Friday, November 1, 2019

Halloween Is Over

I’m not a fan of Halloween. Getting dressed up in costumes has never been my thing, although I often have found it fun and interesting to see other people get creative in coming up with new ideas for costumes. But during this time of year all the movie channels play horror movies, which I’ve never been a fan of. I’m always glad when Halloween is over and we all move on. 

I did see something new this year. While taking Trek out for his evening walk at about 5pm, we passed the elementary school, and in the parking lot were a dozen or more cars parked in two rows with their trunks open. Twenty costume-clad kids were going car to car, where parents gave them candy. I found it sad that parents are so protective these days that kids are not allowed to go door to door in their own neighborhoods, that they feel they must stage a pathetic little parking lot affair for their kids where there are as many adults supervising as there are kids participating. I remember the excitement of running door to door, unsupervised, with my friends, being wild and free, and sometimes getting in a bit of trouble on this one night of the year. Then coming home with heaping bags of candy to count our booty. Sadly, I suppose those days are gone. 

Insight of the Day: People are growing more and more afraid, hence more protective. But that will lead to a generation growing up who never take chances, never run wild.  

Saturday, October 12, 2019

An Excerpt from Surviving Immortality by Alan Chin

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is available in paperback and any eBook format, at

Dreamspinner Press Publications

This story is purely fictional and not based on real people or true events.

This is a story of discovering the fountain of youth, and the upheaval that breakthrough brings to our slightly craze, slightly paranoid, overly greedy society.

When Kenji Hiroshige discovers a formula that will keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years, he tells the world he will not divulge his formula until every gun, tank, battleship, and bomb has been destroyed. When the world is free of weapons, everyone can live forever. And then he goes into hiding.

Before he disappears, his stepson Matt is exposed to the formula. Kenji takes Matt on the run with him, but as they struggle to elude both government agencies and corporations who will do anything to profit from Kenji’s discovery, Matt learns that world peace might not be his stepfather’s only goal. There may be a darker purpose at work. But what can a young man who’s barely stepped foot off his isolated ranch do in the face of something so sinister?

This is the story of human greed and man’s lust for violence. It’s the story of a world on the brink of destruction, but it’s also a tale of one young man who finds in himself the will, courage, and compassion to stand against the darkness—both outside and within himself.

This is a story of hope.

Kenji knelt before him and rested both hands on his thighs, squeezing tenderly. “I need to go out to get the ball rolling on your passport. You can’t leave this room.”
Matt Reece nodded.
“I’ll bring back food and antibiotics to reduce your fever. I’ll pick up some clothes and shoes too. Western duds and cowboy boots are too conspicuous. And I’ll need a picture for the passport.”
He pulled his iPhone from his pocket. “Stand here and try to look cheerful.”
Matt Reece stood where Kenji pointed. Kenji snapped five pictures.
“But what about my green skin?” Matt Reece asked.
“They can photoshop that.”
Matt Reece dropped back in his chair. “What’s happening to me?”
“Your body is going through changes, things I’ve seen before. I’m sure you’ll be fine once your body acclimates. You should be back to normal by the time we leave.”
And if I’m not?
Kenji knelt before him again. “What name do you want?”
“You need a new identity. We should make it Canadian, rather than American, unless you can fake a British accent. Foreign passports cost more, but they’re safer.”
Being asked to give up your name is no small thing. Neither is the notion of forsaking your nationality. He had already abandoned his home and family, his horse, and now he needed to lose his clothes. To give up more meant losing all his personal history. What was left? Combined with Kenji’s suggestion of baby food, he felt newly born, a mound of clay waiting for the sculptor’s hand. He tried to think of a suitable name, one that might bolster his courage. He thought of Cain, whom God marked with a different color skin and chased from the Garden of Eden. As appropriate as that seemed, it didn’t sound suitable for a first name. He glanced around the room, groping for inspiration. His eyes passed over the vacuum cleaner standing in the corner and moved back to it. He focused on the name in red letters.
“Kirby,” he said. “Kirby Cain, from Saskatchewan, Canada.”
Kenji turned to follow Matt Reece’s gaze. “It’s lucky that vacuum isn’t a Hoover.” He smiled. “Okay, if you can say that fast ten times, then we’ll go with it.”
Matt Reece stared at him, not caring if they used that name or another.
“I’m kidding,” Kenji said. “Kirby it is. And from now on, I’m Yukio Toranaga.” He stepped to the traveling bag, lifted his wallet and American passport, and tucked them into his pocket. He also pocketed a packet of hundreds. A moment later he was gone, leaving only a whisper of the door closing.
Matt Reece leaned out the window. He watched Kenji cross the street and hold out his hand for a taxi. He wondered why Kenji didn’t use Consuela’s car. It was parked on a side street four blocks away. But he recalled Kenji saying they needed to abandon it. Being on the run was a constant burning of bridges, leaving no link from past to present.
A cab pulled to the curb, and Kenji sped off into the morning traffic.
Matt Reece pulled back into the room. On the table between him and the television sat a stack of magazines—Vanity FairArchitectural DigestTravel + Leisure. He snatched up the T+L and flipped through the pages. He stopped at a picture of a tropical beach with a Speedo-clad man walking out of the water, still glistening with drops of the sea. He admired both the man and the beach. He tore the picture from the magazine, folded it twice, and carried it to his pile of clothes in the bedroom. He slipped the picture into his jeans rear pocket and fished his grandfather’s watch from the front pocket. The hands had not moved.
It crossed his mind he might feel better if he dressed. He slipped into his T-shirt, socks, and jeans and stepped into his boots. He did feel better, so much so that he lifted his Stetson off the back of the chair and placed it on his head. Standing in his hat and boots, he almost felt himself again.
He shuffled back to the living room and switched on the TV. The screen showed a demonstration in Washington, DC, people holding signs saying Death Before Disarmament and Kill the Infidels under pictures of Kenji and Consuela. People shouted threats. The CNN coverage switched to a mob at Vatican City setting fire to a large devil—with horns, a tail, and a picture of Kenji’s face plastered over the head.
Matt Reece couldn’t sit down. It seemed impossible to relax in the midst of all that hostility. The faces were livid and hate-filled. He wondered if this was how people looked at men being taken to the gallows or electric chair. A minute later he realized he was not half-wrong. Anderson Cooper described the fatwa placed on Kenji and Consuela by the Iranians, and their suspected alliance with the Vatican.
Cooper turned to interview a stock-market analyst about the nine-hundred-point drop that morning at the New York Stock Exchange. An upbeat expert urged investors to buy into this temporary dip in the market. Cooper cut him off in midsentence. “And just in,” Cooper said, putting his hand to his earpiece, and spoke with a note of drama. “CNN now has substantiated evidence that the prime minister of Israel has placed a thirty-million-dollar bounty on the heads of Kenji Hiroshige and Consuela Rocha y Villareal.”
It was the holy mission of the faithful—Muslims, Christians, Jews—to destroy them.
The search would, no doubt, be massive and move quickly. The life he had led to this point was of no use. Knowledge of raising animals and riding the range wouldn’t help. To survive, he needed new knowledge and fresh skills. He and Kenji were caught in the eye of a hate storm, the focal point of the world’s collective rage. Kenji had transformed into a priest to protect himself. Who could he become?
The screen showed mob violence breaking out in several cities—Islamabad, Paris, New York, Oslo, Beijing, Moscow, Delhi, Tehran, and Sydney, Australia. The toll of injuries and deaths was shocking. In Houston, police had fired on a crowd, leaving fifty-three dead and more than two hundred injured.
Britain and Israel had severed diplomatic relations with the United States. “Curiously,” Cooper said, “the White House confirmed rumors that it was not President Harrington who broke off these associations.”
Being raised on a ranch, he never knew until now that the world could rest so squarely on the acts of a single individual. The sheer weight of public opinion began to crush him.
He heard children yelling on the street below, and it somehow merged with the mob on the tube. It seemed like the throngs were downstairs ready to set fire to the building.
He punched the remote, and the TV switched to CNBC. It showed a mountain cabin that he recognized, Consuela’s cabin, only it had yellow barricade tape over the front door. A reporter was saying the body had been found only hours after the grisly murder.
“Consuela,” he whispered. His memory replayed their departure yesterday morning, how odd it seemed to leave without saying goodbye, taking her car, and leaving her stranded.
Consuela was dead. It was a fact, a simple truth connecting other truths. All he had to do was follow the facts backward and see where they led. He consulted his inner reserves and realized he had taken part in murder. He was a teenager, who believed all life was sacred, now as guilty as biblical Cain, and how ironic his choice of new names.
He avoided consciously blaming Kenji, but in the same heartbeat he knew he had to get the hell out of there before Kenji returned. He needed a plan, to change whatever lay in front of him. He tried to take a calming breath but came up short.
He leaned forward, planted his hands on his knees, and sucked air into unyielding lungs. He felt a familiar pressure in the back of his esophagus, and he coughed, long rasping coughs that clogged his windpipe with mucus.
“Oh”—he drew a shallow breath—“fuck.” He dropped the remote as a nervy rush pushed him into a survival response. He had to find a place with enough air, and quickly.
He ripped open the front door and ran for the stairs, already dizzy from lack of oxygen. He flew down to the first floor, unaware Groucho was following him.
He dashed into sunshine. Several people on the street backed away. Groucho whimpered at his side. Heads turned in unison to stare at him. It was alarming to be so intensely visible at the moment he felt most vulnerable.

A homeless person crouched on the pavement a few feet away, scratching distractedly at whatever was crawling in his beard. He shouted, “Praise the Lord. The little green men have landed. Take me to your leader!”

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Book Review: Lie With Me: A Novel by Phillippe Besson, translated by Molly Ringwald

Publisher: Scribner (April, 2019)
Pages: 160

Besson’s story follows the lives of two men, starting in high school(1984), picked up again in 2007, and again in 2016. The lion’s share of the story takes place in the HS period where the two have a sexual awakening with each other. What starts as a purely physical relationship morphs into something more. Still, during this time living is a small rural town in France, the boys must hide their growing love. The story continues to focus on the boys as they approach the time when they are deciding what's next with their lives. Each faces a time of personal angst trying to come to grips with their sexuality, cultural norms, and whether they are at peace in their own skin. The last two time periods are the results of their decisions and reflections of what could have been. The last chapter, although the shortest of the three, is perhaps the most powerful, and the most distressing. 

Written like a memoir, the characters come alive, and the reader, at least this reader, came to understand and appreciate the depth of emotions of these men caught in a time and situation where they had to fight for scrapes of happiness that never seemed to last long. 

This was a quick read but I found it encaptivating, mostly because of Besson’s lovely, sparse writing style. While reading this story, I often flashed on the novels Call Me By Your Nameand Brokeback Mountainbecause of the similar storyline. 

I can recommend this book, but if you’re a reader who demands a HEA ending to your romances then you will be sorely disappointed.

Monday, August 26, 2019

My buddy, Trek.

Yes, it’s National Dog Day again. Here's my buddy, Trek.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Dinner Parties

Herman and I have given two dinner parties in the last week, both with eight guests, which included several of our dearest friends. I so enjoy treating people I like to a mean and good conversation. It’s always such a treat. I think Herman enjoys it even more than I, even though he has to do the lion’s share of the work. The one thing that shines through during these events is that we have wonderfully interesting and loving friends here in PS. It’s a true blessing. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

★★★★★ Book Review: Surviving Immortality by Alan Chin

Reviewer: Edward C. Patterson
Publisher: DSP Publications (June 2018)
Pages: 432

Powerfully fast-moving with now-relevancy

I know I can rely on a good read whenever I open a book by Alan Chin; and Surviving Immortality is no exception, except it is exceptional. With a believable spark, Mr. Chin presents us with a world devouring itself when promise has given it its greatest loss for hope. All the inchoate faults of humanity, ready today to strike our civilization to the core, leeches out when confronted by a mind shattering development and a simple, lethal condition. Surviving Immortality is masterfully rendered into a work long lingering after the last pages.
The characters are complex, each with their own demon, but honest to their convictions; so much so, there are no heroes, and those who appear villainous can be redeemed by their good intentions. The main thread of the story his told through Matt Reece’s point of view, although all the characters get their turn; but it is Matt’s intense purity, a purity despoiled by circumstances, which unfolds like a night flower in moonlight. Alan Chin crafts an action adventure and psychological political philosophical tale, if there could be such a genre, keeping the pages turning until those pages disappear and time is lost. The elements in the work, and those effecting Matt Reece, are all about us today just waiting for the spark to ignite them. Mr. Chin strikes that spark.
I am a fan of Alan Chin’s other works, but this one combines all the signature touches of them all — ranch life, storms at sea, tropical islands, police procedural, Buddhism, sexuality and a lust for travel. He even includes doffs to his latest wanderlust — Machu Picchu. The world he presents is hisworld as much as ourworld. The arguments are current ones, and I’ll not spoil your read by mentioning them, but whatever opinions you have on those topics, Surviving Immortalitywill not fail to engage you, even if you wind up talking to your night light at midnight in bed. 
Needless to say (but I will say it), I highly recommend this book if you enjoy a powerful fast-moving work with now-relevancy from a major author who contributes to our contemporary literary legacy.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Dying of Too Much Life

While reading Will and Ariel Durant’s history of Queen Elizabeth, I came across a beautiful passage:

Rumors moved across Europe that she was dying of cancer. But she was dying of too much life. Her frame could not bear any more the joys and sorrows, the burdens and blows of the relentless years. When her godson, Sir John Harington, tried to amuse her with witty verses, she sent him off, saying, “When thou dost feel creeping time at thy gate, these fooleries will please thee less.” 

Insight of the Day: Even if you are writing something as dry as 16thcentury history you can still make the prose enchanting.