Month: June 2014

Summer Solstice Fremont Style: Put on Some Pants Old Man

The annual Summer Solstice Festival in Fremont (a small neighborhood in Seattle) is well-known in the PNW because it is a kooky gathering of strange people celebrating the longest day of the year. How is it celebrated? Well there is the street fair, and a concert, and a parade, and…what am I forgetting? Oh yes, the part where a few thousand people take off their clothing, paint their bodies, and ride naked through the streets of Fremont.

This was my first Solstice Festival but if you live near Seattle you know about the festival because it is covered annually on every news channel. Why is it news? Well, it isn’t really, but if you take a big camera to a parade of naked bike riders you probably don’t look like a pervert, but having spent a little time in a newsroom I can say that is exactly why it is covered each year.

I was not in Fremont to see naked people I was there to see the concert because I am a cultured and responsible member of society. Did I accidentally see naked people riding on bikes? Yes, I tried not to look, and I tried not to take pictures, but somehow it still happened. Will I post pictures of the naked people? No. Okay, I will post one.

There you go. If you want to see more show up next year.

There you go. If you want to see more show up next year. If you click on this picture to enlarge it you may go blind. A notice will also be sent to the NSA.

I was expecting about 50 naked people who would zip by pedaling like they were chasing Lance Armstrong but that did not happen. There were hundreds and hundreds of naked bike riders pedaling like grandmas on a Sunday afternoon, maybe even thousands, most of them with elaborate body paint jobs, but there were also a few old dudes who put on a Viking helmet (and only a Viking helmet) and just started walking down the street.  These old guys didn’t seem to get the whole point of the parade and I’m sure haven’t looked in the mirror in about 25 years. (If you feel the need to be naked in public do everyone a favor and eat a sandwich while standing naked in front of a mirror. If you can’t finish eating the sandwich, then you should put some clothes on and never expose your body to the fresh air.)

I don’t know how long the parade lasted, but since everyone was crowded around the parade route we (yes, I took my daughter to the parade because I am an excellent parent) figured  this was the perfect time to get something to eat before the concert started and avoid the long lines at most of the food booths.

With our bellies full we headed to the main stage area to watch the opening acts. My daughter headed to the front row barricade and I found the beer garden was a great place to kill time.

Cascadia 10 opened the show. How would I describe Cascadia 10? Jazz? I think jazz. I don’t know, there was no singing but there was music so I guess that means it was jazz. My attention span was challenged so I started watching the sparse crowd and this is where I decided that Cascadia 10 was a good jazz group. (Who can really tell these things?)

Dance like nobody is watching.

Dance like nobody is watching.

Cascadia 10 dance party.

Cascadia 10 dance party.

See the guy in the green and yellow shirt? This guy was dancing the way everyone wishes they could. It wasn’t beautiful dancing, it was joyful dancing. The music was flowing through him and he let himself go. I have never been there, the place where your body says, “We are dancing, stop thinking and just dance.” When I dance, which is not often, my brain is usually concerned with telling my body what to do, and then it is also saying, “You look ridiculous moving this way. Move your arms less. Try a little swaying. Just stop. Please, just stop!” Maybe it is me, but I don’t think so. We spend our lives controlling our impulses so allowing our bodies to be released to the wilds of the id feels unnatural. I was a little sad when Cascadia 10 finished up their set and this guy left, but as John Keats wrote, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” I am happy right now by just looking at pictures of this guy.

The Flavr Blue (I am sure they know that blue is not a flavor and that flavor has an o in it) was next on the main stage and I was looking forward to hearing them. I have never been a huge fan of the synthesizer/techno music even back in the 80’s when everybody else was listening to Flock of Seagulls, but there is something fresh about The Flavr Blue’s music. Hollis certainly can belt out a tune and the energy of the band got most of the growing crowd moving. About halfway through the set I began to wonder what sport Hollis plays. This may not be what musicians want audience members thinking about, but there are people who just move like athletes and there was something about Hollis’ jumping around that made me think she would be a good athlete.  I decided after some consideration that Hollis is probably a very good tennis player. Her footwork looked strong and I imagine she can cover the net like a boss. Her overhead game probably needs some work, but that is what tennis lessons are for. Hollis, if this singing thing doesn’t work out, I suggest joining the USTA and winning some Grand Slam tournaments.

Hollis, Lace, and Parker: The Flavr Blue

Hollis, Lace, and Parker: The Flavr Blue

It is difficult to put a simple tag on how The Flavr Blue sounds but they are a fusion of electric, hip-hop, and pop. What does that mean? Go here: http://theflavrblue.com/ and see for yourself. Do your ears a favor and download some of their free music. Hollis’ vocal range reminds me of Kate Bush and that is about as good as it gets.

The Physics took the stage as the sun started to finally dip in the sky. If you live closer to the equator, you really don’t know how awesome summers in the mighty PNW are, but let me say the summer day exchange rate makes one Seattle summer day worth four summer days in LA. (This does not mean that I want more people to visit Seattle in the summer. It just means I am lucky and you should stay home and not make it hard for me to find a parking space.)

This was my third Physics’ show and they did another fantastic job, in fact, this was my favorite show so far.

Sun setting, Physics playing, crowd putting their hands in the air.

Sun setting, Physics playing, crowd putting their hands in the air.

I recall how confusing everything was the first time I went to a rap show (you can read about that here) but these days I know a little more about what is going on. (I still have no idea what the computer/DJ guy does, but mysteries like that should never be solved.) Thig Natural is a great lead showman and by the time the sun set he had run through a pretty tight set of seven or eight songs. There is a lot to like about The Physics, but I like their R&B backing sound best. (What does that mean? I’m not sure but you can listen for yourself here: http://thephysicsmusic.com/blog/) There is something Motownish about the their music, but there is also a modern twist that mixes the synthesizer and rapping that doesn’t really sound like anyone else I have heard.

Once The Physics wrapped up their set I turned around to see that I was no longer standing in the back of the crowd, I was surrounded on all sides. Maybe people were waiting for the sun to go down so they didn’t have to slather on sunscreen, or maybe the crowd knew that the Blue Scholars had not performed in Seattle in over a year and did not want to miss the show.

Geo and  DJ Sabzi

Geo and DJ Sabzi

What makes the Blue Scholars great? For me, music with a social consciousness is always better than music about pouring sugar on people, and the Blue Scholars have intelligent lyrics that challenge the status quo. Art must challenge people’s thinking and that is what the Blue Scholars do.

DJ Sabzi and Geo took the stage and put on a fantastic show. I don’t know enough about rapping to enlighten readers about what makes Geo’s style appealing, but here is what I do know, Geo writes poetry that can be rapped. There is a natural iambic rhythm to his lyrics along with creative rhymes that are backed up by DJ Sabzi’s beats and samples. It is everything music should be.

The show had a hard curfew of 11PM (which was too early for those of us attending the show but I suppose the people who live in Fremont 11 was about right). I was left wondering why these two guys are not more widely known. Maybe the lyrics are too PNW-centric, maybe there are things I don’t know about music, but in the end I cannot understand why the Blue Scholars are not famous and Kim Kardashian is.

It was a long day (therefore the extra long blog post) and well worth the hassles with parking, long lines at the bathrooms, and naked people.

 

Brushes with Writing Greatness

When David Letterman hosted the Late Show he had a bit called “Brush with Greatness” where an audience member would recount a time when they met, or saw, a famous person out and about. I loved this particular segment for two reasons: 1. They were standing next to David Letterman who was a very famous person and probably the celebrity the audience member most wanted to meet. 2. I grew up in a town where I was pretty sure I would never run into anyone famous.

Over the years, and through my wanderings, I have managed to have a some brushes with greatness. When I was working as a bellman at a mildly nice hotel in Spokane I had the opportunity to run into a couple of handfuls of famousyish people. What I discovered about these people is that they are pretty much like everyone else, except smaller. I was only star struck once: John Denver. I don’t know about you, but if you are my age or a little older meeting John Denver is pretty much like running into the Pope. I will never tire of telling people that John Denver gave me $5. (I spent it. I should have listened to the advice of Anton Chigurh and  never put that $5 bill in my pocket where it would get mixed up with the other money.)

These days my heroes are confined to the world of writing and since most of my writing heroes are dead there is very little hope of me seeing them on a street corner in Seattle. (I did run into Sherman Alexie in a bookstore last December, so I got that going for me.)

One of my most prized possessions is a signed copy of Seamus Heaney‘s District and Circle.

To John- have a great time in summer school.  Seamus Heaney July 2010

To John-
have a great time in summer school.
Seamus Heaney
July 2006

This is awesome on a bunch of levels, but the best part of it is that I did not get the book signed myself. A friend of mine was fortunate enough to be in Ireland over a summer and was able to meet and spend time with Heaney. I was spending the summer teaching summer school because I am an idiot. My friend thought it would be very funny to rub my face in the fact that I was teaching summer school while he was having fun and amazingly enough got a Nobel Prize winning author to help him.

Three days ago Heaney’s was my favorite author signature, two days ago I found a mysterious package in my mailbox. I was expecting some green tights (this detail is here only to confuse you) but when I opened the package I found this:

Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End

Gary Snyder‘s Mountains and Rivers Without End

This package contained a book that I had not ordered and already owned. This was strange. I looked at the envelope again and then it hit me. I opened the book and found this:

 

Signature

A signed copy with my name spelled correctly. Take that Heaney!

How this ended up in my mailbox is a long story with a number of odd coincidences* and I could tell it but instead let me say how much I admire Gary Snyder. He is the only poet I have ever considered writing a fan letter to, I keep a copy of his poem Axe Handles on the wall next to where I write, I memorized his poem I went into the Maverick Bar  so that I could recite it, and he is GARY SNYDER! He hung out with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac modeled the central character in Dharma Bums on Snyder, his books on the environment are so good that they should be required reading for every human on the planet. If people read more Snyder we would live in a much happier world.

Remember how I said I “considered” writing Snyder? The only reason I didn’t was because I did not have his address…well, now I do.

 

*I took my daughter and two of her friends to see Sol (a rapper) in Seattle this past year. At dinner we were all talking and somehow I mentioned that my favorite poem is probably Axe Handles. My daughter’s friend said, “I know him.”–“What? You know Gary Snyder?” –“Yeah, my mom studied poetry with him. I ate dinner with him and his son..”–“Kai?”–“Yeah, at Galare Thai.”–“What? You had dinner with Gary Snyder and Kai at Galare Thai in Sequim?”–“Yep.”–Long pause while I picked up the pieces of my mind that had just been blown all over the restaurant.–Fast forward a few months. My daughter steals my book, gives it to her friend, who gives it to her mom, who hands it off to Snyder, who takes the book, signs it, and sends it to me costing him $2.69 in postage. The world is a wondrous place.

An American Guide to World Cup

English: FIFA World Cup Trophy Italiano: Trofe...

 

Every four years the world gathers representatives from their countries to kick a little round ball around a big field. This international tournament is called The World Cup because it really does include almost every country in the world (it isn’t like the World Championships we hold in the United States in which the only countries invited to our World Championship are countries that are directly above the US or are the US). The World Cup is a big deal in most corners of the globe and since I am an expert on all things global, I thought I would sit down this morning a give all my readers in the United States a guide to the World Cup. I have been watching the World Cup ever since I discovered that I can watch any sporting event that doesn’t include cars going around in a circle, or a baseball.

 

 

What you need to know to be an informed viewer:

 

 

1. The host nation, this year Brazil, spent billions of dollars (or Euros, or Spanish Doubloons)  to get ready for this big tournament and are now wishing they hadn’t even applied for the job. This happens every four years. Last time it was South Africa who was sorry they hosted the event. This is because the governing organization, FIFA, is the most corrupt organization on the planet: Worse than the Mafia, worse than Walmart, worse than Monsanto, and worse than SPECTRE. If you really want to know more about FIFA’s corruption just read anything about how the country of Qatar will be hosting in eight years.

 

 

2. When watching the games the player with the worst haircut is the best player. (There are two exceptions to this rule, but I will not bore you with real information here.) The best player from Brazil, Neymar, has hair that looks like Beaver Cleaver cut it.

Neymar with ball

Neymar, haircut courtesy of Theodor Cleaver. (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

Most teams follow this rule to make it easier for the casual viewer to follow the game. The US’s best three players have cut all their hair off to be different, so Kyle Beckerman (not America’s best player) has made up for it by growing the ugliest dreadlocks possible.

 

3. The most annoying part of watching soccer/futbol/foosball/football is all the faking of injuries. This is part of the game apparently. Pretending to get hurt runs contrary to everything Americans respect in sports and most real fans of the sport hate the flopping also (unless it is their team who fooled the ref), but guys will regularly fall down like they were shot by a sniper. Then the television crew will spend 10 minutes discussing whether it was a real injury or not. 99.999999% of the time they guy is perfectly okay. Usually he falls, rolls around for 3 minutes, is taken off the field in a stretcher, and then twenty seconds later is running around like nothing happened. This is usually when I yell at the television the most (yelling at the television is a skill all World Cup followers master). I like how rugby deals with injuries, if you get hurt the game doesn’t stop, the doctors come out on the pitch and fix you on the field. Fixing in rugby usually means pouring water on the broken leg and then wrapping it with tape and saying, “Right, that’ll do ya.”  In soccer they even kick the ball out of bounds when a guy pretends to get hurt just so nobody gets mad.

 

 

4. Germany, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and the Netherlands are probably the only teams who have a realistic chance to win the whole thing, but it really comes down to a whole bunch of luck in my opinion.

 

 

5. There is pool play, this does not include an actual pool, and then there is the knock-out round, which does not include any actual punching. The US will be super lucky to get out of pool play since they are in the Group of Death. There is always one group that has too many good teams and so one of those teams will not make the next round and everyone in that country can complain that it was unfair. The group of death this year includes Germany, Portugal, the United States, and Ghana. (I think the England, Costa Rica, Italy, and Uruguay pool looks worse, but what do I really know?) If the US doesn’t make the next round nobody except soccer nerds will really care, but if we do make it out of the first round suddenly everyone will start watching soccer.

 

 

6. The US coach is from Germany and has already announced that we have no chance of winning. This made all the US soccer nerds mad, and then they shrugged their tiny shoulders and agreed, we really have no chance to win unless all the other teams catch malaria.

 

 

7. The US’s first game is against the team who has knocked us out of the past two World Cups. If soccer were a big deal in our country we would have invaded Ghana by now built a new nation like we did in Iraq.

 

 

8. The tournament will last about a month and during the final game the entire world (except for Canada and the US) will shut down to watch. During the last World Cup final I was in Paris and the whole city stopped. This is when I was attacked by Gypsies at an ATM. I fought them off by screeching and swinging my empty backpack with such force that I probably caused a tornado in Kansas.

 

 

9. ESPN is covering the World Cup and has hired about four guys who can’t speak English very well. I’m not trying to be mean, but sometimes it is painful to watch, and they have these poor guys sitting in the more ridiculous set ever constructed. This alone makes watching the World Cup worth it.

 

 

10. The US plays its first game today at 3pm Pacific Standard Time.

 

 

REI Anniversary Sale!

Dear REI,

Thank you so much for sending me your anniversary sale catalog. I usually don’t get too excited about catalogs, but you know how I am, I like buying outdoor equipment and putting it in my garage. I have waited for the right moment to buy a bicycle repair stand and it looks like we have a convergence of me wanting something and you advertising that very item. As I am sure you are aware REI, I am going to be getting back into shape soon. The sun has come out in the Mighty PNW and couch potatoes like me are beginning to think that six-pack abs are a bike ride away.

So sexy.

So sexy. This could be gathering dust in my garage soon.

Coach Ed gave the stand five stars and said, “Solid piece of equipment. Holds my bike in any position I want and is very stable. I didn’t need a stand with all the bells and whistles. It’s basic but does the job excellently. Best value of all stands I looked at.” Coach Ed’s vivid description, overuse of the adverb excellently (a sentence extolling the virtues of basic should not use an adverb in my opinion, but I’m the guy who just added this long fragmented parenthetical thought here, so maybe I shouldn’t be tossing adverbial stones at glass sentences), and five stars had just about convinced me, but then I read Scott Biker’s one star review, “The swivel does not secure properly no matter how tight you get the plastic knob. I have a 24.9 lb. XC dual suspension mountain bike that swings and drops straight to the ground when mounted to the stand with the knob tightened as much as possible without breaking it, and will not stay in a desired position at all.”  This review was written by someone who owns a 25 pound bike, they must know what they are talking about and Scott Biker’s last name is Biker and therefore he must be an expert. He also knew better than to end a sentence in a preposition like Coach Ed, a stupid rule I agree, but aren’t most rules in English stupid?

Then I read Tom the Mountain Bicycle’s five-star review stating clearly that the stand was the, “Perfect item to hold the bicycle upper side, clean the wheels,frame, handlebars, ect.. Great to use this!!” A review by a bicycle is surprising, but if my bikes could speak I’m certain they would want this stand also. This was the repair stand I needed. I had done my five minutes of research and now I was ready to use my 30% off discount.

So, I know what you are thinking, REI. You have searched your database, you have looked at recent online orders, and you don’t see an order from 6-Pack Abs. Are you wondering why? Well, let me tell you why. BECAUSE YOU SENT ME AN ANNIVERSARY CATALOG THAT WAS VALID FOR THE DATES MAY 16-26! (You know how I feel about exclamation points. I don’t just throw those puppies around. I use them sparingly, and only when necessary. I am not Tom the Mountain Bicycle who is either German, or does not understand why exclamation points should be used.) When did I receive this catalog? June 5th. June 5th! June 5th!!

I am not sure if you are aware how the Gregorian Calendar works, but let me give you a little insight, June 5th is after May 16-26th. Actually, it is a few weeks outside of May 16-26th, so I don’t know if your calendars at REI headquarters are stuck like the clock on my wall at work, but sending me a calendar that has already expired is like sending me tickets to see Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer perform at the One Love concert in 1978.(Okay, reggae experts, I am aware that the original Wailers had already broken up, but this is my blog and I can rewrite history however I like.)  Why don’t you just send me a catalog from 1980? I might be able to afford some of the items from the Reagan era and wouldn’t need to use my secret code: ANNV2014 when purchasing my bike repair stand.

I hope you are happy, REI. I am now destined to get fatter, lose interest in anything except reality television, and die 20 years early.

Thanks For Nothing,

Jon “12 pack abs”

The Fault in My Stars: Going to a Movie on Opening Night

(There will be no spoilers here, but if didn’t see the plot of this movie coming you have bigger problems.)fault

I should probably turn in my man card before starting, but I won’t because I think I lost my man card when I went to see The Nutcracker and sat in a seat designed for Emmanuel Lewis without complaining. (Okay, I complained, but it was more like a whine which isn’t really how a man complains. A man says, “I’ll be in the bar drinking whiskey when all of this dancing is over.”)

I have been following John Green for about a year now. I read Looking for Alaska last summer and have been a regular viewer of all of his Vlogbrother offerings, so I was actually looking forward to seeing The Fault in Our Stars as it became a movie, but I guess I didn’t think through when I should go. Opening night was a poor choice.  The theater was packed with 13-17 year-old girls, 35-50 women, and two dudes: me and some guy with a chin beard that looked like something he forgot to wipe off. Most of the women appeared to be out on a girls’ night with 10 of their closest friends and they were ready for a good cry.

At the Rose Theater in Port Townsend, someone always comes to the front of the theater and tells you something interesting about the movie you are about to see and builds a little background. (For instance, when I went to see Get Shorty 800 years ago I learned that Danny Devito’s character was based on Dustin Hoffman. Which is very funny. Next time you watch Get Shorty think Dustin each time Danny shows up on screen.) The crowd at The Rose is always polite and listens to these little insights because movies are richer when you know a little background, but for the first time ever, there were people in the crowd who talked during the introduction. Little things like this upset me. I would hope that if a global pandemic were wiping out the human population and we all had three hours left to live, we could sit quietly and listen to the movie dude tell us that John Green had written this novel in response to work he had done with children in a cancer ward.

The lights went down, the ladies behind me started talking loudly during the previews, I said even louder to my wife, “I hope they aren’t going to talk this loudly throughout the whole movie,” and by doing so confirmed that men are the problem in the universe.The movie started and within 30 minutes 10% of the audience was crying. When we reached the hour mark half of the audience was crying. One hour and 30 minutes into the film almost everyone was crying, and a few of the ladies were crying like you do when you are 10 and your dog gets run over. That gasping crying thing? You know, the difficulty breathing crying thing? Anyway, by the end of the movie pretty much everyone in the theater was crying. I have never been to a movie where this much crying was taking place. People didn’t cry this much at Schindler’s List. They didn’t cry this much at Old Yeller. They didn’t cry this much at Brian’s Song. They didn’t cry this much when they saw that The Expendables 3 had been given the green light for filming.

Did I cry? No! Well, tears did not escaped my eyes. There were a few close calls, but it wasn’t like Life is Beautiful. (The one movie I have seen 100 times and cried every single time. Damn you Roberto Benigni.) The strangest part of the evening was that all the 13-17 year-old girls went outside the theater after the movie and cried some more. It was in this moment that I decided that if women ran the world there would be a lot more crying.

Was the movie good? It was better than I had expected, so I guess that means it was good. I assume the crying theater phenomenon will be an opening night thing since most of the people there had read the book and were huge John Green fans, but take a couple tissues just in case.

 

Blog Tour: The Writing Process, or How To Own a Blog Worth $1449.

Blogging Amigo and all around funny guy, Snoozing on the Sofa (aka Scott Nagele) has nominated me and fellow blogger Pieter who runs a blog called Ah Dad in a game of blogging tag that is a cross between winning a trophy for participating in U-5 soccer and hot potato. I like when I get nominated for these things, not because I am a self-centered jerk, but because the blogging world is the lonely island of misfit writers and getting any recognition is nice.

Scott’s blog is devoted to his family, which is growing rapidly, and his parenting adventures are humorous, and loving. In other words, Scott is my kind of guy. I have followed Scott’s blog for some time now and he always has great posts.

Pieter lives in South Africa, the country at the bottom of Africa that everyone can find, and blogs about his family. When Pieter isn’t watching the Springboks lose to the All-Blacks in rugby, he is buying tickets to see One Direction in concert. Anyone who takes his children to see One Direction deserves a medal on Father’s Day, but they probably don’t have Father’s Day in South Africa since everything is upside down there.

René Descartes at work

I also use a quill for first drafts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay enough about other people, let’s get down to why I am here. Why am I here? Like Descartes I blog because I am. At one time in my life I gave up on writing. (Note to my readers, I am about to be serious for a paragraph.) When I was younger I enjoyed writing. Writing in college killed that joy. I don’t know if it was the amount of required formulaic essay writing, the fact that I was a lazy writer, or if I my brain decided to surrender. Whatever it was, I came away from college and had given up on writing. Fast forward about 15 years and I was teaching high school English in a small Washington coastal town. I liked my job, enjoyed the students, but really didn’t have time to write. I taught many promising students, but the one that started me back to writing was one who died tragically. He was a very good writer and thinker. I really felt, as I do with many of my students, that he was destined to make a mark in this world. His death drew me back to writing. I started to find time to write.

On to the required questions.

1. What am I working on now?

My blog writing is a small bit of my writing pie. There are many days when I want to kill my blog and leave its dead body floating in the internet, but I am like Michael Corleone after he knew Fredo did it. Someday I’ll send my blog out fishing with Luca Brasi and it will never be seen again.

The other pieces of my writing pie are still in the oven, but this summer I will be self-publishing a book of short stories and writing a screenplay for my unpublished novel. If I don’t make too many mistakes in my first attempt to self-publish then I will begin working on self-publishing my novel Lost Summers In Paris. Lost Summers is my novel about the writers and artists in Paris in the 1920’s. I have two other novels in their infancy and I hear it is bad luck to talk about those things before they are done, but one is related to my recent trip to Europe (The Summer of Jon) and the other one is not.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My blog writing is difficult to put a genre tag on because I don’t really follow the rules for running a successful blog and this might be why it is a blog valued at $1449 by Google. I write a little travel, but my travel writing is not helpful if you are planning a trip because most of my travel writing is related to me getting lost and doing stupid stuff.

My fiction writing is usually about odd people doing odd things. I lean towards little tragedies and life’s mysteries, but what ends up on the page is usually determined by forces within me but outside of my control.

English: This systematic overview categorizes ...

Look, a graphic from Wikipedia. . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Why do I write what I do?

I started my blog as a place to practice my writing. I am a firm believer that public humiliation is the best way to hone a craft, and a subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s belief that one must put 10,000 hours into something before you can become really good at it. (I know what you are thinking. No, I don’t think I have reached the 10,000 hour platform.)

Almost everything that ends up on my blog is something related to my life. Somebody said (Plato? Emerson? Elvis?) that an unexamined life is not worth living. I think my blogging is a way for me to examine my life.

After the death of my student I decided that writing a novel was what I must do. I don’t know why but that is what I decided. I wasn’t sure what I would write, but one day I saw a picture of a baseball signed by the artist Vermeer. The article was about art fraud but the picture kick a hole open in my brain and I began to think about a baseball league that could have formed in Paris in the 1920’s between the artists and writers who lived there at that time. It started there…and then I read 50 books (really, I’m that mental)…and then I rewrote the novel 20,000 times (this is hyperbole)…and entered it in some contests…and rewrote it again…and now I think I am done with it. I am very proud of my work and think it has improved each time I completed it.

4. How does my writing process work?

I try to write each morning from 5am to 6am during my work year. It is the only free time I have since I have to attend rap concerts, watch Mad Men, see any televised sporting event that is mildly interesting, and eat.

My blogs write themselves. I sit down with an idea or something that happened and just let it go. I let my little muse go and I don’t worry too much about what comes out.

When I write fiction I take my time. I write, edit, write, edit, let the work age like a cheap wine, and then let my mind fix things. My subconscious is a much better writer than I am, my subconscious is also a much darker place than my working mind. I think that is because it is hard for light to get past my thick skull.

 

Pieter Claeszoon - Still Life with a Skull and...

Not my actual skull, but give me five more years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And now I will pass the hot potato to two more bloggers.

The first blogger is one I discovered through Scott’s blog. She always had funny comments and so I followed her little picture thingy to her blog and found out that her blog posts were just as good as her comments. Traci writes about her life, her work, and her family. She has a quiet humor and there is a kindness to her writing that can only come from someone who lives in the southern United States. Check her out here: http://tracicarver.com/

My second blogger is CherryReads. Cherry’s blog is very focused: Free Hockey Romances. What is a Free Hockey Romance? Well, they are romance novels about hockey that Cherry can get for free. Her reviews of these novels are always hilarious. I don’t know much about hockey (and from the sounds of it that would not prevent me from writing a hockey romance) but that has not stopped me from really enjoying her work. You can find her blog here: http://hockeyromancereviews.wordpress.com/

Traci and Cherry, it is now up to you to pass along this chain-letter-blog-thing to two more bloggers (if you want, or you can ignore the whole thing and risk the 7 years of bad luck).

 

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