December 13, 2014

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot, I Can’t Breathe, Die-In Demonstrations

  The country is experiencing demonstrations across the country to protest police killing unarmed black people with alacrity. We, as a culture, seem to have reached a tipping point. “To Protect and Serve” as been besmirched by Michael Brown’s “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and Eric Garner’s “I Can’t Breathe.” Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice never even got a chance to surrender. We know what’s going on and we know it needs to change. People are speaking out, staging “die-ins” to express their concern [and of course being arrested for it by the police]. I raise my voice and concern and support by sharing this song, “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Diana King with Kyle Eastwood. For me, it says it all, and I know the artists feel the same. I hope you will, too. Jack From the…

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December 11, 2014

365 Docobites Gets Kickstarted!

    We’re pleased to tell you that Epiphany Morgan and Carl Mason, the videographers we featured a few days ago], have met their Kickstarter goal, raising almost $5,000 in just a few days. We would like to think you played a part in this happening. Here’s their message to all of us: Thank you! We are thrilled to announce we have reached our initial target of 17K! We want to thank every single person who pledged or shared the campaign with their friends and family as we simply would not have been able to continue sharing these human stories without each and every one of you. So with 7 days to go, what’s next? Our Stretch Goal! We have been keeping in touch with the amazing photographer from Humans Of Amsterdam, Debra, ever…

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December 9, 2014

Sharing Their Stories With The World

We baristas believe in stories, and especially in storytellers. That’s why we do what we do here at Fictional Cafe, and why we’re excited to share the story of two video documentary storytellers with you. Two intrepid Australian storytellers, Epiphany Morgan and Carl Mason, have been traveling the world to create 365 mini-documentaries in 365 days. Their project is called 36docobites  and you ought to take a look. These people not only have an ingenious and deeply human project underway, but are creating the most amazing video stories with people from all around the world. We want to help them, and we thought you might want to as well. They have a campaign on Kickstarter and not many days to reach their goal. If you can kick in [yep!] some help, please do. There are a…

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December 6, 2014

“War and Peace” Reading Group is Now Reading!

On October 27, we posted a message about starting a Goodreads group to read a book few, if any, would undertake without some external motivation: War and Peace  by Leo Tolstoy [The Louise and Aylmer Maude translation]. My friend David Bond suggested creating a Goodreads group to read it together, and I heartily joined in sponsorship and the read. [I think my copy has been sitting on my bookshelves for about 40 years.] We’re proud to announce our group of eight people officially began reading December 1. One of us was so excited he finished in 24 days, in November. You can be sure we’re going to have questions for him! Few would dispute this is a masterpiece, and many believe it to be the greatest novel ever written. Others suggest it represented a major shift in…

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November 3, 2014

“Jenny’s Revenge,” a Novel by James D. Best

    Here is an excerpt from James D. Best’s fifth Steve Dancy novel, Jenny’s Revenge, which was published February 2, 2015.  Best’s westerns are written in the spirit of Zane Gray and, to quote Larry Winget, writing in True West Magazine, March, 2012,”The James Best books…are about the best new Western series to come along since Larry McMurtry.” All five Steve Dancy novels are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.  — Editors     Introduction After securing a license to use Thomas Edison’s inventions for mining, Steve and his friends return to Denver to pick up belongings they left behind on their way to New York. Steve and Virginia plan to marry, and Captain McAllen retires from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to start a horse ranch. Eager to begin new lives, everyone…

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November 2, 2014

The Sensuous Poetry of Michael Larrain

  One of the beautiful things about artists is the unexpected ways in which we encounter them. I went to college in Sonoma County, California, and make an annual pilgrimage back there. I usually stay with my long-time friends, Larry and Laurie. Last year I came upon a man selling blissed-out flowers from the back of his Jeep about two blocks east of downtown Cotati. Well, this year he was there, in the same spot again, and we got to talking about life, the universe, and how everything and everybody is sometimes discernibly connected and as it went we suddenly discovered we’re both writers. Michael told me about his novel, Movies on the Sails, and I told him about mine, featuring a character named Flowers. I asked him to submit some of his poetry for Fictional Cafe, and here it…

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October 27, 2014

“War and Peace” Reading Group – You’re Invited!

Leo Tolstoy wrote one of the world’s greatest novels, War and Peace, between 1861-63. The backstory goes like this: He toyed with several versions [with pen and paper – remember, no computers back then!] until 1866. He began a massive revision he did not complete until 1869, when it was finally published. It is at once a story of an aristocratic family, the invasion of Russia by Napoleon, a romance, a tragedy, an attempt by a novelist to set history right. In short, it’s one of the world’s great stories, fiction or nonfiction. You love to read. We love to read. This is a great book, but one you might not tackle on your own. Let’s read it together. Just in case you’re on the fence about reading a novel over 1,200 pages in length, check…

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October 5, 2014

David Bond: A Sailor’s Photography

David Bond is a multi-talented man who loves to work with wood, machines, systems. He restored his 37-foot Egg Harbor wooden cabin cruiser, which he named Blues Breaker, pretty much from the keel up. He’s sailed his craft all over the Northern and Southern Atlantic waters from his home port in Wickford, Rhode Island. He spent seven solo months on the Intracoastal Waterway, sailing south all the way to the Florida Keys and back. Over the course of the past ten years, David has snapped around 11,000 photographs, a sampling of which we reproduce here accompanied by David’s commentary. Please click on the images for a larger view. * * * * * “We were sailing south through the Bermuda Triangle, about 800 miles from land, when this incredible sight occurred. “Looking east we saw the sun rising [photo…

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October 3, 2014

Daughter of Fire, a Novel by Dory Fiamingo

Helen of Agralee is a fierce warrior who wants nothing to do with her family’s legacy of being the Guardian, protector of the people of Davosad. Trained since childhood in the fighting arts and the only woman in the country of Cruinn allowed to fight, Helen has grown arrogant and selfish. To remedy this her father, Kurel, the current Guardian, sends her to Tieton Abbey to learn humility. She rebels, but her desires matter little. Vulcan of Norlad quickly becomes her enemy while Galen, High Prince of Cruinn, and Brother Patrick, an ex-mercenary posing as a monk, become her allies. When Kurel is murdered by Demion, insect, bat, and wolf-like creatures led by Mallus, who seeks the Guardian’s sword, the power seeks out Helen. It burns its way through her body, forever changing her—and the…

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October 1, 2014

Jack Kerouac: “The road is life”

I have a photograph of Jack Kerouac typing his famous piano-roll manuscript of On the Road hanging on my study wall. I saw the scroll when I visited the museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was amazing to see it stretched out. Jack wrote it in a three-day, hyper-caffeinated marathon in his mother’s apartment. She made the coffee and taped the pieces of paper together. Three days. Then he revised it for three years. You could sum up his philosophy in the four words quoted above: “The road is life.” Lowell has honored its once-maligned author by giving him a new headstone at his grave site. You can read about it here. If you’d like to know a bit more about Kerouac, here is a fine essay about him and his writing. The photo of the…

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