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March 12th, 2024

The Empty House Within

There’s a line from the poem The Man On The Bed by Debora Greger that keeps tapping me on the shoulder ever since I first read it in an issue of The New Yorker…

If the heart is a house, he thought, it is rented to strangers who leave it empty…

I was unaware the moment I left Space Telescope for the last time as an employee, how the combination of details of my life just then, being a heart patient, approaching seventy and having an aging body, plus living alone in my little Baltimore rowhouse, would impact my mental well being. But I see now that it is killing me.

I still have many of the friends I made back in high school, and in my twenties. But they are all scattered to the winds now. Most of them living in California, where I had once hoped to retire to. One has late in his life, resisted being pinned down to any one place and is travelling the wide world over, as though to become the very definition of that saying, that not all who wander are lost. We socialize via the Internet tubes and social media things. But as human contact it is second hand at best.

I can’t go live in California, much as I want to. I am tied firmly to my place in Baltimore. It’s not so bad really, in fact logically I have to admit I have it Very Good here. A nice solid little concrete block and brick rowhouse I bought in 2001 for less than ninety grand when I became staff at The Institute, and thus with a Very Easy monthly mortgage payment: a good thing to have on retirement income. The neighborhood is very walkable. In less than ten minutes I can be at the local grocery store, ten more and I’m at an upscale-ish organic food market. There are drugstores, restaurants, bars…just about everything I might need on a day to day basis is close at hand. That’ll come in handy when I become too old to drive. But I don’t want to live that long.

I had not reckoned with how being single, living alone, being old, having an iffy heart and an aging body, would make retirement something like Nietzsche’s abyss. Except I’m not just staring into it, I’m living much too comfortably in it. When I was employed I had human contact throughout most of my workday. And The Institute was such a Wonderful workplace. I actually enjoyed the company of my fellow workers there. Most of them. Some still invite me out to drinks and dinner at some nice place nearby, and there are lots of those. When that happens, I get an evening of intelligent, absorbing conversation. I feel alive again for a little while. Then I come home and go to bed. Alone. City life is invigorating. When you can get outside to enjoy it. 

I never used to really notice solitude. I’m an only child. Solitude is something of a birthright for us. We have to make friends and socialize outside of the home just like anyone else, but we don’t wilt if we don’t have company every day of the week. I could spend my evenings home alone with a good book or an art project and still have the companionship of my co-workers at The Institute during the day, and all the joy and wonder of being a part of human space exploration. I did not reckon with what might happen to my mental well being when that part of my life vanished into the doldrums of being retired. I was looking forward to it. I had so much I wanted to do.

I thought I would have more time to work on my art projects, and to travel a bit. I don’t have the money to do the great world tour, but road trips are something a really enjoy and I have a good car for that. What has happened now is that I’m just tired all the time. I can, and have, spent days doing nothing but napping and taking random walks through the neighborhood. For a while I used the local bars and restaurants as a way of grabbing a little second hand human company. But my heart troubles have put the brakes on drinking…I was never a heavy drinker to begin with…and dining out frequently is too hard on my retirement income budget.

So I spend a lot of time alone in the house, and you’d think that’s perfect for getting on to all the art projects I have in the works. But no. I look at my drafting table, or my cameras, and I have no energy for any of it. I ended up short cutting to the end of A Coming Out Story after I became concerned that death would take me before I could finish it properly, because I had no energy to work on the thing after all, and I didn’t want to leave the story hanging. But I’m not happy with it. There’s a whole lot of stuff I could fill into that story that I have no energy for. Which of course makes me feel even worse, even more like just wanting to crawl into bed and sleep forever.

The solitude, something I’ve been fine with all my life, is too much of my day now and it is killing me. I honestly did not expect that to be something that would happen to me in retirement. I didn’t reckon with suddenly losing that workday companionship, didn’t reckon on what effect that would have on me being a single gay male utter failure at romance. My co-workers and friends who have retired are all married and most of them have families. And this past couple month’s worth of rainy, grey overcast or bitterly cold weather hasn’t helped any. February is always a bad time of year for me, and March isn’t much better…memories wise. Valentine’s Day and March 6 only laugh in my face. I can see better now why retired people go live somewhere warm.

So this week I’m packing my car for another road trip to California for a short visit to my brother and Oceano, and a few more days in Disneyland. I need to jolt myself out of this cycle of solitude. Before it convinces me to pack it all in, stay home all day long and wait for the Grime Reaper to ring the doorbell. Figure a road trip will do it. I need something to wake me up and at my age now it’s unlikely to be a boyfriend. Not that it was ever likely I suppose.

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 4th, 2024

Faking It

I had my first mock cocktail at Rocket to Venus last week and it convinced me that these alcohol free drinks could actually work for me. I haven’t given up drinking entirely, but I have to be very careful because it really is the case that more than one drink in a week’s time and I will get heart flutters. That said, later this week I’m planning on having one or more of La Cuchara’s lovely Velvet Undergrounds (Ancient Age Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, Orange, Hickory Smoke…yes…smoke…you read that right…) but that’s a break up celebration date and heart flutters seem appropriate for such things.

But now I’ve discovered mock alcohol, and in my quest for the perfect mock alcohol I can now report that “Cut Above” mock whiskey is…horrible. To me it tastes like that stuff they put on microwave popcorn to make it taste like it has butter on it, but served as a drink.

That might be me and your mileage may vary. I’ve learned over the years that my genes play a bigger role in how things taste to me than I would have thought when I was a kid. Cilantro tastes like soap, but others seem to like it. I can eat Durian candy and it tastes fine to me, but to others it apparently tastes like vomit. And I’ve never liked the taste of beer, but others will tell me that beer is the bread of life. I can tolerate a good German wheat beer, but that’s all.

So maybe whatever they’re using to simulate the taste of whiskey in Cut Above is just something that reacts badly with my taste buds. But I ended up pouring that entire expensive bottle down the drain because I simply could not drink more than a couple sips. I bought it thinking at worst it would simply not become a favorite, but there is always worse than worst.

I bought a bottle of Free Spirits mock Bourbon tonight at a spot on The Avenue, and I’m sipping it contentedly now. It’s not a perfect imitation, but close enough that I can tell myself it’s not a top shelf Bourbon but good enough for a nightcap. I can tell they’re using cinnamon to give it that alcohol bite, but it kinda does work.

by Bruce | Link | React!

February 8th, 2024

My Retirement Anniversary Is Too Close To Tax Time!

Second anniversary of being retired. And also time to gather my forms and do my taxes. So naturally I decide to evaluate my retirement funds…and stress out about money.

Yes, Yes…you knew the balance would go down when you withdraw money didn’t you. Didn’t You??.

It’s okay. I’m theoretically good for many many years beyond when the heart unit is depreciated and support is no longer available from the vender. But I have to watch my spending more carefully than I did when I was employed and making six figures. I can do that…I have budgeting spreadsheets I’ve created and some rules about what to spend and when. I have excellent health insurance beyond Medicare parts the A and B. Financially I’m good. Not fabulous, but good. I can pay my bills and generally maintain a lower middle class standard of living. Even take a Disney vacation every now and then. These days that puts me in the Very Very Lucky category. But the ability to stress over Everything is just baked into me I reckon.

At the moment a source of stress is that it’s looking like I can either take the two week Disney Vacation this spring or go to California and stay with family out there this summer…but not both. And those are two things I count on to relieve stress. Ha Ha. But I’m still crunching numbers. I’ll know by the end of this month. That’s plenty of time to either cancel my Disney reservations or tell my brother that a California stay will have to wait for next year.

And the fact is that cross-country road trip is getting very tiring now. I have to stop more often, which means more hotel money for the trip both ways. And the anticipation of driving cross country isn’t as exciting as it used to be. I’ve done just about all the parts of the country I wanted to, and some of it now, like Texas and Oklahoma, feel scary in a way they never did before.

Maybe I just fly out to California now and then for a week or two. Thinking about a road trip doesn’t get me excited, it just makes me feel tired now.

Oh dear…I’m 70 now aren’t I. (Looks at the old man skin on his arms) Yeah. That happened…


by Bruce | Link | React!

January 8th, 2024

Getting Ready For It

Usually I put the dishes in the dishwasher before bed and let it run overnight, then unpack it the next morning. My mornings are usually pretty aimless these days until I am fully awake. Usually that’s after coffee, my morning exercises, and a morning walk. This is my retirement morning routine I reckon.

But a little tick I’m noticing in myself now is whenever there’s a big storm in the forecast I make double sure to get all the dishes clean and put away, and take care of anything else that needs doing in the kitchen, such as make more ice tea. So when I wake up I don’t have to do anything except make coffee and breakfast, and try to figure out how my day is going while scoping out what’s going on outside.

Weather happens, la de da. I grew up in central Maryland, I am familiar with how the sky does its thing over the seasons. Maryland skies aren’t as dramatic as Florida and Kansas skies, but I have watched them all my life. Our weather is mostly pretty bland compared to elsewhere. The big storms are interlopers, exciting, possibly dangerous, demanding more attention than normal. In the morning I want to be ready.

Looks now like the action here in Charm City is late Tuesday and into early wednesday, then it clears out quickly. But then comes another one. This seems like a pattern settling in. We’ve been somewhat lucky these have been happening in warm air. If one of these happens when we’re getting a cold snap it’s going to dump a ton of snow on us.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 7th, 2024

Diving Into It

The lab beakers and precision scale for my upcoming project to make H&W Control developer arrived the other day. This is good. They should be precise enough I can compare them to the plastic graduated beakers I’ve been using since I was a teenager and see how much off they’ve been all this time, if any. But these are mostly for the project I have going, to make some H&W Control developer after so many decades without.

I’ve been told the raw chemicals have been shipped finally, and should arrive soon. There is one more item on the list I was advised of on the Facebook darkroom page I wrote about previously, which is a magnetic stirrer with a hot plate for keeping the mix temperature good. That’ll help. My arm got really tired with all that stirring the rapid fix ingredients.

Given the uncertainties in getting my workflow developers and fixers these days, being able to mix up my own from the raw ingredients is a good skill to…er…develop. Although mixing my own HC-110 might be beyond my willingness to risk since the raw ingredients for that developer are Holy Shit toxic. But none of this is a one-shot deal. Certainly if the experiment with H&W Control developer works out. I loved that film. To be able to use it again would be heaven.

I took a stroll over to Service Photo just down the street from me to see if anything has changed since Kodak chemistry became available again. But it hasn’t really. I saw some new bottles of Kodafix which is good, but when I went up to the counter to ask about it I was carefully ignored. The stock of film behind the counter was pitiful. The shelves of second hand film cameras now only had second hand digital cameras. I don’t think they care about film photographers anymore.

I remember being overjoyed to see they’d moved from inside the urban core to just a few blocks from my front door. I think they were the last of the good photography stores between here and DC. I can name them all, including the one I worked for briefly, Industrial Photo in Silver Spring. All gone now. Memories. I have to mail order nearly everything now. But at least I can do that.


by Bruce | Link | React!

January 4th, 2024

The Skills You Acquire As You Get Older

Something I am getting really good at in my old age is the ability to flick just one single little pill out of the bottle. I practice mornings and evenings.

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 24th, 2023

A Little Too Quiet Around Here

I completely forgot that today is Christmas Eve. I reckon that comes with being solitary and retired.

I could have sworn it was middle of next week. So the plan today was to buy a few groceries this morning and sit back and wait the holiday traffic out. But my street is pretty empty of parked cars and it’s not a workday for most of the folks here I’m sure. Plus, the entire neighborhood actually pretty quiet.

I have this horrible intuition that the main roads and jammed with last minute shoppers, and the stores are being mobbed, and I am not going anywhere until after Christmas.

Spending Christmas as I usually do being a gay guy who has failed miserably at love, and because the family I’m closest to now is on the other coast, by myself. I’ll give myself a nice Christmas dinner at home and try not to drink too much.

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 14th, 2023

Dick Pics

Back when I was a teenager and big box department stores were a thing, I used to go shopping, mostly for LPs at the E.J. Korvette’s across Rockville Pike. It was classic suburban car culture retail, with a massive, and I mean Massive, parking lot surrounding a huge store that sold everything from lawn mowers to blue jeans to jewelry and watches to TVs. They had a legendary record department, and I would go there often to browse the movie and TV soundtrack titles. In their day they had a bigger soundtrack selection than anyone else.

I would also browse the book department. One day I saw this paperback title on the shelves and my jaw dropped, completely taken by surprise and completely embarrassed.


I don’t think I was more embarrassed by the Sticky Fingers album cover when I first laid eyes on it. I could not believe a book with thAT title was allowed on the shelves, even if I knew it was obviously not, could not possibly be about…er…those kinds of dicks. I picked it up and looked at the back cover blurb and saw that it was, yes, a collection of pulp detective stories, which I wasn’t much interested in at the time.

I briefly considered buying a copy as a joke. But I was probably still struggling with my emerging sexuality and didn’t want mom seeing it because she was already questioning my lack of interest in girls and my stash of 16 and Tiger Beat magazines.

Time passes, the universe expands, and along comes the Internet and email and social media and and smartphones and this cover became something of a running gag with me whenever the topic of sexting and dick pics came up. The little inner Baptist boy in me will in no way allow the grown up me to engage in online conversations like that. But the Mad Magazine inner tweenager in me loved joking about it with photos of Dick Tracy, Dick Nixon, Dick Clark, and this book cover.

Once, a certain someone down in Florida told me during one of our conversations not to be sending him any dick pics (I’ve often wondered later if he wasn’t actually trying to give me ideas) and I made the usual jokes back at him. Maybe that’s what started our downhill slide. My sense of humor often irritated him, which irritated me.

So when the other day a friend joked when I was bellyaching about Facebook unilaterally removing one of my posts, that I was posting too many dick pics, and I replied with the cover of this book. He laughed, I laughed. And then I began thinking about it more.

I never really got into hard core noir detective fiction but I have loved some of the movies in that genre. After watching and loving the 1975 Robert Mitchum version of Farewell My Lovely, I decided to pick up a random Raymond Chandler book…he was said to be the gold standard of detective noir…and see if I might want to read him.

At the Crown Books in Congressional Plaza I saw and picked up a copy of one of his novels, I forget now which one, and I Just Happened to flip it open to a scene in it where Marlow is roughing up a young homosexual for some information. Chandler writes that the kid tries to swing back but those little queer boys just don’t have the muscle or the skeletal hardness to put up much of a fight.

The contempt was just dripping off the page and I put it back, and never picked up another Raymond Chandler book. But I still love that film version of Farewell My Lovely. I even bought a copy of the soundtrack by David Shire, which set the tone for the movie perfectly.

But the book I often joked about still intrigued me for, perhaps, a different reason: it’s alleged pulp fiction roots. I have long been a big fan of a particular pulp fiction character: The Shadow. I have a bunch of paperbacks, written by Walter Gibson under the pen name Maxwell Grant, with those amazing pulp art covers.

The only other artist to do the character justice was Michael Kaluta in that amazing series of DC comics that are now collector’s items, and really every time he does the character…

The Shadow was the only pulp character I ever enjoyed reading. For some reason I never got into Doc Savage stories, although those are also said to be a gold standard in pulp fiction. But given how much I’ve enjoyed pulp stories about The Shadow I knew I could actually digest pulp fiction…it just had to be good pulp fiction. If that’s not a contradiction in terms.

So after Yet Another dick pics joke about that book I thought, let me actually try reading it. It’s an anthology so maybe I end up hating some of it, but liking others. So I did a little digging and came up with this hardbound first edition in like new condition, for not very much money.

I posted a version of this to my Facebook page, because most of my friends and classmates still don’t seem to get blogs. Now I wait to see if Facebook deletes this post too. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of social media…hahahahaha…


by Bruce | Link | React!

December 12th, 2023

City Life Has Its Benefits

One of which is the pleasures of walking here and there and happen chancing across someone you know.

I needed some groceries I could only get at the local organic food store, so I take a short walk there. On the way back I pass a guy who is looking at me so I give him a polite wave. Then I hear him say that he knows me and I turn and look more closely. I’m usually horrible with names but pretty good with faces and I recognise him as one of the STScI cafeteria staff from way back when.

He has apparently become a teacher in one of the local schools, encouraging his kids to believe that a life in the sciences is possible to them. He tells me they grow up thinking Baltimore isn’t the center of the universe, and he tells them actually, in one sense, it is. And he talks to them about working at the Space Telescope Science Institute and Hubble and James Webb. We chat for a while, and it’s clear we both have very fond memories of working at STScI.

That really perked me up.

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 24th, 2023

Thanksgiving Family…A Repost

Reposted from Thanksgiving 2017…with a wee bit of editing…

(Note…this did not happen this Thanksgiving because I could not attend the yearly gathering…I caught a flu that I’m still getting over. But in all the digging into the homophobia of the 60s/70s for the upcoming episode of A Coming Out Story, I began to feel that suffocating old stereotype dragging me back to a time when most of us didn’t dare live our lives openly, even if we were fine with being gay. Then this post appeared in my Facebook memories (I will often post in both places) and I had to marvel once again at how the anti-gay industrial complex just Does Not Get Us. And I can just hear them saying Oh, but you’re a Good homosexual. No I’m not. Don’t you dare be putting me into that pigeonhole. I am not a Good homosexual. I am a proud homosexual.)


“Gay Community” is an awkward term, but the language doesn’t seem to give us any other ones. We are people of a shared sexual orientation, and to a certain extent, a shared history of oppression. But there really isn’t all that much uniting us. Things you would expect such as marriage equality and protections from discrimination in employment, housing, and the marketplace, often generate a surprising amount of static among us. And running beneath it all like a hidden underground stream is how being hated, and being taught to hate ourselves, damages our capacity for sexual intimacy, trust, and love. And even that is not exactly a shared experience among us.

There is, and I am seeing more clearly with the passing of years, a distinct generational difference. Younglings living in a more accepting and affirming culture, having more and better, healthier, opportunities to date and discover love and desire in the ways heterosexual kids have for generations, are starting to look more and more like their heterosexual peers when talking about relationship issues. For a gay guy of my generation it is wonderful to witness. But then, inevitably, like snapping back out of a pleasant daydream, I must return to my own life, my own generation because that is where I am fixed in time and place, and where I reckon I will always belong. Among them is where I must find companionship, because only they understand me.

They know what the world was like when John Lennon was alive, and Hendrix was playing at the Fillmore, and Jefferson was Airplane. They know what America was like before Reagan. When music came on vinyl disks and telephones had wires and shopping centers had newsstands and bookstores and we were putting footsteps on the moon. They know me. Or so I would like to believe anyway.

But community is an awkward way of describing us and “family” is even more awkward. Yesterday I had Thanksgiving dinner with as much “family” here on the east coast as I have now and while the host was a good friend with a good heart whose company I thoroughly enjoy, most of the guests were gay guys of my generation, none of whom I really knew very well. A couple of them frequently drove the conversation into territory I found uncomfortable at best and distasteful mostly, and the rest just went gamely along and I kept my mouth shut.

A conversation was started about the first gay bar we’d ever been to, a thing I couldn’t specifically recall but I gave it my best shot: a piano bar called Friends, and later Windows. I can’t actually recall the first time I set foot in a gay bar…or any other sort of bar for that matter. When I was a toddler my maternal grandmother would walk me to the grocery store periodically, and every time we passed by a bar she would point at the door and say “the devil lives there” (yes grandma…and I’ll have what he’s having…) So never mind working up the nerve to enter a gay bar, my first step ever into a bar probably took a lot of nerve, but I don’t now recall it. I remember Friends though, because it was the only gay bar at the time I felt comfortable in. And there was a reason for that. But the topic quickly took off and others of the group took it and ran with it into the backrooms and toilets.

I tried to steer the conversation to When Did You First Come Out To Yourself. That generally went in the same direction. Eventually I made myself a drink and sat some distance from the others and just listened.

Understand…I don’t particularly care what sorts of sexual shenanigans people get themselves into. It’s not that important. In her biography (and I know I’ve quoted this often here on the blog so just bear with me…), the author Mary Renault is quoted as saying that politics like sex, is just a reflection of the person within, and if you’re mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what matters is you’re not the sort of person who behaves like that. People who talk at me that there is more to life than sex are missing it profoundly. Life…the life you live…and sex…the sex you have…is a reflection of the person within and it’s the person within that matters. It matters to me that you aren’t mean and selfish and cruel. The rest is detail.

But sometimes the detail can be bothersome all the same. And especially when you are in the company of others who either consistently don’t get yours or regard them as hangups you just need to get over. And that’s one of those generational things I was speaking to earlier. My generation of gay men, post Stonewall, came of age when the gay rights movement was taking to the streets, angrily, loudly, renouncing the suit and tie assimilationist tactics of the Mattachine Society. It went from Michael in The Boys In The Band lamenting If we could just not hate ourselves so much, practically overnight to No fuckers we aren’t just like you, and we don’t want any part of your straight sexist sex-negative society! Nuance is for reactionaries.

When I was a teenager, I fell in love, as teenagers will. It was wonderful. I wanted that feeling to last forever. I thought I’d found the person who could make that happen. But it didn’t. So I kept looking. And looking. And looking. And now I’m 64 and single and never had so much as a boyfriend let alone a spouse to have and to hold. And here I am on Thanksgiving day with a group of other mostly lonely old gay men listening to some of them talking about the time when a certain bathroom at the University of Maryland was a hookup spot, and random sex with strangers at this or that gay bar back in the day. There’s a reason I couldn’t contribute to any of those tales, but I’m broken in a different way, so don’t take any of this to mean I think I’m better than they are because I don’t.

Oscar Wilde once said that we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. No, we are not all in the gutter. But some of us who are looking at the stars cannot help but notice all that darkness surrounding them. And that it is from that darkness we behold the stars. Some of us.


by Bruce | Link | React!

If You Have To Ask You Can’t Afford Me

From my Facebook Memories today…

Young, very Very nice on the eyes guy follows me on Instagram. Messages me. Hi How are you doing? So I took a look at his profile. He just joined a day or so ago, posted three selfies, has five followers, and is following about six-hundred or so other guys. Lots of older gay guys like myself. Let me guess…

Hon, you’re stunningly beautiful. Extra especially that one shot with your shirt half off and those big frame nerd eyeglasses. Oh goodness… But I don’t think I’m the customer you’re looking for. Let me explain…

1) I’m what the kids these days call a “Demisexual”. Google it. Took me even longer to figure this part of myself out than that I like guys. Especially cute angel faced ones like you. If all there is for me is visual appeal, there ain’t nothing more going to happen except that maybe I keep stealing a glance or two.

2) I’m a heart patient. I’m on beta blockers. Think of beta blockers as the antimatter of Viagra. Yes, I am not entirely happy with this effect. No, I will not go into why. So even if I was amenable to capitalist relationships, it would be a waste of my money and your time. Which brings me to…

3) As well off financially as I am these days, I really don’t think I have the kind of income that would buy the time of someone as stunningly beautiful as yourself. Even if I was inclined toward capitalist relationships, which I am not (see 1), I could not afford the likes of you I’m pretty sure.

Best wishes in your business endeavors. I am not one to disparage your line of work. But I am thoroughly unsuited for any place in your little black book. I appreciate the interest. And the photos! Thank you! But you need to look elsewhere.


by Bruce | Link | React!

October 20th, 2023

Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

Trimming the wild overgrowth on the hillside in front of my house with a hedge trimmer…wishing I had a lightsaber…

Just Swoosh…Swoosh… and done!

by Bruce | Link | React!

September 13th, 2023

My Demons…Let Me Show You My Cartoons About Them…

Reposted and updated for my 70th (yesterday)…

This is a script I had for a one-off cartoon was going to do when I turned 60. I did a little pencil sketching on it then dropped it. I’m 70 now and still haven’t finished this one, or dozens of others let alone A Coming Out Story…

It riffs off a running gag in Tim Barela’s wonderful gay comic strip Leonard and Larry, which he described once as a kind of gay Our Miss Brooks. Every tenth year Larry had a birthday all his anxieties about getting old surfaced in a dream that he was having his birthday party while laying in a coffin with a birthday cake on it and his friends making catty jokes about his getting old. Picasso said a mediocre artist copies and a great artist steals. So I stole the idea (with proper acknowledgement). But the only thing I managed to finish was the script. Probably for the best…

Here it is, updated to the 70th birthday. As Joe Friday and my own Sergeant Stoneface would say, The names have been changed to protect the innocent. And especially the not so innocent!

The Big Seven-O!
(Slightly Anonymized)

SCENE: My birthday party. a’La Leonard & Larry, I’m in a casket with the lid open and a birthday cake on the bottom half lid that reads Happy 70th. Surrounding me are my three loves. We shall call them CRUSH1, CRUSH2 and CRUSH3.


PANEL 1: (Most of the following panels are as above.)

ME: I really appreciate the party you guys, and this coffin’s a swell gag, but I have to admit the margarita embalming fluid bottles was a brilliant touch.

CRUSH2: I liked the aspirin bottles labeled “For Headaches Due To Lovestruck Bruce”.

CRUSH3: That was 1’s idea.



ME: (off panel) Ha, ha… Yes, very funny…

CRUSH1: (to the others) Drove me crazy back in high school watching him try to work up the nerve to tell me he had a crush on me.

CRUSH2: (rolling his eyes) I had to deal with Overly Attached Gayfriend.

CRUSH3: Tell me about it. He actually thought we were boyfriends just because I let him sleep with me a few times.


PANEL 3: Closeup on Crush2 and Crush3

CRUSH2: Sparks didn’t fly eh?

CRUSH3: (Looking morosely down at his drink) Let’s just say I went Ex-Gay for six years.


PANEL 4: Closeup on me and Crush1

CRUSH1: (Smiling, gesturing to me while looking at the others off panel) Quick, tell NARTH! We’ve found the cure for homosexuality!

ME: (Frowning) Ha, Ha. Very Funny.



ME: Can I get out now?

CRUSH1: Not on your life. We’re selling you off as a collector’s item.

CRUSH2: (gesturing to the ages) The gay man that never had a boyfriend. Too young to be liberated in 1971, too old to marry anyone in 2023.

CRUSH3: You’re a museum piece.



ME: You sold me to a museum?

CRUSH2: Museum? Are you kidding? We sold you to Disney World.

CRUSH3: You’re going to be a prop in the Haunted Mansion queue.

CRUSH1: I’ll stop by every now and then before my shift to dust you off.



ME: I’m dreaming all this aren’t I? This is all about my anxieties over getting old isn’t it…and you guys are here representing the three chances for love Vonnegut spoke of…

CRUSH1: We prefer to think of ourselves as your three strikes.



ME: This is going to turn into a nightmare now isn’t it?

CRUSH1: You’re not asleep dear, you’re hallucinating.

CRUSH2: You drank half that bottle of tequila all by yourself and when you sober up again you’re going to feel like you’re 170.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

September 11th, 2023

A Bit Worried About My Drawing Hand

Lately I’ve been very worried that my drawing hand is getting arthritis in it, but now I’m pretty sure that it’s just injury to the thumb and forefinger muscles, and it’s the Apple Pencil with Procreate that’s doing it to me.

When I work with traditional media I use a Very light touch. The charcoals and graphite I work with are all very soft and I can get a lot of dynamic range out of them by varying light to just a bit of moderate pressure. Same with my ink pens. I use my dip pens less often now, but when I do I gravitate to the most flexible nibs because I can get the range of lines I like with those. Mostly I use the new pigment based technical pens. I still haven’t the hang of inking with a brush yet, and given how much I’ve come to like Procreate I may never get it. My favorite writing instruments are my fountain pens, especially my Montblanc Diplomat (which I have with me in California) and my Parker Duofold. All I need with either of those is a very light touch.

So my writing/drawing hand is not used to having to bear down much and I’ve been doing a tad more of that with the Apple Pencil and Procreate now that I’m doing more of my artwork digitally. Problem most likely is I just accepted the default sensitivity settings and now I have to spend some time tweaking them.
In the meantime I’m being forced to take a break from drawing for a while until my drawing hand stops complaining.

by Bruce | Link | React!

August 29th, 2023

Hey…Wait…Didn’t I Graduate…??

I’ll be 70 soon. Just so all you younglings who happen to be reading this know, that dream about being back in grade school? You know the one. Maybe you’re walking the hallways of your old high school. Maybe you’re sitting in class. And you’re stressing out because you haven’t prepared, and you don’t know the material. And you know you’re going to flunk that class and probably every other class too. And then you wake up and you’re all stressed out. That dream?

Yeah…you’ll still be having it at 70.

by Bruce | Link | React!

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