Greg Bardsley



“Dude, are your a writah?”

A few years back, a friend’s dad visiting from the East Coast told me a “real writer” is someone who has published material on the printed page. Until he was published on paper, this man wouldn’t consider himself “a writer.”

I always hated the whole effort to create that distinction — “Are you a real writer, or not?” I recall back in college, my first week as a news staffer, I had to stay inside on Labor Day to write a bunch of stories, and a roommate’s friend visiting from San Francisco returned from a day of tubing and drinking and promptly freaked out at the sight of me in my room writing newspaper pieces. “Dude,” he said in this half-California/half-British accent, eyes enlarging as he gazed at my copy. “Dude, are you a writah?”

I always thought being a writer is not about anything other than a mindset. Period. But I think  Dan O’Shea, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Bouchercon this fall, says it even better, and more clearly, right here.

Frickin’ right on, Dan.

Small items, big shit: While my people are all salivating to get a piece of the Noir at the Bar action run by Ayres, my dear friend Riske is headed the other way. He just did a reading in a Palo Alto art gallery (granted, the first reading Al ever did was indeed not only in a bar, but in its basement, so that gives him Noir at the Bar street cred, no?). Truly bummed I couldn’t make it, but I know there will be more Riske readings to attend, if the quality of his soon-to-be released story collection is any indication. … Speaking of Ayres, my fellow Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll alum has a story in the brand-spanking-new anthology, Surreal South ’09. Check it out. … And finally, Shea, my roomie at Bouchercon, has a new flash piece at Yellow Mama that gives us an insider’s view into the mind of a vacationing creative who’s dealt with one too many knuckleheads. Loved it. Hey Kieran, just how many voices can you successfully master? I’ve lost count.

Imagine my rapture

Imagine my rapture.

Imagine the delicious joy that coursed through my veins when I glanced the telltale signs of something wonderful — the sans-serif font, the classic black-and-white color scheme and the distinct humor screaming from the tabloid headline, “OBAMA CANCELS JUNE!,” and the sub-head, “11-month year will save Americans billions.”

Was I hallucinating? Was this a dream? Was this actually a flash of the defunct print mag, my dearly departed Weekly World News, right there beside the supermarket checkout line?

I took a closer look, picked up the tabloid. It was the Sun, a lesser tabloid, but in this issue it was offering a bonus insert of the World News, which broke my heart when it folded 2007.

Long story short, I gladly bought a copy and soon was enjoying stories about a 275-pound, 10-year-old boy who beat muggers to “within an inch of their lives,” a doll house that is haunted by a “tiny spirit” and a “killer-duck” crisis in the Midwest. Yes, I do know the Weekly World News offers stories online [see, “Tax Extension for Bat Boy”], but there was something so very special about having a new printed version in my hands.

Hillary’s alien lover would understand.

Huffin’ & pantin’ & moo-moos

About 17 years ago, when I was fresh out of college and at my first daily newspaper, an older, morbidly obese woman would periodically saunter into the newsroom — always huffing and panting, and always wearing a floral moo-moo dress.

She was nice enough, except for her unwanted shoulder rubbing.

What would happen was, I’d be on deadline, finishing yet another story on mosquito abatement, when she’d approach from behind and start rubbing. The first time it happened, I was paralyzed — shocked beyond movement. The second time, I gritted my teeth, cringed and hunched up my shoulders, waiting for it to end.

“You like that?” she huffed in my ear.

“Um, thanks.” Still cringing. Shoulders still hunched. “Well, better get back to work.”

She panted closer, whispering in her husky voice. “Well, I’m just doing what I wish someone would do to me.”

All these years later, that line is still a favorite around my house, especially after a long day. The kids are finally asleep after another evening of unleashing boyish aggression throughout the household. Everyone’s bones are aching. Everyone is exhausted. Everyone just wants to veg on the couch. But you muster the energy to massage your spouse’s shoulders for a moment, and he or she sighs in relief, eyes closed, totally exhausted, thanking you profusely, which is when you say in a husky voice under your breath, “Well, I’m just doing what I wish someone would do to me.”

Good times.

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