The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Monday, August 23, 2010


How long have I had this blog going?  Over a year now.  But in the last 24 hours, I have reached a major milestone!  Not one, but two; two people have been here at the same time!  One of them was me, so that means the other one was somebody else.  How exciting.  I'll have to come here and post stuff more often.

I have been writing pretty steadily now at;
Please check it out if you get a chance.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Did I say 'third t-shirt'?

Yes, and it wasn't too long ago either.  But now, my son Josh Miller has sold a FOURTH  t-shirt slogan to, and this one is probably his best yet!

The only problem is that a quick look at his many many other slogans submitted to threadless demonstrate that most of those are just as clever or funny or imaginatively ironic and they should also be printed.  Too bad they can only introduce a couple new ones per week.  And it's not like I'm just a proud Dad or anything (is it?); his stuff is really good!  Go buy a shirt!

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm "Published"!

My first article ever at Associated Content. Check it out, and tell me what you think!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I will now finally report on my 'tale of two novels'. It has been months now since I finished The Time Traveler's Wife and The Grapes Of Wrath, and months since I reported on my half way impressions. This final view may surprise you. It does me.

TTTW continued to drag and drag and go from one trite, pointless scene to the next. Blending the interest and relevance of human romance with the intrigue and imagination of science fiction is a fine idea. Science fiction has been used as a vehicle for every type of story, and with great effect, but not this time. Well, there was great effect: I previously wrote about my tendency to gag over many long drawn out, boring passages.
The novel did culminate with a scene that an actual romantic guy like myself could appreciate. But do I think it was worth all the agony? No!

Now to the classic of classics: The Grapes of Wrath
My early impressions of Steinbeck's fascinating descriptive powers still hold. I will say, however, that as the story progressed, he seemed less inclined to use said powers. Perhaps they became less important as matters of the story, and of the characters, took over. I found myself totally involved with the Joad family, with their struggles, and with their future: "What would happen in this ever threatening new land?"
As family characters dropped out of the story for one reason or another, I realized that I was being manipulated to care less about the individuals and more about the larger societal issues at stake. And rightly so, sort of. A society must be organized and policed as a whole, but in such a way as to benefit the welfare of the individual. When I finally got to the phrase given to the title of the novel I found a very significant relevance to our own headlines of the day.

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 25

In the story it was the landowners, both of Oklahoma and California that had it in their power and in their interest, to be in control of the poor individuals who would do anything, or work for any wage, in order to provide for their families. In our day, it is the government itself which has become the overriding, oppressive agency of control. The government, whether federal, state, or even local, is too often overreaching its limits and serving itself rather than the individual citizen or family. "In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy," is a phrase easily ascribed to today's 'tea party' movement. In his novel, Steinbeck never reached a description of how the wrath of the people might finally burst forth, but in our day it is revealed simply in a stronger than ever determination of citizens to confront our leaders in debate, and in threatening to vote more deliberately for a change.

As the pages wore away, and the characters struggled on and on with continued hardship, I wondered how Steinbeck could possibly reconcile the reader's desire for a satisfying ending, with the disappointments and true miseries of life as we know it.
I don't know how I really expected it to end: what would I do? Describe some miraculous overcoming of "The Man"? Or leave my readers with the harsh reality of the poor being downtrodden to the last?
It seems that Steinbeck himself could not decide what to do, and so he ended the story with a ridiculous, probably self indulgent scene, that almost brought me to the Time Traveler's Wife gagging state! Perhaps I am too unsophisticated to appreciate the high points of fine literature, to allow the metaphor or allegory to take it's place over a simple realistic story line, but there it is.
I prefer the real life ending that our modern equivalent storyline is coming to: The successful replacement of an overriding big government, with the simple wills of many little freedom loving people.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So sorry

At the end of my last post, I made the big mistake of changing my own subject. I was writing about two novels blah blah blah, when I all of a sudden veered into making a silly, unprovoked, and irrelevant dig at Oprah. I'm sorry for that. The earlier mention of Oprah in that article was actually relevant, but the later one did more harm to my point than it did any of good. I hope that in the future I will not fall into such a temptation. Oprah, as I am sure that the first thing you do every day is check my blog, I apologize.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Novels

The good thing about a long commute is that I can listen to a lot of recorded books. The bad thing is that some books can make you retch! I've been listening lately to "The Time Traveler's Wife" and I can't wait to finish it. I know, you say, "Change the channel!" as if I was surfing through the dozens of stupid TV channels, and actually stopping to watch things like Bones, or Oprah, or Redneck Wedding. Well, this is like one of those (only worse) but after 5 or 6 cds, and hoping it would get better, I find myself stuck and wanting to see if it gets even halfway decent before it dies.
Were you ever driving down a country road in Wisconsin and someone says, "Phew, SKUNK!"?
If you're like me then your automatic reaction is to take a big sniff! And then, once you've officially concurred, you start the monitoring sniffs to determine when you can safely breathe again without encountering the awful fumes. If you recognize this scene, then you understand why I have to finish this dreadful book (only four more appalling CDs to endure). And yes, I feel a certain amount of obligation to the author (I'm a sucker for a salesman too, once I let him in the door).

The good thing about a quiet lunchroom during the work day is that I can spend my little time reading, and I have lately been reading Steinbeck's classic classic, The Grapes of Wrath. I know, I know: "You're 51 years old and haven't read that yet?" you say. Too true. Started once a few years ago and now I don't know why I stopped. Maybe I was distracted by a dead skunk.

Anyway, I am so thrilled by Steinbeck's poignant description of the vital details of his character's lives. His grasp of the human condition is impressive and amazing. My world view and Steinbeck's are not in sync, but his descriptive genius I love.

I am involved with both books right now, and both about half way through. Perhaps Steinbeck is benefiting by the comparison, or what's her name, is being hurt by it, but I can't imagine a more disparate pair of novels: Where he makes every fact a relevant and important one, she includes whole characters and story lines that never matter. Where he describes the turn of an eye and I can relate with a joyous or tragic empathy, her descriptions are meaningless and contradictory.
Whereever his story is going, I can't wait to either rejoice or cry with my dear cousins, the Joads.
Wherever her story ends, I can barely care. I think my only remaining interest is in the pseudo science fiction theory and I expect to end up scoffing wholeheartedly at that!

I wonder; did Oprah recommend this The Time Traveler's Wife? Would she have supported The Grapes of Wrath?