Wednesday, July 29, 2015



 "If you have ever had a long drive, be it vacation or vocation, you will be able to relate to these stories. ...She (the author) somehow seems to find details and situations that we can all relate to... An excellent read that makes you think, nod understandingly, crave the open road, but most of all - smile."    ~ Amazon Reader Review

“Beauty on the Interstate” is a collection of short stories and essays inspired by life in motion on the highways and byways, where tales form and reform at a rapid pace, and reflection is possible, but only at 60 mph. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

ANOTHER PREVIEW: What is your "Favorite Drive"?

Beauty on the Interstate is almost ready to launch, so excitement levels are pretty high!

Today's preview is from one of two stories about road trips - something more than a commute and less than moving to another state. This selection is from my absolute favorite drive of all time; one that I hope to make again and again until I can't make it anymore.

I love driving from Tacoma to Port Townsend, here in Washington State.  I love it enough that I am willing to make it a round trip in a single day. It's worth it for a multitude of reasons.

Here's the selections, and be sure to click "more" to see the next "video inspiration" selection at the end of the post.

Port Townsend Lighthouse at Fort Worden State park

My Favorite Drive - an excerpt
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

The destination itself is a fun, quirky safe harbor on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula.  It is known for its creative and artistic community, the numerous Victorian era buildings preserved from its seafaring heyday, and as a maritime center for independent boat builders.  For those movie goers of a certain era, it can also be recognized from the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman” much of which was filmed at nearby Fort Worden, a de-commissioned U.S. Army installation from the pre-airplane Coast Artillery Corps days.

Fort Worden State Park
I was introduced to Port Townsend and Fort Worden as a young carpentry apprentice for a theater company.  Fresh out of college, I spent three summers shuttling back and forth to Port Townsend installing productions in the theater near the park entrance, enjoying campfires where the cast and crew became one among the abandoned gun emplacements, wandering the empty batteries in the woods, hopping downtown for breakfast or dinner at one of the funkier local eateries.  I even remember being dispatched back to Tacoma in the evening a few times, to return with whatever crucial item was required the next morning.  Even though it is three hours round trip, the drive doesn’t really seem that long. It still doesn’t.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

PREVIEW #3 - "Beauty on the Interstate"

We are getting close, final revisions are underway and the collection should be live very soon!  Here's another snippet from one of the chapters:

My Car, Myself
"Junior" from Tex Avery's "One Cab's Family" 1952
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

"Our tendency to anthropomorphize our cars – ascribe human attributes to them – goes way back to shortly after the automobile ceased to be a luxury item and came into common public use.  Our cars share years, even decades with us as we experience joy, anger, heart ache: life.  We become so connected to them that some begin to believe that, like the ground at the Little Big Horn, the energy and emotions of the days and weeks are absorbed into the car’s very fabric.  We feel that the car has viscerally shared these experiences with us – the car as a living entity.

Concept drawing by artist Bill Peet for "Suzy the Little Blue Coupe"
"This has been whimsically reflected by the creative imaginations among us in the likes of the 2006 Pixar Cars feature.  Going back farther, you can find auto-friendly tales spun by the like of Tex Avery in the1952 One Cab’s Family, and Disney’s sweet contribution that same year Suzy the Little Blue Coupe. Suzy… is one of my favorites.

"Of course it’s easy to forget one of the classics in auto-anthropomorphism: 1988’s industry changing Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It’s hard to remember in the midst of all the improbably animated characters and expansive action that among the pathos in the madness is Eddie Valiant’s loyal, spunky friend Benny the Cab’s spinning with his tires disintegrating in a puddle of “dip” outside the tunnel to Toontown before crashing into a light post. Benny was a fully realized character, integral to the action that audiences grew to care about.  The ultimate in car come to life.

"So it’s not surprising that people do this with real, non-animation cars . . . "


How we do come to love our cars!

Friday, July 17, 2015

BOOK TRAILER Goes Live for "Beauty on the Interstate"

It was July 2013 and I had just accepted a part-time contract job that meant commuting some 60 miles round trip on the Interstate (I-5) several times a week.  It began with a single two page story one day.  Little did I realize that the highways and byways are full of stories . . . Beauty On the Interstate is a collection of some of those essays and short stories.

Stay tuned for more previews between now and release in August, when it will be available for Kindle and Paperback through Amazon.

Check out the first Preview post with an excerpt from Short Strokes for the Road
And the original story that sparked the collection Cool Is as Cool Does

Here's another video for you to enjoy.  I did, while I was writing the essay My Car, Myself.  Here's the delightful Disney short from 1952: Susie, The Little Blue Coupe.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The sharing of this video in this post in no way reflects, nor should be construed to indicate, the support or endorsement by the Walt Disney Company of this, or any other book by this author.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

NEW ESSAY: Listening to All Voices ` "Why Not?"

"Party Trick" by Fluff, 2008 from Wikimedia commons
DO NOT try this at home or without adult supervision!
Balanced Voices
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

Just when I think I have my feet planted firmly on the ground, someone reminds me that I don’t and I am forced to confess the truth. I am an Idealist: a person who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations.  Sometimes I feel this marker is unfair, that it posits a circumstance in which someone has to be either one or the other.  Some days and in some circumstances I think I am much more the Realist: a person who uses facts and past events, rather than hopeful feelings and wishes, to predict the future.

Is our perception of ourselves that limited?  Can we only be one or the other?  Or are we in a continual balancing act between head and heart, a perpetual weighing of concerns and needs versus our desires and dreams.  All are essential to who we are and how we get to where we are going as individuals, as nations, as humanity. 

I admit that my default is to the heart, but I am well acquainted and able to function earnestly with my head.  All I have to do is look around me to see that there are people far more pragmatic than myself, and those much farther out in dreamland.

So, why does this labeling bother me?  It is because I believe in balance, in respect, in loyal opposition.  It is because I believe that a world of realism would be a bleak place: a world never able to look beyond what has happened and what is happening, to what might happen.  A world that never leaves "the box." Dull, dull, dull!  Yet, I readily admit that a world of idealism is a world in which nothing would ever get accomplished, and frequently the clearly evident would be ignored in favor of the wishfully hoped for.  When the Tiger is gnawing on your foot is not the moment to deny that that Tiger exist.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

PREVIEW #2 - Beauty on the Interstate

We're rolling closer to the August release of Beauty on the Interstate.

This collection of stories was sparked by a single piece of micro-fiction which I wrote in 2013 right around U.S. Labor Day that was based on a real incident I experienced on the freeway.  Who knew it would grow into a collection of stories and essays about the life vehicular on the great, rolling stage of drama that are our highways?

As we finish up the final editing, this collection includes:
             ~ Cool Is as Cool Does (the original tale)      ~ The Bubble of Me
             ~ The Red Car                                                             ~ The Terrible Tuesday After
             ~ Hurry Up and Wait                                              ~ Road Construction
             ~ My Car, My Self                                                    ~ Whole Brain Driving
             ~ OR Highway 20                                                      ~ My Favorite Drive
             ~ Short Strokes from the Road

You can click on the original tale's title to read the story that started it all! We'll be releasing the book trailer soon and we travel the curvy road to this book's release.

It is the season for lots of road travel in the U.S.  I enjoyed watching these great shorts as part of my inspirational research for several of the stories.  As you head out onto the road this vacation season, take a moment for a little refresher.  It's kind of incredibly how this feature from 1965 is still incredibly apt today. That Goofy!  What a nut!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The sharing of these videos in this post in no way reflects, nor should be construed to indicate, the support or endorsement by the Walt Disney Company of this, or any other book by this author.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

PREVIEW: "Beauty on the Interstate"

Here is a sample from my up coming release, a selection form a section of short anecdotes called Short Strokes for the Road . . ..

Short Strokes for the Road
"Bird Choir" by Circe Denyer from
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

Pigeons and Seagulls

Do they function with intent?  Is there malice of forethought, a winged lottery in which specific cars are selected for “anointing.”?

Certainly, some locations are more “bomb enabled” than others.  Like the billboard that was situated over the drive through of my favorite Greek restaurant.  You were always taking you paint job in your hands to get that gyro and fries. I was never as happy as when the restaurant moved across the street.

I was parked outside the office building where I work as a contractor, and came out one sunny April afternoon to discover that my turn in the bird bomb lottery had finally come about.  It felt like the poop was glowing and radioactive as I drove the 31 miles up the interstate home.  Did everybody notice?  Were people pointing and giggling, feeling superior because it was not their car that was speeding along, polka-dotted with droppings?

When I got home I realized that it did not look nearly as bad from outside the car. It was not phosphorescing and there was no nuclear humming in the background, like a 1950’s b-movie.  I wiped off some especially egregious bits and resolved to deal with it the next day. 

The next day brought a trip to the mechanic for non-bird related reasons, and the car spent the next five days there.  When I went to pick it up and pay the bill, it had been hit again.  More bird shit. Bonus bird shit! My imagination stretched itself between disbelief and ridiculous humor.

(Two birds flying overhead) “Hey Ralphie!  Isn’t that the gold Sentra we blasted down south last week?”

(Ralph squints) “Well, I’ll be an oyster’s shell Bucky, it is the same car!”

(Insert evil birdie chuckling)  “Whadaya say Ralphie, shall we? Are you up for it?”
“I was born ‘up for it’ me Bucko!”

(Tremendous squirting noise)

I paid for the car repairs, got in my freshly speckled car, and drove away praying fervently for a hard rain.


Enjoy another freeway-related cartoon, which has added inspiration to the process of trying to take a humorously objective view of life on the freeway.... Disney's "Motor Mania" from 1950

IMPORTANT NOTE: The sharing of this video in this post in no way reflects, nor should be construed to indicate, the support or endorsement by the Walt Disney Company of this, or any other book by this author.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

NEW ESSAY! The Only Constant is Change

Planning Time for the Unexpected
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

I remember my Franklin Day Planner fondly.  It is such a great system for learning time management. I used them for years.  You can still get them in their attractive binders as well as the now obligatory electronic apps.  I still use a lot of the methods from those Franklin days: making lists, marking what has to be done versus what could be done, open Os in front of things started but not completed, big Xs on things completed. I get great satisfaction from making those Os and Xs, like hugs and kisses all over my daily intentions.

Something has changed from those halcyon days of my Planner.  It is something I did not expect to happen, naturally, and I am not sure that there was a symbol in the Franklin method for marking it, denoting it, categorizing it.  Back in the old days, blurred into the haze of fond memory, it did not seem that things ever got totally out of control on any given day.  Somehow, there was a way to write everything down and make things conform to a plan.  But that’s not the same in my life anymore.  Sometimes something happens that just guts my entire direction.  It can be technical, emotional. How am I supposed to mark the unexpected?