Star Man…

A couple of readers this past week kindly wrote me to say they’d enjoyed a story of mine, one that I hadn’t thought about in a while: “Star Man”. Both readers mentioned it is a Christmas story and I hadn’t thought about that, either. At least not since I wrote it. The story appears in my book entitled Screen Door Jesus & Other Stories.

Anyway, the correspondence prompted me to re-read the story today and I’m glad I did. “Star Man” has five characters in it and I still like them all, though the young man called Little Red is admittedly a bit annoying at times. He’s just young enough not to realize he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he knows. He’s also a tad judgmental, which has to do with his religious beliefs. Little Red’s companions don’t let him off the hook about those unfortunate defects of character, though I’m glad they’re gentle about it. After all, the story is set on Christmas Eve, a time for kindness during a season grounded in generosity.

Another thing I enjoyed about writing “Star Man” is that it is a story that contains other stories. Stories within stories, so to speak. Most of them are humorous. I trust I’m not speaking out of turn in saying so. The stories did make me laugh when I was writing, and other folks seem to enjoy them, too.

Of course the star character of the story is Star Man himself. He is three years old and a little bundle of joy. That’s why I named the story after him. Plus Christmas Eve is his birthday.

If you want to read “Star Man”—or give it as a holiday gift to someone—the story is available in both the print and e-book editions of Screen Door Jesus & Other Stories, available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The button to the right on this page will take you to the Amazon e-book edition (and yes, an e-book can be given as a gift to another person). I used a photo my grandfather took as the cover image of the e-book, so it’s very special to me. But you can find the print edition, as well, if you prefer.

I do wish each and every one of you a wonderful holiday season this year. Share the warmth with family and friends, and with strangers, too. Offer hugs all around. And remember the best gift you have to offer is free: love itself. Star Man would appreciate that.

As ever,


Pondering the Big Questions…

I recently received an email from a guy who said he knew me in high school but he thought I had died. He wrote, “My mother told me that you died in San Francisco in Haight-Ashbury, which I believed for many years. I now know that that story is not true.” I’m pretty sure he’s right because I’d have been there if the event had occurred and I do not recollect it happening. Would I remember if it had? That’s a good question and I fully intend to ponder it.

Of course, you’d never know I’m still breathing at all if you depended on news from this blog. I’ve been terribly remiss in writing for it. You’d never guess I’m still living in Mexico (I am). Or that I’ve done a bit of traveling around Mexico, and even gone back to Texas for visits a couple of times (I have). So, my apologies. I’d claim it’s been a busy year and hope to skate on that excuse but that’s not entirely true. I admittedly do spend many hours and days—perhaps too many—pondering the big questions in life (see previous paragraph) instead of producing words and sentences and stories and… well, blog entries on this website. I fear I’ve become a prodigious ponderer.

Okay, that’s not quite true, either. I’ve always spent a lot of time pondering. Even as a child I often had that faraway look, or so I’ve been told. And I don’t doubt it. The fact of being in the world has always intrigued me. And wondering what makes the world tick, that has kept my curiosity working overtime, as well. In truth, the fact that the world exists at all, as opposed to not existing, seems pretty mysterious to me. Thinking about those things can be a full-time job.

Still, I have been writing. I’m working on a novel. And I’m also working on a TV project that I’m loath to describe in any detail because it’s such a crazy business. So far, I’ve learned to be prudent about what I say about the TV business as it seems so unpredictable. But I have noticed some things worth mentioning—

The executives in Hollywood/Los Angeles are always upbeat and excited because it’s a necessary (if insufficient) condition for getting anything done there. They’re always contending with money issues and ratings and those sorts of things, much of it beyond their control but nonetheless absolutely essential for commercial success. Did I mention that the TV industry is a commercial business? Well, it is.

On the other hand, the folks who do the main creative lifting (writers, directors, etc.) always seem like they’re about to croak from stress. They complain a lot. Their creative efforts are getting buried beneath commercial interests. They run into rejection more often than acceptance. They face cruel demands on their time and energies, including impossible deadlines that inevitably and unaccountably seem to become non-deadlines, though you can never treat them that way. What absolutely had to be finished last week is still lingering in limbo next month. Maybe even next year. And so on. As a result, writers and directors rarely seem upbeat or excited. They tend to seem… well, the description that occurs to me is eternally frustrated. Perhaps even doomed.

I don’t feel that way myself. But then, I’m still a novice. My experience thus far, though, does lead me to one conclusion: The TV industry has a lot of “hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait” in it. A whole lot. So I’ve been practicing my patience. Maybe that way I won’t end up feeling doomed.

Until the next time…


Mexico or Bust (via Texas)…


Autumn has arrived here in the north. Did you know that Prague is farther north than Winnipeg, Canada? Well, it is, by just a tad. Prague’s latitude is 50.0833° N and Winnipeg’s is 49.8994° N. Which explains why our temps are now in the high 40s at night and will peak in the mid-70s today.

So the sun is shining and the weather is lovely and all’s right with the world.

Except for the packing.

I love going places but moving is work. And Katka and I are moving at the end of the month, headed toward Mexico again, via Texas.

This will be the third time for us to live in Mexico. It will be my fourth time because I also lived there for several years before I met Katka. That was back in the late 1990s, before I moved to Prague. I lived in San Miguel de Allende, a town in the mountains about 175 miles northwest of Mexico City. It’s a fascinating place, an old colonial town with a very long history. It’s also an artistic community with quite a few resident expats from Europe, Canada and the USA.

San Miguel is an easy place to live, as I learned in the 1990s. So that’s where Katka and I set up our household during our previous stays in Mexico. To return there will be a sort of homecoming.

Anyway, back to packing. Which I do tend to avoid. Even talking about it feels a bit like a chore. Packing up your belongings to relocate is when you discover what a pack rat you are. It’s also when you discover all sorts of stuff you’d set aside to attend to later. Things to read, notions to follow up on. You discover things you’d saved for the time when you’d need them, an occasion that never arose. And also stuff you’d lost, or thought you had lost. Aha! There’s that discount coupon I couldn’t find a while back… like a year ago. And of course it’s expired.

But I’m rambling. You see? That’s what moving does. It’s disorienting. One becomes more easily distracted. Staying focused gets harder. Because packing for a big move creates a kind of chaos.

Naturally, one looks for ways to escape the craziness. Writing this blog entry is an example. I haven’t written for my blog since May. So why do I choose to do so when I’m supposed to be packing? It’s an escape!

But only temporary. Because by September 30 everything that doesn’t fit into two trunks for the airplane must be ensconced in our rented storage space. Katka also gets just two trunks for her things-to-carry. So that leaves lots of stuff to store. And, of course, to pack.

A piece of good news in all this is that I’m no longer paying monthly rent on two storage spaces. We also have stuff stored in Texas, you see. That’s stuff we will carry with us to Mexico. And until recently I also had a storage space in Paris, France, full of books. Hundreds of books. Thousands. But I hauled all those to Prague, and when we leave Prague we’ll have just the single storage space, the one here, because we’ll empty the storage space in Texas. For a gypsy like me, having just one storage space at a time instead of two (or even three) represents a kind of progress.

Listen to me. I am rambling again. And I haven’t even mentioned Texas yet.

When we fly out of Prague on October 1, we’ll land in Texas. And we’ll be there for most of October. There’s family to see, and friends to catch up with. Also, Katka is commissioned to build an outdoor sculpture in Austin, so we’ll be there for a while, maybe a couple of weeks. I also might have to fly out to Los Angeles during October to do some screenwriting work. But barring that and other unforeseen events, we intend to hit the Mexican border at Nuevo Laredo by November 1.

As on our previous journeys, we’ll drive down. We hope to make the drive in Rambeaux, my 1986 Dodge Ram pickup truck. He’s been taking me south of the border—and all around Mexico—since my first stay there, and I’m hoping he’ll be up to another expedition. (See my previous blog entry below, dated May 2, for more about Rambeaux.)

After we cross the Rio Grande, it’s a long trek south across a high plateau of rugged desert and dry mountains and cactus, what some might call a bleak landscape. But it is also beautiful. About 550 miles below the border, we’ll hit San Miguel de Allende, tucked into the highlands at an altitude of 6,200 feet.

Once we arrive, we’ll stay with friends while we look for a house to rent for a year or two. We’ve been lucky in that regard previously, having found suitable places to rent very quickly, and I think our luck will hold. I suspect we’ll be in our new home in Mexico by November 10 at the latest.

Because San Miguel is located so far south—at a latitude of 20.9142° N, comfortably within the Tropic of Cancer—the weather will still feel like autumn when we get there.

And we will immediately do the exact opposite of what we are now doing. That is, we’ll unpack. Which is, as everyone knows, a lot more fun than packing.