Saturday, April 30, 2011

Plethora of Art

You absolutely MUST stop by Elisa Rolle's LiveJournal and see the book covers on display. It's round one of her poll featuring some of the top artwork and photography from published books and ebooks collected on one page. Best part is, after feasting upon the visual stimulants, you can vote for your favorites and see poll results to date.

Do it all at this link:

Elisa Rolle - My Reviews and Ramblings

My favorite so far is Sheri's work for Accidents Never Happen. I'm a sucker for boxers, and the red landscape behind him reminds me of Munch.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Frothing in the Frothy Sea

I really like this picture HERE.

Not only is it the latest interpretation of William Maltese's "Artists Do" series, the artist doing just happens to be Kris Jacen, Executive Editor and Formatting Director at MLR Press, Passions in Print Press, and Featherweight Press.

Considering the heavy workload of Kris's publishing duties, I have to wonder how she found time to create her "William Maltese Arising From the Frothy Sea." Makes me feel as though I'm moving at a snail's pace. Makes me question my own efficiency, or lack of it, but doesn't prevent me from enjoying Kris's graphic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

As it Was Can Still Be

I got this in an email. Usually in such cases, I will read a paragraph or two and delete, but the writing on this piece carried me to the end. The author is Michael Gartner, whose career began as a sports writer and progressed to managing editor of many newspapers and president of NBC News. He wrote this in 2006. Hope it hooks you like it did me.

* * * * *

My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:

"Oh, bull!" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car.. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines , would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

(Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church.

She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.

As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again.

"No left turns," he said. "Think about it.. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

"No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

"Loses count?" I asked.

"Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said " If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred."

At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" he countered, somewhat irritated.

"Because you're 102 years old," I said.

"Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: "I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet!"

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

"I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns.

* * * * *

The beauty of carefully-chosen words is a gift. Thank you, Mr. Gartner, for sharing yours.


Friday, April 22, 2011

GRIT Your Teeth

We have our first (known) review of the William Maltese / Jardonn Smith man-on-man novel, GRIT, and it comes from Elisa Rolle at her site,

Our story is set in the 1933 Dust Bowl of Kansas, where railroaders and freight-train hitchers do battle with bootleggers and other assorted hoodlums while trying to find time for love-making.

As is always the case, Ms. Rolle tells readers exactly what they're in for without giving away plot, plus, as always, she finds traits in our characters even we didn't recognize.

So, with a nod to Elisa and much gratitude, William and I invite you to read her review (Reviews and Ramblings link above) and consider our book. See GRIT at the MLR PRESS web site HERE.

There's an excerpt to read at MLR, plus text and audio excerpt links at my web site HERE.

Thank you, Elisa.


Friday, April 15, 2011

25 on 5 - Bandit's Prey 2

by Jardonn Smith, Copyright 2007

“Sorry, Bob, I don’t believe you. Guess you’ll have to watch us do our thing.”

Taggert stood helplessly and waited. The arches of his feet already were sore, but any lowering of his body tightened the noose around his neck, so he continued to prop himself up. He watched the men bring two of his saw horses from the side wall and place them between him and his two ranch hands. With a shotgun still aimed at their heads, Jason and Lucas were forced to strip naked, then made to bend over and straddle the ends of the horses. The blond-haired Lucas cast his eyes to the floor, while Jason turned to look at his boss.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Taggert. We ain’t told ‘em nothin’.”

“I know, boys.”

Each of the men’s ankles were roped to the two vertical legs of the saw horses, followed by their wrists, which were stretched beyond their heads and tied to the top horizontal beams. From Bob’s view, each man’s buttocks faced him about four feet away, while their bodies were bent at angles of 90 degrees. Their legs were spread like an inverted “V” in conjunction with the legs of the saw horses, while their strong backs flared from the extended and stretched position of their arms.

Bob encouraged them by explaining the deal. "It's my fault they're here, men. I'm sorry. I got us into this mess and we'll just have to fight through it." 

The lead henchman butted in, “That’s a touching speech, Mr. Taggert, but we know they can’t help us. They’re just here for our entertainment. You can watch, too.”

Removing their belts, two of the bandits started laying leather across the broad backs of the ranch hands, starting at the deltoids and working downward towards the butt cheeks. Neither victim cried out, but emitted manly grunts and an occasional whimper. Taggert watched the beatings in anger, but his rage was not directed at the hoodlums. No, Bob Taggert was angry with himself – and his wife. It had been less than 24 hours since they had last seen the man responsible for this invasion – this violence against him and his employees.

Sex had brought this to them. Bob and Marsha Taggert liked to swing with other couples. They had just wrapped up a satisfying four way in the plush room where they had spent the last two evenings – The Pepper Grinder Hotel and Casino in Wendover, Nevada.

Wendover was just a lonely spot along Interstate 80, until someone decided to put a casino there. Surrounded by the Utah Salt Flats to the east and Nevada desert for endless miles in every other direction, there was no logical reason to put anything there, but somebody did and soon two other companies came to the same area to build.

Bob and Marsha loved to visit Wendover – more Marsha than Bob – and would book their favorite room at the Pepper Grinder weeks in advance, even though there was no need for reservations. It was their destination of choice for any special occasion or just to get away, because Marsha loved to play the slots, while Bob enjoyed the comfy beds, good food, saunas, swimming pools and frequent sex parties his constantly-horny wife managed to put together for him. Plus, knowing how his wife liked to gab with strangers, he avoided taking her to Las Vegas or Reno, where too many hustlers and con-artists lurked for easy prey. The Wendover crowd – what little there was of it – was more their kind of people and this allowed Bob to relax when there.

His first meeting with Everett and Mindy Hurst came at the hotel pool and nearby whirlpools on an open-air rooftop. Pre-arranged by Marsha, the Hursts joined the Taggerts for a swim, then conversation in bubbling and heated water – four in a hot tub. Bob’s screening process was thorough, as Everett and Mindy convincingly posed as vacationers weary of the crowded casinos of Las Vegas and Reno. He was an insurance salesman for The Prudential and she, like Marsha, a housewife. None had kids, because they preferred to party – in the bedroom – and since they were more than attractive enough, that’s where the four of them ended up. Two joy-seekers and two supposed vacationers traded partners to fuck, eat pussy and suck cock in a marathon, six-hour session.

Making the most of the Taggerts’s two-king-sized-bed suite, the gala ended with some three-on-one body worship, the final recipient being Bob. They stretched him out on one of those big beds, and while Mindy and Marsha took turns riding up and down Bob's thick pole, Everett and whichever other one was available worked their tongues all over Bob’s compact and strong body, stimulating every sensitive area that could be found.

It was one of the hottest hook-ups he had ever been involved with and he performed like some sort of super-human stud, keeping his cock fully swollen and firing endless salvos into whatever receptacle happened to be ready to take it. After that, Bob and Marsha slept peacefully, while Everett and Mindy returned to the casino for more slot play – or so they said. Obviously, the Hursts had checked out of the hotel and – armed with whatever information they had finagled out of the naive Marsha – managed to find the Taggert ranch, bringing the entire gang of bandits with them.

Suddenly, a painful scream jolted Bob from these memories.

Straining his neck to the left, he saw a cattle prod electrocuting his foreman, Marsh Nolan. The suspended man howled in agony, as the metal touched the middle of his back and forced him to thrust his upper torso forward, where he was greeted by two solid fists pounding into his chest and belly. Taggert winced when he saw what they were doing to his good friend. Nolan's body twisted and writhed, uselessly trying to avoid the simultaneous assault to both his front and back.

Oddly, Bob Taggert didn’t think about the ungodly pain being inflicted upon his foreman, but more about the desecration of that beautifully masculine body – one which he had seen up close and personal many times. Wiry and chiseled from hard work on the ranch, now it was being scarred by hideous jolts and bruising punches. And as a further insult, the cattle prod was one of their own – hand-held, battery powered and capable of delivering up to 60,000 volts of electricity – used by the ranchers in persuading animals to move through chutes or up and down ramps. It was designed to prod 1000 pound livestock – not 180 pound humans. Marshall Nolan was a man and Taggert could no longer idly watch them torture his friend with that hideous device.

“God damn you, Hurst, stop it. He doesn’t know anything.”

“Of course not. We figured that out long ago. This is for your benefit.”

“Leave him be. Let my men go and work on me.”

Hurst raised his hand and the torture stopped. “Your time will come soon enough.”

Nolan’s body collapsed and the chin dropped onto his chest. Scars of crimson red peppered his handsomely defined shoulders and muscular back. Bob was sickened by the sight of this, as he reflected upon the times he had lovingly scraped his nipples across the solid surface of that man’s back, while driving his penis into the squeezing depths of the same man’s bowels.

Men get lonely moving cattle from one part of 250,000 acres to another, and since men are purely sexually beings, they have no reservations about taking care of one another next to a warm campfire miles from nowhere. These men held a deeply seeded trust and fondness for one another – a necessity on the open range, where one slip up could result in injury to either men, horses or valuable livestock. Inspired by rolling hills and natural grasslands at the foot of the Calico Mountains, these men strengthened their bonds when darkness fell.

Every 30 days or so, Bob, Marsh, Lucas and Jason would cull a number of select animals from the herd, then drive them to the feedlot pens built between Nolan’s living quarters and the main ranch house. These cattle drives usually took at least 76 hours to complete and when the four men were alone at night on the grasslands, Bob would hook up with Marsh and Jason with Lucas.

This man’s cattle was a prized commodity. Once the selected head were brought to the home feedlots, they would be pampered for the final year of their lives. Only irrigated corn went into their bellies and Taggert beef had a direct pipeline to all the Las Vegas and Reno hotels. In fact, all Bob Taggert needed to do when he had livestock ready for harvesting was to dial his phone, call the packing house and wait for their trailer trucks, which would be sent directly to his ranch within 12 hours. For three generations the Taggert family had run one of the finest cattle operations in the state and a check arriving from the Gerlach Postal Office would mean pay day for the Taggerts and their hired hands.

He loved these men and treated them accordingly. They had a top-notch bunkhouse within sight of the main house, plus Bob Taggert paid them in cash, because where they lived banks were hard to come by. Three hours north of Reno, the only town of size anywhere near the ranch was Gerlach and even that was 65 miles away. This is why Bob used the bank only to convert checks into cash and kept plenty of it in a safe at his home.

Next post 04-25

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Release: At Day's End

At Day's End by Bryl R. TyneAt Day's End by Bryl R. Tyne
Samuel's not just feeling old, he is old, but he's not dead... not yet. And the bright spot of his week is spying on his hot new gardener. No one knows better than he does how ridiculous it is to think a twenty-something beefcake would show any interest in a recluse like him; fifty years hasn't changed a thing, really. Though Samuel feels a connection he can't explain, he's stunned beyond words one Friday morning to find the young man knocking at his back door....
 A Bittersweet Dreams title: It's an unfortunate truth: love doesn't always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

ISBN-13: 978-1-61581-858-7
Pages: 16
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Categories: Daydreams, Fantasy/Paranormal, Bryl R. Tyne, Bittersweet Dreams
Book Type: eBook
File Formats Available: .epub, .lit, .prc, html, pdf