Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gary holding the author in 1963

Gary holding Michael (that's me!) in his hands. This is only 3 months after his academy graduation in November 1963. He was 24 years old. He and Marianne's daughter Melissa had died only 18 months prior.

The family story goes like this... Melissa was beautiful, with big round blue eyes and a perfect face. I, on the other hand, was born cross eyed and my head was a bit contorted from the birth... I was an ugly baby.

So when my parents saw me they cried. At least that's how I hear the story. Hah! Well, I got to write the book so paybacks suck!

Ethel Barrett - Chapter Six

Here's Ethel Barrett in a 1950 public relations photo. She recorded hundreds of children's stories for companies like Gospel Light, Regal Books, Sincord, and Christian Light Publications. In addition, she published over 40 books with many of those same companies in addition to Zondervan Books.

Ethel was nominated for a Grammy Award, received the Story Teller of the Century Award at the Christian Storytellers Convention in 2007. She was also a close friend of Henrietta Mears.

Only part of her story is told in "Life Attempt". I need to write another book to tell the rest of her story.

Gary earned the Sergeant rank in 1970. He was 31 years old. The person on the left is a Captain I believe... if someone recognizes him it would be good to know his name.

Medal of Valor Award Ceremony at Dodger Stadium

In recognition of being awarded the Medal of Valor, LAPD Sergeant Gary W. Barrett stands before a huge crowd at Dodger Stadium in 1972. In the background are the other LAPD officers who were recognized for their own acts of bravery that year.

One of them, second from the left, is a woman... the first female officer to be awarded the medal in the history of the Los Angeles.

Life Attempt for Kindle

Not sure how I did it - but I found the time to do a rough edit on Life Attempt and get the entire book posted on Amazon.com for eBook readers. Anyone with a Kindle or iPod eBook reader can read the book. It's available here for the cost of a Venti latte. I'll post some pictures next so you can see the faces behind the powerful story. Please get the word out about the book.

BTW, if you don't have a Kindle or iPod you can still read the book on your PC. Just download the free Kindle reader for PC at Amazon.com.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Willamette Writers Conference

Going to meet with some editors and agents between Aug 5th and 7th at the conference here in Portland. I have "Life Attempt" all packaged up and ready to go... just need someone to listen long enough to catch the wonder of the story. Here we go!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Driving Down Risk Road

No matter what I do in life I can't seem to avoid turning down this road. It's uncanny. When faced with a decision of safety versus danger... I still pick danger. This is playing out its unmelodic tune in my personal life now. There are downsides to the life of adrenaline love. I'm sure you can attest.

Peace. MB

Friday, April 2, 2010

Silent Friday

Today He chose to be silent.

While hanging on the cross, they teased His, saying, "So, you can apparently save others but you can't save yourself?" He did not respond. He did not act on His own behalf. He chose not to save himself.

Earlier that same morning, when he had a chance to defend himself with the one person who could save him from death, he again said nothing.

"Herod asked Him many questions, but He made no reply. Meanwhile, the chief priests and the scribes stood by, continuing vehemently and violently to accuse Him. And Herod, with his soldiers, treated Him with contempt and scoffed at and ridiculed Him; then, dressing Him up in bright and gorgeous apparel, he sent Him back to Pilate."

I learned recently that the Latin root for the word "sacrifice" is to "make sacred". Through His silence, combined with His suffering, I can see how he made life sacred. I can see how he made life more sacred - not just through His death - but through the way He died. The catholics believe, through His choice to not save himself, that He also made suffering more sacred. His passion.

I know that many people suffer and die. Some longer and more brutally than 6 hours on a cross or two days of torment and death. Some suffer for years in severe pain. In Haiti, right now, there are thousands of people who had limbs amputated with nothing more than a hacksaw, with no pain medication. Their suffering continues to this day. None of them had the God-given power to say "Enough!". None of them could pull the God card, reversing their own fortunes in a moment of time, calling in the angels, and saving themselves. They have no choice but to suffer. It is so heartbreaking.

Lord, help me be more silent. Help me do what I can to relieve the suffering of others. Help me understand things that are deeper, sacrificial, and meaningful to those around me. Help me Lord.

Friday, March 12, 2010


God bless teenagers.

These days, the family and I are going through hard things. This is the kind of junk that tells you to stay in bed all day, to stop eating, or maybe to drink too much. You know... try to outrun the pain. The grownups in my life, most of them, just kind of fade away. There are some adults, well meaning souls who invariably bring words of wisdom about God's love, Satan's plan, or some conventional advice about slowing down, speeding up, or get some counseling. There are a scattered few who invite me for a beer or coffee and just let me be me. They are precious. But, I gather, most adults don't really know what to do or say. I'm sure they pray... but I really don't know.

But the teenagers! Thank God for the teenagers. A group of five or six testosterone containers show up almost daily now. They crash in, unannounced, with a pizza in hand. With sweat stains and bad hair they do the dishes - sometimes without being asked. They rub my shoulders and ask me how I'm doing - and they mean it. They bring ridiculous video games over, violent, foolish games that steal away the heartache for more than an hour. They spontaneously break out into belly laughs for no reason, or a great reason. I don't know half the time. They dig for change in the couch cushions to buy ice cream (Ok, for themselves usually, but I like the initiative). When they sleep... they sleep for a long time. When they are awake they are fully alive, full of the energy, the kind of energy that I need to get through.

There's no advice, no criticism, no judgement. These teenagers at least are bright enough to know they don't know much. That makes them easy company.

I am blown away by them. I thank God so much for teenagers. For these teenagers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What is Sustainable?

I wonder, what is really sustainable? It was almost two years ago - my daughter and I were in California for a funeral. The day before we left for home was sunny and only an hour's drive from Yosemite. Ellie and I arrived late that morning to an unbelievable display of granite, Sequoias, and a rushing river cut through the middle of the valley. We held hands and chatted through a soft serve ice cream cone and wandered up one of the trails that led to El Capitan. We talked about protecting things, like families and nature.

A few hours later, wrecked by its beauty, we had to leave. My daughter was 7. Since then, she has reminded me weekly that we must return to Yosemite, for more than just a day. Return back to our time alone, back to the natural wonders that surrounded us and made us feel part of a larger story.

In the last two years, we've taken part in "adopt a highway" programs, picked up trash on the beach after others had abandoned their all night bonfires, and switched our family to reusable grocery bags at Trader Joes. Yes, we do our part. Yosemite can do that to a person.

Ellie is 9 now. Sadly, I'm separated from her mother. Like all the other separation and divorce stories, her mother and I are both wrong, both unable to figure it out. But Ellie's love for nature, for Yosemite, for her father… it all remains. That's sustainable.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Life Attempt - The Kindle Preview

I have uploaded a fully edited six chapter sample of "Life Attempt" onto Amazon.com for download into the Kindle. The cost is $1... but if you download that and send me an email I will send you the rest of the pre-published book for free via email.

Book Summary:

On August 10th, 1971, a doped-up studio drummer took a hostage and led Los Angeles police through hours of danger and emotionally charged drama. During the initial emergency phone conversation, LAPD Sgt. Gary Barrett established a unique rapport with the suspect. The sergeant was eventually sent to the scene to begin volatile hostage release negotiations. The suspect was ready to kill. With a makeshift SWAT team and 25 heavily armed officers surrounding the studio, a fascinating relationship between two very different men began.

This true story, with all its real life violence, geopolitical commentary, and relevant spirituality – will stay with you forever.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bullfighting - Part One

While in Guadalajara last month on business, I watched a bullfight on live TV. It was a brutal thing to witness. It was also spectacular and memorable. It caused me to think deeply about life and fighting.

The bulls are raised to be killed. And truthfully, there is some much deserved controversy about that fact, not to mention the brutality of the event. Regardless, this has gone on for centuries... it is what it is. The bull is taught to fight, raised to fight, and honored during the spectacle of its regal death.

A part of me loved it. Of all the animals that humans kill on a daily basis, this one has a chance to kill the human. And that happens occasionally. The chicken we eat, the hamburgers we consume, they don't come from an animal that had a chance. They all just get slaughtered. So it was nice to see an animal with a fighting chance.

One is a hundred bulls actually live. If that bull fights with outstanding toughness and cunning, the judge will blow a horn, make the matador stop, the crowd goes wild, and the bull is nursed back to health and restored to life. And the best part? The bull is sent to a pen with bunch of lovely cows to breed for the rest of its life. The male offspring used for bullfighting.

I see so many life correlations here that I need to stop and think of how to write about it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter Tow Surfing Adventure

Towed yesterday with my close friend Jeremy Rasmussen. We towed for a few hours into 8 - 10 foot surf at Canyons. Everything was easy and good until I somehow flipped the ski on a failed pickup. I ended up underneath the ski, completely under water, with the life jacket wrapped around my neck and unable to surface. Then, I think the ski got hit by another wave and that cleared a path for me to surface. But the life jacket was torn off, the lanyard that restarts the ski was gone, and everyone was on the beach laughing their heads off.

Sorry Jeremy. I'll get it right eventually!