The radicalization of Luke Skywalker

A long time ago in a library far, far away, a mythologist named Joseph Campbell conceived the notion that all of humanity’s stories—from cavemen’s fire pits to religious myths to fairy tales—had certain similarities. They often shared reluctant heroes on quests that seemed slightly out of reach, thresholds to be crossed, mentors who guide us,…Read More…

Never lost. Always home.

We have lost the sense of story in most of our mass media. We express every unfinished thought, take pictures of our food and our cats and ourselves, share other people’s aphorisms. We convince ourselves that all we must know can be summarized in 144 characters. So when a genuine story comes along, it feels…Read More…

Miracle on County Road 34

The end of the year always inspires me to put things in order.  Last night, I was rearranging the scattered piles of books and papers in my office when I came across a rather ratty Christmas card from an old friend, a country acquaintance up north from back in another life. I thought I’d share…Read More…

Crime buffs only!

If you’re into true crime and history, you’ll love Ron’s Crime Buff’s Guides! There’s no better way to explore the crime history of places like Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Maryland than following your GPS to the scenes of a thousand crimes. Coming in 2016—Outlaw Los Angeles!Read More…

The Ladder Guy

A long time ago, my parents were visiting for an early December weekend, a rare occasion since I’d moved north. But I had already committed to hanging the Christmas lights before the weather turned bitterly cold – which is when I normally put up my Christmas lights. My father asked if he could help and…Read More…

In defense of Ebenezer Scrooge

This essay originally appeared in 1998. It appears here today with a few minor but festive updates. No businessman in the history of literature has been as misunderstood as Ebenezer Scrooge. His very name is now a synonym for pinch-fisted churlishness and humbuggery. Why? Certainly because that was Charles Dickens’ aim when, in his classic…Read More…

The origin of “hunker down”

Every hurricane season, two words pop up like a tropical depression in the Cape Verde Islands: hunker down. As a survivor of Hurricane Rita, which smashed into Gulf Coast Texas in 2005, those words became as natural to me as “please” and “thank you.” We hunkered down and prepared to cover a storm that promised…Read More…

We’ll always have mass murder

This essay was written just two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012. It appears anew here now, with only minor updates. —RF This is America, dammit, and we have a God-given right to fool ourselves. The bodies of dead children hadn’t even been cleared from the classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary before…Read More…

Mystery of the Booth Mummy

Ready to play Gumshoe? While researching THE CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE TO OUTLAW TEXAS, I came across the intriguing story of the long-lost mummy of John Wilkes Booth … or at least a fellow who claimed to be him. It all begins in 1870, five years after the Lincoln assassination, when a young man named John…Read More…