Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet the King of Bloggers, the Uberblogger, the MAN!

I know a guy who is making a killing--or at least a decent living--by blogging. In fact, he's one of the world's great bloggers, one of the kings. He's been called the "uberblogger" and that means he's super. And the best thing is, he a great guy. A serious guy, but a great guy. And a very smart guy.

His name is Leo Babauta and his blog, is knocking them dead, folks. All the way from the island of Guam where I knew him and his family. The agents and publishers came looking for HIM! There was a bidding war for his first book The Power of Less. It's in it second printing and I suspect will make him rich and famous. It's just a little book, too--maybe 80 pages or so.

Well, what's he all about, pray tell? Why all the hoopla? It's about simplifying your life, getting along with less stuff. Shaking off the clutter that weighs you down, slows your mojo, sucks at your precious time, burns up your hard-earned cash. He's a how-to, self-improvement, no-nonsense get-rid-of-that-junk guru.

Want to write a novel? He'll tell you how he organized his time to do just that. Train for a marathon? Ditto. And need to spend more time with your family (Leo's thirty-four and has six--count'em--six kids)? Here's how. His lists of hints and methods are seemingly endless, from physical fitness to saving money.

And the last I heard, Opra's people were calling him. Hope we see him on the big show. He's the kind of guy who we love to see make it beyond our wildest dreams. You can go to his blog or get his latest idea on

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Watch Out! The Galloping Horse of History May Pass You By!

This is not your average galloping horse, either. This is the one that will kick-stomp the (I'm trying to watch Young Frankenstein whilst I write this, so bear with me) contents of your ego all over the public media and make your life irrelevant. You may as well never have lived if you don't become famous--even for at least fifteen minutes or so.

Or at least that is the common, American Idol mentality. Fame or the dust bin, fame or you are worthless, fame or you are fine example of what's been called pretty poor protoplasm. You didn't make the grade, you are merely average. You needn't have bothered being born. No wonder we all struggle to make the ends of our egos meet in the middle.

So, back to this galloping horse--history, that is. Lot's of great horseback riders have been on it. Names like Cesar, Churchill, Hitler, Captain Kangaroo, Sarah Palin---Frankenstein---come to mind. We would all like to be on it, wouldn't we? I would. Sure I would. Despite my clinging to the cold rice and hard beds of Buddhism (it is the things we cling to the make us suffer), I can't kick the Occidental habit of clinging to the desire to be rich and famous.

Yet, 99.9999999% of us won't be--we won't make it. We will be the lower life forms that the rich and famous (R&F) tread upon. What to do? Snivel in our suburban hovels and watch the R&F on TV? In movies? Scribble away on ten million blogs all over the Internet world?

In a word: Yes. *
*This is what watching the raging egos in politics every night will do to you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Right is Trying to Strangle the Left: The Body Politic's Self-Destructive, Knee-Jerk Spasticity

So, there I was at the White House last night with my Nikon D40X just clicking away and later, when I looked at the pix, what to I espy? This telling photo of our pres with the ghost of Mr. Lincoln looking over his shoulder. In fact, it looks like Mr. Obama was gesturing back at the Great Man as I took this.

Wonder what Mr. Lincoln was whispering in Mr. Obama's ear? Don't let the turkeys get you down, Barack. Lincoln had to deal with his own ego-driven, knee-jerk haters, too. Was he our greatest president because of them or in spite of them? In any event, as I watched Mr. Obama perform, I was, as usual, impressed by the quick, easy intelligence of the man, by his deep knowledge of a myriad of complex issues, and the way he handled stupid/tough questions: Why had he waited two days after finding out about the AIG bonuses? Because "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." Rush, Sarah, Ann, and Laura--please listen up.

Yes, the Right side of the Body Politic continues it's spastic, antagonistic flapping at the Left as our Center-Left president coolly goes about his business. Can this be good for our national humour? The truth is this: The current crisis is unprecedented. No one knows what will work and what will not. But we need to ask our best minds to try to sort it out and do something and that's what Mr. Obama is doing. The whole deal is mind bending and brain warping in its complexity. Mistakes will be made. We elected him pretty decisively. We should be supporting him and hoping he gets it done.

Note: Okay, okay. I was not actually in the White House. Let's just say I had a seat way, way up in the balcony and a great telephoto lens.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bringing Seawind Home: Preparing for A Sailor's Excellent Adventure

She's an Alberg 30 and she's 35 years old. But, because she's an Alberg 30 and has been impeccably maintained all those years, she is a bit like Cher---still solid, sea worthy, and lookin' good. Here she is, on the hard way out on the end of Long Island. This was last summer the weekend we bought her and then had to leave her there for the long, cold winter. It was tough driving away that day, like leaving a kid at college.
But now the sun is warm, the daffodils are blooming, the birds are going nuts, and so can the time to go and get her be far off? I'm suddenly up to my nose in preparations. Here's part of my list: insurance, a marine survey (maybe), new shrouds and stays (the ones on there now are original), re-documenting her with the Coast Guard (that way I don't have to register her in Virginia--at least that's what I've been told) buy stuff for her like a new dinghy, maybe put a tri-color nav light on top of the mast instead of the anchor light, bottom paint (modified ablative for those of you who know about such things), getting all the canvas back on her (sails, bimini, dodger), de-winterizing the engine, the head, and the water system, replacing the bladder-type holding tank with a solid plastic one---on and on.
I'm going shopping at a West Marine store up in Delaware to avoid taxes and gonna load it all in a U-Haul van and drive up to Long Island the last day or two of April. I've got volunteer crew as my poor wife (and most excellent long-time sailor/mate--we've sailed all over the world together for the past 28 years) is still working and can't be there (it's killing her).
So the "Sailor @ 60" is now the "Sailor @ 62" but still going strong and looking forward to being back out at sea. Our planned course? Down Long Island Sound and through the East River (that oughta be interesting), New York harbor, and out and down the Jersey coast to Cape May. Then up the Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake-Delaware canal and into the Chesapeake. From there, it will be a long beat down the Bay to Onancock. I'll be reporting in on this blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Feeling Great, Spring Weather, and Sailboat Dreams

Woke up today with sunlight--SUNLIGHT-- streaming in the bedroom window. This after days and days of dark, cold, and wet. It seemed the pounding of the rain on the roof would never stop, that the pitiful daffodils drooping their lovely yellow faces at the mud would never have their day. But here it is--their day. And and so it would be mine, too.

It is passing wonderful how bright sunlight can charm the soul. I wanted to dance my old feet out of the house and absorb this light into my bones. And so I did, at the expense, I suppose of my writing. Never mind. We can't be to obsessive about stuff. Need to allow for vagaries of mood and Mother Nature.

So, I went about doing those outdoor things a man might otherwise put off, despite wifely encouragement. I loaded the truck with bag after bag of lawn rakings and the frame of the old deck awning that's been lying around in the muck all winter. I took them to the dump and enjoyed the drive so much that afterwards I went out to the marina where we have rented a slip in preparation for the arrival of our new sailboat. The marina is just around the corner from the Chesapeake Bay, a body of water that, today with the sun full on its face, looked very fine indeed. Once there, I indulged my desire to just stand on the dock and look around, take in deep breaths of the cool, glowing air, and picture myself sailing in or sailing out.

Later, I blew my self out at the gym so that now, in addition to buzz from the perfect weather, I have that exquisite quivering muscle burn that makes one feel that one might just be able to live forever. Tomorrow I'll be back to face the empty pages that need to be filled with words woven into patterns that will delight the mind's ear. If I'm very lucky that will come as naturally and as simply as happiness came to me today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today is St. Patrick's Day--Mr. O'Bama Sure Could Use That Pot of Gold

I'm writing this whilst sitting in my favorite over-stuffed reclining chair, in front if my favorite 47" HighDef TV. I woke up on this very wet, very late-winter day and realized I was STILL RETIRED. Imagine. No reason to get up, none at all. The fat tiger cat, Ms. Puss, even curled up next to me, expecting the best--a long sleep in with the 'ole man.

Then I remembered Terry is off to Atlanta this morning and I needed to see her off and haul her luggage out to the car (in the rain, in my pajamas--the least I could do). And I also remembered it was St. Patrick's Day. The fountain at the White House was to be turned green and there it was, on Morning Joe--bubbling green. I missed seeing it by three days when I was in D.C. I was wandering around that city last week and took this photo of O'Bama's new house (any mortgage worries? Whadyya think?) but the bubbles were pure white. Had I known, I might have hung around a bit longer (Actually no, the hotel is way to expensive). It turns out that Mr. O'Bama's great-great-great grandfather was, truly, Irish. Everyone on Morning Joe seemed pleased by this revelation. I plan on bellying up to the nearest Irish pub myself this P.M. and lifting a pint (of Guinness) for my favorite Irishman. In any event, here's a green-tinged poster of The Man himself. I took the picture in D.C. just after I took the disappointing none-green-water one of the White House.

Meanwhile, the political games in D.C. continue undaunted by the Irish sending a real leprechaun to meet with our Prez. There he was standing chubby and oh, so green, next to O'Bama, and speaking with a perfect leprechaun's brogue and thanking the U.S. for always standing by when the Emerald Isle needed us. You're indeed welcome. Now, how about doing something for us? A trillion dollars ought to do it. Or maybe you can arrange for us to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Third Morning In D.C.: What, if anything, have I learned?

Still life by Douglas Arvidson

Still Life by Giorgio Morandi

I ask you, seriously, who would you rather be pals with, me or Giorgio? Read on, below:
Yesterday was a way cool day namely because I ordered a pot of de-caf and they gave me high-test. Sitting here on this bed, I found I was as jittery as a pet squirrel---bop, be-bop, be-bop, be-bop. You just can't write a novel feeling that way.

I looked out the window. Not a bad day--some sun, people walking on the sidewalk way below looked comfortable enough in light jackets. So, I showered, put on some spiffy, walk-around clothes including a new, black-leather jacket that was a throw-away gift from a woman friend. I was feeling good--and when you feel good, you increase your chances of being good.

The last two times I was in D.C. I took the Metro to the Mall every day and toured the museums and memorials. This time I laid my plans closer to home: The DuPont Circle area. Good choice. First stop, The Phillips Collection. A retrospective of Giorgio Morandi is ongoing. Famous for his still lifes. I followed a small tour and listened to the guide with great interest.

Morandi lived all his life (1890 to 1964) in Bologna, Italy. Spent his days in the same house as his mother and sisters--never married, focused efforts entirely on painting colorless bottles lined up in tight rows. This is the kind of guy I spent 32 years working with in special education. I opined to the group that Morandi may have been a person with some issues. But then, what artist doesn't have issues. The guide did not appear to appreciate this and came to his defense. I also took a stab at identifying a round, ball-like mystery object seen in many of his paintings: I think its a gelatin mold and expressed this belief to the others in the group. The guide seemed surprised with this observation but did not openly disagree. At least she smiled at me and nodded enthusiastically.

Later, walking the streets, I began seeing Morandi-type stuff all over the place--champagne bottles lined up in a liquor store, newspaper boxes lined up on the sidewalk, etc. etc. Art imitating life, life imitating art? Poor fragile Morandi; imagine spending 76 years painting the same things over and over again and living with your mother, to boot? One hopes he drank what was in the bottles first.

Then, back to the hotel and back to noodling around with this blog and downloading pictures. I found a nice Indian restaurant just off of DuPont Circle and we'll try it out tonight. Maybe we'll order a Morandi still life of champagne bottles and toast the artist.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Caught Between Two Worlds: Writing About Paradise in the Murder Capitol of the U.S.

This is one of the street signs I encountered today in our Nation's capitol. One never knows what to expect in exotic places. I was an innocent in the lion's den, an aged angel in a den of iniquity, 62-year-old man-child alone in hard-scrabble world of inner-city Washington D.C. How does one cope? How is the day lived, hour to hour?

Up at the crack of 8:00. Lay about a bit. 9:00--shower. Lay about a bit more. No need to rush into things. Breakfast. Back to the hotel room. Get this laptop set up, lay back on the bed, laptop on top of lap. Check email. Check Facebook. Check Twitter. Try to figure what Twitter is all about. This is important, cutting-edge stuff: What are you doing now?

Open file: The Spirit of the Voyage, my next novel. 104 pages of first draft done. Re-read the last few pages to remind myself of where I am. Write a few sentences. They're okay, but need to think about where I'm going with this. The boys are sailing on the Pacific Ocean in an outrigger canoe. What would that be like? I've spent many hours/days sailing the Pacific, so I have a good idea what they see, but they're kids.....

....time to lie back and do what John Updike said was the heart and soul of writing: daydreaming. I do this. Daydreaming is something I've always done well but now I can do it legally. I set the laptop on the bed next to me, lay back on the pillows and close my eyes. I picture the boys on the canoe surrounded by blue, blue ocean--endless blue ocean. I imagine the passage of time the way time passes when you're at sea, nights and days blending together until you don't know how many hours or even days have passed.

Then, there it is, land--or what you hope is land. A low, gray smudge on the horizon. Then the smudge becomes the tops of coconut trees and everyone in the canoe is happy. Hours later you sail through the narrow passage into the lagoon and are greeted by excited men and boys in canoes. You've made it. But where are you and what happens next?

12:30--I'm done daydreaming. I close up the laptop, put my shoes on, and go out onto the mean streets toting my Nikon. I'll take some pictures. I'll switch from the story of the islands to the story of the city. Later when Terry is done with her meetings, we'll go out for drinks and dinner to a nice Mediterranean restaurant and we'll talk about all the places we've traveled and sailed to over the past 29 years. We'll also talk about where we want to go next because we're not anywhere near done with this very fine adventure. Then I will come home and put my laptop on my lap and write these words. When I'm done with this, it will be enough for the day.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Today: GOP Held Hostage, Medical Tests are Cool, Spring is Coming On Hard

Can you put the puzzle together to compile an image of Barack's best friend? Best friend, you ask? Well, sure. Say, a Democrat President would like to hold the opposition party hostage and essentially eviscerate it as a viable force, who better to do it than this guy. He gets richer and richer while GOP stalwarts grovel on their knees begging forgiveness for daring to question his way- outta-line, over-the-top extremist "leadership." It's been a wonderful circus to watch. I've loved it, this guy is having a ball, and Mr. Obama cannot be displeased.

Speaking of wonderful, I've been undergoing medical tests and I'm awed by the technical wizardry that medical specialists have at their disposal. Last week they examined my eyes--inside my eyes, sideways--taking pictures of my poor detached retina. The result was a cross section view that showed the fluid that had leaked in and pushed the retina away from the eye wall. No wonder I don't see well out of that eye. It's called Central Serous Chorioretinopathy--or something like that. They said it should eventually clear up by itself. Meanwhile, I got a big, blurry, brown smear across the field of vision of my right eye.

And as if a detached retina was not enough, today I went and had a CT scan of my abdomen. They had me drink a chalky-milkshake concoction, wait a half an hour, and then lie down on a movable table. While they pumped an iodine dye into my blood ("It will make you feel warm, Mr. Arvidson." It did--a nice rush.) the table moved me back and forth through a big doughnut-shaped contraption that had things rushing around inside it, around my body. It's supposed to take vertical, slice-by-slice X-rays of my innards and let us know what's been making my life so uncomfortable and kept me housebound for the past couple of months. I hope that clears up by itself, too. Soon. Now.

Last: This is Virginia, after all, and it's now March. What's with the cold weather? Been in the low 20's with snow this week. The robins and daffodils camped in my yard are questioning all the blather about global warming. But we're promised relief soon--in the next 24 hours, apparently, spring will spring.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In Like a Lion, Vertigio, Home Alone, An Eye for An Eye

Help. I'm falling. Or the snow is. Or it's supposed to. Big storm coming up the East Coast. Even Alabama and Atlanta are involved. Can the Eastern Shore expect any less? Talk about vertigo. The storm is spinning and spinning. Boston in for 15 inches. I loved that city. Once, when I was a college boy. But, it's too cold, too much snow, and way too expensive.

I'm home alone for a week writing, walking, reading and watching tv. I watched Vertigo and now, Analyse This--you know, the one with Billy Crystal and DeNiro, and I feel like writing like a mobster. Like all the pretty women in Long Island talk. The prettiest, most innocent prom queen sounds like a mobster up there. As for the Vertigo angle, it was a good movie--except did Mr. Stewart, pictured above, really just suspect the Kim Novak was not Kim Novak after Kim Novak got murdered? And did Kim Novak really think Mr. Steward didn't recognize her because her hair was a different color? And, did they fall desperately in love with each other in one day? Just wondering.

Last Friday night, for some reason, my right eye went bad on me. It's called Central Serous Chorioretinopathy. Fluid leaks in under the retina, detaches it, and leaves a big brown spot in the middle of your field of vision. Left eye is fine, but it's strange trying to read this way. The docs said it maybe caused by stress. Terry told them I was retired, that I lie around all day, and asked them if I should maybe take more naps. I suggested that I take just longer naps. In any event, I call my left eye Mr. Liberal. It thinks it can see things as they really are. I call my right eye Mr. Hannity, who sees the world through a brown smear. Talk about vertigo. The poor Republicans. The best they can do is Rush Limbaugh? Things have spiraled out of control for the Grand Old (Pity) Party.