Please Support My Kickstarter Campaign for My WASTED LANDS Creator-Owned Series

Check out Dave Dorman’s new Kickstarter Campaign! Support your creator-owned, small business owner!

Dave Dorman

Dear Friends,

In 2001, I released RAIL: BROKEN THINGS, A Tale of the Wasted Lands through Image Comics. That sold 20,000 copies. Since that time, I waited until I owned my intellectual property outright again to create new content. So here I am. My new Kickstarter Campaign is launching my take on pulp fiction magazines in the 2000s with AMAZING TALES OF THE WASTED LANDS. Each issue will feel like it’s lifted straight out of the dystopian Western world I’ve created…a world filled with quirky, memorable characters, adrenaline-pumping action, adventure, drama, romance, violence, horror and fantasy. Please consider supporting my quest and sharing my Kickstarter campaign with those you know who would enjoy continuing the tradition of great westerns (with a little sci-fi, fantasy and horror mixed in). Here’s the link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mikebawden/amazing-tales-of-the-wasted-lands-inaugural-issue

Dave Dorman’s Character Design, a LIGHT ANGEL from the IRON WARS, WASTED LANDS

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That Poop Scene in Last Night’s Game of Thrones

If ever there was an occasion to bleach my eyeballs, it was last night.

Michael Ende created The Never-Ending Story. George R.R. Martin created The Never-Ending Poop Scene. My God, could last night’s premiere episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” been any more painful to watch?* After the first 15 comparisons between the bedpans filled with runny poop and the slop food, I felt that the viewer more than “got the message.” Beyond that, it felt like I had sprained an ankle and someone was pressing their boot down as hard as they could, for as long as they could, into my injury. Only the never-ending puke scene from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life approached that level of ad nauseam.

*I thought the rest of last night’s episode was really solid (unlike what was in those bedpans), especially the exchange between the redheaded wilding, who is my Groundskeeper Willie fantasy in human form, and Breanne.

I think it would be brilliant for the actor who plays Sam–who will surely be on the convention circuit signing autographs any moment–to wear this shirt commemorating last evening’s shit show:

A t-shirt for Sam’s autograph signings…

Observations of a 12-Year-Old

Jack, and his school chum, whose name is also Jack (he’s 2 months older, so I call him “Jack Senior” to minimize confusion) were chatting in the back seat of my car as I was–don’t judge–ordering their lunches at the McDonald’s drive-thru’ the other day. I learned three valuable data points:

Nice “Kicks,” you Olive Garden-eating King of Disinformation, you!

#1. You will get a lifetime of food from Olive Garden if you name your child after a dish on the Olive Garden menu. I estimate it might cost about $1k to legally change your name, so this made solid economic sense to me. Jack now answers to “Veal Piccata.”

#2. The secret formula to the crabby patty is…crabs! The boys have concluded that Mr. Krabs is cannibalizing his own kind to form his crabby patties, since he seems to be the ONLY crab in Bikini Bottom. Even Mr. Krabs’ daughter Pearl is, oddly enough, a whale. I’m sure it was an adoption. Perhaps this was Sponge Bob creator Stephen Hillenburg’s homage to soylent green.

#3. Ross’s Dress for Less has HEAT. Jack is addicted to watching some YouTuber whose sole claim to fame is shopping at discount clothing outlet stores for close-outs on hard-to-find “Kicks” (when I want to make Jack, that is, Veal Piccata, die a thousand deaths, I call them “sneakers.”) In case you missed the memo, YouTubers are this generation’s celebrities. Hollywood celebs are soooo yesterday, losing juice and getting replaced by one pimply faced, semi-talented YouTuber teen at a time.

I can’t keep track of which LeBron shoe is hot at the moment, but Jack knows. He discusses the pros, cons, values and stats of various athletic shoe styles with the encyclopedic knowledge and fervor some might reserve for betting on prize fighters. If Imelda Marcos died before 2004 (I’m too lazy to Google it right now) she may have reincarnated as Jack.

So…if any of those fake news outlets out there are using my Jack or Jack Senior as their “anonymous sources,” run for the hills — these dealers of disinformation are not to be trusted. Flip your channel, pronto!

Happy Fourth of July, Everybody! Here’s Why I Hate Glamping…And Staycations Are the Cat’s Ass!

That’s the Bloody Mary I’ve Been Looking For…Driftless Glenn Distillery, Baraboo, WI

For the past seven years, the Sister Wives and I have done a “glamping” trip. I think I’ve missed two of the seven years due to San Diego Comic-Con. The very term “Sister Wives” came from one of these trips. This random guy had been circling my friends and me like a turkey vulture, assuming we were some divorcees’ group camping with our kids, trying hard to listen in on our double entendre-filled conversations. He approached Heather, asking how we knew each other. Heather, who like my bff Marovich can keep a straight face while crafting the most outlandish statements off the top of her head (a skill I SO envy), informed him that…

(a) We were sister wives

(b) Our husband–Heather was really working it, conjuring up this Warren Jeffries-type character–only allowed us one yearly trip off the rural Utah compound, and

(c) Our husband did have a confederate there keeping an eye on us. We just never knew where or what he looked like.

The turkey vulture exited stage left, never to return.

Somewhere along the way, this weird hybrid of “glamping” rose up and became a thing. It’s not quite staying in a cozy cabin on the lake where plates and utensils are provided, and yet, it’s not quite camping. It’s somewhere uncomfortably in between. First world problems, I know. It needn’t be said. Either way, glamping is a constant level of discomfort and irritation that makes me question every year why my Sister Wives and I don’t just pitch tents in my back yard (and at about midnight, I’d be slipping back into my own cozy memory foam bed…) and enjoy the uninterrupted comforts of home.

Our “Glamping” Accommodations…

Here are the benefits, as I see them, to my new plan of action:

  1. Solid internet and cell phone coverage. The campground where we stayed allowed me 2 bars of cell phone signal from about 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily. The rest of the time I got a “No service” message. To get online, I had to go into the noisy general store and even there, it wasn’t consistent, so working was not an option.
  2. Clean eating. The last four days have been a whirlwind of non-stop stoner food. It’s so much easier to eat clean when we’re not shopping and cooking in shorthand for 20 people. As the kids have gotten older and hungrier, we’ve been forced to increase our trips to Super Wal-Mart (the local grocer to our campground). Every meal felt like a swarm of locusts had attacked our fridge and pantry. Every trip to the Super Wal-Mart tasted like FREEDOM.
  3. Two-ply toilet paper. I grew up in the country where the septic tank was de rigueur, forced to endure Scott’s single-ply toilet paper for the first half of my life. I really would prefer not to return to that time. I’ll bet men’s skid-marked underwear is the result of avoiding single-ply paper.
  4. Easy access to a washer and dryer. I can’t erase that muscle memory sensation of wet towels.  A staycation would mean easy access to MORE towels that doesn’t require another run to Wal-Mart.
  5. Random items you never remember. I really thought I covered it all this year when I brought all of my silverware, plates, spatulas, can opener, scissors and tongs. Boy was I wrong. I forgot the pot holders, drinking cups, coffee mugs, etc. No matter how much crap I pack to take on this trip, we always end up driving to Wal-Mart.

8 New Things I Learned While On This Year’s Glamping Trip:

  1. Solo cups have indented markings for a reason. Of course, I learned this from Heather! The bottom one is for shots, the middle marking is for wine and mixed drinks and the top marking is for beer.
  2. Teen-aged girls are no longer shy about flinging tampons-as-weapons at teen-aged boys. Add some spikes on those puppies and they’re Game of Thrones-worthy.  (Unused ones, I should add. After that last season of FARGO, one feels compelled to clarify.)
  3. Impractical Jokers is the greatest! I’ve heard this show mentioned, but never actually watched it before. Heather, Carolyn, and our 4 boys binge-watched it until 1 a.m. Saturday. Recommendation: Check out the episode where they’re in Miami and making their friend ride around on a Rascal while they direct it via remote control. Comedy gold! Especially when they forced him to hold up this sign in public: “Buy Me Lunch. I Have Half a Ball.” I forewarned Jack he may have to hold a similar sign at a restaurant in the near future. He was nonplussed. I think he thinks I was kidding?
  4. KY-Gel runs wildly inappropriate ads during the after-midnight airings of Impractical Jokers. One ad in particular was for a spray to help a man to maintain his erection because, as the poor actor in the ad confessed, “I git done sooner than I should.” And the best part was, in the background behind this couple in bed, they showed a silhouette of a bear and a wolf together, and the wolf was howling. Heather, Carolyn and I held a heated debate as to whether this coupling would ever really happen in nature, as our boys looked straight ahead in embarrassed horror, averting their gazes from making eye contact with any of us adults.
  5. S’mores do bake really well in those copper pans. Just like advertised.
  6. H, my all-too-frequent partner in crime…pre-Moonshine tasting.

    6. Chicagoland Chevrolet car dealership owner Brian Bemis owns a bourbon/vodka/brandy/moonshine distillery in Baraboo, Wisconsin called the Driftless Glenn Distillery. Heather and I were making yet another Wal-Mart run and we nearly drove past it, when I made an impromptu sharp left turn into the parking lot–at full speed–thinking I would merely investigate if there was a gift shop. One distillery tour and a 5 shot-glasses tasting later, we went to Wal-Mart, in a shopping excursion that was way more palatable than usual. I found I didn’t even want to bleach my eyeballs after seeing yet another weird guy with his butt crack hanging out in the junk food aisle. I find the most fun adventures in life are those that are unplanned. The Sister Wives who remained behind watching the kids didn’t quite see it my way, but I think I’m finally forgiven. I did make killer meatloaf, after all.

  7. The local Circus Museum in Baraboo had an escaped elephant right while we were staying nearby. Now that would be been so fun to discover in our back yard! Almost as fun as the random dog that ran through every room of our house unexpectedly, before we corralled him.
  8. And speaking of unexpected visitors, the owners of the campground decided to hold a LuLaRoe party (which I always confuse with the Lululemon brand–sort of like my David Lynch/David Byrne confusion) in the garage of the raised ranch home we rented. Sister Wife Carolyn outran Jesse Owens as she raced across the street upon witnessing three total strangers breaking into our house, accidentally, as I was napping on the couch just a few feet away.
  9. I’m pretty skilled at unclogging icky boys’ toilets, but don’t let that get around.

Happy Fourth, Everyone!

STAR WARS FANS: Join Me for the World’s Largest Library STAR WARS DAY at the JOLIET PUBLIC LIBRARY This Saturday!

Where I’ll Be This Saturday…

Dave Dorman

Friends, this is the world’s largest STAR WARS LIBRARY EVENT in Joliet, IL! I’ve done this event since its inception, with a special shout-out & thanks to Jody McQuarters, who initially got me involved. It’s great fun for the whole family, my son Jack loves it, and it offers great photo opps for everyone who loves STAR WARS. As always, autographs are always free, so come see me, get your stuff signed, and if you feel like it, buy some STAR WARS art from me and the other amazing artists you will see at this event–Steve Palenica, James Tampa, Jamie Snell & Mikey Babinski! And check out my friend Cris Macht, who has done an amazing job with his documentaries establishing HOW & WHY STAR WARS matters to the fandom. Authors John Jackson Miller and Keith Ryan Kappel will be with us, too! And let’s not…

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Dave Dorman Convention Season Schedule & Live Painting on Facebook Live!

Hey Friends! Here’s where you’ll find me this Convention Season!

Dave Dorman

Hi Everybody,

I hope to see many of you this weekend at C2E2 in Chicago; I’ll be at Table E-1 in Artists Alley!

Before I forget to mention this, if you’re not already watching HAP & LEONARD on the Sundance Channel (Season 1 is on Netflix), please check it out. My author friend Joe R. Lansdale wrote this really fun, pulpy series of books, all of which I’ve read, and he is executive producer on the show. It’s pure genius in its acting, casting and execution. I hope it never ends. (Joe’s steampunk series is really fun, too. Can you tell I’m his biggest fan?)

If you haven’t heard already, I’ve been doing live paintings on Facebook Live. I plan to expand this to Twitter’s Periscope and YouTube eventually, but here is a link to my most popular one so far, of me painting Darth Maul. According…

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Me vs. the Jack Fruit (Spoiler Alert: I Lost)

Yesterday Dave Dorman left for comic book convention Space City Con in Houston, which left Jack and me (a dangerous combo platter by any measure) to our own devices. We had just seen the episode of Bob’s Burgers where Teddy and Bob go to stunt man camp, and Linda Belcher made up this ridiculous song about best friends. The line I couldn’t get out of my head that made Jack and me laugh the hardest: “He helps you pee when you have that thing…” Naturally, I had to belt it out in my best Ethel Merman voice as he was exiting the vehicle to set foot on his school campus yesterday and this morning.

After school yesterday, I made the grievous error of taking Jack grocery shopping with me. We were in the produce section when I asked him to grab an English cucumber. He held it up and announced loudly, “This looks like something that rhymes with Venus!” And so it began. Mind you, this is the same kid who stood before the Christmas windows at Chicago’s Marshall Field’s State Street store  (I steadfastly refuse to call it Macy’s) this past December, thrilled that there was a planetary display so he could rifle off about 100 Uranus jokes. I was doubled over laughing so hard I couldn’t even stop him. Thankfully, so was the crowd standing around us. This may have been the tipping point that pushes him into a career someday as a standup comedian.

That glint in Jack's eye, the moment before he rifled off 100 Uranus jokes to a mostly adoring crowd. I was momentarily paralyzed by my own laughing to stop him.

That glint in Jack’s eye, the moment before he rifled off 100 Uranus jokes to a mostly adoring crowd. I was momentarily paralyzed by my own laughing, unable to stop him.

Eventually my sight line was gratified by an alien-looking produce with a weird texture, about the size of a football. “What is that?” I asked aloud, not really thinking Jack would know.

Xenomorph egg or Jack Fruit? You decide.

Xenomorph egg or Jack Fruit? You decide.

“It’s a Jack Fruit!” he piped up.

“Are you making this up?”

“I swear!”

I  approached this xenomorph egg with a little trepidation. “Where’s your queen?” I said to no one in particular, under my breath. One of the Jack Fruits was cut in half, the orangey-yellow color of papaya, which I love. It had huge seeds dotting its perimeter.

The inside of a Jack Fruit.

The inside of a Jack Fruit.

“What does it taste like?”

“I saw on Youtube it tastes like onions,” Jack replied instantly and with such confidence, I stupidly believed him.

“Hmmm…well, I like onions…maybe we should try this. I wonder how you prepare it?”

At this precise moment–as always happens to me whenever I am in the grocery store–a strange woman approached us. In her thick accent (Jack says it was Russian, I say South American) she declared “Oh, you will love this. My kids eat it like candy! It tastes like pineapple mixed with mango!”

“Really?” I biffed Jack upside the head. “Onions? Really?”

The next part of this bizarre conversation was mission critical. The part where I wish my A.D.D. hadn’t taken over. The strange woman said to me, “Are you allergic to latex?”

The last time I heard that, my new OB/Gyn was stuffing me with his hand like a Thanksgiving turkey as I writhed uncomfortably in my stirrups up the table and away from him, so I automatically replied “No….?” My mind was in another place. When I try to recall the next part of what she said, it was like Charlie Brown’s teacher in my mind, “Blah, blah, blah.” I thanked her and we parted ways.

I plopped the giant fruit into my cart. Eight dollars later, Jack and I were on our way to a new culinary adventure!

After dinner, I took the saran wrap off of the Jack Fruit and started cutting away. This was work! I took a bite and it was really sweet – like candy – almost sickeningly too sugary. After about five minutes of struggling to perform an autopsy on this beastly thick produce, I began noticing this gummy, rubbery white residue on my hands. I stopped and soaped up, trying to rinse it off. It was going nowhere. “Jack!” I screamed, panicked.”Get on YouTube! See how I get this glue off of my hands!”

“Didn’t you hear what the lady said? About the latex?”

“You mean this Jack Fruit is where latex comes from?”

“No! She said to wear gloves when you cut it open, if you’re not allergic to latex!”

“Oh! Now I get it! Well, it’s too late for that. YouTube how I get this off of me! Chip chop!” The more I soaped up and scrubbed, the more it clung to me. I cannot stand being sticky. I had an epiphany. Coconut oil, my miracle cure for everything, would probably take this off. As I was rubbing coconut oil on my hands, Jack piped up from my office, “YouTube says coconut oil works!” My skin and the rings on my hands returned to normal.

I was relaying this whole crazy story to one of my vegan friends, who further confused my reality with this advice:

Note to self: Ask a friendly vegan the next time I get a wild hair up my ass to try exotic produce.

Note to self: Ask a friendly vegan the next time I get a wild hair up my ass to try exotic produce.

So…if you were ever wondering what to prepare for a vegan while your steaks are sizzling on the grill, Jack Fruit is the answer. Apparently, with barbecue sauce. Mind you, there is not enough alcohol in the world to make me try this.

My Pre-Mother’s Day Celebration: Adding to “The Collection”

Since Dave was in Nashville doing a signing for Free Comic Book Day Saturday, two of the Sister Wives and I decided on Cooper’s Hawk for a wine-soaked pre-Mother’s Day celebration. Little did I know, I would get the greatest Mother’s Day gift of all–the first-hand retelling of one of my all-time favorite dysfunctional family stories. I collect these funny stories in my mental Rolodex like some folks collect comic books.

Spontaneity is “Sister Wife” Ophelia’s middle name. It’s what I treasure about her. She rolled in late from an all-day cooking class in Chicago, texting that she was bringing two surprise guests. They were all feeling no pain when they arrived, and hilarious conversation flowed. (It seems the chef they spent the day with at cooking school now wants to cook for all of us at a suite in Las Vegas…Ophelia is that rare person who attracts these bizarre situations as much as I do.)

As I was getting acquainted with my two new friends (as my BFF Marovich puts it, “Denise adding yet a few more to ‘The Collection'”) it suddenly dawned on me that one of them, Jocelyn, must be the neighbor Ophelia once mentioned with the World’s BEST Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving story. It was as if someone had scripted the Thanksgiving version of Christmas Vacation. Truth stranger than fiction. And Saturday night, I was lucky enough to hear it all from the source DNA. It was just as epic the second time. I’ll try recapturing it for you here, but minus the facial expressions and physical gestures, well, forgive me if I don’t do it justice.

Christmas Vacation, meet Your Spin-Off: Thanksgiving Vacation!

Christmas Vacation, meet Your Spin-Off: Thanksgiving Vacation!

Jocelyn is kind by nature. Kind enough, in fact, to invite her brother-in-law Sparky to their Thanksgiving celebration. Sparky was single, but dating a former stripper with five kids from differing baby daddies. Jocelyn’s husband warned her not to invite Sparky, but Jocelyn prevailed. She was feeling sentimental. Thanksgiving was family time, after all, and they should all be together. Sparky called and informed her that he was not only bringing his stripper girlfriend Astrid, but also three of her kids, and Astrid’s sister. Now Jocelyn had to double the amount of food she was making, but she did so without complaint. She was determined to make it work.

Thanksgiving Day came. Sparky, Astrid, and their crew arrived. Astrid presented Jocelyn with her contribution: a small, square Michelina-sized box of mac & cheese as their (we are Midwestern, so I hope you understand) dish to pass for the meal. Jocelyn graciously accepted the meager offering. For the most part, the meal went fine, and everyone was well behaved. Jocelyn’s aunt wanted to hit a Black Friday sale, so she and Jocelyn left and shopped for two hours. When they returned, that was the start. Thanksgiving Vacation. 

As Jocelyn opened the front door, the entire house was reverberating with the percussive thump-thump-thump of dance club music emanating from the basement. Jocelyn’s elderly mom, aunt and uncle sat upstairs, trauma written all over their faces.

Hands over her ears, Jocelyn braved her way to the basement with a mission to turn down the music. She couldn’t have possibly prepared herself for what she was about to see: Sparky’s stripper girlfriend Astrid, riding the pole in Jocelyn’s basement, while Astrid’s sister was grinding away on a pool stick between her legs. As Jocelyn was stepping into the room, the two sisters merged together, grinding on each other. Jocelyn reports her 9-year-old son’s eyes were bugging out of his head. Jocelyn’s husband was just sitting there in stunned amazement, drink in his hand, slowly raising his other hand to shield their son’s bewildered eyes.

In a flash, Astrid’s daughter got in between the grinding sister twosome, twerking with a familiarity no 10-year-old child should have.

Jocelyn had been married to her husband for nearly 20 years at this point, and never had an issue with Sparky. But this Thanksgiving Day, Sparky was drunk. Caught up in the spirit of things, he tried grinding on Jocelyn. Tried being the key word. Chaos accelerated from totally out of control to insanity in a nanosecond. Jocelyn’s husband flashed her the “I told you so” look as Jocelyn screamed at Sparky to “keep his fucking hands off of (her).” Their nine-year-old’s eyes protruded further, as if that were even possible.

Jocelyn raced upstairs to see what Astrid’s other two kids were doing. She found Astrid’s 13-year-old son standing with his back to her, his iPhone extended at arm’s length, taking panoramic footage of Jocelyn’s upstairs bedroom, casing the joint. As he slowly turned around to complete his panoramic shot of her bedroom, he discovered her in frame, hands on her hips, a fully formed “WTF?” glare on her face. He stopped in mid filming. Jocelyn screamed at him, demanding he erase the footage. He insisted he never took any. It seems gaslighting was his super power. Jocelyn raced back downstairs to the basement. She had to get Sparky to convince this defiant teen to erase the footage. Sparky exclaimed, “You can’t yell at him! He has RAGE issues!” Uncle Sparky never thought of protecting his niece and nephew from Astrid’s volatile, rage issue kid.

Two years later, sadly, Sparky and Astrid are no more. Their true love couldn’t conquer Astrid’s need to have sex with many people. Sparky stopped paying her bills and moved out.

To date, Sparky is still single.

God, how I loves me some dysfunctional family stories. I have a library full of them–from my own family.

Madrid Comic Book Convention: Tapas, Tourism & Travails

One of my earliest adventures in comics was the Madrid Comic Book Convention in November of 2002. This trip cemented many comics industry friendships, and I cherish them to this day. My friend Mike Kennedy just posted a Facebook video about Botin, the World’s Oldest Restaurant, which was the first restaurant we tried in Madrid, triggering this trip down memory lane. The first thing that struck me about Botin was the prosciutto, sitting out in the open, and the liberal number of flies alighting on the marbled hunk of meat. I ordered prosciutto-free entrees.

Comics legends, bestselling authors and me at Botin Restaurant in Madrid. L-R: Dave Dorman, me, (can't recall his name), Mike Kennedy, Rebecca Moesta, Kevin J.  Anderson, Chris Warner, Randy Stradley, Randy's former wife, Joyce Chin and Art Adams

Comics legends, bestselling authors and me at Botin, The World’s Oldest Restaurant, in Madrid. L-R: Dave Dorman, me, Ramon Bachs, Mike Kennedy, Rebecca Moesta, Kevin J. Anderson, Chris Warner, Randy Stradley, Randy’s wife at the time, Joyce Chin, and Art Adams. For the paranormal fans among me, note the orb over Randy Stradley’s face.

At this first gathering, we sat across from Joyce Chin and Art Adams, and they were both fascinating to talk with; these were the days before either of us had children. I remember admiring Joyce’s passion for dog rescues and the work she did with dogs. Post-kids, our conversations today would take a much different turn: “How do you arrange the stuff crammed beneath your SDCC booth tables to accommodate a sleeping kid?”

Along with Dark Horse Comic‘s Chris Warner and Randy Stradley, writer Mike Kennedy (now publisher of Magnetic Press), artist Ramon Bachs, and NY Times bestselling authors Kevin J.  Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, we embarked on a five-day odyssey of comics autograph sessions where the crowds rushed the tables and orderly lines were not even a possibility, tapas meals together at 10:30 p.m. were the norm (yes, it IS actually possible to tire of garlic potato salad after three nights in a row), we experienced the world’s best hot chocolate (like hot chocolate pudding poured into a mug), squid ink pasta (I’m not a fan, Kevin J. Anderson ended up eating mine) and Rebecca Moesta introduced me to mango yogurt shakes at the one vegetarian restaurant we hit (I am still hooked). In the hotel lobby one night before going out for tapas, one of our handler Miguel’s friends brought in a platter of thinly sliced horse meat appetizers, which was a delicacy there, but I just couldn’t do the whole when-in-Rome thing. I love my horses too much.

Joyce and I hit the Museo del Prado and followed it up with a lunch at the Hard Rock in Madrid (do yourself a favor and do NOT order the spaghetti there–it was out of a can). Since I’m a morning person, the whole noon siesta and up-all-night culture was an adjustment. I could handle it better today than I did back then. The one thing that stays with me was how beautifully the buildings were lit at night. I’m hard-pressed to describe it, but it’s something you have to see at least once in your life. This was the pre-iPhone era, so few pictures remain of that trip; this one from Mike Kennedy’s archives is such a treasure to all of us.

Immediately following the Botin lunch, I was the naive tourist flinging my purse about like I hadn’t a care in the world–it was promptly pick-pocketed in the town square. Miguel took me to the local police station, but after sitting with the unwashed masses for 30 minutes and feeling more endangered than safe, I begged off. It was fruitless. My wallet was long gone. I spent the next hour on the phone canceling all credit cards. Lesson learned.

On Facebook right now, we’re all posting, reminiscing, and wishing we were back at Botin, reliving that moment.

H.G. Wells, how’s that time machine coming along, anyhow?

Cousin Judy

Beloved Cousin Judith Anderson, RIP

My Beloved Cousin Judith Anderson, My Life Saver

My cousin Judy never, ever sought the limelight in her life, so I wanted to cast the kliegs on her, just this once. I owe her that. I attended Judy’s funeral on Monday. As usual, when asked to say a few words, I couldn’t do so without totally losing my shit, so I decided to say a few words about Judy here, where my eyes can leak in private.

I owe my life to Judy. At age eight, I had all of the symptoms of an appendicitis. My mom rushed me to the hospital that January afternoon in the midst of an ice storm. Judy worked there as an X-ray technician. It was Judy who connected us with the right doctor and fought to ensure they didn’t send me back home, as they were trying to do. Thanks to Judy’s feistiness, I got the surgery I badly needed. In those days (a lifetime ago) they kept you in the hospital forever, it seemed. I was there for 10 days. Judy visited me daily without fail. I always looked forward to seeing her. She was the steadfast ally I needed at that time.

Judy was a quiet, private person. On the rare occasion that Judy would talk with me about her job, she would share her rage over the children and women she X-rayed, who were clearly victims of physical abuse. Judy’s highly charged emotions over this–usually dormant–stayed with me. Made an impact. Later in life, I worked for projects in Northwest Florida like Children in Crisis and Shelter House, advocating for protecting children and domestic abuse victims–the vulnerable among us–from further cruelty.

When I was a kid, Judy had her own boat, and she would take us boating and fishing on the Fox River and the Chain o’ Lakes. It was Judy who taught me to fish. She seemed to intuit the magic spots where the fish were always biting. I can remember one instance where I could barely keep my hook baited long enough to handle all of the fish I caught. Judy also taught me to clean my own fish. Anyone who knows how squeamish I am finds it unfathomable that I clean my own fish–I can’t even watch surgeries on TV. During one of our fishing adventures, we were caught on the Chain o’ Lakes when a storm arose out of nowhere; it was Judy’s masterful boating that got us back to shore unscathed in that terrifying, wicked weather.

A hysterectomy in her 50s set Judy off on the medical odyssey that she suffered in silence. The blood transfusions at that time weren’t as closely scrutinized, and they gave her hepatitis.  She was unaware she had hepatitis until her liver failed. The liver transplant they gave her was from a cancer patient. Adding insult to injury, she had to go through chemo. She endured so much pain the past two decades of her life with little complaint, other than yearning so for another dog that she physically could no longer care for. It broke our hearts that she couldn’t have that dog. I’d like to believe that now she is surrounded by the black flat-coated labs she loved so  much in this life–her show dogs.

Judy never married, and never had children. She is the final person with the last name of Anderson in this lineage, which makes her passing the exclamation point on a storied family with more impact than you can imagine on the history of Elgin, Illinois. Wing Street. McLean Boulevard. In fact, the hospital where she worked–Sherman Hospital–was named after the side of our family that included a Civil War hero with the same last name. I doubt her co-workers ever knew that. Judy preferred to remain in the shadows. In fact, she’ll probably haunt me for casting the kliegs on her today, but as I said, I owe her that.

God bless you, Judy.