Friends in the New Year

Making Friends by Be More US

Friends in the New Year

I posted this video some time ago… but it still speaks to hopes I have for this new year that is less than 12-hours away… Enjoy

This next (bonus) video speaks to the spirit I want to engage in living this next year:

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Happy Holidays 2018

2018 Memories

Family, Friends, and online strangers passing by,

Happy Holidays. I think I’ve said this before about previous years, but 2018 has been a hell of a year, both good and not so good. Hard to believe that it’s been 10-years since I first left Long Beach and now I’ve bought a place in Las Vegas. Also second year in a row my robotics team is going to compete in the championships. There’s been more music, more adventures, more conversations, more goodbyes and more time wondering what’s next. Thank you for being there. I am hopeful that this next year is going to give us more opportunities to enjoy each other’s company and journey. All my love, jbb

images used in the montage:



If you are an adult and experience loneliness, society seems to be saying that you’re doing it wrong. Yeah. I have known no greater depth of loneliness than at one point in my marriage when my wife & I just weren’t communicating and much later when I was desperately in love and my lover had retreated to another bedroom in her huge house.
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Looking for Creagan McConnell: The Man and The Myths [1994 documentary]

Looking for Creagan McConnell: The Man and The Myths [1994 documentary]

1994 Looking For Creagan McConnell-VHS coverIn 1994 my best friend, Creagan McConnell, announced that he was going to move to Arizona to help his folks build their home. I produced the following video, with the help of many others, to share at his going away party. A second video (posted at the bottom of the page) was also created featuring comments from friends and family who attended the going away party. As should be evident from the content and spirit of the videos, over the years we had a lot of fun together. Rest-in-Peace, my friend, you will never be forgotten.

Filmed on location in Tustin, Mission Viejo, Fashion Island & Anaheim, California in 1994 Video cameras supplied by Tim Booth & Paul Quinby; Additional video equipment by Ben & Josie Bustillos background music: Andy Summers “The Golden Wire” Level 42 “Running in the Family” and James Taylor “Fire and Rain” from the “James Taylor (LIVE)” Theme music: “Island Party” courtesy Smartsound Music at

The Producer also wishes to thank: Jennifer Jackson, Don & Margie McConnell, Mich & Paul Quinby, Matt Bustillos, Ben & Josie Bustillos, The Eggers family, Merrilee Harper, Kathie Glassmeyer, Denise Valverde, Kay Streppone & Marie Jones for subjecting themselves to the camera’s gaze and the interviewer’s probing questions; and, of course, Creagan Edward Charles “Rufus” McConnell for leaving his doors unlocked and for living such an “interesting” life. Written, Produced and Edited by Joe Bustillos

Come Against The Rain

This video began as a 8mm film, originally consisting of mostly “dying” scenes Creagan and I filmed in 1971. Over the course of two years it became a Western about two reluctant pioneers, Chuck & Rufus, heading to San Francisco in the years after the Civil War.

Starring Creagan McConnell as Rufus Joe Bustillos as Chuck Matt Bustillos as Clarence Hush Dave Thompson as Street Fighter Pepuce as the killer dog Filmed on 8mm by Creagan McConnell, Joe Bustillos and Dave Thompson Written, Produced and Directed by Creagan McConnell and Joe Bustillos 1971/1972, 1994 & 2015 versions Edited by Joe Bustillos 1994 version Written by Joe Bustillos Filmed on Location in Mission Viejo, CA 1971/1972 Video soundtrack: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Woodstock,” “Country Girl,” & “Deja Vu” from “Deja Vu” Theme music: “Copelandesque” courtesy SmartSound Music at

The Producers wish to thank: Don McConnell & Ben Bustillos for letting us transform their backyards into the Post-Civil War American frontier, Don McConnell for original use of the camera and “building supplies,” Margie McConnell & Josie Bustillos for looking the other way while we jumped off their roofs and through their plants.

Looking for Creagan McConnell: The McConnell Send-Off Interviews, March 19, 1994

Back from CA

It’s more than a few days since my last real posts (beyond travel pix). Understandably, I had very mixed feelings about the trip. But as the Southern California sojourn progressed I gained more and more a sense of closure and purpose, such that I was ready to get back to Florida by trip’s end. A couple trip “highlights”:

  • Reconnecting with so many relatives & friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades,
  • In honor of my late sister, watching a movie with family followed by a couple pitchers of beer and conversation like we used to,
  • SoCal specific foods: Don Ruben’s breakfast burrito, Jamba Juice & many trips to In-n-Out Burger (yum),
  • Getting a chance to spend time with several very close friends who have stood by me through many a travail,
  • Spending several days with mum and getting a chance to record a video with her talking about family photos and stories.

Part of the “coming back” process has been working through prioritizing the things that are important to me. Writing, photography, music, teaching, work, getting healthy, oh yeah and the social life… Where does one begin? My previous MO was to try to do it all, all at once. Thinking about it now, I have to admit that going at things that way always led to me eventually doing the opposite of doing it all, all at once: doing only one or two things with no consistency and definitely no sense of satisfaction. So I guess I’m going to be more realistic pacing myself so that I can actually enjoy myself instead of running to exhaustion. I don’t know how this will directly effect my blog, but I do know that I want to write much more substantial articles instead of posting “something” because I haven’t posted over the past five-days. This is obviously a work in progress… Onward and upward.

Video Fridays: It Gets Better – NASA Edition

I was just cruisin’ around my feeds and found a silly one about an astronaut shaving his head in on the International Space Station (“Close Shave“) when I saw this other video listed in the playlist. I knew the reference but having memories of the NASA of the PR-driven “Right Stuff” era I was a bit surprised and quite happy that this was not only another side of NASA but also began with the official NASA logo. I guess the sad thing is the assumption that the feelings expressed in this video would not be supported by the agency. Happy Friday y’all. It gets better!

In Bad Faith 14: 40-Years Too Soon

I just figured it out. No offense to my friends-of-faith, but I’m amazed at all of my high-school classmates whom I’ve become reacquainted with via FaceBook who post declarations of strong faith on their FaceBook feed. My first reaction was, really, this person? It’s not that I have any doubts that what they’re expressing isn’t their genuine convictions. It’s just that, well, back in high school when I was doing my Jesus-freak thing I don’t remember any of them expressing any similar feelings. Granted, it was the 1970s, who knew what they really believed back then… I know things were said with that typical teenage uninformed bravado that was a lot more black and white than I’d later come to believe. It’s just the contrast between the kids I remember from back then and the statements that I read in my FaceBook feed cause me to pause. I mean, where were they when we were getting picked on for our little prayer group in high school (like we shouldn’t have expected to get picked on for singing and praying in our little circle in the middle of the quad… doh!)? Then today it dawned on me. Oh I get it. My friends and I were just forty-years too soon publicly expressing our faith in Jesus.

Jesus-Freak Joe circa 1974

Jesus-Freak Joe circa 1974

I mean, think about it. What could be less cool than going on about Jesus when you’re 15-years old? But when you’re 55-years old, well, that’s just the wisdom of age speaking now. What was so uncool at 15 is now totally respected and… well, kind’a expected. Damn. Who knew? I could have saved a lot of mental anguish if I’d known that it would all flip in forty-years. Yeah, too funny. Right now I cannot identify myself as a person of faith, certainly not the kind of faith I proclaimed back in high school or during my undergrad years. I wonder, should we be lucky enough to see another forty-years whether things will flip again and we’ll be back into our old high school roles. God, I hope not!

The Balcony is Closed: RIP Roger Ebert


Of late when a celebrity passes away I’ve found myself quietly counting my fingers and toes and wondering when my turn might come. Having reached an age where more than a few friends and family have shaken off their mortal coils, it’s not an altogether unreasonable question. And while my illness this past year thankfully never got to the stage where I was at grave risk, my CIDP drove a big enough whole in my life that I couldn’t just shake it off and quip, “I meant to do that.” Having ones independence taken from oneself kind’a has a way of knocking the smart ass out of ones interactions… At least it did for me because I quickly realized that I needed the people around me to help me do … everything and that the only thing that I could do in return was concentrate on getting better and not being an asshole or drag to them. And I wasn’t always success at the asshole thing. Funny how nurses and doctors and friends respond when you begin with a thankful smile instead of a self-centered complaint.

Salon republished a chapter, I’m Not Afraid of Death, from Ebert’s book. In it Ebert expressed thoughts that I emotionally wrestled with in my darkest hours this past year: that I’ve been one lucky bugger and that if my time was done than it had been a pretty good ride. Like Ebert, I wasn’t ready to cash it in. I still felt like I had things to accomplish and contribute to the cause, but there was no saying that I was going to get the chance. That might seem silly now, but when you lose the ability to walk and feel the strength in your hands and fingers slip away so that you find it difficult to type or write your name with a pen, it doesn’t seem so silly. And when the pain keeps you awake at night for days and weeks at a time just when sleep was your only refuge from the pain, it can seem pretty bleak.

Similar to Ebert my story was blessed by the care and love of those around me, particularly Tricia and her family. And even though I haven’t been one to have invested in a strong network of friendships over the years, I was lucky to have friends and co-workers step up when I needed rides to and from work, to physical therapy and just getting ice or warming up my lunch in the break room. When I needed the help they were there. I was lucky that way. It wasn’t dramatic, like Ebert’s wife sensing that he was still alive when his heart stopped before, but I had a friend who gave everything she could give and then some.

We used to joke when misfortune would visit, like her car getting totaled, that this was just another “compatibility test.” Alas, over a year of being in pain and six-months of being waited on hands and feet (literally) might have been more than the relationship could endure. So, while I continue to get stronger day by day, the relationship that got me this far is on hold and we’ll see what happens next.

There are no guarantees, as my mom likes to remind us. And we just have to do what we can do. So, I want to remember that I need to live each day deliberately, greet each morning with intention and purpose, even if the purpose is just to make a healthy breakfast and answer a student’s nagging question. It might now take me forever to do things that I used to blow through in 15-minutes so sometimes the gift is just to be able to get stronger and then celebrate with a great nap. Thank you, Roger Ebert, for adding your meme to the stream and voicing a confidence against the fear of the coming darkness.


Neva Needs Our Help

Going back to 2008 I wrote:

I wasn’t living in Long Beach when Melissa Etheridge made her breakthrough playing locally at a club called Que Sera on 7th Street, but every time I come out and watch Neva I think I’m seeing the beginning of the same thing… The thing that kills me is that Neva doesn’t resort to tricks, just an acoustic guitar and tremendous voice. This girl can rock!

Well, my girl is now in the process of putting together her second recording and decided to use Kickstarter to fund the project. If you’re like me and you can’t believe all the crap on TV and radio that gets promoted as the next thing and how stupid the record labels apparently are… here’s a chance to help a ridiculously talented artist take the next step in her career. Any opportunity I get to promote someone as talented as Neva I think is what we need to do to tell the record labels and media companies that this is what we want, not the crap you keep shoveling in our faces. There’s only a couple days left for Neva to raise the money she needs, so please run, don’t walk and donate to this project here:

Here’s a small sample of the girl’s talent:

Seriously, if you love good music and want to be part of seeing a rising talent, get involved in this project.