a young American gardener (as usual with ADHD) in the Caribbean who falls for a local tour guide.  There's an environmental plot and it was pretty smooth and romantic.  K seemed to really like it.

All By His Lonesome was an answer to a call for submissions about romance in the age of Covid.  There are aspects of it I like, for sure, and I think the love interest is a wonderful guy, but my main character was, as per my usual, very promiscuous.  Not sure that worked for many readers, but K liked this, too, especially the ending.

5)  Because, with the pandemic, my mom could not travel to far off destinations, I created a pretend cruise that "took" her to destinations all over the Pacific and Indian Oceans.  So she and my dad "went" to the South Pacific, Kenya, Oman, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and the Phillipines.  I got so into it I wished I could create pretend vacations for people for a living.  However, as I know things like how much my mom loves chocolate and gardens and mountains (and history and geology), I think I did a much better job than I would with anyone else.  Still tons of fun.

6) To celebrate the end of the Reign of Terror, I've been posting paintings (on my other account) on Facebook regularly.

Just hoping to make people enjoy something pretty most of the time, but occasionally there's something where you have to wonder what's going on.  I'm mostly finding them by searching for nationals of countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, etc - places where I know nothing of the artists.  Just to see what I can find.

7)  Life continues w/ John. He's still a wonderful guy.  He's trying to get to me to cook Blue Apron, and I am resistant but it's not as bad as it once was, for sure.  I am diabetic now, so I'm trying to take better care of myself, and Blue Apron is actually kind of healthy.  So yay for that.

8) I finished a third story (more or less) and I'm hopeful it will be in shape for publication by the end of this July.

Thanks to anyone out there reading.  :) 
  • Current Music
    "Shame on the Moon" - Bob Seger
handsome sketch

A thankfulness post

So far this has been a better year for me despite the National Disaster known as the U.S. Government.  I am thankful that we're not in a war, that the economy hasn't been obliterated, and that people aren't fleeing en masse for foreign shores, but let me try to think of positive things to be thankful for.

1.  John

2. JMS Books - I think their agreeing to re-publish my work and my non-Gavin Atlas work has made a huge difference in my mood.

3. Daria - She's a really good friend even if I haven't seen her since about 2010 or so.

4. All the utility people who helped restore power during Hurricane Harvey.  Emergency workers, first responders, med techs.

5. John's house - I don't like living in the surburbs, but it's comfy.  It's big enough to have John's dad stay here for months without really big issues.

6. Stuff from my trip w/ my mom.  -  Lake Bled in Slovenia, the port in Malta, the harbor in Montenegro, the city of Mostar, Bosnia, and getting to see Albania - a country that was not possible to visit when I was a kid.  Crazy and amazing.

7. my parents - glad they are healthy and happy to have us over for Thanksgiving

8. K - glad I still make her laugh

9. my doc.  He's really awesome.

10.  the fun time I had w/ John in Portland, Oregon.  :)  
  • Current Music
    "Heavy Dirty Soul" - 21 Pilots
handsome sketch

Semi-silliness for today

I'm sure this was much scarier than I remember, but someone mentioned this song a couple days ago which is why I'm writing about this now.

My DJ friend, Jonathan Clark, liked "Boom, I Got Your Boyfriend" by MC Luscious, but somehow, he hadn't heard the X-rated version.  I brought it for him that night.

To say the lyrics surprised him would be an understatement.  I will spare you, but in case you are curious, here is a link.

I'll wait for you to get back...

Ready?  So. When Ms. Luscious got to the last  line of her chorus, Jonathan almost crashed his car.  True, this was 2am in a part of DC that's not busy after the government goes home, but he looked at me in shock, realized he was headed for a fire hydrant, swerved left, where he managed to brake before hitting a parked van.

He was laughing, and that probably made it better.  All I could think of was "What would the coroner's report say?  Cause of Death: Explicit Lyrics or Cause of Death: Cassette Single?"

Eep.  How did we survive being young and stupid?  
  • Current Music
    MC Luscious
handsome sketch

(no subject)

Granted, dogs are territorial and don't like strange people approaching them.  But I should not be scared walking in the parking lot of my apartment complex.  Yes, I was attacked by dogs bigger than me when I was about five or six, so I have never been comfortable with big dogs.  But the woman who lives one building over can barely control her enormous and very aggressive dog.  I would have liked to cross over to the sidewalk so I could take out recycling without walking in the middle of the road, but that's not possible.  This is probably the third time she has had to struggle mightily not keep her dog from attacking me.  By the way, in the past when I've tried to say hello, it was met with stony silence so it's not like she knows my name or bothers to tell her dog "it's okay, it's a friend."  Instead she yanks the dog's leash by the neck.

If I had to guess at the breed, I would say Anatolian Shepherd:


I'm pretty sure it's fair to file a complaint instead of waiting for something bad to happen.  
handsome sketch

When logic fails...

...try the ridiculous.   I PROMISE YOU this has worked twice.

Monday.  Headed home from my mom's house and stopped by Walgreen's to get a prescription.  When I tried to leave, my car would not start.  This is not infrequent over the last few months and the main reason I need a new vehicle after 18 years.  After a bunch more attempts, I thought about calling AAA, but more than once this year, the car started without them needing to do anything besides turning the key.


1) Go away for a length of time that would be reasonable for a mechanic to show up.  For example, ask Walgreen's to give you a flu shot since you happen to have more free time than expected.

2) Come back to your car, whistling innocently, and perhaps mutter in a voice deeper than your own "What seems to be the problem?"

3)  Continue to pretend to be an expert who can easily make the car's owner look like an idiot by suavely putting the key in the ignition, turning, and

HAH!  Car.  I got you!  You started, you sneak!

True story.  And I did it once before.  I'm sure there's some sensible automotive motive for the car's behavior, but since I don't know it, I'll go with "My car is a mischief maker."

Also, I'm going to need a character to do this at some point.  
  • Current Music
    Cazwell - "Dance Like You Got Good Credit"
handsome sketch

We need a "Silliness For Today" post...

My mom says I'm not remembering this 100% accurately, but it's pretty close.  So for all intents and purposes, here is one of the silliest non-fiction stories I know.


Scene: May 1991. A bus tour around the UK, first night at a hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Mom stopped by my room to drop off laundry soap, and the door's locking mechanism broke. We could not get out.

I called down to the front desk....

Me:  Hi, this is room 309. We're apparently locked in. The key card was giving me trouble before, but now the lock seems to have given out completely.

Front desk: No problem at all. We'll send someone right up.

(Three minutes later, a knock on the door)

Fix-it Man: Em, hello? So you got in your room all right, then?

Me: No, see, we can't get out. It won't open.

Fix-it Man: What? Oh! I thought you were locked out. (Tries to key-card the door. Won't open. Tries again. Jiggles handle.) Goodness, you certainly are locked in. Let's see now. (More jiggling and tinkering sounds). Well. I'm not sure I can fix it from this side. Be back in a jiffy.

Mom: He's not sure he can fix it?  Will he have to break down the door?

(10 minutes later, there's a tapping sound at the window.  It had to have been a bird because this was the third floor.  The hotel couldn’t possibly have had that big a ladder.  We pulled back the drapes. There was the repairman.)

Fix-it Man: Why, hello! Terribly sorry to pop in on you this way. May I have a look at your door?

(Meanwhile, my mom called my dad back in their room since he must have been wondering where she was. A minute later there was a knock at the door.)

Dad: Hello?

Mom: Hi! We're fine.

Dad: So you did get in? I thought you couldn't. (Jiggles door handle.)

Mom: No, getting in wasn't the problem.  How could I call you from this room if we couldn't get in?  We can't get out. (mumbles) He never listens.

Fix-it Man: Och, men! We're all like that, aren't we?

Dad: You're locked in? (More door jiggling.) What? That doesn't make sense.

Fix-it Man: (to Mom) Common misconception, isn't it?

Mom: Radhe, we have a repairman if you need proof.

Fix-it Man: She's not avoiding you, good sir! I'll have her back to you in a mo'.

Dad: A repairman? Well, how did he get in?

(Mom explains. Fix-it Man uses the room phone to call down to the front desk asking for a specific type of screwdriver to be brought up. Five minutes later, there's a knock on the door.)

Young lady: I have the screwdriver.

Fix-it Man: Oh! Em, thank you.  But did I mention the door wasn't opening?

Young lady: Oh, you did. I thought you were all locked out. But then how did you get in?

Fix-it Man: Well, the room is equipped with a window.

Young lady: Oh, quite right.

Fix-it Man: Then could you be a love and bring 'round that screwdriver?

Young lady: Certainly. Of course.

(Three minutes later, another knock on the window)

Young lady: So sorry, may I come in? (If memory serves, she managed the ladder in heels.)

(A few minutes go by, and the new screwdriver hasn't helped. The fix-it man gets back on the phone.)

Fix-it Man: (Speaking into the phone) I'm afraid I'm going to need to cut around the lock if we're to free our prisoners, but I wanted permission before I started with the saw. (There’s a pause and then the repairman hangs up.) Right. The manager says to carry on and break you out. On we go. Freedom will soon be ours.

(Two minutes later, yet another knock on the window. A man in a suit has appeared.)

Man in a suit: Hello! Terribly sorry to bother you. I'm the manager, and normally we don't check in with our guests via the window, but I wanted to apologize for this inconvenience. Are you quite all right in here?

* * *

So...the minor trouble of having to switch rooms resulted in one of the fanciest dinners we've ever had, compliments of this very nice hotel and a misbehaving door lock.
handsome sketch

Yay! Another interview

Steve Berman sent a copy of the book Snapshots of Seduction to journalist, Gregg Shapiro.  The book is a 32-page "photo essay with short story."   The short story is by Gavin Atlas.  The upshot is that I've now had an interview appear in OutSmart Magazine.  Maybe I'm kidding myself, but now I feel way more famous.

[Wait. "More" famous? Can one be "more famous" even if starting at zero. Maybe?  Alice from Alice in Wonderland would say no.  You can't have more tea if you haven't been given any already. But wait again. I've received at least one fan e-mail. So I'm a tiny bit above zero.  So there.]

Here is a link to the interview: http://www.outsmartmagazine.com/2014/07/hot-shot/   I do laugh easily, but I don't crack myself up every other minute as the interview would lead you to believe.
  • Current Music
    Duran Duran - "Girls on Film"
handsome sketch

Love for Alex Jeffers

It's more important that I post this than worry about its eloquence.  Since I've been struggling for thirty minutes already, I will stop wasting time.  Alex Jeffers is in the hospital now after, I think, depression got the better of him.

He is a wonderful guy.  Here is a link to help him if you can: https://www.crowdrise.com/helpalexjeffersgetbackonhisfeet/fundraiser/steveberman1

::hug for Alex::

::warmth and light for everyone::