"The Far Shore" Do writers have any responsibilities to the characters who tumble onto their pages? I'd never thought about it until I killed one off. How to set things right again? Do you simply throw out the final chapters and say, "... and they lived happily ever after"? Oh no, that'd be too easy. (An optional sequel to Gold Coast Girl, it is not required reading but serves as an example of what can happen when an author gets too attached to a character.)
"Letter to Boogie ... and other selections" "It may well be true that pets take on the characteristics of their owners. But I never saw myself as Boogie’s owner and certainly never viewed him as a pet. Even so, we shared a case of The Kid: each dawn brought a new day and a new world, which we faced and dealt with as best we could. We were Kameraden, we were compadres. If anything, we belonged to each other." With Letter to Boogie and other selections, musician/author Bill Parker tosses new dispatches from the billVerse through the transom.
"Shadows Adrift" In a scene straight out of “The Maltese Falcon” a young woman who finds herself in a most desperate predicament walks into the office of Jackson Stride, private investigator. He’s not Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, or even Nick Danger, but he’s the best River Oaks has to offer. Will he help her? Can he help her? With “Shadows Adrift” author Bill Parker returns to River Oaks – “the blurred, mirror-image” of his hometown - for The Strange Case of Miss Veronica Tamblin.
"The Third Day: Jesus & Judas in the 21st Century" On a suitably cold and stormy night, musician & author Bill Parker receives two late-night visitors: Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot. With the aid of hot chocolate and peanut M&M’s, they set the record of what went down in Jesus’ last days straight.
"bhajan" Many books are described as being written "in the spirit of ..." This brief book, one man's daily prayer (with commentary by the author), is the heartfelt "thank you" of a "cheeseburger and fries kind of guy" to the Spirit he believes resides in us all. ("bhajan" is the Hindu term for a hymn or devotional song.)
"a fragile thing that can only exist where fragile things are loved" Author’s Caveat: If you have not read “After Halloween” – a work with a beginning and an ending which stands on its own - DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK which is, for lack of a better description, an “unintended supplement” to the earlier work, much as “I’m Glad you Didn’t Take It Personally” was to Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four.” In botanical terms, if "After Halloween" is an oak tree, "a fragile thing which can only exist where fragile things are loved" is mistletoe. In other words, as Colonel Pickering said of the New Small Talk in "Pygmalion," it’s not compulsory. With money getting tighter all the time, if you must choose between the two, give this one a pass. That said … Within months of publication of “After Halloween,” unforeseen if not entirely unpredictable Change struck the author’s forest sanctuary “on the other side of the A20 motorway,” and there wasn’t a thing he or his mysterious twinkly-eyed, saxophone-playing friend could do about it. No one likes to lose, but what do you do when you know you can’t win?
"Ghosts of The Calumet" I’ve been writing about the fictional town of River Oaks, Illinois – the “blurry, mirror-image” of my hometown - for quite a few years now. Ten years ago, the very first story ("The Save") featured a young boy at the dawn of the Space Age. But in the most recent offering ("Requiem for The Ace"), there’s a murder and a body dump. Things have certainly gotten dark in River Oaks. Can the tide be turned by a renegade late night disc jockey? Or a pretty bookstore clerk? How about an eccentric filmmaker? Or is it time to follow my long ago mentor's example, put on my Blues Hat and take it down the road?
"two lights on behind: three stories about nothing much at all" Welcome back to Gold Coast, home to a woman's rainy day reverie ("two lights on behind/some of Sharon's blues") and a mysterious table in a singular watering hole at which no one is allowed to sit ("Down at The Ball of Fire"). In between, the author is diagnosed as having "thick foot" and "an elephant on his chest" but is told losing weight will probably take care of everything ("Patient").
"Two of Us (A Memoir of 1968)" There are debts that can never be repaid, not for love nor money. The most you can do is never act in a manner that would cause your benefactors to feel their love, faith, or charity has been misplaced. This is not a warm and fuzzy "coming of age" story. It's the tale of a walk down the Boulevard of Dreams in 1968, the year of "Hey Jude" and The Beatles' "White Album."
"After Halloween" "I bought a flute ..." Music on the wind opens a door. A "willing suspension of disbelief" allows you to step through it. And an unexpected meeting in a forest far from home brings a most unusual employment opportunity. But time is running out ...
"Gold Coast After Dark (Heresy on the Half-Shell)" With "Gold Coast After Dark (Heresy on the Half-Shell)" Bill Parker manages to bring Jesus Christ and his faithful sidekick Judas Iscariot into the 21st century via their own late night talk show, a one-act play, a guest spot on a podcast, and wraps it all up with a lengthy closing monologue and a couple of Italian beef sandwiches from Nick's Pizza.
"Meteor 42" Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes it just slips away. The sharp edge of Truth cuts both ways. When your every waking moment is played out over a ceaseless backdrop of memories interspersed with sudden drops into the drowsy state between darkness and dream, do the dreams become memories? Do they replace the memories? When you can't tell one from the other, what options are left to you? Do you keep the memories or go with the dreams?
"Sunset" Musician/author Bill Parker used to be told to use his head “for something other than a hat rack,” so he did. That it turned into a spookhouse wrapped in a thunderstorm was probably not what anyone had in mind, but there we are. This isn't an "I'm smarter than you" or even an "I'm so bloody cosmic" book. There are questions without answers, answers waiting on questions, a rant against Bicycle Geeks, and a lot of pushing back against what the author sees as a world filled with people whose actions are as predictable as the plot of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.
"Avis & Burke" Built on one of the six classic plot lines of Modern Literature (two kids meet in high school, fall in love, break up, and meet again years later, still in love), all "Avis & Burke" lacks is a soundtrack by Michael McDonald.
"Blues for Chang" "The Universe is all about Balance with a Capital B." Having written about his Mother in "Barbara June," with "Blues for Chang" musician/author Bill Parker picks up where the former left off: August 1972, and the beginning of his relationship with his Father.
"Gold Coast: Stories from a Suburban Shangri-La" Gold Coast, the southern side of a northern town, where the 'billies & the crackers met the Polacks & the Bohunks on the graveyard shift.Ignored by the City fathers to the furthest extent allowable by law during the most tumultuous and exciting decade of the 20th century, the neighborhood became a suburban Shangri-La to its collection of future solid citizens, misfits, and dreamers.Naturally, there are stories . . .
"Barbara June" A non-linear, non-chronological, and certainly non-comprehensive memoir of early life & times with my mother. No family secrets are revealed and there are no plans for "Barbara June ... the Musical." Sometimes you do something simply because it needs to be done.
"The Monkey Puzzle" A mysterious backpack shows up on the back porch, filled with old clothes and 40-year old letters that were never addressed, let alone mailed. A weary traveler steps off a Dutch train into a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock. The return of the dreaded Red Shift after an 8-year absence. Holding a death watch for one's mother and staring evil in the face. Finally, waiting for a seat on the Cosmic Shuttle. Fact? Fiction? I can't tell where one ends and the other begins anymore.
"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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