"The Monkey Puzzle" Araucaria araucana is the national tree of Chile. When the tree was first introduced to Great Britain in 1850, an observer viewed the tree with its curving, twisting branches and declared, “It would puzzle a monkey to climb that.” For too many people, Life is a monkey puzzle which gets more puzzling with each passing year. Some deal with it, some can't, some never realize they're in one.
"Rode Hard & Put Up Wet: The Return of the Good Karma Cowboy" "Rode Hard & Put Up Wet - The Return of the Good Karma Cowboy" begins with sage advice from jazz legend Miles Davis ("Don't play the 'butter notes.'") and ends with a childhood memory of watching Hollywood classics on late night TV ("This is what nights in Europe are supposed to look like."). In between, musician & author Bill Parker discourses on the differences between rainy day cities and rainy night cities, relates his father's rather unorthodox plans for his wake & funeral, takes part in an exhaustive conversation with freelance mystic Swami Rheeva, slips in the by now obligatory David Crosby reference ("it gives one a sense of continuity"), explains the "sense of urgency" that drives his writing and music and comes to terms with the looming prospect of his sad but inevitable demise.
"October (A Cautiously Cosmic Curiosity)" Most people have a favorite food. I once knew a girl named Monica who had a favorite type of eraser. Of the 12 months that make up the Gregorian calendar, October is my favorite. It is also a state of being, the antithesis of the unOctober which exists by destroying the joys, hopes, and dreams of the careless and the unknowing.You can be an agent of unOctober and not know it. You can be a victim of unOctober yet be unaware of its existence. But if you can find your way to October, you just might make it … Loosely autobiographical, October (A Cautiously Cosmic Curiosity) blends fact and fiction to tell a tale of the quest for a refuge that can be neither seen nor touched, only sensed.
"On Being Human" “On Being Human” is a collection of rambling essays based on observations of and interactions with the Me Universe. As usual, the essays are – as they say – “all over the map” and touching upon, among other things, machines who think they’re men, the month of October, the ebb and flow of religion in contemporary life and sports, the Alien Insertion of 1953/54, and how someone will manage to make your death all about them. If you’re looking for weighty, philosophical discourse, you should stick with Plato. Otherwise, this may be just what you've been looking for ...
"The Heron King" Once an object of affection passes – a pet, a loved one, even a country or way of Life - the time comes when you must move on. You can only linger beside a grave for so long. The Heron King is about someone who reached that point and did something about it.
"Eight Truths: On being a musician." In this Life, there is what I Believe and what I Know. I can't speak with certainty on anything else. "Eight Truths" concerns itself with the eight tenets that are the basis of my musical philosophy, which can also be applied to day-to-day life. I believe in them as a Jesuit believes in the Catholic Church because I have seen the truth of them. In a letter written over thirty-five years ago and nearly a full decade after I’d set off to find my own path, my mentor Fred Keith clued me in on why we do what we do: “For people like us, it’s the only game in town.” It is The Eight Truths that make it so.
"The Self-Help Book (The only book you'll ever need!)" “Later, between bites of fried chicken, the Old Man said, ‘Willie, if we could find a way to combine all those books (Out On A Limb, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Chariots of the Gods, I’m Okay You’re Okay) we’d be on Easy Street.’ 'In other words, you want me to write a book we’d try to pass off as a panacea for all mankind.' 'Either way sounds like money in the bank.' The last five words, intoned in his best imitation of George Stevens aka The Kingfish of Amos & Andy fame, concluded the evening’s discussion. (I can't guarantee the contents of this book will turn your life around and send you dancing down the sunny side of the street. In fact, it is entirely possible it won't help you in any way, whatsoever. Doesn’t obviate the truth of my contention that it’s the only book you’ll ever need …)
"Comet: A Story of North Central Texas" In the 1980's, Texas was run by Reagan Republicans who looked to take the Lone Star State back to the 1950's and by a powerful real estate and land development alliance whose apparent goal was to turn every square foot of land between the Red River and the Rio Grande into high-yield commercial property. Things were booming in the boardrooms of Dallas, Austin, and Houston. But in the towns scattered along the old Texas State Highway system, people watched as more and more land was swallowed up with each passing year and wondered how long it would be before a certified letter arrived with a low-ball offer for the patch of ground they called home. "Comet - A Story of North Central Texas," the tale of an unexpected and unlikely friendship between a former Negro League baseball player and a self-described "broke-dick cable splicer who ain't got no nothin'," takes place away from the glitz and glamor of natural high rollers and the nouveau riche, in the not-as-wide-open-as-they-used-to-be spaces on the map.
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