Monday, December 31, 2012

Bartholomew Makes Another Decision - Story

If I may continue on my previous track...

Making friends is a funny and mysterious process.  How much do you share with people before you really know them well?  Do you share your dreams?  There are times when it is perfectly normal to share your dreams and hopes with total strangers.  Like at a New Years Party when everyone starts talking about resolutions.  This is what happens with Bartholomew in Bartholomew Makes A Decision, the fourteenth story in The Book of Bartholomew.

Have you ever blurted something out, something that was the truth and embarrassing?  Bartholomew is so excited about his possible new friends that he shares more than he is comfortable with - but somehow he is comfortable with sharing a little too much.  He wants these people to know who he is and what is important to him.  He is happy to laugh at himself a little bit if it means he is actually getting closer to others.  Besides, sometimes laughing at yourself helps relieve the sense that you're a nerd.

This story is titled similar to the very first story in The Book of Bartholomew, Bartholomew Makes A Decision.  In that story, Bartholomew makes the decision that he needs friends in his life to help him make good decisions, so he doesn't get taken advantage of by people like Gerald.  In this story, he makes another decision - what he wants to do with his new friends.

Here is an excerpt from Bartholomew Makes Another Decision
             Topping stood in the doorway with a New Year’s hat on his head and a beer in his hand.
Bartholomew, come in!” he yelled above the din of music and conversation while handing him the beer.
             Bartholomew entered the small, warm apartment that was packed wall-to-wall with people. He had not been around this many people in a long time and felt a momentary sense of dread. But then he saw Ned standing in the kitchen by a table full of food. Ned waved a Donkey Burger at him. Topping and Bartholomew made their way through the crowd.
Hey, Bartholomew. How’s it going? You have a nice Christh-muth?” asks Ned as he stuffed a pig-in-a-blanket in his mouth.
Yeah, it was okay,” Bartholomew lied. Bartholomew had not enjoyed the holidays since his parents died. Was this really the third Christmas he celebrated without them? Could their deaths be that far away already?
             “What’d you do?” Ned asked as he grabbed another pig.
             “I went to Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey’s house and had brunch and exchanged presents. And exchanged presents with Oliver.”
             “Who’s Oliver?” asked Topping.
             “Oh, he’s my cat.”
             Topping snickered, “What did Oliver give you?”
             Bartholomew blushed a little. “My Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey buy me a present from Oliver every year…and three presents from Santa.” Bartholomew wasn’t sure why he shared that last part.
             Topping and Ned laughed.
             Wanting to change the subject, Bartholomew asked, “What did you guys do?”
             “I just went to my parent’s house,” said Ned after he finished laughing. “Nothing special.” He surveyed the cookie tray.
Charlotte and I went to my parent’s house and then her mom’s house,” said Topping. “My parent’s dog gave me a Christmas present,” he said looking mischievously at Bartholomew. “He took a whizz on my shoes.” They all laughed together.
Bartholomew, feeling hungry, glanced at the table. It was the usual party fare: store bought foods and a few homemade dishes that were of questionable origin but whose creators insisted they were the most delicious things they ever made. Bartholomew did not doubt these assertions, but chose to pass on the food for now.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bartholomew Asks... What was your worst job?

In light of the present wrapping job Bartholomew had this holiday season, he wants to know: What was your worst job?

Share your response at The Book of Bartholomew Facebook Page.

Bartholomew Asks... What are your holiday food traditions?

After the story reading at Dreamland Arts at the end of November, some people stuck around to answer some of Bartholomew's questions.  Here, they answer the question: What are your holiday food traditions?

Share your response at The Book of Bartholomew Facebook Page.

Lunch Rap - The Music

The music for this week's story is by some guys over at Last Triumph collective.  I met JR at an art exhibit about rock and roll over in NE Minneapolis.  JR is a photographer and a musician.  His band is called Sine Circle and will be highlighted at a later story.  But JR is part of this collective and so he works with a lot of different people and they have put out cd's.  JR is responsible for hooking me up with the Dalia songs that were featured in stories #1: Bartholomew Makes a Decision and #6: Claire

In that tradition, this week you can hear some of JR's work in collaboration with MaLLy and DJ Snuggles on a song called Hot Sauce.  And it is HOT!!!!  Then you can hear Crunchy Kids  on a song called Opus.  Check out the music this week and check out the Last Triumph collective.  And thank JR while you're at it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lunch Wrap- Illustrations

I recently was creating a logo for Donkey Burger, the fast-food restaurant in The Book of Bartholomew. A donkey was the first order of business. I needed to create a comical donkey head. Below are some trials of different donkey heads. You can see that I had a pretty good beginning and only tweaked hair, mouth, ears and eyes from this point. My first go is the upper left image in the group of eight. I didn't like the hair, so I printed out several incomplete donkey heads and then tried different hair styles.

After I settled on a hair style, bottom left, I wasn't happy with the ears.  I had one thin ear and one big ear.  They didn't match.  At first I copied and pasted the thin ear to the other side of his head, so they matched.  I didn't quite like this.  Then I created a big ear for the front, to match the one in the back. I liked this better.

Now that I had the donkey head like I wanted it (although I still want to change the eyes slightly) I made it into an official Donkey Burger logo by adding the name, some circles and stars and the tagline. I like circular logos.  I don't know why.  But I like how the donkey is in it, but also coming out of it with its ears overlapping the rings.  Stars and a red, white and blue color scheme for obvious patriotic reasons - only in America can you find the finest donkey meat burgers.  I like "Meat with a Kick," which is safer than the other choice of "Eat My Ass."

This logo will appear on the next published story in The Book of Bartholomew. The story is titled "Lunch Rap," and will be published on December 28, 2012 at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lunch Rap - Writing the Story

Things were quiet for a moment as everyone decided it was too depressing to talk about jobs and money.

Bartholomew, could you pass me the fries?” asked Topping.

Topping noticed a tattoo on Bartholomew’s arm as he handed him the plate of french fries.

Nice tat!” said Topping.

Bartholomew was a little embarrassed but held out his arm to show everyone the moon tattoo on the tender underside of his right wrist. Then he showed them the sun tattoo on his left wrist.

Cooool,” said Ned.

Wow, I like how intricate they are,” said Claire. “Did you design them yourself?”

Sort of. I worked off of some designs I liked. They were originally drawn by Aristotle. But I did change them quite a bit,” said Bartholomew

What do they mean?” asked Ned.

Day and night,” said Bartholomew.

Well, duh!” said Topping with a mouth full of fries.

Why is the moon on your right wrist? Is there some meaning to that?” asked Claire.

Well, actually, yeah.” Bartholomew wasn’t sure how much he should tell them. He hadn’t really explained the tattoos to anyone before except to Uncle Jeffrey, Aunt Josephine, and Oliver his cat. Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine did not approve of tattoos, and especially of these tattoos.

Uh, the moon is on my right wrist because I am right handed and… at the time I got them… uh…my life seemed more dark than sunny,” Bartholomew said not looking at anyone.

Why was that?” asked Claire with a sympathetic look in her brown eyes.

Well…I got them soon after I lost both my parents.”

The other three wrappers sat stunned for a moment. Everyone heard the sound of a half-chewed french frie hitting the floor as Ned opened his mouth in disbelief.

Oh, I’m sorry,” said Claire as her face blushed red for having asked earlier if Bartholomew lived with his parents.

The room got quiet again.

The Butler walked in and began to remove empty plates and glasses from the table. He disappeared through a swinging door, returned promptly, and waited to the side of the table for Bartholomew to finish his lunch.

The four wrappers talked about a few recent movies they had seen. When Bartholomew had indicated he had finished eating The Butler grabbed his plate and announced, “Lunch is over. You may continue wrapping.”

The sound of chairs scraping on the floor reverberated throughout the room and Bartholomew, Claire, Ned and Topping filed out the door.

Lunch Rap is the second story dealing with Bartholomew's experience wrapping Christmas presents for Gerald's kids and meeting his new friends: Topping, Ned and Claire.  I originally wrote the two stories as one, but found it was getting too long.  I determined to make the first story about Gerald's children and how horrible they are.  This second story is about the process of making friends.  How do we talk to each other?  How do we ask questions?  At what point do you determine that an acquaintance is worthy of the investment of friendship?  What do you do then? How does your communication change at this point?   I find this all fascinating and explore this in several of the stories in The Book of Bartholomew. 

Even in my forties I find making friends an interesting endeavor.  It is much more complex, often with children and partners involved.  How does one man in his forties say to another man who is in his thirties, forties or fifties, "I like you.  Let's hang out."  I still haven't decided if it is even more awkward making a friendship with a woman, with all the possible sexual thoughts or feelings cropping up for both.  Either way, a true friendship, one where you freely share yourself, can lead to awkward moments.  But, it is worth it to muddle through in order to find a friend with whom you feel completely comfortable.  I have a few of them in my life and lean on them when I am confused or unsure about things.  They may not have answers for me, but they have an uncritical ear.  Most of the times that is all I need.  They are also the people with whom I laugh most freely.  It is sweet.

Lunch Rap will be published on December 28, 2012 at:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Wrap! - the Music by Barbara McAfee

Music for this week's story, Christmas Wrap!, is by Barbara McAfee.  These are two beautiful winter seasonal songs.  One is called Holy Cold and the other Simple Season.  Barbara is a singer/songwriter, keynoter, author, and voice coach who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformative power of music. Check out her website for her many cd's and her hot selling book Full Voice, the Art and Practice of Vocal Presence.  And, hey, have her keynote your conference.  You won't be sorry.  Thank you, Barbara.

Christmas Wrap - Published Today

Christmas Wrap!, the twelfth story of The Book of published today.  This tale of Christmas preparations has Bartholomew meeting Topping, Ned, Claire, Xavier and The Nanny for the first time.  There is a lot you can learn about people from their Christmas presents.

The story is illustrated by Mary Esch. Music provided by Barbara McAfee.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Wrap - Illustrations by Mary Esch

The illustrations for Christmas Wrap were created by Mary Esch. Mary has created work previously for The Book of Bartholomew - Story #5: Bartholomew and Geraldine. Mary, once again, has created two wonderful images that capture the story.

In this first image, Mary captures a fight in one of the Christmas rooms. Two young men are struggling on the floor while

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Seek and Find Contest

The two images below are of Xavier's Christmas room, which you can learn more about in this week's story, Christmas Wrap, that will be published on Friday.  There are a total of 8 differences between the two pictures, can you find them?  If you correctly identify the 8 differences, you will win a Book of Bartholomew t-shirt (see below for image).  Deadline is December 31, 2012.

Correctly identify the 8 differences in the two pictures above in an email by December 31, 2012, and you will win a t-shirt that looks something like this!

 Good luck!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Wrap - Story

Usually, Gerald was as tight as a swollen door when it came to money. But there was one time each year when he would shower his children with gifts. That was Christmas. Gerald was so generous that each of his four children: Xavier, Mo, Khua and Geraldine each had their own special room, decorated with their own Christmas tree and presents.

Bartholomew showed up at Gerald’s mansion ready to wrap presents and hoping to avoid running into Geraldine. Thankfully, she was in school most of the day. Bartholomew arrived at the same time as three other young people who were to help wrap. The Butler showed each wrapper to a room in which they would spend the next three days wrapping and decorating for one of Gerald’s children. Bartholomew was worried that he would end up having to wrap Geraldine’s presents and decorate her Christmas room. Thankfully, he was assigned to Xavier.

Bartholomew walked through the wooden double-doors and found a gigantic room filled furniture and several tables piled high with items to wrap. In the corner was a ladder and boxes of lights, ornaments, and wall decorations. In the middle of the room was a thirteen-foot-tall evergreen tree.

“There are some directions over by the boxes on what to do with the decorations,” said The Butler gruffly, “and the wrapping paper, tape, and materials are over on the table. There are directions there, too. Certain presents need to be wrapped with certain paper. If you have any questions, you can push this button on the wall here and The Nanny will come and tell you what to do.”

Bartholomew turned to ask a question, but The Butler had already left the room.

           Bartholomew felt a bit overwhelmed by all the presents, so he decided to start with the decorations. On top of the boxes of decorations was a sheet of paper with very neat hand-written directions accompanied by a detailed sketch of the room with the decorations in place. On a second page was a drawing of the tree with all of its ornaments and strings of lights. Bartholomew thought this would be easy.
This story follows Bartholomew as he takes a short job to make some money to buy Christmas presents.  He not only ends up back at Gerald's house, but he also meets Topping, Claire and Ned from previous stories.  He also meets The Nanny, with whom he has many encounters down the road.  This story has a companion story that will be the next one published.  But in this story, Bartholomew and his new friends find out  how dysfunctional Gerald's kids really are.

This story has an interesting origin.  A friend of mine was a Christmas present wrapper for a famous writer who lives in California.  I don't remember the writer's name, she wrote either romance or mystery novels.  This writer had a different room for each of her three children in which there would be a tree and their presents.  It took my friend three days to wrap the presents for one of the children.  I must say that I really can't relate to having that much money, but I thought it would make an interesting setting for a story.

Christmas Wrap will be published December 21, 2012.

Someone To Call Home - Now Available to Read

You can now read Someone to Call Home at The Book of Bartholomew.

Topping has bad news for Charlotte when he returns home from work.  She is making pizza and a salad.  They sit down at the folding table and chairs to have dinner.  "Are you okay?" she asks... 

Written by Mark Granlund, music by Yata and Kelly Jo Roth.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Someone to Call Home - Music

This week's music is provided by two different performers: Kelly Jo Roth and Yata!

Some of you might know Kelly Jo from the story reading performance last month at Dreamland Arts.  She played piano, sang songs and was a perfect musical interpreter of the stories read that evening.  Here again, Kelly Jo has written a wonderful song for The Book of Bartholomew.  It is titled Waiting.  Instead of piano, she is on ukelele in this song about waiting for her love to come home.  It is a very catchy tune that will not leave your brain.  I find myself singing it around the house often.

The second musician is Yata.  Some of you may be familiar with Yata from story #2: Gerald Teaches a Life Lesson.  Two of his songs were featured there.  This week's song was chosen for Someone To Call Home by Yata.  We were at a cabin up north with many other artists this last summer.  Everyone took a turn playing music or sharing a poem, etc.  I read this story to the crowd.  After the story was over, Yata wanted to play this song for me because my story had reminded him of it.  It is a song he wrote about his wife.  I was blown away.  A couple of days later we recorded the song in a little 10' x 10' room out over the water.  The violin is played by Terry Elliot on just the second take.  She had not heard the song before - I could tell stories about how amazing a violin player she is, too.

Both of these songs capture so well the feelings I had while writing this story, a sense of longing, a sense of oneness, a sense of peace found in someone you love.

Someone to Call Home will be published tomorrow, 12/14/12 at The Book of Bartholomew.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Book of Bartholomew Gifts

This week's story has, for the first time, some related gifts items. 

Uncle Cy's World's Greatest Dad Coffee Mug - $15.95 

This mug is an exact replica of Uncle Cy's coffee mug (see: The Book of Bartholomew Story #11: Someone to Call Home), minus the coffee stains on the inside.  Mug is inscribed with the phrase "World's Greatest Dad" and the word "asshole" written over the word "Dad."  Let your father know exactly how you feel!  Great for Christmas or Father's Day!
Warning: for men who are confident in their familial relationships.

SALAD T-SHIRT - $27.75

Are you a salad eater? Wear what you eat! This ink illustration of an actual salad eaten by the creator of The Book of Bartholomew is fun, crisp and completely vegan.  Have people spend hours staring at your chest trying to identify the lettuce, cheese, red peppers and apple chunks.  T-shirt is a 100% fine jersey cotton unisex shirt, by American Apparel, and is the softest, smoothest shirt they sell. It’s medium weight and made from combed cotton for your added comfort. Gives a flattering and stylish fit to virtually any body type. Made in the USA. Other colors available.
Warning: people might stab you with a fork or pour dressing on you!

Original Salad or Water Glass Ink Illustration: - $65

12" x 12" ink illustration by Mark Granlund
8" x 12" ink illustration by Mark Granlund
Original artwork from The Book of Bartholomew, now available for purchase.  Price includes shipping in U.S.A.  To purchase, email Mark Granlund.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Someone to Call Home - Illustrations

Someone to Call Home is a simple story, therefore it needed a few simple illustrations. The pizza oil painting (that's an oil painting of pizza, not a painting of pizza oil) is the cover image for the story. The glass of water and salad are in the interior of the story. Simple, like Toppings love for Charlotte. Illustrations are by the author Mark Granlund

Someone to Call Home will be published December 14, 2012 at

Monday, December 10, 2012

Someone to Call Home - Story

Even before he opened the apartment door, Topping could smell the pizza that Charlotte was baking. He entered, took off his shoes and brought his lunchbox into the kitchen and placed it on the counter.

“Hi Honey,” Charlotte said while making salad.

Topping walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist and buried his face into her long brown hair. He moved his hands feeling the smoothness of her stomach and then placed them gently on her breasts. He kissed Charlotte on the neck.

“Okay, Tiger,” Charlotte said with a smile. “I’m saving that for dessert.”

Topping hugged Charlotte while she finished making the salad.

“Could you check on the pizza?” Charlotte asked as the timer bell rang.

Topping reluctantly pulled his arms from around her and turned to open the oven door. The heat rolled out onto his face and his skin hurt for a moment. The pizza was done. Topping grabbed an oven mitt that resembled a chicken. He closed the beak around the pizza tray and pulled it out of the heat. Charlotte buys frozen cheese pizzas and then adds her own toppings. This makes her feel like a chef. Tonight she decorated the large disk of cheese with some pepperoni, black olives and green pepper slices.

Topping and Charlotte’s apartment is always hot beyond their control. Though it is only twenty degrees Fahrenheit outside, Charlotte is wearing a simple summer print dress with spaghetti straps. She places the salads on a small card table next to glasses of ice water. Topping admires her bare legs and arms, her neck and clavicle bones. He dishes out slices of pizza on a couple of chipped plates and brings them over to Charlotte who is sitting on a folding chair.

Someone to Call Home is a very short story that introduces Topping and Charlotte, a young couple who live together.  Topping comes home from working at his Uncle Cy's car painting shop to find Charlotte cooking dinner.  He has some bad news to tell her.  He takes his time, waiting for the right moment.

At it's heart, Someone To Call Home is about finding your place of peace in your partner.  If you can find peace in each other, any crisis can be handled.  But it is not easy for a young couple. Fortunately, these two are an exceptional couple.

Someone to Call Home will be published on December 14, 2012 at

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bartholomew and a Carload of Trouble - Music by Thea Ennen

Thea and I go way back to July of 2012.  We met up nort' on Mallard Island.  All week long she was making a textile art piece of a tree.  It was beautiful and I thought that was what she did as an artist.  She sang a couple of songs in the evenings when everyone else pulled out their guitars and the piano, but she didn't seem to want to play or sing much.  Then, when leaving, she gave me a cd of hers.  I listened to it at least half the drive home - about 2 hours.  I listened to it over and over.

From Thea's website:  

I sing and write to make a sense of my existence - my place in this world, in this body. Each song is a specific journey down a road that is either familiar or less traveled... they are my magic carpets to see again a memory or expectation. I use songs - melodies and words - to guide me, like a rudder through the waters of life. Sometimes I like to take a forgotten channel to the mouth of a secret lake.

I think I sing in public to reassure this kind of journey- to never lose touch with what is instinctual.
-Thea Ennen

Long a favorite is the club/coffee house circuit of the Midwest, piano-playing/singing/songwriting, Thea Ennen is an artist in every sense of the word (she also writes poetry, draws, sculpts, does arts and crafts and even designs clothing for theatrical productions.) Her self-produced, self-penned "All Aboard" won her the Minnesota Folk Recording of the Year.

One might superficially classify Thea's music as countryfolk, but that would be selling her far to short. She is simply a wonderful songstress, with a penchant for creating music that is multi-textured, melodically rich and lyrically adept.
-"Album Network"

With a full creative plate, Thea has undertaken curatorship of The Little Parrot Art Sanctuary in Stillwater, Minnnesota where she tends the creative spawn of local artists in the St. Croix River valley.

I'm so happy to have Thea helping out with The Book of Bartholomew.  She is very generous - flowers grow in her footprints. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bartholomew and a Carload of Trouble - Illustration

The main illustration for Bartholomew and a Carload of Trouble shows Geraldine having mounted Bartholomew in his 1974 Peugeot. But, of course, the fires of passion between Bartholomew and Geraldine manifest themselves in real flames. Bartholomew is more afraid of the flames than willing to be consumed by them. The first image here is the ink drawing I (Mark Granlund) created from some small sketches.  To see more about creating this illustration from the original sketches check out this previous blog entry at The Artist's Brain blog: Bartholomew and Geraldine Illustration

This next image is the coloring created for the illustration. And when you place the ink drawing over the coloring layer you end up with the image below. The view outside the windshield is from a woodland painting I created years ago. I was happy with the drawing and the coloring, but something wasn't translating when it was finished. Then I added the darker coloring to Geraldine's eyelids and the image came together for me.

Bartholomew and a Carload of Trouble will be published December 7, 2012 at The Book of Bartholomew

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bartholomew and a Carload of Trouble - Story

     Bartholomew and Geraldine were driving down the road in Bartholomew’s car, a 1974 Peugeot, white with pink side panels and chrome trim. The car had been his father’s who kept it in the garage and only drove it on special occasions. They were heading to the Mountains of the Great Divide for a picnic lunch on the hottest day of the summer. Geraldine had suggested the outing as a way for Bartholomew to make up for burning down her father’s cabana. She also insisted on Bartholomew’s father’s Peugeot, as she thought it looked European, which it was.
     “Oh Bartholomew,” gushed Geraldine, “You are so romantic taking me to the mountains for a picnic. Did you bring the food I asked for?”

     “Uh, not all of it,” said Bartholomew. “I brought sunflower butter and beet sandwiches on oat croissants, corn, some kale and a dessert. Oh, and some apple-carrot juice. Of course, it is all organic.”

     “I didn’t ask for any of that disgusting food. Didn’t you bring the pickled pig’s feet, Donkey Double Cheeseburgers, chips and bubblegum ice cream? Didn’t you bring any of that?”

      “No,” said Bartholomew, twitching in his seat a bit. “I guess I didn’t understand.” But he did understand. Bartholomew didn’t like the food Geraldine requested so he brought the food he liked. He was beginning to think that he and Geraldine had many obstacles to becoming a couple. After all, they didn’t like the same food or movies and Geraldine didn’t like to read. Also, Oliver, Bartholomew’s cat, didn’t like Geraldine and Gerald, Geraldine’s father, didn’t seem to like Bartholomew, even though he often said quite the opposite.

     “Bartholomew, you look just like a race car driver behind the wheel of this car. It’s like you’re Jimmy Stewart or Cam Gordon or some racing guy like that,” said Geraldine.

      Bartholomew smiled and enjoyed the feeling of driving the twisting and turning mountain roads, the sun above, the cool wind on his sweaty skin and a girl by his side-- someone who thinks he’s something special.

Bartholomew and a Carload of Trouble has Bartholomew and Geraldine going on a picnic. This is the last of three "date" stories for Bartholomew and Geraldine. There are similarities in all three stories: there is passion, there is fire and there is confusion. In each, Bartholomew is left with a decision to make about Geraldine and their compatibility. In a relationship, this can sometimes be a very hard decision to make. Some girl or boyfriends are great fun, and they have a special quality or two. But at the same time they might have a perspective on life that will never mesh with yours. Or, they may have some difficult behaviors, or stupid friends or cold families, or... But of course, the question always comes down to "can you be yourself within the relationship without any reservations, and with that accomplished, does the relationship actually help you grow into a more loving and giving self?"

Bartholomew has a hard time being himself in the relationship and being honest about his doubts. What do you do with someone like Geraldine? Bartholomew doesn't know until he is forced to express himself and his true feelings.

Bartholomew and a Carload of Trouble will be published on December 7, 2012 at
To read the other "date stories" of Bartholomew and Geraldine, read:
Bartholomew and Geraldine
Bartholomew and the Cabana Fire