Saturday, March 8, 2014

#44 - Bartholomew Before the Council, part 1 - The Illustrations

Why do I do this?  I thought about how to illustrate this story of a city council meeting.  Of course, I thought about illustrating an entire council chamber with all kinds of people and murals on the walls.  No, I can't just illustrate Bartholomew, or a few people, I have to illustrate an entire chamber full of people.  Could I take the easy way out sometime?  Can I just write a short story and that's it? No, I have to write stories and illustrate them and animate them and put them in a big project involving many other people.

I started illustrating the story by pencil sketching out the large shapes and composition while ignoring the people.  After laying in the large shapes I created a sense of the rows where the people are sitting.  When I started inking the drawing, I had not yet created the people and their personalities. I let that happen as I inked.

I then began to watercolor the drawing.  The coloring took an under painting, a solid top coating and then final touch-ups to unify the piece.  On each half of the illustration I had one person who I was avoiding.  I don't know why, but I left one person on each half until the end.  On the right side, it was the woman in the front row, fourth from the bottom.  On the left, it was the man in the yellow and brown striped shirt and jacket.  

I enjoyed painting the patterns of the wood grain, carpet and some clothing.

Close up of right side

People on the left side of the illustration
A couple council members
Grandpa (left) is a tribute to Mad artist Don Martin
I don't know why Claire is painted the way she is.  I think she is sneezing.

Well, I hope you enjoy this illustration and the rest of the story that is published this coming Friday at The Book of Bartholomew

#44 - Bartholomew Before the Council, part 1 - The Story

Bartholomew decides to ask the city council to keep his garden, even though he hadn't asked permission to have it on city property.  It is the events of this council session that is covered in Bartholomew Before the Council, parts 1 & 2.     I greatly enjoyed writing this story because I have been to many city council meetings for my day job.  I have had to write resolutions and have them approved by the council.  Most of these were to accept donations of funds for programs.  None of my resolutions were contentious items, although an upcoming one by the Food and Nutrition Commission, of which I am involved, will probably have some lively discussion.

Yes, it's true. I write about my real life experiences, sort of.  No, I am not Bartholomew.  No, I have not tried to save a garden of mine that the city wants to destroy.  But I am involved in community gardens and the local food movement.

The Book of Bartholomew is a series of stories about making decisions.  In this story, I wanted to show that there is a way to fight for what you want - even against the city you live in.  And there is a way to reach out and work with others for what you want - even with the city you live in.  I have a good friend who thinks government is worthless.  My opinion is that government is not worthless.  There are reasons for laws and procedures.  But when an entity, like a government, has been around for a long time, it doesn't adjust to change at the same speed as individuals or even society.  Of course, in these stories, I deal with these issues in a humorous manner.  But I would like people to know, there is a way in this society to address your grievances.  Sometimes it is hard work and you might run into someone who is not very bright or thinking in a new contemporary way.  But there is always a way to find common ground and get to a place that works for most everyone.  Be patient,... and be persistent.

Here is an excerpt from Bartholomew Before the Council, part 1:     

Bartholomew had never been to the city council chambers before. He had never even been to City Hall. But here he was, about to defend his community garden to the council and ask them to create city food policy, which would include allowing community gardens. The elevator ride with Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey seemed to take forever even though it was for only five floors. The doors slid open and all Bartholomew could see were bodies. People had gathered outside the council chamber before the doors were opened. The crowd was backed up all the way to the elevators. Bartholomew had no idea this many people normally attended council sessions.

“Bartholomew!” yelled a voice that sounded like Claire. He saw a young woman with dyed-red hair waving at him. It was Claire, but she was sporting a short haircut in a bright color. He hardly recognized her.

“Hey, Claire,” waved Bartholomew, working his way through the crowd toward her with Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey in tow.

“Your hair looks great!” said Bartholomew as Aunt Josephine's eyes widened. Claire sensed that Aunt Josephine did not approve.

“Thanks,” replied Claire, happy that Bartholomew liked it. “Can you believe all these people? Most of them are here to support urban food policy. I just couldn't imagine that so many people are interested! But look at this,...” she said as she put her hands in the air and scanned the hallway.

“Wow. Really? They're all here for food policy? Wow,” said Uncle Jeffrey astonished.

Charlotte and Topping soon appeared out of nowhere. “Hey, Superstar,” said Charlotte. Bartholomew blushed. They both gave him a hug.

“Claire, setting up the Food SLAM was genius!” exclaimed Topping. “I can't believe this mob.”

Suddenly, the crowd moved en masse as the doors to the chamber opened. None of them had much choice, they were being swept into the chamber whether they wanted to be or not. Bartholomew was scared for a moment that somebody might get trampled.

The council chamber was an impressive space-- an ornate room with wood paneled walls and murals throughout. The murals depicted moments in the history of the city. One wall was the founding of the city. A second wall showed the history of industry, from sawmills to riverboats to airports. A third was covered with “the People:” butchers, bakers, mothers and children, streetcar workers, blacks, Native Americans, whites, Latinos and there were even dogs, cats, horses, eagles and squirrels. Every possible person seemed to be included. The last wall was a bit unique. Instead of the typical WPA mural type of painting promoting the archetypal aspects of the community, this wall was a simple depiction of an average house in the city. It was a life-size white wood sided house with a front porch. On the porch was a family with food on a table. Instead of eating the food, the family members were all sitting and facing the council chambers listening to the conversation, passing judgment on the laws created and wondering how those laws might affect them. Most unsettling was the little girl whose eyes were painted a bit too large, giving her a creepy look instead of someone rapt with attention.

The council members filed in and set about arranging their papers and conversing pleasantly with each other. Without any warning, the meeting began with a role call by the council clerk. The council made their way through what seemed like rather mundane and simple matters, voting on blocks of items instead of individual ones.

Bartholomew scanned the chambers and recognized a few people from the Food SLAM, but mostly the place was full of people he did not know. He shifted in his seat, not sure what to expect. The council did not seem as intimidating as he thought it would be. They seemed like regular people making decisions about things. Surely, they would see the benefit of what he was proposing.

Then the proceedings changed as individual items were now being discussed. The first item was a proposed new playground at a local park. Apparently, the equipment had become old, rusty and dangerous. At least that was what the people from that neighborhood believed. They stood at a podium before the council and shared their thoughts and concerns. They each called the council members by the title Councilmember. So, Albert Josten, Bartholomew's council representative, was called Councilmember Josten. It seemed odd to Bartholomew and he mentioned this to Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine.

#43 - One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane - The Illustrations

One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane brings back the wonderful illustrator and artist Martha Iserman.

Martha has previously illustrated Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist and Aunt Josephine and Her Long Ride.

I first met Martha as a student of mine when I was teaching a botanical illustration class at the Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory, Saint Paul, MN. Martha has since completed a scientific illustration program, has worked at the Smithsonian and is now living in Chicago.

Martha's work for The Book of Bartholomew is really wonderful, fresh and emotive.  As fine a story illustrator as she is, you should check out her amazing and exquisite nature illustrations.  Over the last few years, with each sharing of new work by Martha, my socks have been blown off (I mean this quite literally, and I am getting annoyed at the lint burn marks between my toes).  The detail, the exactness and the overall consistency of her work is breathtaking.  You can check out her science illustrations at her website Big Red Sharks (   Although Martha has moved away from the Twin Cities, she will always be a Twin City artist in my heart.  Hopefully one day we will get her back.

Until then, enjoy Martha's fine work in One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane, published this Friday, May 18, 2012 at The Book of Bartholomew.

#43 - One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane - The Story

I am happy to finally introduce this audience to Mayor Dick and Senator Jane, a couple that have been rolling around in my mind since the beginning of Bartholomew.  Of course, Mayor Dick has been mentioned by Claire, who hates him.  Mayor Dick and Claire squared off in Earth Day.  But, here we meet Senator Jane for the first time and get to see the two interact.  It is very fun, and challenging, to write for these two because Mayor Dick never tells the truth, and Senator Jane is always fearful and alarmist.  The question is how to move the dialogue and story forward with one character constantly lying and the other always getting distracted by possible crisis.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Here is an excerpt from One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane, to be published on May 18 at The Book of Bartholomew:

“Where are we heading?” asked Senator Jane with concern in her voice, although she knew this park well.

“Just strolling, dear,” responded Mayor Dick.

“Aren't you afraid?” asked Senator Jane.

“Not really,” said Mayor Dick peering over his shoulder at a particularly dark shape behind a bush that seemed to be quivering.

The couple walked a bit further and then sat on a bench.

“Darling,” said Mayor Dick. “I have a question for you.”

“Please, darling,” protested Senator Jane, “it's not going to be a difficult one, is it?”

“I think Gerald is a fine man,” he said, followed by a very long pause.

A bit bewildered, Senator Jane asked “Is Gerald okay? He didn't have a heart attack or a stroke, did he?”

“He never asks me for favors... and I must say that I have never given him any advantage or played favorites with him or his companies. I never do that with anyone,” said Mayor Dick. He paused.

“And?” asked Senator Jane waiting for some awful news.

“I don't think I should influence the city council in his favor, even if he were to ask me to. Do you?”

“Oh, darling. Would it avert a catastrophe or create one? I mean, you have to do what you have to do to protect people from all the horrible things in this world. They would hate you if you didn't, and they wouldn't re-elect you. If they didn't re-elect you, what would happen to our finances. Oh darling, you're not thinking of doing something rash, are you?” asked Senator Jane as she clutched her small fur occasion purse.

“Well, it's not as if I even could influence anyone on the council, certainly not half the council. Gerald would be better off approaching them on his own. I am sure he would treat all of them with the utmost respect. Especially, Councilmember Lovett. I am sure nothing would get in his way of attending the council session. He has such a great kneed to serve his constituents.”

A rustling was heard in the bushes behind the bench and it sounded as if someone was running away from the area.

“What was that?” shrieked a startled Senator Jane.

“I'm sure it was nothing,” replied Mayor Dick.

#42 - Food SLAM! - The Illustrations

Sheeeee's Baaaaaack!  Yes, the wonderful, the indomitable Meghan Hogan. Above is her beautiful illustration of the spoken word event in Food SLAM.  Meghan also illustrated Claire's first spoken word event in Claire Speaks Out.  I like having Meghan revisit the same character in two separate stories.  I have also done this with Matt Wells and the character of Ned and with Mary Esch illustrating stories dealing with Bartholomew and Geraldine's relationship.  I like to give artists a chance to revisit a character and deepen the experience of that character for the reader.

I enjoy the rich colors of this piece.  I like the simple feeling of the piece, although there are three characters, a crowd and shifting perspective. The large areas of rich color (and the colors themselves) are calming and make me want to be quiet and listen to what these people are saying.   I ended up using the colors as background colors to the text in the layout of the story.  The feeling is quite different from the horrible experience of Claire's last spoken word event, captured beautifully in Meghan's illustration below:

Food SLAM!  is published tomorrow.

#42 - Food SLAM - the Story

Time for a little Food SLAM!

As The Book of Bartholomew begins to come to a close, I have felt the stories begin to write themselves.  Food SLAM had very specific plot points it had to cover, which made the action and progress of the piece inevitable for me.  This left me free to play with the characters and dialogue.  I find this approach to be natural in the art that I make. I look to create a structural foundation that will then allow me to be free to play with the elements.

My favorite element of this story is Claire's spoken word performance.  Yes, Claire stuck with spoken word even after the embarrassing and horrible experience we witnessed in Claire Speaks Out.  Even the polite and kind Bartholomew cringes at the thought of another Claire performance.  Writing the poem by Claire was difficult in that I had to make it not good, but also not bad.  One would think that if I were to write a poem it would naturally not be good or bad, but rather common.  After all, I am not a poet and make no claims to being one.  Yet, I was very aware of each word I wrote, worrying that perhaps it was either too poetic or too insufficient.  But I also felt, because Claire had failed so miserably before, all I had to do was not fall on my face.  It is quite a freedom and a gift to know that all you have to do is not fail.

Here is an excerpt from Food SLAM!  You will have to wait until tomorrow to witness Claire's reading of her poem.

Bartholomew gawked at a banner above the stage at one end of the cavernous auditorium that read “FOOD SLAM! - Save the Garden” and had images of vegetables scattered in the background. “How on earth did she pull this together in one week?”

“You can ask her,” said Claire as she pulled Bartholomew by the arm toward a woman in her thirties with a scarf tied around her head holding back an avalanche of brown kinky hair.

“Hey, Claire. Is this Bartholomew?” asked 'Rissa.

“Yeah, Bartholomew, this is 'Rissa.”

“Hey, Bartholomew. Way to go. I love that you were growing your own food. That's great!”

“Thanks, 'Rissa. And thanks for pulling this... SLAM together. This is amazing! How did you pull this together in only one week?”

'Rissa turned to instruct someone how to collect tickets. Turning back she smiled at Bartholomew, “This? This was easy. All you need is a big room, a great cause and space for people to speak their mind. Everybody wants to say something. Can't stop 'em.”

People started to filter into the auditorium. A small group found their way toward the front seats, stopping at the sixth row.

“You can sit all the way up front,” encouraged 'Rissa. “We don't bite.”

The group of people moved up to the second row and sat down. A second group of people entered and found their places near, but not next to, the first group. More people entered and in fifteen minutes the auditorium, though large, was more full than not. Minutes before the show was to begin, the seats were almost full. Bartholomew's eyes became wet realizing these people were here to help save his garden.

“Yo, Bartholomew,” someone yelled. Bartholomew and Claire turned to see Topping coming down the aisle. Bartholomew rushed to meet him and gave him a hug.

“Where’ve you been?” pleaded Bartholomew.

“I've been busy lately. Uncle Cy has had work for me and I started another job, too. Rent is a bit expensive without Charlotte there.” Topping looked Bartholomew in the eyes, “It's good to see you Bartholomew.”

“You, too.”

“Bartholomew,” someone else yelled. Bartholomew looked past Topping to see Charlotte coming down the aisle.

Topping stepped out of the way as Bartholomew gave her a hug. Charlotte and Topping spoke a polite “hello” to each other.

“C'mon, Claire and I saved some seats down front. Sit with us.”

The four sat down with Bartholomew on the aisle and Claire in between Topping and Charlotte. The air was a little tense, but Bartholomew was happy to have his friends together again.

#41 - Food Fight - The Story

Food Fight is a story somewhat like At the Library.  There is not a lot of action in this story, but it helps to string together different story lines and sets things up for the stories to come.  Although there isn't much action, there is still much I like about this story.  Claire really starts to change as a character.  Her spoken word classes have helped her to be more outspoken.  She has always been a bit abrupt, but now she is sharing ideas and helping Bartholomew to think bigger than just his garden.  She is also concerned about Charlotte not being a mope-bot (yes, that is a robot that mopes - whatever that means).  She lets Charlotte know this in her own style.

Charlotte in the meantime is struggling.  She didn't realize how much she would miss Topping when she broke up with him.  Being newly single can be hard.

And Bartholomew, well, he starts out the story not knowing what to do, but by the end there is a plan of action.

Yes, Claire is ready for a fight, preferably a personal fight with Mayor Dick.  But we will see what happens in the next few stories as Bartholomew and his family and friends decide to take on City Hall to protect their garden.

Here is an excerpt from Food Fight, to be published on April 20, 2012:

“Ooh, I wish I could punch Mayor Dick right in the face,” seethed Claire as she finished reading the garden eviction notice.

“What are you going to do?” asked Charlotte.

“I don't know yet,” answered Bartholomew. “Aunt Josephine wants to fight it. She says that land just sits there empty, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to garden on it.”

“She's right,” said Claire.

“But then if we can't plant on the railroad property, too, the garden isn't very big,” said Bartholomew.

“Isn't very big?!” exclaimed Claire. “Bartholomew, it is still plenty big for us. It was quite a bit of maintenance to keep it going. I can't imagine what we were going to do at harvest time.”

“Yeah, a lot of mine and... Topping's... food went to waste because we couldn't eat it all,” said Charlotte holding back her sadness at the mention of their old life together.

“Well, you don't have to worry about that now that I'm cooking as much of it as possible so it doesn't go to waste,” responded Claire.

“How's the new apartment?” asked Bartholomew.

“It's good,” said Claire. “Much nicer not having old Dumbo Ned around. Charlotte is a much better roommate.”

“Yeah,” agreed Charlotte with a forced smile.

“But Bartholomew, I think you are looking at this garden permission thing all wrong,” said Claire. “It's not just about this garden of ours, but the city should have a policy that allows community gardens all over the place. Everybody should have the right to a space to grow their own food. It's the sustainable thing to do. There's only one community garden in town and that's run by a church and the food is given to a food shelf.”

“Really, I hadn't even thought about other gardens, or the possibility of them,” said Bartholomew. “You guys want something to drink?”

“How about a gin and tonic?” asked Charlotte.

Bartholomew, who was heading toward the kitchen, stopped in his tracks. “Charlotte, I meant orange juice or water or coffee. It is only ten in the morning.”

“Oh...” said Charlotte, turning a little red. “Yeah, of course...” She let out a little laugh. “I'm just joking. I would like some orange juice if you have it, please.”

“I'll have some coffee, if it’s not a bother,” said Claire. “Otherwise, I'll have some juice, too.”

“Two juices it is,” said Bartholomew as he disappeared into the kitchen.

Alone for a few moments, Claire leaned over to Charlotte and asked “I have an extra ticket to the poetry slam tonight, do you want to go? 'Rissa is putting it on and some of the people from my class are going to perform. It's a fundraiser for a local battered women's shelter.”

“Oh, I don't know. I think spoken word in support of a women's shelter might be a bit depressing.”

“What do you mean?!” demanded Claire.

Charlotte suddenly felt bad about what she had said. “It's just that 'Rissa will start talking about her experience and about blood and bruises and … well... it’s kinda depressing. Don't get me wrong, it’s a good cause. I just don't think that's what I'm in the mood to hear tonight.”

“Fine. But these are my friends. It would be nice for you to get out and meet people instead of moping around the apartment every night.”

#40 - Ned the Accountant - Illustrations

The illustrations for Ned the Accountant were created by Matt Wells.  Matt is kinda my "Ned guy."  He illustrated the first Ned story, Ned the Giant. He also illustrated Ned in Earth Day.  I previously have mentioned that I did not originally want to have each character of the stories illustrated.  I wanted each reader to have their own image in their head as to what each character looked like.  I give simple physical descriptions of characters in the stories.  I want the reader to fill in the details from their own experiences.  That said, I love what Matt has done with Ned.  He has done visually what I wanted the readers to do with their imaginations.
Ned the Giant

Ned in Earth Day

Matt has a way of portraying people and objects with a lot of feeling and energy. Below are his illustrations for Ned the Accountant. I never know what I am going to get from the illustrators. They are free to choose the scene from the story they want to illustrate. I would have illustrated a completely different scene. Here Matt chose the "cutting himself shaving" scene. I love the jitteriness of the image. At times Ned feels very unstable to me, and at other times he is the most practical and direct of all the characters. In this story, Ned is unstable. Matt's attention to Ned's messiness is wonderful.

And talking about not knowing what to expect... Matt illustrated the washing machine. I love this washing machine. It is just a wonderful energetic illustration. And I like the ribbons with the text that Matt has been experimenting with in his work lately. I was happy to see it appear here in these pieces.

I thought I would throw in a few more of Matt's illustrations since they are so enjoyable. And you should check out his work at his website:

Ned the Accountant is published tomorrow at The Book of Bartholomew.

#40 - Ned the Accountant - the Story

Yes, back to Ned!  I loved writing the story Ned the Giant, oh so long ago.  Ned the Accountant is a story where Ned is still not wanting to grow up.  He hates his job, he can barely get out of bed and get himself to work.  If only someone else would take all this away and offer him a good job that matches his existing skills.  That would make the world wonderful!  Be careful what you ask for.

After I had written Ned the Accountant, I went back and reread Ned the Giant.   I was surprised by the similarities that I hadn't noticed while writing the second story.  I mean, I knew there were similarities, but there were so many more than I thought.  When I wrote about Ned getting all tangled in his sheets, I had forgotten that in Ned the Giant, he had grown so tall that the only thing he could wear was a sheet. There were other smaller examples that you may pick up on.  Yes, in the end, Ned gets a job that he wants.  But what sacrifice will he have to make to have such a job?  You will find out in story #45.

Here is an excerpt from Ned the Accountant, to be published this Friday, April 6, 2012:

     After breakfast, the young man lounged on the sofa scanning the want ads looking for a new life. He had called in sick yesterday to attend a couple of interviews for jobs he didn't really want. He sighed. He knew the jobs would not be offered to him. After so many interviews, Ned could tell when prospective employers were taking him seriously and when they were not. He rubbed his hands through his hair and couldn't help but think the interviewers hadn't liked his dreds.

      “Really?” he said to the ceiling. “Is that why no one will give me a job? MY HAIR?!”

      Ned lay on the couch for quite some time burning through excuses for his life like a chain smoker. Once he could no longer stand his own addiction, he groaned and rose up.

      “Arrgggh!” he yelled as he stretched his torso, hands behind his head and elbows raised to the ceiling. “Fuck.”

      Ned dragged himself back to the bathroom where he thought he was going to take a piss. Instead, he stood before the mirror. He stared at his own eyes – bloodshot. “That's what you get for playing computer games all night, you idiot,” he said to his reflection. Ned had indeed played several games until five o'clock in the morning. He slept for one hour and then woke to his alarm at six o'clock to get ready to go to the “Seventh Level of Doom.” That's what he called his job. Fortunately, Ned's skill-less job would not be affected by a lack of sleep.

      The razor cut his thin skin here and there as it was hard to keep his head up while shaving. He fell asleep for a moment only to jerk awake with the sting of another, deeper cut. “Shit!” He grabbed toilet paper to stop the bleeding, but the thin white paper stuck to his wet fingertips instead of his face. A blur of flicking fingers tried to release the white patches from his skin. They would not come off. He flicked once more and caught his fingers on the edge of the mirror, scraping his knuckle and causing a trickle of blood. “Tsssss,” he breathed in pain and annoyance at himself. “Fuck.”

      Ned decided that the bathroom was a dangerous place and went to his bedroom. He noticed a spot at the top of the door frame where he once hit his head. He went to his closet, and pulled out a dirty towel to wipe up the blood from his razor cut and on his knuckle. He then went back into the closet and pulled out a polo shirt and a pair of khaki pants. He slipped them on and surveyed himself in the mirror. His shirt was wrinkled in a couple of spots and his pants were stained and tattered at the bottom hem.

      “Welcome, Mr.Ned. Please sit in the back of the room where you won't embarrass us,” he said to himself. He quickly pulled off his offending garments and went back to his closet. He surveyed the contents of his wardrobe – all polo shirts and cotton or denim pants. He did have one suit, nice shirt and a tie for special occasions. These were several years old and a little short in the leg and sleeve. “Fuck.”

      He flopped on his unmade bed. How had he become such a loser, or was that who he had always been? He had the degree of an accountant but the wardrobe of an ultimate frisbee player. No wonder he couldn't get a better job.

      “I don't want to dress differently! Suits and ties and dress shirts are uncomfortable. And dress shoes...ugh.” He twisted himself up in his bedspread and his sheets as he thrashed at his demons. Soon he found himself on the floor, arms pinned to his sides in his sheets. It was then that he realized he should have taken his “piss” earlier. Suddenly, his bladder was about to overflow. Ned tried to thrash his way out of what he thrashed himself into, with little effect. He rolled toward the door, but what good would that do if he couldn't get out of this straightjacket?

      “Oh, what does it matter? I can't do anything right!”

#39 - Get Out of Jail - The Illustrations

This is the first time I have ever done marijuana.  Let me rephrase that.  This is the first time I have ever drawn marijuana.  Unlike Bartholomew, I did not have a live sample to work from.  I Googled marijuana images thinking there had to be a botanical drawing of marijuana I could work from.  But, man, there were so many bad images, or at least worthless images.  Here are the best I could find.

Really, this is the best!  Sad.  Marijuana has such a place in the history of this country and this is the best Google Images cold come up with.  Below is what I came up with.  Much better as far as I am concerned.

Nice thick lines that don't blur.  Strong color.  It's kind of a banana yellow in the background.  Wow, dried banana chips would be great right now.  I wanted lines to represent prison bars, which they do, but they're a little wavy and bent and could seem like stripes on some fudge covered cookies.  Mmm....  Or maybe they are the stripes on top of a pastry.  Perhaps they are black licorice whips.  Mmm...  The green is very St. Patrick's Day green beer color.  Or, have you ever had those... what are they... they're like... OH! I can't think of it, man...  It's right on the tip of my tongue.  Ngnnhh.  (I'm sticking my tongue out) Giggle.  Ha, ha, man.  What is the word?  Phfttp.  Oh, man.  WTF.  Those green things.  What are they?  Hah.  PIMENTOS! NO! I mean OLIVES!  Oh, man. I could eat a hole jar of those right now.  Ha "HOLE", not "WHOLE".  Ha ha.  Shit, man.  I think I gotta... what?  Oh, man.  I think I'm gonna go take a nap.

#39 - Get Out of Jail - Mistakes and Regrets

Get Out of Jail is a rather obvious story, it is about Bartholomew getting out of jail.  He stayed in jail for three days because Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey were away at the cabin for a few days.  Sometimes life isn't fair.  Sometimes we get in trouble and the only reason is because we didn't know what to do.  Bartholomew had never had someone else growing marijuana in his garden.  He didn't know how to handle that situation... and now he's in jail.

We only get one life to live.  We don't have the luxury of going through it a second time having learned from past experience.  How do you get through without completely screwing up your life?  There are so many opportunities to make the wrong decision, to face a new situation and go the wrong way.  Oh boy.  And then once you have realized, too late, well, it can just make you sick.  I'm sure we all have our own stories of these types of situations. If you have one to share, go to The Book of Bartholomew Facebook Page and share it.

Here is an excerpt from Get Out of Jail, that will be published on Friday, March 23:

“We're so sorry we didn't get home sooner. We just feel awful that you stayed in here for three days. If we had known we would have rushed down here immediately,” apologized Aunt Josephine.

“Yes, we heard your message as we were heading home this morning. We're sorry,” said Uncle Jeffrey. “We turn off our phones when we get to the cabin. I guess we should leave one on or check one regularly. We're very sorry.”

Bartholomew didn't care about their reasons, he was just thankful that they were there at last and could help straighten everything out.

“Will you explain to them that I wasn't growing the marijuana?!” pleaded Bartholomew.

“We already have,” said Uncle Jeffrey. “We told them that Mr. McBarden was growing it and that the rest of us had no idea. They said that you had just discovered the ma... marijuana just before they got there.”

“It’s true!” confirmed Bartholomew, “I had just gathered one stem and was going to wait until you got home to figure out what to do. I didn't know how to handle something like that.”

“I would have just called the police,” interjected Aunt Josephine.

“But Mr. McBarden is my neighbor,” said Bartholomew. “Perhaps we should have talked to him and asked him to get rid of it. If he didn't, then we could have called the cops.”

“I have to agree with Aunt Josephine,” responded Uncle Jeffrey. “When it comes to breaking the law, you should just call the police and let them deal with it. After all, what has Mr. McBarden done? Nothing! He is home all the time and he must have seen what happened. Has he come down here to help you out? No. Now we know why he was so protective of his plot.”

Bartholomew squirmed a little. He liked to give people a chance. “So you don't think confronting Mr. McBarden would do any good?” he asked.

“Bartholomew,” Uncle Jeffrey said very sternly, “did Mr. McBarden ever check out the property lines and get the okay from the railroad?”

“He said he did. He said everything was fine.”

“That's what he said, but you don't know if he actually did it, do you?”

Suddenly, Bartholomew felt sick in his stomach. When they were starting the garden, Uncle Jeffrey had reminded Bartholomew several times to check on the property lines and utilities. Bartholomew wasn't sure how to go about doing this, and he put it off. Then Mr. McBarden assured him that everything was okay. It was Bartholomew's fault that the garden was built on railroad property without permission. He felt like throwing up.

#38 - Broken Dreams - The Illustrations

Broken Dreams is illustrated by James O'Brien. Here we have Geraldine - the pug - at the feet of a man.  She approaches a few men in this story who are destroying Bartholomew's garden.  She is trying to scare them off, but she just isn't big and ferocious enough.

In my last entry about James, I mentioned that he was a real "great guy."  I've changed my mind..  James is a stupendous guy.  The other day, I found out that Charles Schulz (Peanuts - Charlie Brown and Snoopy) went to the College of Visual Arts, where Jim is the chair of the Illustration Department.   So I called him up and I said "I didn't know that Charles Schulz went to the College of Visual Arts."  To which he replied, "yep."  It may seem small, but it was a bit of an epiphany for me.

James is also a very accomplished illustrator (as witnessed by his illustration above and the one he created for What Will Be Will Be, story #29).  Besides The Book of Bartholomew, James has illustrated for several Fortune 500 companies and some of the biggest and most popular magazines and newspapers in the country.  You can check out his bio here.   Here is James' website:

Broken Dreams is published this Friday, March 9 at The Book of Bartholomew.