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:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Multi-Tasking on a Summer Afternoon: Home-Grown Peppers, Baseball, Beer Summits, and a Hideous Crime

Summertime Terry with peppers she grew in her own back-yard garden.

As I blog this, it's high summer here on the quiet, Eastern Shore of Virginia and I'm watching the last game in a 3-game series between the Redsox and Oakland. Terrible. Oakland seems to have figured out the Boston pitchers. It's 4-1 and Francona is taking poor beat-up Lester out.

Looking forward to hearing how the famous beer summit on the White House lawn came out. One way to make a winning lemon aid out of lemons is to pour beer into the mix: a black, Ivy League professor who got his hackles up, a well-meaning neighborhood watcher who reported a what appeared to be break in, a cop who may have been a bit over zealous in carrying his duties, and a prez famous for his cool, and who lost it and said something stupid, stupidly. Add to the concoction politicians and pundits who very much to make political hay by spinning it their way. And, to top all this stuff off, some people are complaining that the prez is not serving a made-by-an-American-owned-company beer. Just how crazy can this all get? All good for summer entertainment for the languid summer masses, of which I am happily one.
Now 4-3. Boston is getting something going.

What would a summer be without a hideous crime? They just picked up a woman who might be the monster who cut a live fetus from the womb of an 8-month-pregnant woman in Worcester, MA. Incredibly, the baby is, apparently none the worse after its savage Cesarean entry into this amazing world, the poor mother dead, the tabloids exultant at the fodder for their cheap trade.
Now 5-3, Oakland. They have our number but who gave it to them?
It's a long, hot, sweaty summer for Congress as they struggle to come up with compromises to the health care plan that will please enough of them so they can make it work. Meanwhile, the Republicans are doing their best to make the whole thing impossible for the public to swallow--even if they have to lie a little bit to do it: Did you know, old timer, that government workers are going to come to your house and ask you how you want to die? Yep! It's part of that socialist health plan Obama is trying to foist on you. Meanwhile, old timers over age 65 won't be affected at all because they very happily get Medicare which is a government-run health plan. Every other developed nation on this fat, round Earth provide for the medical care for all their citizens.
As soon as this game is over, I'm going for a long walk in the summer heat. Is today the last day of July? The sweaty promise of a long and lovely hot August stretches out before me. I'm looking forward to the final episode of the sail-Seawind-home adventure. Our beautiful new sailboat sits on the hard at a marina in the upper Delaware Bay (see tomorrow's blog for a pic).
Big Poppy Ortiz just slammed a 3-run homer--now 6-5 Boston. I'm cheering from the comfort of my fat recliner. There is hope.
Now its 8-5. Our closer is coming in. Let's get this done--the road beckons my feet.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rolling Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days--And Just Plain Crazies

Finally back home and enjoying summer visitors from Germany, Guam, and Okinawa (looks like we have to import our friends). Still no camera (I left it on the plane flying from Newark to Norfolk), though Continental says it may take a while and it could be in the Lost and Found warehouse in Houston.

Crazies? You betcha. Plenty still out there to offer good summer laughs. Now there are what's call "birthers" who claim Obama was not born in American and hence should not be our prez. This despite the state of Hawaii confirming his birth in Honolulu and providing his birth certificate. Scratch a "birther" and you'll find an Obama-hating, right-wing extremist.

I like my crazies to be of the lazy, hazy variety. Like these classic, languid summer days that have arrived of late. Long walks, worrying only about the crab grass that is overtaking my lawn, long afternoons eating steamed clams and drinking cold white wine with good friends. As regards my camera, my Buddha inner self continues to be philosophical about it all--the Western outside of me wants to cry.

Off to the store for more wine and supplies for another few days of sweet summer.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We Hit the Road Again Tomorrow After a Few Days at Home, Hemingway a KGB Agent?

So now they're saying Earnest was a KGB agent. I'd love to see that documentation. The Old Man was complex and neurotic as hell and a bully and a drunk but a KGB agent? (Reportedly his code name was Argo, but he never sent them any info--Say it ain't so, Hem).

I accidentally left my $1400 Nikon DX40 on the plane on the flight from Newark to Norfolk last week. I live with that damned thing attached to me, nearly, and feel naked without it. I contacted Continental Airlines as soon as we got home, filling out all the lost and found stuff on their website, but have heard nothing yet. I'm falling back on my little, pocket-sized Nikon now--it will have to do. Meanwhile, I'm digging down into that little Buddha way down inside me and being mindful that it was just a thing, and get over it.

Two days with friends here on the Eastern Shore (great fun) and tomorrow we drive to D.C. to watch a great friend place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier then on Thursday we leave from D.C. and drive to MA to help celebrate my Dad's 90th B'day.

Had another episode of my old heart arrhythmia last week. Kept me in bed one day and then it went away. Blaming it on the 24 hour day we put in trying to get from Salinas to San Diego. Got to bed at 5:00 A.M. and woke up with my heart bouncing around.

My laptop is still in the shop waiting for a new power cord. I'm on Terry's machine here, but can't access my photos.

No work on the book pub date yet. What's the hold up, ya' tink?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Salinas and Big Sur and Steinbeck

Friends who live there tell me that Mexican-American gangs are killing each other in the sunny city of Salinas, the home of Nobel laureate John Steinbeck. Ironic? You betcha. Tragic? Yep. We spent the afternoon there yesterday waiting for a train. Seems it depends on how long you lived there which side you're on in these particular wars. We need something to fight about, right? (At least 30 deaths so far this year?)

Reading Steinbeck's Log from the Sea of Cortez. Having just sailed those waters in a boat of about the same size, it's a good read. Steinbeck's message? We're all one unit, all of us, from the critters of the tidal pools to the Mexican gang members. Or, as the poet said it, that bell you hear tolling is tolling for you.

Had never been through the Big Sur area of CA. I took at least a grand of photos and I'll be putting them on this blog over the next few weeks. I can't do it now because of a technical brain space between my ears. For some reason, continue to be unable to download on this computer. Mine is at home. Big Sur is a very fine place in this world as many people with incomes over $1,000,000 per annum who own homes there will attest.

Eli and Bailey are here to take us out to dinner. Greek food tonight.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Leaving L.A. Aboard Train 14--Coastal Starlight

I'd love to put a picture here but still having problems with the downloading thing. We're sitting in the lounge car on the Amtrak train to Seattle (we're just going to Salinas--8 hours), drinking wine and watching the suburbs of L.A. pass by. Very fine feeling to be on this small adventure. The windows are big and the view bright and truly a southern CA thing (graffitti, palm trees, desert vistas, distant hazy mountains, warehouses, junk car lots, sunshine). The wine is $13 for small bottle (train-track robbery?) but we're on VACAY so we'll hand over the cash.

The state of Amtrak, that heavily subsidized American train system? The trains are clean and efficient (so far), the terminals borderline seedy (you just can't keep the homeless from sleeping off their lastest jag in the comfort of the fat lounge chairs--hence the stains and grit) the attendants friendly and helpful. We do love traveling by train. We've Euro-railed about the Continent, and taken the Trans-Sib across Russia and we've been curious about the American train experience.

Had a great afternoon/evening with Eli and Bailey yesterday. Walked all around the San Diego harbor and had a very fine diner out at an Italian restaurant on Coranado Island right on the harbor. Couldn't have been better. Up at 4:30 this morning to catch this train--don't like that aspect of traveling, but it's always worth it.

In a tunnel now--dark. Later.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

San Diego: Day 3--Some Observations

The weather is beyond perfect here. Clear desert sky and air cooled by the sea. Perfect everyday. That's what I'm told and so far I have no reason to doubt it (see below).

The architecture is very fine. Mostly Spanish/Mexican mission style. I like that.

Lots of military and lots of money here. Expensive homes, big boats, ego autos, great shopping and restaurants.

The harbor is beautiful, the water wonderful. Lots of old, tall ships and the aircraft carrier Midway is now a museum. I toured it yesterday. And old ex-pilot who was one of the many docents on board, told me the Navy still owns it but lets a civilian corporation run it as a tourist attraction. He said the Navy inspects it regularly to insure it's being maintained properly. Apparently another museum ship sank.

Because San Diego is perfect, the place is a madhouse--freeways filled with speeding cars, people jostling, running, in a hurry to get some where, jets taking off, jets landing (military, civilian). But everyone seems happy to be here roaring around in the fine desert air. I'm enjoying it, too.

I got my hair cut by a real Valley Girl yesterday. Said she grew up right here. Was dressed for the part, showing off augmented body parts to nice advantage, and her voice was high-pitched and you, know, like, a Valley Girl (she had to be in her late 30's).

If I was young and rich, I'd probably enjoy living here. I'm not, so I'll stay where I am.

Terry is done with her business after lunch today and we'll meet Eli and Bailey for an afternoon stroll along the water front and dinner. Tomorrow we catch the 6:00 AM train up the coast.

Life is good.