So you think your country might be fascist: A quiz

Close-up of Josef Stalin mustache and collar.

Have you ever found yourself in this dilemma?

You’re a citizen of ______________.

  1. America, the UK, Turkey, or Greece
  2. Hungary, the Philippines, or Venezuela
  3. Poland, Germany, or France
  4. Slovakia, Romania, or Russia.

A group of people who call themselves ______________ have come to power in your country.

  1. nationalists
  2. true patriots
  3. concerned citizens

If you read the national news, headlines have mostly nice things to say about your new ______________.

  1. prime minister
  2. president
  3. premier
  4. ruling party

When you read international news elsewhere, you find yourself confused because the information is different, even opposite, of what your own newspapers seem to be saying.

Your neighbors appear to have completely conflicting ideas about how your country should be run.

Some of them believe this is the best thing that has ever happened in the history of your nation. They may also believe these politicians might return your country to its days of glory. They do not specify which days were the glorious ones.

Other neighbors tell you they are terrified that this new ruling power might remove their rights, maybe even ______________ them because of their ______________.

  1. jail
  2. disappear
  3. deport
  4. kill
  1. culture
  2. skin color
  3. religion
  4. gender
  5. sexual preference
  6. political beliefs
  7. class
  8. profession

Sometimes these neighbors mention a thing that has happened to them or people that they know, but when you try to look up the incident in the paper, you find nothing there.

If it is in the news at all, it’s because the journalists say ______________ or ______________.

  1. the crime never existed
  2. it was a hoax
  3. fabricated by their enemies
  4. highly exaggerated
  5. a prank
  1. it’s not possible
  2. they don’t have enough information
  3. an investigation is pending

You are not sure what to believe because these two groups don’t even seem to be talking about the same country or the same events, much less the same politicians.

The ______________ has/have gone out of their way to assure you that they will not harm anyone and that they are here to rule everyone fairly.

Yet, every person appointed to office by that ruling party has a history of behaving in ways that your country has formerly found unacceptable.

  1. prime minister
  2. president
  3. premier
  4. ruling party

At least, you think they found it unacceptable.

The newspapers suggest you give these new political officeholders a chance before you cast judgment. They don’t seem to talk much about the other things these politicians did anymore.

When they do, newspapers use language that sounds much softer and friendlier than you remember. The facts don’t seem so harsh. The once-condemned quotes by these people are bracketed with new explanations.

Even the photos are different. Everyone is smiling and friendly. The sun is out. Well-dressed citizens are in the picture, not the paramilitary groups you remember, the ones who dragged people out in the middle of the night and made them disappear.

There are other pictures: the pretty children of the ruling party, the arenas full of supporters with their hands raised and cheering, the ruling party politicians at events with ordinary people—because they are ordinary people, like you.

But you’re not sure what ordinary is right now.

Another strange thing: During the election campaign, the ruling party claimed their opponents were fundamentally dishonest. That they ______________.

  1. lied
  2. cheated
  3. said terrible things
  4. should be in jail
  5. may be prosecuted
  6. could be exiled
  7. will be reprimanded

You keep looking in the paper to see whether the ruling party has brought charges against their opponents, especially given how grievous their crimes are supposed to be. Yet you find nothing.

It’s like they disappeared or ______________.

  1. the ruling party forgave them
  2. it never happened in the first place.

There is new legislation. The ruling party says this will help them keep your homeland safe from attacks ______________. They say the legislation will never be used against ______________.

  1. at the border
  2. outside of your country
  3. within your country
  1. honest citizens
  2. their allies

You seem to remember that the ruling party had offered up this legislation before they had power, but it was never made a law. Or that it was ruled unfair and punitive. Or maybe it was made a law when they were in power before and then not made a law when their opponents were in power last year.

Still, you can’t remember and you can’t seem to find any explanation about it on the news.

After this legislation is put in place, half of your neighbors stand in their yards with their arms crossed looking at the neighbors who ______________.  They have ______________ to call them.

  1. did not support the opposition
  2. will have to carry special papers
  3. are called “dissidents.”
  1. new names
  2. old names
  3. special terms

You feel a little uneasy about this, but you can’t quite find the words to explain how you feel.

The other neighbors never come outside of their house anymore. Their drapes are drawn tight. You’re not even sure their children are in school. One day their child came home with a black eye, crying. You have not seen them outside since.

Some of your neighbors have even disappeared. Their things are still there, but they have been gone for months and months.

Neighbors from the ruling party have put ______________ proclaiming their love for their ______________ and you see many posters and pictures of your nation’s leader everywhere. He looks ______________.

  1. flags on their houses
  2. placards in their window
  3. bumper stickers on their car
  1. premier
  2. president
  3. general secretary
  4. leader
  5. ruler
  1. fatherly
  2. stern
  3. friendly
  4. wise
  5. kind

These images are posted in government buildings and shops and on the street. You are not used to so many painted eyes looking at you all the time. You tell no one this because you’re concerned they will misunderstand you.

Your neighbors who love him say that he’s the best thing that ever happened to your country. They say there will be new jobs and better homes and everyone will feel more secure and safe. It’s just a few new laws, they say. They’re for our protection.

You cannot read their faces. The sun is out. The flags are flying. Their children are playing on their green lawns with new toys.

“Nothing can go wrong now, “ your next-door-neighbor says. “Nothing. It’s going to be sunny days all the time.”

You feel a chill.

You excuse yourself and go inside.

You pull a sweater from a drawer and put it on.

You’re still cold though, and you don’t know why.

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5-Minute Dance Party | Daily Itineraries Featuring Melissa Villaseñor (as Owen Wilson!)

Nine a.m.: Drink Ayahuasca and say ‘hi’ to the birdie outside my window. His name is Tyrone. (Pause.) He knows how to rap!

Saturday Night Live should consider itself quite lucky to have snagged new cast member Melissa Villaseñor. This multifaceted comedian can sing in the style of any of the great paint-peeling pop stars, do uncanny imitations of a strange and wide variety of famous people, and can write comedy in a variety of styles and moods.

What is also notable about the addition of Villaseñor to the cast is that she is the first Latina in 42 seasons to ever work on the famed sketch comedy show, which is ridiculous, considering the wealth of Latinx comedic talent in America (and the world).

Back to native Californian Villaseñor: You can get a taste of her immense talent on her (website) and her ( YouTube).


Instant Bluebird | You best be born tricky


Can I point out that I often disrupt adjectival word order in order to create tension, build rhythm, devise a MacGuffin, and more?

In technical writing, you don’t want anything to jump out at the reader except for direct meaning.

If you’re a journalist, the word count and the publication style offer constraints. However, long-form (features) writing is designed with some clever maneuvering in mind.

With creative writing, it is in your best interest to be born tricky with language.

It is probably better to not think of writing exclusively as “story” and “grammar” and to consider it more akin to, say, card tricks and close magic.

Keep it quick; make it tricky; never obfuscate for obscurity’s sake: go make those words dance in your hands.

Poem | Murder-Suicide

B&W photograph of blonde woman with crossed arms and sunglasses, staring directly at camera.
Photo Credit: George Eastman House

There was a man. The paper says ‘troubled.’

His sister says ‘sweet.’ The neighbors say ‘quiet.’

There was a knife. The paper says ‘sharp.’

His mother says ‘hidden.’ The store adds ‘purchased.’

There was a woman. She was his wife,

an object he troubled, an extra appendage.

There were some children. The paper says ‘boys.’

The school says ‘darling.’ An aunt writes ‘mourned.’

Their mother adored them. She kept them close:

for there was a man—a troubling man.

He was her husband; he was their father.

His voice ran hard; his fist swung wide.

But the paper can’t say that: there’s no one talking.

‘Cos there’s no one living. So it’s ‘troubled.’

So it’s ‘quiet.’ They’re ‘deceased.’ No one says murder.

But we have questions: There was a knife.

Did it trouble her flesh? Why was she so quiet?

This was a woman: Did she exist? Or is she a prop

to sadden his story? Did she have a mother?

Where is her history? For she was a woman—

like we are women. For she was a person

like we are persons. The paper says ‘family.’

The village says ‘neighbors.’ The priest says ‘angels.’

But we know better: She was a woman,

in death a mystery, in light a wonder. But still:

a woman. Another woman (of many women)

whose ‘troubled’ man ended her life.

This poem was inspired by writer Linea Dunne’s insightful “Rest in peace, invisible woman,” which is about media coverage of the recent murder-suicide of Clodagh Hawe (née Coll) and her three sons by her husband. Here’s a fair example of the coverage of her murder (as well as many other murders like Clodagh Hawe’s): Heartbreaking first picture of tragic mum and wife Clodagh Hawe killed in murder-suicide in Cavan. Note that this story discusses at length the life of the murderer, but fails to mention much about the people he actually murdered. While the poem is not explicitly about Hawe or any particular woman of recent memory, it is dedicated to her family. Rest in power, Clodagh Hawe.

Hello! Please excuse our dust.

Man and woman leaning out of a railway cab in Ontario.
At Bluebird Blvd., we pride ourselves on our ability to create a big hot mess.

Hello! Hello to you and you and especially you, sir or madam!

Like the prodigal sons of yore, Bluebird Blvd. has returned to its true home,, after three years on an offsite server.

You may have noticed that a thousand or so stories appear to be missing from Bluebird Blvd. Fret not! We are in the process of cleaning up many of your favorite stories which got jostled in the move and lost photographs, keywords, et. al.

Some older posts may not meet our current standard of publishing, and those will be removed indefinitely or permanently depending on individual quality.

If you have a particular story you fear will go missing, feel free to leave a comment or for that matter pop into any story on Bluebird Blvd. and chat with us. You can also send us a private note through our contact button the bottom of this any page of the site.

Now that we’ve got that settled, please be aware that we’ve missed you all and are truly happy to be on writing versus doing double-duty writing and wrangling code elsewhere.

We’re especially excited for some new stories and features we have planned, and excited to put a new twist on some perennial favorites.

Enough about us: How are you doing these days? What’s been keeping you busy? Listening to any new music lately? What was the last great book you read? Did you find any new interesting place on the internet recently?  What is the square root of the color orange divided by the word mandible plus three notes on a wheezy accordion?

See?  You’ve really have been missed!


5-Minute Dance Party | Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)

The snow’s coming down

I’m watching it fall

Lots of people around

Baby please come home

I love The Limiñanas. I mean, I loooo-oooove them. This French garage rock duo manages to keep their sound fresh yet rooted in classic psychedelic sound, with a nod toward groups like The Beach Boys, Velvet Underground, and a host of crunchy psychedelic songsters from the early 1960s. (Think: 13th Floor Elevators, Them, and The Bad Seeds.)

There’s an amazing live performance of The Limiñanas on the oldest and most awesome continuous free-form radio station in the U.S., WFMU, who has graciously posted for listening (or download) the whole thing on the award-winning Free Music Archive (FMA). The entire Evan Funk Davies Show set is here: The Limiñanas on WFMU in 2011. WFMU is my favorite radio station of all time ever, and the Free Music Archive has been a second home for me in the last three years. (Here’s my FMA user page: Bluebird Blvd. loves the FMA.

One of the best albums I purchased last year was The LimiñanasI’ve Got Trouble in Mind / Rare Stuff 2009-2014.” The Husband loved it, and he has notoriously objected to my musical tastes with a loud, clear voice in the not-so-distant past.

This, of course, was before I started listening to 20+ hours of music a week for our original feature the 5-Minute Dance Party on Bluebird Blvd., a practice for which I am forever grateful because it got me out of a music rut. Listening to new music trains my ear to like new things, and who doesn’t want to like new things?

There’s an old ruse that in your late 20s you lose the ability to listen to new music without prejudice because you are no longer being exposed to new music constantly, the way you were in high school and college. By American standards, you’re also no longer the target listening market, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Here’s my advice for what it’s worth: Keep listening. Just keep listening to new things and old things from all over the world and in many genres and you’ll begin hearing sound again like it was the first time you ever listened to the radio as a teenager and had the feeling that the music on the air was just for you, you, you.

Merry Christmas, dearest readers. Lots of love to you on this most silent night.

Graphic | When I am sad, I make things

Square Social Media Profile Pic - alt. blue marble- Tribute to France, Iraq and Lebanon - from Bluebird Blvd

F**k terrorism. Seriously. Just f**k the whole thing.

Needless to say, this weekend was pretty weird.

I spent all Friday afternoon and evening reading Twitter and various international news sites whose reportage I trust.

On Saturday, I decided to lie in bed and read books and think. (I was having some pretty rotten allergy problems.) (Stupid allergies!)

Yesterday, I did some laundry and I made these supportive banners and profile pics just for you.

Today, you can download them for free from Bluebird Blvd.’s Google Drive. You don’t have to sign up for anything and it’s totally secure and anonymous. They’ll be up for download indefinitely.




Here are two square profile pics, several Facebook headers, and a header for Twitter that show support for France, Iraq and Lebanon while they reel from the terrorist attacks on Thursday and Friday.

No one else seems to have anything out there to share besides the Tricoleur FB profile flag, which is nice, but. . . France wasn’t the only country to experience the loss of human life last week. (Banners including Syria to come.)


(Click to see large slide show.)




Two doves facing each other with world in background.


Again, here’s download link for all full-sized profile pix and banners shown in this post: PAX AETERNA

As you can see, I did not include Kenya’s terrible attack at Garissa College University as it took place in April 2015. I did read about it at the time, but I wasn’t in a space where I could do much about that awful day except feel sad.

Please feel free to post and share these social media pix and banners. I would ask that you do not share this design as if it were your own creation, and I trust you have the good heart and the good sense not to do so.

These days, it’s all we can do to help our fellow human and to live in hope. Even more importantly, I believe it is our job here on earth to provide comfort for others in need.

I know this isn’t a complex message or even a new idea, but striving to be kind to others is the backbone of my personal code. The words sound simple. But kindness in action can be complex.

The Marriage Interpreter (No. 52)

The Husband upside-down dancing with psychedelic chickens.

THE HUSBAND walks into Bluebird’s office carrying two pairs of trousers on hangers.

The Husband: Hey! Guess what I got for school!

Bluebird: (Sets down pen.) What’d you get?

The Husband: Some trousers! On sale! See this pair? They’re Pollos!

Bluebird: (Squinting at trousers.) Uh . . .

The Husband: (Oblivious.) You know! Pollos? Like the chicken? They have a little man on a chicken holding a hammer on them. VERY classy.

(Bluebird is speechless.)

The Husband: Hey! Guess what I got for school! Some trousers! On sale! See this pair? They’re Pollos!

THE HUSBAND is reading on the living room couch.

Bluebird: (Squinting from kitchen.) What are you reading?

The Husband: This? Oh, it’s the Lolololag Largolarginaut.

Bluebird: Wha—?

The Husband: —the Hoolag Hoolighuganao!

Bluebird: I still don’t know what you’re saying.

The Husband: You know! You gave it to me! The Ololololoo Loo-loo-ooginoh!

Bluebird: Do you mean “THE GULAG”—

The Husband: Yes.

Bluebird: —”ARCHIPELAGO”?

The Husband: Yes! (Clears throat.) It’s a very good book. You should read it some time. Lots of vowels AND consonants. That’s VERY important to me, you know. Also, syllables. I like them a LOT.

The Husband: You know! You gave it to me! The Ololololoo Loo-loo-ooginoh!

THE HUSBAND is in the kitchen eating something crunchy. Bluebird walks in.

The Husband: (Mouth still full.) Man, these cookies are really good!

Bluebird: (Covers eyes with one hand.) Do you mean the dog cookies Karen gave us?

The Husband: (Swallows rest of dog cookie.) Yum. Peanut buttery. (A beat.) I won’t eat any more. (Another beat.) Ask Karen for the recipe, will you? (A third beat.) I need it for… the dogs.

Bluebird: Uh-huh.

Brightly colored photo collage of The H. dancing with psychedelic chickens.

Psst! Here’s the first volume to Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. It is an amazing story of life in the early Soviet Union and the gulag system.