Yearbook 2016 #1 | The Entertainment

First and foremost, 2016 was pretty much the year of the Reaper, since it claimed so many lives of notable public figures (especially musicians) and the lives of the innocent (such as those in Aleppo) that a hearty and proper

FUCK YOU, 2016


is very much in order. Now, with that out of the way . . .

A moment of silence for all of those we lost in 2016.

Books – Notable Reads of 2016

Some of these are re-reads. My reading focus kind of took on a crime spree for a large part of the year. I owe a large part of my noir voice and style to both Elmore Leonard and John Ridley, thanks to the specific novels in this list.

Comics Series/Graphic Novels – Notable Reads of 2016

A couple of these are a few years old that I finally got around to. In 2016 my comics buying habits got rather ridiculous  and my yet-to-read stack hovered around 100 issues all year long. I still predominantly avoid superhero comics from DC and especially Marvel, but I found myself reading the relaunches of both Superman and Wonder Woman series (not pictured). The absence of both Sex Criminals and Southern Bastards for much of the year was disappointing. My favorite writers in 2016 are easily Ed Brubaker (Criminal), Greg Rucka (Lazarus) and Brian K. Vaughan (Saga). Jaime Hernandez (Love & Rockets: The Love Bunglers) is a life-time-achieving favorite comics creator.

Movies – Notable Flicks of 2016

If my increased attendance to the cinema is any indication, then 2016 was one of the better years in movies for me. NOTE: I still have not seen Arrival, nor Passengers, nor so many others (I’m an old man with a family, I don’t get to the theater much), and then there’s Star Wars: Rogue One. That one is still pending and should be taken care of this week. I suppose my ranking–sans Rogue One–would breakdown like this:

  1. The Secret Life of Pets
  2. Captain America: Civil War
  3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  4. Star Trek: Beyond
  5. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
  6. Suicide Squad
  7. Deadpool
  8. Doctor Strange

Music – Most New Spins of 2016

Like movies, I don’t spend a lot of time in search of new music and it’s been said that by the time you hit your mid-30s (I’m in my early 40s) you tend to become less adventurous in your musical quests, likely due to a cynical jadedness of “been there, heard that”. I can attest that’s mostly true. I definitely tend to stick to many old favorite artists that I likely discovered in decades previous, although I did discover both The Weeknd and BANKS this decade.

TV – Most Compelling Scripted Series of 2016

With television, a medium where you’re inviting casts of characters into your living room on a regular, mostly weekly basis, the primary criteria has to be your general endearment of the characters. After the 2015-16 season ended I decided to drop Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham and Sleepy Hollow for various reasons. For me, the most endearing, charming characters with the most compelling stories are what’s going to keep me coming back week after week. From my perspective in 2016, that played out as follows:

  1. The Flash
  2. The Walking Dead
  3. Fear the Walking Dead
  4. This Is Us
  5. Shades of Blue
  6. Game of Thrones
  7. Preacher
  8. Supergirl

Honorable mention should go to Luke Cage, which would have made this list but lost out to Supergirl due to its more endearing ensemble cast.

Well, that’s a wrap. Maybe I should do another one or two of these yearbooks to list the actual entertainers and notable events of 2016.




Lifebook 13 | 2016 X-Mas Gifts

A few notable X-Mas gifts I received this year.


Drink coasters, presumably for my office/study/man cave! I have three desks in my house so I’ve got at least one on each.


This hefty, heavy coffee table tome documents the making-of, while also commemorating the 30th anniversary of Master of Puppets, one of the most influential musical masterpieces by Metallica, which is one of the most influential and favorite bands of mine. Over 250 pages of rare photos, exclusively-written content and great testimonies of the legendary tour. Naturally also serves as a memento of late bassist Cliff Burton as this was his last recording.


One of the best reviewed and most successful videogames of the year. I’m a crime fiction fiend, so it should be great fun. My plan is to dive into it on New Year’s Day.

I absolutely must get my remaining kids at home, ages 16.11 and 11.9, into the greatness of Star Wars. They’re highly resistant to things, despite my pass success rate of exposing them to things they like. As great as they are, Episodes IV – VI are ancient in their eyes, and as for the dreaded prequels, I refuse to fully acknowledge them, nor would I subject them to my children. I think the perfect gateway is The Force Awakens, given that it is contemporary at just a year old, and also features a female lead. Wish me luck on this arduous task.


One of two Marvel Studios films I’ve yet to see (the other being The Incredible Hulk). The plan is not only to see all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also to own them all. I have a few more to add to my shelf. Aside from the Hulk, the only other one I missed seeing in the theater was Thor: The Dark World, and I think my viewing experience suffered from not having seen it on the big screen. I hope that’s not the case for Ant-Man, as I’ve been told by a few friends that it’s one of the favorites of the bunch.

Yes, it should be evident by now that I am a big, geeky kid!

I hope you all had a safe, warm, tasty, satisfying, fun and family-and-friends-filled holiday season.


-BLR image_for_christmas_gift_clip_art

Lifebook 12 | The Irony of Being Laid Off

Pretty much immediately after the Election was “won” by a conman, the interest rates went to hell in the industry I worked in, which was mortgage. When that happens things inevitably get tricky for financial institutions, especially for mortgage companies that have most of their business tied up in refinances rather than purchases. A couple of days after the Election, we received the warning in a mass email of coming hard times. I started noticing a flurry of management meetings and furtive glances around the office by members of the management team. And then, just this past week, a more ominous warning via a mass email came down portending that the next 180 days were going to be severely rocky. In other words, cue the cut backs on staff.

The rest, as they say is history, meaning my employment.

And now I have unexpected free time on my hands due to this unintended vacation. Surely that means there’s more time to read and write, right?

Ha! No.

That’s more time to stress over the process of finding new, promising employment in one of the two slowest months in the job market, just prior to the holidays. Christmas and the New Year looms. Who can relax enough to enjoy the escapism of reading? Who can relax enough to be creative? I mean, I have plenty of creative projects to work on, hell, I was just in the middle of developing one with my buddy and artist Jack when this occurred. It’s all inside me, yet there’s this immense blockage that has imposed itself in the middle of the process, uninvited.

My muse has been usurped. As if I need ANY extra distractions, reasons or excuses for not writing fiction. Not since I’ve been a grown, responsible adult have I been able to dive into my fiction during high times of stress and calamity. In the early years as a New Adult, that was an option. When you’re in your 40’s things of non-reality seem to become frivolous diversions from the very real, dire task at hand.

So, yes, there’s cruel irony in my newfound extra time to myself. What I really want to do at this very moment is actually the last thing I am able to bring myself to do. I’m lucky to’ve  squeezed out this little missive, all things considered. 

After all, there are resumes to update and polish, and job applications to complete. Certainly no fun in that task.

Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

Lifebook 11 | Local Heroes . . . 5 Years Later

So this past week, November 22nd, to be precise, marked the five year anniversary of the publication of the first ever physical book to bear my byline on the cover (as editor/compiler). Local Heroes was a small anthology conceived, compiled and edited by yours truly and published by now defunct small press publisher Static Movement (with an assist by the also now defunct publisher Pill Hill Press and Amazon).

As the proud compiler of this anthology I somehow managed to select some exceptional work from my fellow scribes. As noted in the introduction, the sequencing of the pieces  (24 in total, including one by me) was a tough task not unlike that of a DJ deciding which songs to get the party jumping and keep it rocking throughout.

As stated in my introduction, I had to go with the three stories that emotionally impacted me the most as the lead-off trinity. “Virtual Memory” by Bob Eccles (known more for his horror stories), was a sci-fi story with so much heart (break) that I did become a little misty-eyed when reading it, which doesn’t really happen when I’m reading short fiction. I believe that story went on to win an award of some kind (I just can’t remember which).


The second piece, “Football and Faith” by Kevin Wallis, also pulled on my heartstrings a bit.


And then “In the Eye of the Beholder” used a game of baseball to tell a very touching coming-of-age tale that gripped me immediately.


There were several military stories that tackled heroism in their own unique ways. Guardian angels also had a strong presence, as well as what can only be described as, well,  ‘local heroes’. 

For the theme of Local Heroes alone makes it an important book, so I’m happy and proud to’ve helped bring it into the world, even if for only a small press print run. 

Today I think the theme of local heroes is a very timely one, all things considered. I’d love to do a sequel someday.

Thinkbook 6 | It’s Over (Election Edition)

Despite the Election not turning out how I wanted, I’m going to go ahead and shave the trees off my face to start the work week. My kids have been clamoring for this momentous occasion ever since I stopped shaving in mid-September, perhaps a week or so before my birthday. So, in the wake of the outcome, what can I say? What can I say that hasn’t already been said elsewhere? I won’t belabor it here with new words, but I want to share some of the words I transmitted into social media last week that convey my thinking on this unfortunate turn of events, if only for posterior.

* Note: Though I like to provoke thought, it is not my intention to stir up yet another political debate on the Interwebs.

**Note: It is also not my intention to lose any of you by sharing my quotes on the election, but if I do, well, I understand.

Majorly bummed and disappointed. But am I surprised? Not really. The writing’s been on the wall for eighteen months when the dregs hiding beneath the rocks and hiding in the closest got stimulated by the Candidate. As evident from the result, ALL OF THEM came out of the woodwork to help prove that a progressive American IS NOT a true reality. And I don’t want to hear more of their bullshit that “we’re tired of the government not working” when they also re-elected the same GOP congress members who have helped do the very failing they’re complaining about.

Funny how the Candidate’s voting base is ALL ABOUT being against illegal immigrants and them not paying taxes and jobs going overseas, yet they vote in a candidate who doesn’t pay taxes, had an illegal immigrant for a wife and has also sent thousands of jobs overseas. Dumb and hypocritical much? But it’s like he said, he ran as a Republican expressly because of the GOP’s ignorant voting base. Well played. The American Dream is alive and well.

You focused on inconsequential emails, but Russian ties don’t bother you?

How the hell did the Candidate get the evangelical vote too? I guess sin is in.

Dear John McCain and Mitt Romney,

I’m sorry. We still cool?

Your Friend,

– B.

It’s no consolation but Hillary actually won the popular vote.

If only our intelligence was more equal to our emotions . . .

My guess is insurance companies are happier than pigs in shit about their future prospects. The poor folks, truly poor folks who voted on the side of GOP that were lucky to finally get coverage in recent years, should probably prepare for a stark compromise of that in the next couple of years. What preparedness for that even means, I do not know. The rest of us will be footing the bills again.

I think the main problem I have with the flak that I’ve gotten from the pro-Trumpers who’ve parted ways with me recently is that conveniently — yet unsurprisingly — they are not the targets of his agenda, proposed policies and rhetoric. And they have absolutely no empathy to the past, current and forthcoming plight of those who are those targets, or are simply unlike them. I continue to be resolute in my belief that supporting and voting for him is diametrically opposed to also supporting the progression and inclusion that I believe in from the core of my being. You can’t have it both ways. So that difference is not just a mere divide. It is a chasm.

We are the Divided States of America, and our enemies are watching. 

Now with that all purged and out of the way — I didn’t want to overload the regular weekly Ruckin’ With You blog with it — I can now move on to putting together a proper weekly for tomorrow, which even with Election stuff removed, looks to be pretty chunky. 

Until then, keep your wits about ya and be good to each other.


Notebook 9 | Waving the White Flag

I’m baaaack! Yeah, I wasn’t gone long and as I stated last week, you know what this quick return means. Details below.

How ’bout that NaNoWriMo experiment?

So what did I learn within my first couple of days of NaNoWriMo?

  • My new fiction prose is VERY rusty. I seem to be sharper when working on my previously written prose when revising and editing. And I can flow here in a nonfiction or even a journalistic mode with ease. I suppose my previous years in the role of a fiction editor as well as spending the last 5 years mostly writing nonfiction will do that to a fella’s fiction flow.
  • Contrary to my optimism, I can’t use a first-person POV for a long-form prose narrative like a novel.
  • Aside from very short fiction, I am far outside my comfort zone when stuck with the lack of narrative control that is 1st person POV. That lack of narrative authority.
  • My best prose writing days might just be behind me, or so my mind, lacking confidence, has been whispering to me. At least in terms of long prose fiction. We’ll see how it’s looking once I (someday?) shake the rust off.
  • It turns out that what I’ve been writing for one long-term character of mine has actually been the story intended for a different long-term character of mine who belongs to a different and even more aged unfinished project of mine (which originates as far back as the mid-to-late 1990s).

So what does this mean moving forward?

  • Well, at a mere 1,426 words in the first week on a troubled project, it’s safe to say I’ve failed NaNoWriMo 2016 and have effectively bowed out of the initiative/contest.
  • You can say that all of this is a litany of excuses, and that’s fine, but at 43 I know full well how my psyche works against me.
  • Serialized fiction seems to be the ideal setup for my wayward, unsettled self. I’ve been telling that to myself for a while now. Get in quickly for a short intense burst of creative output, get out and back to life, come back to do it again, rinse and repeat.
  • My online library, archive and de facto publisher RUCKERPEDIA could be the perfect venue for that mode of operation. Stay tuned.

Notebook 8 | . . .

Shit. I’ve gotten into that weird mode of only wanting to write. I had planned on reading tonight and sat down with a couple of books, a novel and an anthology, and couldn’t bring myself to turn the pages. Grabbed a stack of comics and they couldn’t keep my attention past a couple of pages either.

Maybe it’s just the stressful day at work that’s soured my mood and made me listless this evening. Month-end is always intense and the flurry of needy emails severely grate on my nerves. Friday and Monday at work will no doubt be their own special versions of Hell.

Or maybe I’m just anxious about starting NaNoWriMo in less than a week. Since I’ve been trying to wrap and tidy up other things prior to starting, I haven’t exactly prepped myself for THE literary endeavor of the year, aside from mentally. Well, I do have a summary written and some other conceptual notes from the summer when the idea originated in my noggin. I need to tweak the summary some. Write a skeletal outline. 

But I’m supposed to be working on a short comic script for a talent search as well. I think the anticipation and mental build-up of writing a novel, uninterrupted for a month at least, has diverted my attention from that. Like NaNo, it also has a November 30th deadline.

I suppose it’s possible NaNoWriMo has got me ready to forsake all else. Which is fine because that’s pretty much the only way I’ll be able to achieve a modicum of success with it.

All else must be shunned!

No squirrel is going to distract this eager, happy-go-lucky dog . . .