Exciting New Jim Henson Comic Release from Chan Chau

Emmy Award-winning animator, Eisner Award-winning cartoonist, and graphic novelist Chan Chau, has a new book launching on May 8th in the second in a four-issue comic book series based on the Emmy Award-winning classic television show, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.  You can get the Ebook from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Matthew Levine, Editor, BOOM! Studios, observes, “Chan Chau’s lovely storytelling and brilliant art come together in SIRENS #2 to tell a tale about how the world came to be.” 

Announcing the Series #2 comic, BOOM! Studios goes on to say that Chan’s story “introduces readers to the goddess Nuwa, a shapeshifting snake deity who traveled the world at its creation when the earth and trees and air were perfect and brand new. While Nuwa had the whole world at her disposal, able to scale mountains and visit oceans whenever she pleased, she found herself overtaken by loneliness. And so began the creation of animals and people, and the start of human life and love.” 

“This is both incredibly exciting and terrifying experiencing this comic dropping on May 8th, says Chan. “Thanks to my editor Cameron Chittock for holding my hand throughout the process and the Jim Henson company for being such incredible cheerleaders.”

Chan Chau

Take a sneak peak at Chan’s work by hopping to the BOOM! Studios announcement yourself. Their page can also direct you to a comic store near you where you can get the printed comic.

You can see Chan in person at comic cons across North America, and you can visit ChanChauArt.com explore a really cool store to boot.

We have much adventure and excitement to look forward to, ourselves, in this powerhouse, multitalented creative whirlwind of an artist, believe me.

Celebrating the reluctant warrior

Author James Robert Kane

James Robert Kane was three years ahead of me in school, but up until December 1968, he and I were of the same mindset when it came to the war in Vietnam. We were against it. 

He had just graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. I was in the middle of my freshman year at Piper College in Pennsylvania, majoring in English and minoring in art. My career path was set for the clergy. 

At roughly the same time period in the late 1960s, James and I reached the same moment of truth. My Selective Service card had me classified 1Y, which meant if I left school for any reason, I could be drafted, but would not have to fight.  I expressed my displeasure with the war singing protest songs by Dylan, Donovan, Tom Paxton, and Phil Ochs in coffeehouses in the northeast. I still contemplated a run to Canada should things get testy. It became a moot point when I was downgraded/upgraded, depending on your perspective, to a 4F classification. 

James, even though he was married and had a daughter, received a draft notice with a classification of 1A. He seriously considered a run to Canada as well, but in the end opted to serve in deference to his dad’s service in WWII. 

On my end, I continued to oppose the war, but felt deep compassion for all who were serving. In 1970, my cousin Victor, who returned from Nam after a stint as a proud Marine, tried to drown his nightmares in booze, weed, and sticking his head between two stereo speakers blaring “In A Gadda Da Vida” at full bore as he attempted to slit his wrists at my 21st birthday party. It was a cry for help. “Shell Shock” was the term given it back then. Only recently have we begun to understand the ramifications of—and how to begin to deal with—PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Being caught in a horrendously unpopular international crossfire was bad enough. But James faced a violent inner war raging between the truth in his heart vs. truth foisted on him by the powers-that-be. His struggle haunted him for years until he discovered a way to free himself. Though he handled the nightmarish confusion differently from my cousin Victor, the intensity was the same. James’ secret weapon in the PTSD battlefield was the pen.

The crux of James’ nightmares was “a sort of three-legged stool thing,” he says. “One leg of the stool was being caught in a firefight where I was fired upon by the enemy as I climbed over the trunk of a huge tree blocking my path. Diving forward to avoid getting hit, I landed on my head and blacked out. 

“The other two legs were the fear from constantly being stalked by the enemy and guilt over what we did there. The terror of that night on a listening post in the dark, being stalked by the Vietcong, certainly was manifested in many of my nightmares. So was the hamlet firefight after being knocked unconscious. Flashbacks about that incident left me wondering whether it was just another firefight or, perhaps, murder.

“More powerful than the battle experiences,” he continues, “I discovered what ate at me for 20 years afterward was the recognition that allowing myself to fight in that war was the greatest moral failure of my life. I did not have the courage to stand up and say Hell no, I won’t go. Lots of factors figured into that decision, but at the heart of it was that I didn’t want anyone, particularly other members of my extended family who served in WWII, to think I was a coward.

“The irony of that is this. One of my great uncles, a man I have admired since childhood, and himself a WWII Pacific Campaign veteran, read No Escape and told me, ‘I would have championed your decision if you’d had chosen to not serve.’

“So the firefight, the listening post and guilt. One hell of a powerful combination that took more than thirty years to work through.” And work through them he did. James confronted his nightmares by capturing them in his first novel, No Escape—Long Journey Back from Nam now available through Amazon or the Chanhassen Library.

“Telling a story over and over, it will loosen its hold on you,” James said in the Veterans Day issue of the Chaska HeraldNo Escape is a poignant account of how protagonist Jim Nelson endured torture and met up with dead comrades on the other side of the veil separating us from life and the afterlife. After reading it I came away with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of postwar issues facing veterans.

PTSD is a struggle haunting and threatening the very lives of thousands of Vets still, and not just from Vietnam. James wants to continue helping Vets find their way to healing through writing, and he recommends Writing War: A Guide to Telling Your Story. “I would like to encourage other veterans—it works,” he says. 

James has continued to write, adding two new books to his list. You can check them out here.

Note: Space Larrabee is the main character in D. E. Munson’s Chronicles of Space and Thyme series of novels. Learn more about the reason for the existence of this blog here and author D. E. Munson here.

An Homage to The Beard Guy

I’ve only been listening to Walk Off the Earth for the past couple of years. But they spark. I don’t know how else to describe it. R. E. V. O., the first album of theirs I listened to, was already two or three years old when I heard it for the first time. REVO is also the first cut, which starts out simple enough with the driving rhythmic progression of repeated notes halfway up the guitar neck. Then, voices you’ll never want to forget chant the lines, “Close your eyes and take my hand . . .” and if you are human and have a beating heart, you’re compelled to do it. I’m just a fiction and I’m compelled . . .

From there it’s a steady flow of positive endorphins sparking your spirit and flowing to every dancey cell in your body. One of those voices, sadly, did just walk off the earth last week. Mike, The Beard Guy, Taylor was a vocalist and keyboardist. He left this world in his sleep—of natural causes.

According to The Beard Guy in an interview with andPOP, “REVO stands for Realize Every Victory Outright. Shoot for the starts, stay positive, don’t let anything get in your way, and realize your goal. It’s how we live our life and we encourage anyone that listens to our music to try and do the same.”

Walk Off the Earth, from Burlington, Ontario, formed in 2006, but didn’t gain prominence until they covered the Gotye Song “Somebody that I Used to Know” on YouTube in 2012.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9mybTArlsk

The Beard Guy’s bandmates, Sarah Blackwood, Gianni Luminati, Ryan Marshall, Joel Cassady, and Peter Kirkwood made an outpouring of loving tributes to him on social media after his untimely passing on December 29, 2018. Walk Off the Earth and many friends will host a free concert Sunday, according to Billboard Magazine: “The free show is slated to take place at the Burlington, Ontario, Civic Square from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., with portions of the event live-streamed on Walk Off the Earth‘s Facebook page. “Mike loved our fans so much. We want to honor him and his legacy by continuing our world tour to bring the spirit of this memorial to our fans across the globe,” the band said in a statement in a message to fans who are not able to attend the memorial but who might be able to catch them on their 2019 tour.”

To you, Sarah, Gianni, Ryan, Joel, and Peter . . . I share your heartache and will ever cherish the music, fun, and outright love you shared with us WOTElings. But as I’m sure Mike did, we all look forward to what’s to come.

A little added treasure . . . here’s an interview with Mike Taylor just before the release of their R.E.V.O. album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QyOVynX6Mo

Note: The photo of Mike Taylor was adapted from his andPOP YouTube interview.

One more note: Find out more about Space Larrabee at demunson.com

April Munson’s New Book!

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Just in time for the holiday, but something to remember all year long.

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What is the magic of the season?

When April was asked this question, she said, “This very special holiday has delighted me every year for as long as I can remember. It is a time where happiness and generosity rule. I feel it’s more important than ever to remember the true spirit of the season where we have the opportunity to honor and reflect the timeless child within each of us.”

This is the second children’s book April has written and illustrated. Her illustrations always light up my heart and the hearts of others around the world. This beautiful poem/story reflects the joy and beauty within each of us, no matter who we are or where we come from.

As it’s proven already, it’s the perfect holiday read-aloud book for your kids or grandkids—destined, especially in our household, to become a Christmas Eve read-aloud tradition.

So what is the true magic of Christmas Eve? Is it the beautiful lights and ornaments? The festive songs and carols? The anticipation of what Santa will bring down the chimney and put under the tree? The secret, the answer, is what you’ll find in this book.

For more information

April’s Web site

 

The End of Seven Years in Suspenders

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Erik Munson and Chan Chau. Erik designed the cover of D. E. Munson’s new novel, In Search of Space and Thyme

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The long-awaited sequel to D. E. Munson’s first novel, By the Time I Got to Woodstock: Or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis, has finally been released! It is the second book in the Chronicles of Space and Thyme series.

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Titled In Search of Space and Thyme, this book is a tapestry of two interwoven love stories that unfurls into a compelling romp through time with Thyme and me. We’re tossed into a distant, mysterious past, then reemerge in the magical, mystical years of the 1960s and 70s. Our stories splinter in 1978 when the fiendish interloper, Atlantis Haden steals Thyme away to his underworld, like Hades of myth.

The fabric of our perfect world being rent, I’m flummoxed by the questions, What did I do to make her go? and Can I fix it? and most importantly, If I can fix it, will Thyme want to return? The search is on, a new quest begun. And it’s not only a quest for meaning and lost love. It reaches into the heart of everything. It is an essential, spiritual quest.

The Book Launch

The author kicked off the first event in his book launch tour at the Cup of Carver Coffee Shop on Saturday, Oct. 8. He read an excerpt from Thyme’s narrative where she’s trying to explain to me why we needed to go our separate ways.

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He then sang a song of my ranting at the opening of Chapter One of the new book. Looking back on it, I had a lot to learn. Maybe that’s why it took him seven years to finally finish this sequel. Hey, but it’s not my fault it took him so long to write the darn thing. I don’t know, maybe it is. But things have to happen in their own time, right? Anyway, if it’s true that anything good is worth waiting for, here’s the test.

The Apology

Munson apologizes, “I feel awful about keeping everyone in suspenders so long. When By the Time I Got to Woodstock was published on the 40th anniversary of the famed Woodstock Music & Art Fair, I ended it in a cliffhanger, fully intending to follow immediately with the sequel.

“Four years later I finished writing the manuscript, dubbing it A Brief History of the End of the World. It was slated by a publisher to be an eBook-only release. Then I had the opportunity to enter it in two contests. A number of you read the whole book, some read part of it. And to those of you who had insights and suggestions, I can’t thank you enough. I learned a great deal and incorporated many of the changes, including two title changes. I am now thrilled with the result. Especially since our son Erik, acclaimed graphic novelist, did the cover illustration and worked with me on the redesign.

“This story needs to be told, especially today,” he continues. “Too much has been trivialized about the awakening that took place in the 60s and 70s. The spiritual seeds planted in these times have blossomed into a consciousness we take mostly for granted today and often joke about. We can’t afford to lose perspective and forget.

“Though most of the characters are fictional, some are historical. The stories are based on what I experienced. I hope to help some of the essential truth of the times survive. We live in a time of magic realism, and Magical Realism has become my genre of choice.”

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Now the whole Chronicles of Space and Thyme series has taken on a new look. Erik Munson did the illustration and helped redesign the first book as well. It’s titled By the Time I Got There: or Space Meets Thyme, and this revision is available as an eBook right now. It’s kinda cool how each chapter opens with Erik’s illustration of little me on my trusty Rollfast 10-speed looping around the inside circumference of the circle like Evel Knievel or an ADHD hamster.

Once the current print version of the first book has sold out, it’ll be reprinted in its new format.

Keep your eyes open because in the coming few weeks you’ll be able to get the eBook for FREE. The next stop on D. E. Munson’s tour will be The Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul.

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The Future

As more events are added to the book tour venue, I’ll be announcing them.  Again, thanks to so many of you for your phenomenal patience and support during this grueling birthing process. Both Munson and I’ll do our best to make it worth your kind attention.

So, until next time, enjoy your journey. Be spiritual, be happy, and keep reading!

Space.

More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book called By the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!

Find out more about the author at demunson.com

 

 

Anthology & Cleopatra

I’m sorry, this is an unabashed bait and switch. I couldn’t help myself.

First impression would be that this post is perhaps an historical collection of writings exploring ancient Egypt. Do not be deceived.

This, in reality, is an announcement about the publication of the new anthology from the Three Rivers Writers called Where Rivers Converge. It’s also an opportunity for me to give a shout out to the Lumineers for their incredible new album Cleopatra.

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Where Rivers Converge is a dazzling collection of the works of two dozen Minnesota writers and poets. Genres range from creative nonfiction to historical fiction and science fiction. Stories like Jim Kane’s “Pipestone,” Dan O’Brien’s “Sacred  Dance,” Dale A. Swanson’s “The Greatest Man I Ever Knew,” Mona Gstafson Affinito’s “Alone in the North Carolina Woods—1840,” and D. E. Munson’s “Avuncularities” explore the magic of the past. S. Collin Ellsworth’s “Coward,” Ann Jackson’s “Contacts,” Brian Busch’s “Cry Uncle,” Virginia Sievers’s “Waiting,” and Wen Lu’s “A Knife in the Rice Paddies” dig for deeper truths in everyday life. As does the sometimes quirky, always stunning poetry of Angela Hunt, Becky Liestman, B. D. Smith, Sue Kunitz, and others. Heidi Skarie’s “Interrupted Honeymoon” tosses you into an as-yet unimagined future.

The whole collection is insightful and great fun. I get to make an appearance in “Avuncularites,” which is an excerpt from D. E. Munson’s new novel In Search of Space and Thyme. Due out by October 15, in time for the Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgounds in St. Paul. Stay tuned for more on this!

Several of the Three Rivers Writers was launched at the Waconia Library on September 10th and at Shepherd of the Hill Church,  Chaska, MN last weekend. Future readings are planned for upcoming months. Watch for postings.

 

I became aware of the Lumineers one night when they appeared at the end of Colbert last spring performing Ophelia. They stuck.

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Cleopatra is has already become one of those classic recordings that you suddenly either find spinning in your mind and moving your lips or strikes you with a sudden urge to listen to it again. I went out to Mill City Sound in Hopkins and bought the vinyl. I could go on, but see for yourself. Here’s a sample.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN5s9N_pTUs

Sorry to have been away for so long. Been meaning to write, but I’ve been in the throes of the redo of the By the Time book and sequel. Have to go now, but I’ve got some big fun announcements coming up soon soon.

More on Space Larrabee:

By the Time I Got There

DEMunson.com

@demunson1

 

THANKS FOR THE LOVE

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Space generously gave me the floor for this posting so I could shout out to each of you for your love and support during the Kindle Scout campaign. By now, those of you who nominated In Search of Time for publication with Kindle Press have received their little thank you note.

“No” is a word oft spoken in the publishing world, and if the author can make the word a friend, the writing life can become a little more joyful.

I’d like to say I had no expectations for the outcome of this experience, so I can surely claim that it far surpassed my expectations. Your support fills me with the inspiration to bring closure to this six year waiting game I had to put us through and have the book published anyway.

Please keep in touch. I’ll soon be adapting “Lunch on the Moon” to a newsletter to  which you can subscribe and which will continue to include Space’s insights, reviews, and perspectives on the arts, diners, life, the universe, and everything. It will also include my upcoming book events and performances in the future.

This has been one of the busiest months I’ve ever experienced! It started near the end of October when I submitted In Search of Time to Kindle Press to consider for publication. On October 23 April and I participated in a reading at the Chaska Library. On October 31 there was a reading at Dunn Bros in Chaska, MN. On November 7 I read “Taliaferro’s Tears” at the Chaska Library. On November 12 I read my submission to a Writers’ Collective anthology, soon to be released. On November 21-22 April, Heidi Skarie, and I had a booth at the Gale Woods Farms “9 Friends” Art Show. In the background of all of this, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for my fifth novel. And suddenly, here it is, Thanksgiving.

Here’s a bit more detail on this exciting time:

Chaska Library Reading, October 23, 2015

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Sharon Chmielarz, Jane Kenyon Award-winning poet, was the featured guest for the evening. This was special for me, because I’d known Jane Kenyon back in her early days in New Hampshire. She’d hired me to design her first book of poetry, From Room to Room. Chmielarz read from several of her books. Her newest release, The Widow’s House, is ravishingly frank. A partial stanza that struck me deeply was:

It’s difficult, improvising

a dialogue.—The widow

doesn’t want pity, Listener,

you, too, have escaped

into a room to pretend

someone is there,

Then the mic was opened to other local poets in the audience, April and I among them. April’s, yet unpublished, was a narrative of a little boy playing with trucks on a beach. It has a surprise ending. I read a couple of poems I’d submitted to the “Carver County: Its Buildings, People, Landscapes and History” showcase. More on this shortly.

Chaska Dunn Bros Reading, October 31, 2015

These readings are usually small gatherings, but always potent. Dan O’Brien is the usual MC. Other members of the Authors’ Collective shared as well. Poets B. D. Smith and Angela Hunt frequently read, as well as authors Jim Kane, Sarah Collins, and I.

Chaska Library Reading, November 7, 2015

Twenty poets and twenty artists participated in the “Carver County: Its Buildings, People, Landscapes and History” showcase. Poets throughout the area were invited to submit up to three poems, then participating artists were welcomed to choose a poem that they could connect with and create a piece of art to illustrate it.

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I selected some prose from Room with No Walls, one of my upcoming books, and reworked it into a poem. I called it “Taliaferro’s Tears,” because it depicted the last meeting of the good-hearted Fort Snelling Indian Agent from 1819 to 1840, Lawrence Taliaferro, and several Dakota chiefs before the Dakota Wars. A very talented local artist, Crystal Murillo, selected my poem and illustrated it with a stunning, heart wrenching painting of Dakota sorrowful faces. They displayed the painting onscreen as Crystal told the story of her creation, and I read the poem. It was a moving experience even for me as I read. We were awarded Best in Show: History. I’ll be featuring this in an upcoming blog post as soon as I get a good image and bio from Crystal.

Chanhassen Library Anthology Reading, November 19, 2015

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Angela Hunt

Several local authors and poets who are included in an anthology of the Chanhassen Library Authors’ Collective read from their writings in the Chanhassen Library Café. Angela Hunt, Laurel Means, S. Collin Ellsworth, B. D. Smith, Heidi Skarie, and I were among them. Heidi and I captured a couple of the readers in action, which I’ll include here. Heidi included a honeymoon adventure experienced by two of the main characters in her latest novel, Star Rider. I read from “Avuncularities,” Chapter 7 in In Search of Time, which capture some of Space Larrabee’s musings about being at the pulpit.

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The Long Journey Home by Laurel Means

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Answered by S. Collin Ellsworth

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Becky Liestman, Poet

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B. D. Smith, The Art of Confusion

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Jim Kane

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Heidi Skarie

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Star Rider and Red Willow’s Quest by Heidi Skarie

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D. E. Munson

Gale Woods Farm “9 Friends” Art Show, November 21-22, 2015

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All together, twenty-two artists and three authors displayed their wares at this annual art show in a barn. It was quaint, a little classy, and a thoroughly fun experience. The creations ranged from birdhouses to Lois Murphy’s photography, to earthy pottery, bird head ceramics, paper cuttings, metal sculpture, hats, pocketbooks, and of course—books.

Heidi Skarie and I shared space. Award-winning author, Connie Claire Szarke had her own area where she offered all of her books, featuring her latest, A Stone for Amer.  Author Laurel Means called this book’s predecessor, Delicate Armor, “. . . a moving, lovingly depicted account of growing up amidst the lakes, woods, and cornfields of middle-America.”

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A Stone for Amer by Connie Claire Szarke

April’s children’s book, Old Nell and her Mock Froggie Pie outsold us all!

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April Munson, Old Nell and Her Mock Froggie Pie outsold us all!

It was a fun day of making friends and hearing stories. Heidi offered her books, Red Willow’s Quest and Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge. She also offered a special holiday package of the two books plus a booklover’s card with a Christmas tree made of a stack of books. It was created by her daughter.

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Heidi Skarie at her booth

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By the Time I Got to Woodstock (2nd Edition) by D. E. Munson

My table unveiled the new second edition of By the Time I Got to Woodstock: or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis (thanks to all of you who bought the first edition—they’re collector’s items now :}). I also put up a poster showing the cover on In Search of Time along with booklets announcing the last day of its appearance on Kindle Scout. Both were really well received. A special thanks to Lois for inviting us to be a part of this special event.

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And thanks for the floor, Space.

That’s it for me for now. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday everyone!

Doug.   (aka D. E. Munson)

We Interrupt This Blog for an Important Message!

Exciting News . . .
Kindle Press Considers Sequel for Publication!

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Click the cover to see if you’d like to nominate this book for publication!

The Story of In Search of Time

“I feel awful about keeping everyone in suspenders so long,” says the author. “When By the Time I Got to Woodstock was published on the 40th anniversary of the famed Woodstock Festival, I ended it in a cliffhanger, fully intending to follow soon with the sequel. Four years later I finished writing the manuscript, dubbing it A Brief History of the End of the World. A number of you read the whole book, some, part of it. And to those of you who had insights and suggestions, I can’t thank you enough. I learned a great deal, and incorporated many of the changes, including a title change, and I’m humbled, yet thrilled with the result!

“This story needs to be told, especially today. Too much has been trivialized about the awakening that took place in the 60s and 70s. The spiritual seeds planted in these times have blossomed into a consciousness we take mostly for granted today. We can’t afford to forget. Though most of the characters are fictional, some are historical. The stories are based on what I experienced. I hope to help some of the essential truth of the times survive.”

In Search of Time is a tapestry of two interwoven love stories that unfurls into a compelling romp through time with Thyme and  me. We reach into a distant, mysterious past, and are hurled ahead into the magical, mystical years of the 1960s and 70s. Our stories splinter in 1978 when along comes Atlantis Haden who, like Hades of myth, steals Thyme away to his underworld. The fabric of our perfect world is rent. I’m faced with the questions, What did I do to allow her to go? and Is it possible for me to fix it? and most importantly, If I can fix it, will that compel Thyme to return? The search is on, a new quest begins! And it’s not just a quest for meaning and lost love. It reaches into the heart of everything. It is a spiritual quest.

Take a Chance on a Free Book

Okay, here’s the deal. Starting Friday, October 23, and for the subsequent 30 days, you can preview In Search of Time. Just click on the cover above, and if you like what you experience, you can nominate the book to be published with Kindle Press. A book deal for digital and audio rights will be offered.

Once the book is published, there’s something in it for you too! You receive a free copy of the E-book.

Again, thanks to so many of you for your phenomenal patience and support during this grueling birthing process. I’ll do my best to make it worth your kind attention.

 

More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book calledBy the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!

 

 

The Story of the Skylark, Robbie the Robot, Uncle George & that Gypsy Smell Foretold

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I’m going to explore why diners fascinate me so much. They’ve inspired me since childhood. Their ambiance elicits a delicious blend of sweet nostalgia, tasty food, classic sci-fi, trains, jukeboxes, checkerboard floors, chrome plated, red-topped, swivel stools, mystery noir, neon, Cokes, malts, coffee, cigarettes, and writing.

Topping my list are the Skylark Diner in Vestal, NY and Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, MN. The Skylark, founded in 1956, was our entire family’s favorite diner, too. Often, I’d be accompanied by Dad, Mom sometimes, Uncle Bobby, Auntie Sara, and later in life, my wife Thyme when we were in town. I loved the town I grew up in. The Skylark is one of those treasures that has withstood the march of time.

A treasure lost is the old Vestal Theater across the street. The same year the Skylark was established, the first movie I ever remember seeing came out. It was the early sci-fi flick, The Forbidden Planet, featuring Robbie the Robot. I fell asleep in the car on the way home, and was still dreaming about Robbie when Mom and Dad carried me up to my bed and tucked me in.

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You can go to the Skylark website (below) and in their photo album is a picture of the old theater. Here’s a clue. In the photo of the old Skylark logo, the movie theater’s just to the right of the the Star Cleaners. Let me know if you find it or if you have any memories about the Vestal Theater.

Thyme has also been with me every time I’ve visited Mickey’s, made famous by Garrison Keillor in his Prairie Home Companion movie. My most recent visit there was after attending a concert by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. More on Mickey’s in a future blog.

My memories of the Skylark food mostly entail eggs over easy, hash browns, triangles of buttered toast and strawberry jelly, ham, OJ, and a bottomless cup of coffee. Served up on the classic blue-striped, white enamel dinnerware with matching cup—diner Nirvana.

We met there during our last visit to Vestal before Mom and Dad moved to Arizona—the next to the last Christmas of the 20th century. Auntie Sara, matron of the local clan, held position at the head of the table. And, you know, that was okay. She was one of my two favorite aunts. I delighted in hiking over the hill from Echo Road, where we lived, to her house on Torrance Avenue.

There were a couple of times I even stayed at the house overnight. Auntie Sara made up a bed for me in the basement. I remember one night reading the entirety of the children’s book Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars. I think that was my first foray into a science fiction chapter book. Quite different from the Flash Gordon comics and TV show I dug so much.

Another time I stayed there, I built a plastic model plane, a Piper Tri-Pacer, and it turned out pretty good—until I painted it. All I had for paints were green and gray—blech! When I took a flying lesson at Tri-Cities Airport as a teen, I flew over her house. Man, the look on her face when I told her about it. She was nearly as excited as I was.

It was at her Torrance Avenue house that we celebrated my great-grandfather, Uncle George’s, 90th birthday. The “9” and “0” stuck into the top of the cake reminded me of a pair of scissors. Some of this will be coming out in a future novel, especially the part about Uncle George lounging in the back seat of his Buick, decreasing the rat population with his .22. It’s nearly done, and shines an historical spotlight on my eccentric Uncle George Larrabee. He was a quirky inventor and Tom Watson’s tool-and-die man in the early days of IBM. I don’t know if Uncle George ever frequented the Skylark. I’ll have to ask someone in the family before anyone who could remember forgets it. If you’re curious why I called my great-grandfather Uncle George, you’ll discover why when you read the book.

Uncle George

The last time I saw Auntie Sara was after Dad’s memorial service in 2003. She was well into her nineties by then, and in the hospital. I’d never seen anyone look so stately in the hospital before, but she pulled it off.

Next time I’m back in Vestal, I am paying a special visit to the Skylark to report on their cheeseburger, curly fries, and chocolate malt.

I think it was in the fall of 1991, about a year before I moved to Minnesota, that I experienced the quintessential diner hamburger. I was riding home with the president of GTE’s New England Division from a visit to the Northeast Division headquarters in Johnstown, New York. It was an excellent fall day, and halfway through Vermont on our way back to Concord, New Hampshire, we spotted a fine diner.

“Hungry?” Chuck chimed.

My drool machine went into overdrive. “Sounds good to me,” I replied, attempting to be cool and nonchalant about the possibility.

The heavenly smell of hamburgers on the grill greeted us as we opened the diner door. I felt set up like I was having my fortune told. “You shall meet the hamburger of your dreams,” the Gypsy smell foretold.

And the prophecy was fulfilled at that diner. But the quest to repeat the experience continues to this very day. More next week.

Please share your own out-of-this-world dining adventures with us!

Skylark_1

More on the Skylark Diner

More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book called By the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!