Sunday, January 30, 2011

More People in Glass Houses

Dad and Granny

Uncle Charles and Aunt Judy

Steve at the fishing cabin

Tim, me, Daniel and Joel

Toodles and Alex

Introducing Glass Houses

Yesterday I finished writing and editing Glass Houses. In the days and weeks to come I'll surely think of little details or anecdotes to add. But for now I'm calling it done.

Glass Houses is the single-largest creative endeavor of my life. The "finished" product is 505,825 characters in 110,806 words on 524 pages in 103 chapters. A copy center charges $40 to $45 to print a copy.

The book is about me. I included a lot that will likely end up on the cutting room floor because I couldn't decide if it was part of the story or not. A good editor will have an easier time snipping events that have nothing to do with the story.

The number of chapters will likely drop, too. Currently most chapters are three to five pages, with some as short as two pages. Again, a good editor will drop some and combine others to improve flow and readability.

Having birthed this baby, now I want people to read it. If you read this blog, whether we've met or not you're part of my inner circle. Yeah, I've always had boundary issues.

Getting published is important because it will allow me to reach a larger audience. But until then, I am happy to share a PDF of the book with my inner circle. Word of mouth is an author's best friend.

If you want to read Glass Houses, shoot an e-mail to...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Casting Call

About ten days ago I finished writing Glass Houses. More accurately, I wrote an end to the story. Reaching the ending for the first time felt really good.

Originally I planned to end Glass Houses at a point in time early in my thirties. The closer I got to my imagined conclusion, the more obvious it became that too many loose ends remained to end there. I kept writing.

Writing a memoir was supposed to be a way to share how I discovered and came to terms with being gay. It turned out to be that and more. Reliving my past dredged up a lot of unresolved feelings and emotions. Writing about and working through them has been an intensely emotional journey of self-discovery that ain't over yet.

There is another book in my story. I haven't pieced it all together but know the gist of what it's about. The idea for the second book helped me see how Glass Houses had to end. The story took on a life of its own. Decisions about what to include or leave out were much easier to make.

Since reaching the end I've been working with a hard copy to make final edits. I finished those the other day and am about halfway through making the changes to the file. I should finish this weekend.

Writing the book was easy. Getting it published is going to be an uphill battle. At the moment I'm overwhelmed by all the information and choices.

I could self-publish Glass Houses as an e-book on tomorrow. That and other self-publishing options will always be available. Perhaps I'm deluded but I'm confident enough to want to aim higher.

Glass Houses showcases my talent as a writer. I happen to think it's also a moving story with broad commercial appeal. Readers tell me it would make a great movie.

I like the idea of a movie. It does, however, raise one important question. Who would play...

The Crotchety Old Man?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Every morning I use Google Analytics to check my blog statistics. The daily report shows how many people visited the blog the day before, the posts they viewed, the amount of time they spent on each page and lots of other information. It's interesting more than useful.

One of the more interesting statistics is the bounce rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit the blog only to exit within seconds. Apparently they weren't interested in what they found. The lower the bounce rate, the better.

Yesterday's post about current television shows had a bounce rate of 100 percent. In other words, it took visitors to the blog about a second to decide they weren't interested. That's a first for me in more than two years of blogging. I get it--no more crappy blog posts about what I'm watching on television.

Having lost all but one of my right-wing friends on Facebook, I'm also avoiding political posts. Things I say get misconstrued, tempers flare and next thing you know I've lost another FB friend. Pissing off readers is counter-productive. In the end, what I think is unlikely to change what you think anyway.

Same with religion. I believe in God, but the particulars tend to rub those with different views the wrong way. They take offense, see my views as an attack on what they believe and get all defensive. So I keep my views to myself.

Work-related matters and office happenings are out-of-bounds, too. My momma didn't raise no fool. I talk about that stuff at work, just like everyone else.

I'm out of the always popular nostalgic posts. Everything I can think of is in Glass Houses. In the context of the larger story, they're also a lot more interesting than a blog post would be.

About all I've blogged about for months is the book. I figured you were tired of hearing about the damn book and were ready for something else. Clearly it's not what I'm watching on television.

I'll try to do better. I promise. I know it's what you've come to expect from...

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today on Television

My favorites on television right now are nearly all reality shows. I know, it's sad. Unless I change my viewing habits soon, my brain will surely turn to mush.

You're Cut Off is my favorite train wreck. This is a female version of my all-time favorite reality show, Tool Academy. The participants are all over-indulged bitches whose parents never learned to say no. It's the best case I've seen for passing a hefty inheritance tax.

I've stopped watching all but the Atlanta edition of Real Housewives. Nene and Phaedra, both from here in Athens, are just irresistible. Throw in Kim and several bottles of alcohol and we're talking good times. Cram the lot of them into a tour bus and it's a laugh a minute. They should open a charm school together.

RuPaul's Drag Race started it's third season last night. We don't get Logo so I have to wait for the repeats on VH1. It's sure to be a favorite--I've always loved a good drag show.

Thanks to Steven Tyler, the new American Idol is a riot. We'll see how things go once the real competition gets going. Frankly, I think the best years of American Idol are behind us. I'm done with Biggest Loser, too. Two hours is just too long.

Top Chef All Stars is probably my all-around favorite television show. A few of my favorites have already been eliminated (don't ask me why but I've always thought Dale was just darling). Still, the engaging cast keeps it interesting. We're also watching Worse Chef in America, mostly because it makes me feel better about my own cooking skills.

Fashion Police with Joan Rivers has become a favorite, too. Joan is a riot, especially if you enjoy hearing an octogenarian repeatedly drop the F-bomb. Kelly Osborne is a great co-host. The gay guy and what's her face who lost on the Apprentice don't add much.

For situation comedies I'm a fan of Modern Family. It's not the gay couple that keeps me coming back. It's Gloria--the vibrant and nearly psychotic Latina wife of Jay, played by Ed O'Neill of Al Bundy fame. She cracks me up.

I watch Jersey Shores, too, mostly to see Ronnie without his shirt and to watch girl fights. I don't normally enjoy violence but something about watching these women pound each other brings a smile to my face. It's almost as fun as Jerry Springer.

Maybe one day I'll get my own reality show. I could audition old men from all over the country. We'd go through various competitions with weekly eliminations to crown...

The Crotchety Old Man

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Piece of Work

I started sharing drafts of Glass Houses with selected friends and family members back in November. A very few get back to me within a day or two. They've finished and loved the story.

Knowing nobody in the world has anything better to do than read my book, after I didn't hear from the rest I assumed they had given up or maybe didn't like it. So I sent the draft to a few more people, and then to a few more. I'm keeping track and have now sent it to more than thirty people.

This weekend I got e-mail messages from readers all the way back to that first group. Some are busy people and it took them a while to get through the 500+ page draft. Several included detailed reactions.

I ain't gonna lie...the compliments and praise are wonderful. I know my current critics are a friendly group. Still, the encouragement and support is very gratifying.

My initial reaction to some of the readers' reactions was that I had messed up! People were not seeing the story I thought I'd written. A couple of times I even tried to argue. No, you're wrong. That is NOT the book I wrote. Maybe not, but it is most definitely the book they read.

Two things happened. I focused on the words of the book--the narrative and plot elements. I'm laser-focused on the details, not the patterns or the overall picture. Between the lines, the patterns reveal a lot more truth than I ever intended.

Second, the reader brings their own "stuff" into the book. If they have experienced something similar, they bring that in. If they haven't, that tilts the story in a different direction. Some hone in on very specific memories evoked by something they read in earlier parts of the book. Others talk about universal themes in ways that make me wonder if we're talking about the same book.

Glass Houses is like an impressionistic painting. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. I have created a work of art. Whether it's good art or bad remains to be seen.

Thanks again for reading--the blog and the book. Keep those comments coming. It's still a work in progress though I am fast closing in on calling it done. Until then you can keep calling me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Beginnings

Toodles always said life begins at 50. Everything up to then is just training. If you haven't wised up, figured things out and become financially secure by your fifth decade, it probably ain't gonna happen.

Thanks to her positive attitude, I stopped dreading my 50th birthday in my thirties. Rather than the beginning of the end, the big five-oh would mark the beginning of a more enjoyable time of life. Stability has its advantages.

My elation at turning 50 was offset by an onslaught of health issues. After lots of tests, several outpatient surgeries and countless follow-up appointments a host of medical professionals assured me I'm good to go for at least another ten years. One or two also told their children not to worry about college expenses.

With the medical drama behind me for now, I've decided I don't entirely agree with Toodles. Saying life begins at fifty ignores or diminishes half a century of activity. I prefer to think of the fifties as a time for new beginnings.

Life sometimes gets in the way of pursuing dreams. Maybe you've always wanted to be a ballroom dancer, a painter, a school teacher or perhaps even a writer. If the desire has been there all along, in your fifties life quietens down enough to again hear its siren call.

It's easy think it's too late. In some cases it probably is. Although never is a word I prefer not to use, it's safe to say I will never be an Olympic gymnast.

I'm not talking about something for a bucket or BIG (Before I Go) list, either. I'm talking about a slumbering passion that for one reason or another, you've always ignored. Give it a shot. You'll never know until you try.

What's the worst that could happen? You find out your passion and your talents are mismatched. At least you know and can cross that one off the list of things you want to be when you grow up.

I wrote a book. Oddly enough, whether the book ever sells a copy doesn't matter. Writing a book someone else would ever read was something I never thought I could do. I did it, and people tell me they really enjoyed the read.

I'm on cloud nine.

And therein lies the problem. If I find a publisher and the book becomes successful, things will change. It will no doubt be the end of...

The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, January 20, 2011

People in Glass Houses

The early chapters.... taken sometime in the 70s

From left to right Junie, Betty, Peggy, Mary and Toodles

Uncle Gene with me and my sister...around 1968

Toodles & Me

Angels from the Hereafter

I don't know what happens to you after you die. When I die, I'll try to do a blog post all about the experience to fill you in. Until then I can only guess.

I'm inclined to believe in some kind of hereafter. Whether it's heaven or hell or something in between I couldn't say. Ditto for whether it's your soul or something else that lives on. I'll try to answer these questions in that first post-death blog post.

I'm pretty sure there's some kind of afterlife. It's more than just a hunch. I have circumstantial evidence I'm calling proof.

This week I finally wrote an ending to Glass Houses. To finish the last sections I had to re-read my journal about the last year Aunt Toodles was alive. Tears slowed the reading down quite a lot. The writing, too.

Years before she died when we talked about things that happened back in the day, she would often say "be sure to put that in your book." I promised I would. In the last weeks of her life she brought the book up again. I forgot about that, too, along with my promise to her that I would write it.

But Toodles never forgot. I'm not quite sure how she managed from the other side of the grave, but she did. If you knew her you wouldn't be at all surprised.

Based on what happened, after you die it looks like you have some kind of control over people with birthdays near your own. I know it sounds weird but it's true. Hey, people believe in a lot stranger stuff and nobody says a word.

Terri's birthday is just two days before Toodles' More than anyone else, she's the one who planted the seed in my head that I could write a book. Then she lovingly nurtured the tender new growth until it finally bloomed. You have no idea how many drafts she's read...

Larry's birthday is the day before Toodles'. When I got stuck and couldn't figure out where I was going and what the story was about, he asked fewer than five simple questions that set me on the right course. I guess you could say he provided a lot of fertilizer to keep the plant growing.

Without Terri, Larry and of course, Toodles, there would be no book. I hadn't seen Terri or Larry in more than 30 years. We didn't run in the same circles even then. They both reappeared in my life after Toodles died.

Coincidence? I'm inclined to believe there's no such thing as coincidence. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe one day we'll figure out the reason I am...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Last year I started writing little stories about my past and posting them on this blog. It was fun for me and readers enjoyed them enough to encourage me to write a book. I decided to give it a shot.

I approached the task as a technician. Step one was laying out an elaborate timeline of significant events. My job was to simply relate what happened. Or so I thought.

Turns out relating what happened involves a lot of decision-making about what to include or leave out. Technical writing skills help. The real challenge is crafting an interesting story. I promoted myself to craftsman and went back to work.

The biggest surprise was how often readers of early drafts said they could relate to the story. Turns out, I wasn't as different from other people as I thought. Who knew? Instead of a biography about me, it became a story about growing up and the path to self discovery.

Contrary to what I thought starting out, the book is not a factual recounting of my life with snapshots. It's more like a series of impressionistic paintings. Certain tints and tones are dialed way up while others are muted to evoke a certain response.

It's art. To my amazement and surprise, I have become an artist. Whether I'm a talented artist or not remains to be seen.

It's time to return to the cone of silence to do some more writing. I hope the cone is big enough for the beret and smock I've ordered from After all, the clothes make...

The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Back to Work

Mild winters are a big reason to love living in Athens. Most years it doesn't snow at all. When we do get snow, nine times out of ten it's usually just a dusting that quickly melts away after the sun comes out.

Snow started falling Sunday night as I was going to bed. When I got up at five o'clock, Athens had received nearly nine inches of snow--the most in any 24-hour period in recorded history. The snow turned to freezing rain, glazing the thick blanket of snow with a layer of ice.

We're talking epoch. Except to shovel off the driveway and to take the dogs out, I haven't left the house since Sunday. Judging from my neighbors and comments on Facebook from friends in the area, I'm not alone.

Since the big snow the temperature has rarely warmed above freezing. The sun finally came out for an hour or two yesterday--enough to melt maybe half the snow and ice from our rarely traveled street. Re-freezing yesterday afternoon caused police to close major roads all over Athens.

Being trapped in the house with three unexpected days off was a great opportunity to work on the book. I stayed in my cone of silence to write for hours at a time every day and have almost finished. The time may not have passed as quickly for my partner.

Today it's supposed to be sunny with a high around forty. The University of Georgia opens for the first time this week at eleven o'clock this morning. I'd be pissed but thanks to a holiday Monday, we have a three-day weekend coming up.

I must be mellowing. Since getting my driver's license, few things piss me off more than a big snow storm. Not this time.

There's still plenty of stuff to keep my blood boiling. Good thing. I know you'd hate to lose...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Too Busy to Blog

I've been too busy working on the book to blog. My Facebook friends have been treated to re-posts of some of my favorites from the past. The rest of you probably thought I'd died or something.

Nope. I'm fine and focused on my resolution to finish the book. I'm in the final turn, preparing to enter the home stretch to the finish line.

Subject to change without notice, I'm calling it Glass Houses. It's an autobiographical tale about growing up in the 60s, coming of age in the 70s and coming out in the 80s. If you like this blog, you'll love the book.

If I wasn't so busy, I'd have to blog about the tragedy in Arizona. For now I'll just extend my condolences to the grieving and hope this incident is enough to make both sides dial down the rhetoric about half a dozen notches. We should demand it.

I'd say something about the Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular we watched on television. Two of the former Olympian gymnasts on the show competed for Georgia. I'd blog about how the watered-down routines are an embarrassment to the sport if I wasn't so busy.

Re-reading my journals could have triggered half a dozen posts about the stupid things I did in the past. Nine times out of ten I walked into stupid situations with my eyes wide open. The older I get, the dumber I realize I am.

There are half a dozen things that have pissed me off already this year. If I wasn't so busy working on the book, I'd blog about them, too.

But I don't have time. You gotta do what you gotta do. I hope you'll be OK for just a while longer without...

The Crotchety Old Man
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