Friday, April 30, 2021

Secret Lives Never Revealed

 They're out there. Secrets walking around on two legs, nodding and smiling, expressing to one and all to 'Have a good day!' And all the time, hiding from us--and the world--secrets which would surprise and shock us to our very core.

And the strange thing is--all of us do it. We all have secrets we wish to keep secret and not reveal to anyone. Frankly, to be human is to be, at times, irrationally secretive. Oh sure, sure . . . for the vast majority of us, our most private secrets we keep buried deep in our subconscious in a locked filing cabinet in some filing room long forgotten, are nothing more than trivial oddities and idiosyncrasies which, if revealed to us, would elicit the reaction a big yawn and a ho-hum.

But.

There are a little over 8 billion people currently alive on this jagged rocky planet orbiting around a sun which is completely uninteresting to the rest of the universe. Eight billion souls. But you've got to wonder, you just got to wonder--who is out there living an apparent normal life who is truly hiding something fascinating from us?

All of the above is nothing more than a prelude to what I'm going to share with you. I'm working on the third book of the Jake Reynolds series; you know the one--the art-thief-turned-reluctant-detective character of mine who lived and worked through the first half of the 20th Century. (To the right in the long column of my books, you can find both Jake Reynolds offerings). Book Three is going to be called either, Death of a Reluctant Spy, or Death of a Killer in Uniform. To be decided later on. But in each book, I open the novel with a Prologue. An introduction, if you will, of who Jake Reynolds is and why is he now, in the twilight of his long life, revealing his secrets to the world.

So without further ado, here we go;


 

Prologue

            It sat there, on at artist’s easel, encased in a heavy gilded frame that was, in itself, a fine piece Baroque artwork. The massive piece of canvas, known throughout the world, sat on the easel with elegance and an aura of infinite power. And all I could do was stare at it in stunned silence. But internally, in my mind, my conscious was screaming in a mixture of fear and excitement! Demanding to know how this masterpiece was here. Screaming to hear the old man’s explanation on how he came into possession the most famous painting in all of the world.

            Finally, my voice returned, and I turned around and stared at the ancient man who stood close by eyeing me with eyes a
lit in merriment and a wiry grin on his thin lips.

            “Oh, my god!” I shouted excitedly, my eyes falling on the unmistakable face a woman with her eternal and enigmatic smile blazing across the obviously ancient canvas. “You didn’t! You  could not possibly have gotten away with it! The Mona Lisa?  Good god! The Mona Lisa? You didn’t! You actually, honestly, stole Leonardo di Vinci’s Mona Lisa from out of the Louvre?”

            “Well . . . yes. And no. ”

            The small man with the dark tan and startling white head of hair had a smile on his face almost as enigmatic as the smiling woman herself. But there was a difference. The old man had a twinkle of mirth in his eyes and a spring to his step I doubt either di Vinci or the countess could emulate at his current age. We were standing beside in the narrow but high ceiling hidden nook behind his fireplace in his rustic ranch home where he kept his many treasures. He was a man who had to be, I estimated, between eighty-five or ninety-five years old. His deeply lined, suntanned face reminded me of a belt of quality leather.  Still flexible. But indestructible. A piece of leather which had weathered through fair weather and hurricanes. Through dark intrigues and hair-raising escapades. Through adventures and debacles no mortal creature could have endured. Much less survived. Frankly, it’s hard to explain—or describe—this old devil who called himself Jake Reynolds. To those who know him currently, he was a gracious, jovial old man who owned a rather large ranch just outside a small Kansas city called Salina. He was an average height of a man, with sparkling eyes and an easy smile on his sun-tanned, weather beaten face. Most of the time, he dressed like the typical Kansas rancher. Blue jeans, wearing worn out looking cowboy boots, with usually a long-sleeved western style shirt to complete the picture. Most of the time he drove an old, beat up looking Chevy pickup truck whenever he went to town. Everyone in the community knew him. And liked him.

            But those who knew him back then have no idea about this old man’s past. About the life he lived when he was young. No one could image Jake Reynolds as being anything else but a straight up, honest soul. Always helpful. Always friendly. Always willing to help out anyone in a time of need.

            But the Jake Reynolds I knew was an altogether different man. Actually, Jake Reynolds wasthe same man—but different only in that, through a different pair of glasses, this old man could be the opposite to the extreme.

            In the early part of the 20th Century—roughly from the years of 1910 to 1955—Jake Reynolds was a thief. Oh no—no, no, no. Not the smash-and-grab kind of thief who would knock off a 7/11 convenience store late and night and clean out the cash register while waving a gun around in one hand and stuffing the money into a brown paper bag with the other hand at the same time. No. Nothing so pedestrian as just another hood making a few bucks at a crack. Jake, when he was in his prime of life, was an unheralded artisan in his own brand of criminality. A master craftsman when it art forgeries. Jake Reynolds was an artist. A brilliant artist with the talent one could rightly assume as being an equal to a Rembrandt or the Italian master, Caravaggio.

            His ability to copy precisely every stroke of a master’s brush, formulate every color found on a master artisan’s palette exactly, even paint on a piece of canvas which could be dated back to the same time-frame as the original masterpiece, was Jake’s artistic genius. He once told me there are his works hanging in museums and on the walls of private collectors to this day, copies of the original canvasses, where experts and world-renown critics labeled each and every one as original. But not originals. They are copies of the originals. A Jake Reynolds copy of an original.

            I know, I know—it is incredible to believe. Impossible, even. And to make it even more incredulous, in many cases, whenever one of his fakes was recognized as being a fake, it nevertheless sold at a tremendously high price, making for Jake a rather sizable profit in the process. Only I, and a handful of his old clients yet alive—private collectors whom Jake catered to in their avarice need to add a canvas of a master into their private collection, know the truth. Jake was never apprehended for his crimes. He was never officially suspected as being this mastermind of the art world by any police or governmental agency in either Europe or the United States. He applied his trade for almost forty years without once being caught. And when he eventually retired in the 1950’s, he retired to the rolling hills of central Kansas and became a successful rancher.

            But forgive me—I am portraying Jake as a master criminal lurking in the shadowy background of the unnoticed and plying his nefarious trade without ever being thrust into the limelight of international notoriety. That would be a grievous error on my part. For in truth, this old man, when he was in the prime of his youth, and even before the war had made himself something of an international reputation. Prior to the break out of hostilities in 1914, two major sports raged with a heated fervor across Europe. Automobile racing. And endurance races across large tracks of land, even of nations, involving the new invention called an aeroplane.

            One must remember both affordable gas-powered automobiles and the new form of transportation of flying like a bird through the air, came into existence at about the same time. Henry Ford made his first gas-powered automobile which went into mass production in 1908. This was, of course, Ford’s famous Model T. And between l908, when the Model T went into production, until 1927 when the Model T was replaced by a newer model, Ford produced about 15 million automobiles. They were cheap. They were reliable. And the birth of automobile racing was inevitable.

            Five years earlier, in 1903, Frank and Orville Wright were the first to fly a pragmatic, workable flying machine using a small gas-powered engine. Prior to the Wright brothers, many other inventors, from all over the world, tried to be the first to accomplish such a feat. The vast majority of them failed. The Wright brothers led the way into the skies, and now, for the first time, the human race was no longer earth bound. And very much like the automobile, if it were new and if it could go fast, racing flying machines through the air became an overnight reality.

            In the early years of both racing venues, Jake Reynolds made his mark. Always a competitor, the young Jake Reynolds began winning a few races and having his name and his photo splashed across the front pages of newspaper again and again. By time August 1914 rolled around and war broke out all across Europe, the little man was well known. It did not take him long to enlist in the newly organized British Royal Flying Corps, the precursor to Britain’s modern RAF, and fight for a country he truly loved.

            He survived the war. And in the process of surviving, created for himself a whole new reputation—a reputation created quite accidentally—and one he always privately thought to himself as being more of a curse than a reason for notoriety.

            But enough of this introduction. What truly transpired is, by in large, accurate in almost every detail. That line between fact and fiction is almost indistinguishable. So in the end, those who read this book must decide for himself what is real—and what might be flights of sheer fantasy.


Sunday, December 13, 2020

New editions to the family

 You'll notice, if you look to your right, you'll see two new selections added to the library. One is Death of a Cuckold Knight and the other is Roland of the High Kanris. Two novels in two different genres.

Death of a Cuckold Knight is about an art thief. An art thief who painted exact copies of the originals and replaced originals with his copies. So good in his talent, as the story goes, that several of his copies still reside today in modern day museums and private collections. The name of the art thief is Jake Reynolds. And the key concept about Jake is that he's both lucky and unlucky at the same time. Lucky in that he is incredibly talented in his artistic efforts. Talented in his athletic gifts. And very talented in his ability to get in and out of dangerous situations.

But unlucky in that he has a quirk in his personality. The quirk being that on many occasions, he inadvertently stumbles onto a corpse of some hapless victim recently murdered . . . and he can't stand the thought of someone getting away with cold blooded murder. He has to find the killer or killers and bring them to justice. How he solves a murder, steal famous masterpieces, and fight a war (did I say his first few adventures happen while World War I is going on?) without getting caught himself is the key ingredient in making the novel/series work.

And there's another interesting concept about the book. I found a site where they will take your ebook and spread it out across several different ebook venues like Scribd, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and others. As we speak, the ebook is offered on seven different sites (which actually spans the globe) and ultimately, will be on twelve different sites. This spreading out the good word hopefully will generate a bigger audience. And ultimately, actually make me a little money (Shoot, wouldn't that be nice!)

The other offering is an older book
of mine re-imagined and expanded considerably. Roland of the High Crags is a classic fantasy novel/series.  On a planet where two sentient creatures co-exist, Dragon and Man, and where both species are constantly at war with each other, and old Dragon baron asks a Human warrior monk-wizard to take his last remaining heir and save her from certain death.

But there are problems (aren't they, always?). The child is a weapon. A weapon designed by the Dragon dark gods to fulfill Dragon prophecy. The prophecy being a child will come along who will, when she attains full maturation, become the weapon who will destroy all of Mankind.

Bummer.

Roland is found only on Amazon only. For now.  If you're interested in having either or both, just go to the right and click on the cover. But just remember . . . 

More 'stuff' is coming.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Audio books work only if the voice selected as narrator is on target


After a long wait, the audio book version of A Taste of Old Revenge  ( click here, and then go over to the Amazon page for this book, and click on the preview button to hear the opening few pages of chapter one ) is out. It took a while to get it done. But the finished product is, to say the least, is a humdinger. And I've got to say, the main reason for it being such a great reader is directly related to the gentleman I selected to be the book's narrator.

His name is Chuck Buell. An experience, well trained ex-radio jock who has several accomplishments under his belt. But its the voice . . . his voice . . . which brings life into the book's narration. Its deep. Its expressive. It fits the character's image a reader, or listener, would think the main character would sound like.

And that's the key, my fellow travelers. Fitting the voice to the mental image of the main character. Mess this key ingredient up, and your audio book is going to fall flat on its face.

Chuck and I are working on another Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel. The next audio version will be called There Are No Innocents. Its the next novel which follows after Old Revenge. And so far, we're talking another humdinger of a read. We hope to have that done maybe by the end of November . . . and that's a BIG maybe. Doing an audio book is hard work, brother.  As I have recently learned, doing an hour's worth of finished script takes at least three hours to complete. Usually, a full-sized novel of around 80,000 words takes 10 hours of finished script. Which means 30 hours have been put into to acquire that 10 hours of finished product.

Book four of the series, entitled Two To Worry About, (the written manuscript) should be done by the end of December or the middle of January. After that, I'm hoping Chuck and I can get into producing the audio version maybe in February or March.

Now, the next problem is simple. Find an audience in the audio world who will take a chance and try the series out. That, me buckaroos, is an entirely different problem to discuss at a later date.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Trials of Audio-booking

Turner Hahn
(Sigh) Yep, I'm going to do it. I'm going to put on my big-boy pants and step out into that scary world of converting the printed word of my novels into audio books. Convert them, and then toss them into that big ocean of  a babbling cacophony of voices and hope they swim to success and not drown in the depths of a million other books like mine.

But how do you do it? How do you convert your book into an audio book? Ah; that is the question, grasshopper! How do you do it?

I did a little research. There are as many audio book companies out there as there are indie publishers. And their numbers are growing. Most of them accept submissions IF you are willing to absorb some of the coin of the realm costs of having your book recorded by a narrator. And there are a TON of narrators out there, old and young, experienced and newbies, to choose from. Generally speaking, paying the narrator to come up with a polished reading of your novel costs between $100 to $400 dollars an hour. AN HOUR. And depending on how big your book is, page-wise, it'll take about 10-plus hours to get the book completed and ready to read.

You could fork out between $1000 to $4000 of your own hard-earned cash for a finished product. On the other hand, doing it this way usually gives you a 40% return on whatever profits might come along. (If you're like me; me being a piss-poor writer with NO money . . . I suggest you run right out there and find a second, third and fourth part-time job to earn enough to pay the bills)

Or, you can take the alternate path.

There are audio companies out there who will allow you to speculate. You can offer your darling creation up for bidding. You pay nothing up front. You put your script out on the audio book's web site and offer it up to the first narrator to come along who is willing to take a chance with you and your work. Most audio book companies have a stable of narrators.  Hundreds of them in most cases. You select 2-3 page clips out of your tome for these narrators to read. They, in turn, choose one of the pieces offered and record their voices as they read. They offer these recordings to you for you to listen. You decide which voice you like. You make an offer. If they accept--good; if not--try again.

Frank Morales
What it means to accept an offer is they (the narrator) is willing to split the profits with you on some kind of percentage basis. Usually a 50/50 agreement.  Now please note; you ARE NOT splitting the 40% you'd receive if you did the traditional path of paying for the finished copy up front. Nope. Nope. The audio company is taking a higher risk with you and your partner in this endeavor. So THEY are going to keep a higher percentage of the profits. If there are profits.

Amazon (of course!)  has an audio company called ACX. That's the one I'm working with. I've
offered up A TASTE OF OLD REVENGE, book two of the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales detective novels to convert into an audio book. I've found a narrator. A narrator who has a voice which, in my mind, sounds like the voice Turner Hahn might have (and that's critical. Finding the voice to fit your mental image of the character).

We're in the process of recording the book now. Chapter by chapter. And it is a process involving both narrator and writer. We're about five chapters into the book with a long way to go yet.

When its done, we'll
throw it out into that big pond and see if it sinks are swims. My fingers are crossed.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Re-writing, or more like Reinventing, an old novel




Back in 1981, DAW Science-Fiction was gracious enough to publish a novel of mine called Banners of the Sa'yen. I was ecstatic. Thrilled! I was a published writer! I was on my way to becoming a paperback Sci-Fi/Fantasy publishing machine!

Well, as you know, youthful visions of grandeur rarely come to fruition. 

Mine certainly didn't.

Going back to the original version and looking at it again, I have to admit, it wasn't one of my greatest examples of literary brilliance. What I knew then about how to write, versus what I know now, is an entirely different universe.  I wrote extremely long and complex-compound sentences. I had a tendency to ramble along, fitting too many images into one paragraph and inadvertently disguising what I actually wanted to say from the reader. And on, and on, and on.

In short, Banners of the Sa'yen had its problems.
But.

I bring this up because we writers have no idea how our written words affect others. A kid picks up a paperback novel and reads it. And something magical happens. The story, the characters, the worlds created in that novel, all come together and are somehow burned into their memories. It becomes a living thing in their minds. A living thing which they carry around with them for the rest of their lives. And desperately wished for that writer to hurry and produce more books which carries them to distant stars and imaginary wonderlands never before seen.

I write this because, to my everlasting delight, over the years fans  have  tracked me down on the internet and wrote to me. Wrote to me explaining their delight and love for the novel and how important it was to them. One fan once wrote telling me how he bought the novel back when he was barely a teenager. He kept the book all the way through adulthood. Got married. Had kids. And one day his daughter is with him while they are cleaning the attic and the girl finds Banners of the Sa'yen lying in a box gathering dust. She asks her dad if she can read the book. He says yes . . . and the girl is swept away just like her dad was years ago.

And everyone one of them have asked me if I am going to finish the series. Of all the books, short stories, novellas I have written in the last forty years, this is the one title where people have said they loved the beginning of the series and wanted to live with it all the way to the end.

The answer is "Yes." Yes, I am going to finish the series.

But there will be changes. Some might think, perhaps, drastic changes. But the writing will be tighter. More concise. The imagery will be more visual. There will be surprises. The story itself will be hundred times more interesting.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

First chapter of A Quiet Place to Rest

The world turns. The foolish remain comfortably obscure in their foolish ways. The old waddle along as best as they can. And writers dream of new stories and wish they had the talent to create images into vivid word-photos so others can see what they see.

Ah well . . . enough of this melancholy.

I've got a first chapter to share with you. The first chapter of the second book in the Lenny series. The series is about an Army veteran who returns home. Home being a Texas Panhandle county tucked away in the vast wide-open plains of northwest Texas. A county where there are more cattle living there than there are people. And I do mean empty. About 11 per square mile. The problem with this is that, what few people are around, many of the few who live there have a tendency to be related to you.

Anyway,

The first book, entitled Lenny, had the vet returning home and, through no fault of his own, finds himself becoming a deputy sheriff. Working for a larger-than-life old sheriff who practically raised him as his own son prior to his leaving for the Army.

Amazing how so few people can create so much trouble in this out of the way Texas county.

Book two is going to be called, 'A Quiet Place to Rest.' And I think it starts off with a bang. But you be the judge of that.

Enjoy.

A Quiet Place to Rest

One



Viejo Gruñón, Old Grumpy in Spanish, stood solidly on the slope of the hill and watched with complete indifference the human approaching him. The lanky figure, dressed in the uniform of a Ballard County sheriff’s deputy, ascended the long but gentle slope of the hill, preserving his strength and endurance underneath the scorching sun. The big Texas Longhorn bull, all 2000 pounds of him, didn’t mind the blistering Texas sun. Or the cloud of flies circling mindlessly in a holding pattern between his seven-foot spread of horns. Or the faint smell of something rotting in the sun not too far away. This was his domain. His kingdom. All three thousand acres of Texas scrub. He reined over this harsh land in solitary magnificence knowing there was nothing out there who dared to challenge his authority.
The human, coming to a halt halfway up the slope, pulled his sweat-stained DI hat off and lifted it high over his head, shading his eyes from the ball of fire hanging above him in the cloudless blue sky. In the heat and glaring sun, the deputy sheriff eyed the panoramic view of the county’s amazing emptiness. Not a manmade structure to be seen. Not a car, or a truck, or a plane above could be seen. Not even a breath of wind stirring the air. Nothing. Just miles piled upon miles of dirt, sky, and a blazing sun. There was no living creature to be seen, other than the massive Longhorn bull and one seemingly out-of-place sheriff’s deputy. The nearest human being was a Hispanic family who worked for a local ranch owner. Their small house was some ten miles away. A young family with two kids under the age of eight and a third on the way. That was it for finding the closest human contact.
But there were cattle. About eight hundred head of cattle splayed out across the ranch’s three thousand acres. Big longhorns. Tough, garrulous creatures who, more times than not, did not take well having humans bunch up too close to them. As he stood shading his eyes from the sun and feeling his body heat simmering close to the boiling point, Lenny’s caution forced him to keep his eyes on the giant bull. You never knew when one of these critters would suddenly decide they took umbrage to your presence. Big as they were, city folk were always surprised on just how fast these bovine giants could run when they decided to move. Grinning, he half turned and soaked in the vast loneliness of the open country.
The emptiness of this land seemed to soak into one’s bones. Like the old saying went, if you looked hard enough, you probably could see Hell from here. Or at least El Paso. The terrain was pocked marked with small hills and flat lands filled with mesquite bush and grassland long since burned dry and turned to a faded mustard yellow color. But standing on this small hill, he could see twenty miles or more easily in any direction.  Out here, anyone would see a pickup truck coming down one of the two dirt roads cutting across the land and rudely slicing each other’s path when they met a little over a mile away. See them coming for a long time before it ever arrived. Or a cattle hauler for that matter. In dry country like this, the dust trail left behind a moving vehicle would tower into the air and hang for an incredible amount of time before eventually disappearing into nothingness.
Which was odd if you thought about it. Anyone would see someone moving down a road long before the unknown vehicle arrived at its destination. More than time enough to call the sheriff’s office and inform the dispatcher that someone was coming out to steal their cattle. If, that is, someone had been around to see the rustlers coming.  The emptiness of the county was  a cattle rustler’s biggest ally. Ballard county, in the upper end of the Texas Panhandle, was ninety percent empty country. Almost six thousand people lived in a county approximately one thousand square miles in size. That meant the population density in the county came out to about six people per square mile.
That was a lot of empty space.
But what made it even more unique was the simple fact there were about twice as many cattle in the county than there were people.  Hell, maybe more. Lenny, shaking his head in wonder, really didn’t know. All he knew was Stuart Wilson, the owner of these three thousand acres of land, was losing cattle at an alarming rate. The seventy-five-year old rancher was convinced rustlers were coming in and steeling his cows. And if the Ballard County Sheriff’s Department would not find the bastards who were stealing his cattle,  well then by god, he would!
Which was the reason why Lenny was standing under the hot Texas sun warily watching the bored Texas Longhorn who was eyeing him with a mask of complete disinterest toward him.  Last week someone drove onto the ranch and loaded up eighteen heifers and one rather expensive Longhorn bull and drove away with them.  The Old Man, Sheriff Horace Greene, told Lenny he’d better get out there and figure this out pronto, or there was, as Horace could say so eloquently in his Texas southern drawl, “gonna be hell to pay.”
So here he was. Eyeing the big bull, feeling the sun beating down on him like some avenging angel. Noting the stickiness of his uniform shirt clinging to his back and shoulders with the tenacity of a wet washcloth. And . . .for the first time . . . picking up the faint odor of something that’s been dead for a long time. But not long enough to have no smell left to it. Frowning, Lenny felt a little uneasy. The aroma was all too familiar to him. He had sniffed it before, in the high hills of Afghanistan and Iraq. The aroma and carnage left behind on a battlefield weeks after the final bullet had been hurled at an enemy. The only things still clinging to the tainted ground were the dead and the ghosts. And the smell.
It is quite true. There is a difference. The smell left behind by a dead animal compared to the smell left behind by a dead human being. Unforgettable. An aroma permanently locked away in one’s memory and never to be forgotten.
Dropping the hat back on his head, Lenny took a step closer toward the huge animal. Old Grumpy didn’t react one way or the other. He took another step toward the bull. This time there was a reaction. The Longhorn snorted once irritably, lowered his head menacingly, and eyed Lenny for a moment before deciding it was too damn hot to put up a ruckus. Instead, the one ton of flesh and muscle and horn turned to one side and strolled leisurely off down the side of the hill before stopping and turning to eye the stranger again.
“Gracias amigo,” Lenny said, touching the brim of his hat with a couple of fingers in a gesture of quiet gratitude before continuing up the hill.
It did not take long to discover the body. Or what was left of the body. Five minutes later was all it took to realize he had just opened up a Pandora’s Box of trouble for a quarter of the population in Ballard County. That quarter being the majority of his immediate and extended family.
Looking down at the corpse, a genuine look of sadness on his otherwise somewhat handsome face, he remembered something Horace told him a long time ago. Back when he was still a teenager.
Son, get used to the idea of dyin’. Dying is the other half of livin’. You can’t have one without the other. Most of the time, the dyin’ comes naturally. Old age finally catches up with you. Sometimes an accident snuffs your life out without you realizin’ it. Sometimes Death comes knocking on your door and you have no idea why.
Jes’ remember one thing. Before you die, don’t forget to learn how to live. There’s a great big world out there, son. Filled with all kinds of happiness and all kinds of terror. Take’em both in. Don’t hold back. Don’t let your natural fears keep you from livin’. Or learnin’ how to be happy. That part’s on you. The learnin’ how to be happy part. The world will naturally hand you your share of terror. Never worry about that.
And so there it was. As plain as day.  He had a little more livin’ to do. He had another homicide to investigate. But this time, the case involved the discovery of a long lost cousin whom everyone in the family thought left Ballard County weeks ago for greener pastures in California or Florida.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Star Trek: Picard

Greetings, fellow trekkies. Thought I'd weigh in today on the newest franchise of the Star Trek family, the one called Picard.

I've waited this long so the fanfare, and fanfare's distant cousin, rioting, settled down into just a dull buzz. But gosharoonies, fellow trekkies, did Picard really stir up dustbin of a disturbance in the Force with its arrival. A disturbance which, frankly, caught me off guard. For months I had been eagerly anticipating Picard's arrival. Jean-Luc Picard, the starship captain we fell in love with from StarTrek; Next Generation a few years past, is not exactly the same Jean-Luc Picard in the newest rendition we witnesed recently.

But that's a good thing, me hearties. It really is.

The Picard in the newest show is older, and more bitter, than the Picard of old. Forced into retirement by Star Fleet, disillusioned by the sudden, and in his way of thinking, unforgivable abandonment of the Romulan diaspora forced upon the Romulan home world by their soon-to-explode home star, Picard sits in his French ancestral home stewing in his own bitterness and just waiting to die. But along comes a chance to go back into space. To possibly save the children of Data no less . . . and remember, Data is an android . . . and the old man finds a reason to live again.

I'm not going to get into the inner workings of the series. Nor am I going to talk about all the new characters introduced in the series . . . although I will say this; everyone of them are just pretty damn interesting. (the captain of La Sirena, Chris Rios, played by the actor, Santiago Cabrera, is the one I like the most). But they are all good. And each character has a potential for a fascinating story or two about their backgrounds.

What I will say is this. An aged Picard is exactly what we need today. To continue with the Picard of Old is to continue to live in the Past. We are all human. We all age. We all must face our eventual demise. But Picard is an example telling us all that, just because we age and eventually we die, it does not mean we are yet not meaningful. Nor we have become discarded flotsam that no longer has any usefulness in the real world. There are still challenges, still dreams, still accomplishments waiting for us if we but only step forward and try.

I say Picard is nothing more than a Celebration of Life. And throw in a hell of a lot of adventure in he process. Nope . . . the old Picard is not going to get into fights and come out the winner this time. But his intelligence and his wit are still intact. And his desire to do the right thing is still there.

And frankly, me buckeroos, what else is needed in order to live a full life?