Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Project Gratitude 2018 in Review

Dear Reader,

I’m happy to announce that Project Gratitude 2018 has been a smashing success! A worthwhile exercise in thankfulness, remembrance, and writing. Two copies of In Verse now exist in book form (proofs) and I’m more than halfway through putting the finishing touches on the final first edition. The best way to track its trajectory between now and its Amazonian debut is by following this Facebook page. I hope to have the book on the market by the end of January. An E-Reader edition should follow shortly and, maybe - just maybe - eventually an audio version. As a frequent mumbler, dictating the book could serve as a good personal exercise in enunciation.

I didn’t expect or receive a response from everyone who got a letter from me in 2018 but, when I did, that served to confirm mailing addresses, which will make it easier for me to confidently order their promised copy of my novel. I'm putting the list here to track who’s copy has been sent, and who I would like verification from.

Several responses to letters last year were immensely gratifying. There was the indirect compliment on my writing from none other than Ray Stevens [ raystevens.com ] via Cyrus "Buddy" Kalb, the lyricist who penned Mississippi Squirrel Revival, one of my all-time favorite Ray Stevens ballads:

And then there was a touching letter in reply from my best friend from high school, David, who I hadn’t talked to in almost 20 years. It lead to a reunion at Martin House Brewing in Ft. Worth a couple of weeks before Christmas. We found that our careers bring us both to DFW on a regular basis, so I’m sure we'll be catching up more frequently going-forward.

The MVR (Most Valuable Reader) award goes to Steve Dymale, who’s encouraging feedback on many posts, via email and happy hour sessions (sometimes followed-up by the ravenous consumption of Pizza Dan’s house pie at Peel and Press) really helped keep me motivated last year.

The cadence of posts here at One Face in the Crowd will be dropping now that the letter-posting portion of Project Gratitude 2018 is completed, but I’m sure there will be a number of short stories and essays popping up over the course of 2019. Much of my focus will be shifting back to digital art this year, as I’ve revived Artiquitous.com, and poetry on Eclectic Scribe.  I would be honored if you consider subscribing to my work in those arenas.

As always, thank you for reading!


Monday, December 31, 2018


Dear God,

No pun intended . . . but you knew that. You and I go way back—all the way back to the big bang. With a masterful one-hand clap, there I was—a mess of unconscious scattered particles, yet to be assembled by time, gravity, chemical reactions, and a chain of unrealized trysts and love stories. I don’t know if you hunkered down over a drafting board to sketch out concepts for birds of paradise, or just propped your proverbial boots up for thirteen-billion years to watch what you set in motion unfold, but it sure turned out interesting. Thank you for the colorful diversity of life on Earth and our capacity to relish it.

The biblical worldview through which I grew up to understand you was predominantly literal. The Bible I read may well have dropped from the sky as Jesus ascended, my name etched into the leather, dictated by you and typed out in the King’s English by Gabriel himself. The versions generally accepted by Bible Belt Protestantism I’m familiar with included the KJV [some folks I know would stop the list right there], NKJV, NLT, ASV, NIV, and ESV. The edgiest evangelicals would even dare read Eugene Peterson’s controversial modern translation The Message.

I've learned a lot about the origins of the good book over the last ten years. English translations of the Bible have been around less than half as long as Christianity itself. For a long time literacy was a luxury of the elite. Hand-scribed books were prohibitively expensive. Full-time priests handled replication, digestion, interpretation, and distribution of scripture. Then the printing press came along, with the protestant reformation hot on its heels. The ability to read became an increasingly important life-skill as information increasingly went to the press. The mystic anthology grew cheaper and more available to the common man.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


November 6, 2018

Dear *Dather,

In the earliest memory of you that I can recall, I have one foot on your head and another on your shoulder. You’re sitting on the floor in the kitchen, leaning against the knotty pine cabinetry, and I’m balanced on you, leaning over the countertop, transferring dirty dishwater with a ladle from one container to another in the kitchen sink. It felt deceptively industrious and productive at the time. Maybe that’s why the memory stuck.

Before I started fighting boredom and loneliness with cheese and morphed into a 220lb Bobby Hill doppelg√§nger by the age of 12, there were all of the fun acrobatics we would attempt in the name of Vincent Morales. We latched on to that name when going to an actual circus, but he must have never achieved celebrity status . . . I can’t find him on Google. Balancing our bodies on your socked feet, Katy and I would soar like birds. You’d grab our shoulders and, with a kick, we’d somersault over your head and land on our feet.

I still remember when you took me to my first movie in a theater. It came out in 1988, so I was 7 years old. Unfortunately it wasn’t the kid-friendly flick you’d imagined. Watching Judge Doom subject the poor little squeaky-shoe toon to the “dip” in Who Framed Roger Rabbit gave me nightmares for weeks. You must have also suffered a bit of PTSD, as that first movie you took me to was also the last I can recall watching with you in a theater. The strongest emotions, positive or negative, seem the best at making memories stick.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018



October 17, 2018

Dear Steve,

I’ve been picking up the cadence when it comes to letter-writing so I can clear the board for novel-formatting in November. There are actually only three people left in my list of 52 to write for Project Gratitude 2018 – you, my father, and God. As much as I’d like to say it was because I was putting all the women before old white men, that’s just not the case.

You were on my list from the beginning precisely because, over as many pints we’ve quaffed together over the last 6 years, you’ve probably come to understand better than any other unrelated human on Earth why the last two letters to the earthly and heavenly fathers will challenge me the most. I’ve only put off writing yours to give me something fun to look forward to all year . . . and maybe to make you squirm a little.

It started in the Dymales’ living room in early 2013 with what I like to call the smirk of understanding. I was masking sarcasm with Sunday School verbiage before our new home group when your eyes lit up and you cracked that wry grin. It happens when your bullshit detector gets triggered—and sometimes when you’re enduring the status quo for the sake of civility. I knew, right then, that a like-mind just read between the lines. You heard me loud and clear.