Jun 052014
 

So, Writing 101 bids us to write about loss.  I could get into some heavy stuff, but I prefer to keep it light tonight.  So, let me tell yinz about a mix tape that went *poof* just as it was taking shape.

It was the spring of 1991, and there weren’t no interwebs.  No sir, if you wanted to mix and match songs, you hadda go out and record ’em off of another cassette or CD.  You hadda work for it!  It took not only time and effort to record each song but it was often a challenge to search for and physically gather the music you wanted to record also.  It could take weeks.  As a result, it often became a challenge to build one that stood out.  Sure, you could just blandly copy a favorite release from a friend to save a few bucks or just slap together a few random favorites of yours, but that wasn’t very satisfying in the long run.  No, if you wanted something that would satisfy you and impress your friends and (hoped for) loved ones, you had to stretch your creative muscles and put a lot of thought and effort into it.

Now, one route was to build one based on a theme of some sort.  It could be, say, a mix tape filled only with songs that featured the saxaphone in them (something you don’t hear a lot of these days – R.I.P. Clarence!) or maybe your best-of alternative breakup songs.  Or, you could go for eclecticism.  The tape I was building that spring was headed that way.

It started with a trip to Washington D.C. with a friend (He would later become a roommate and in the process a bitter enemy.  But that’s another story.) I had made at WPTS, Pitt’s radio station.  I was working as a news reader and he was the news director.  We hit it off, and so I hopped a ride down to D.C. with him one weekend in late March on a road trip.  On the way down and back, he played a most excellently varied tape of his own.  It had everything from “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” to a couple of comedy bits to “Master of the House” from Les Miserables.  I was suitably impressed – and inspired.  And so, I got to work.  I shamelessly borrowed his tape to copy “Istanbul” and “Master” but then followed my muse.  I manged to find N.W.A.’s “100 Miles and Running” and included it.  Best of all, I managed to get one of my fellow radio station news readers (and also future roommate – also part of that other story) to copy the theme to Late Night With David Letterman.  I’m talking the original version that played to the opening of his NBC show, back when he was mean, bitchy, and awesomely hilarious in his own gonzo way.  That theme.  Oh yeah.  He had to go in a record it from the old, blocky 8-track type radio cart tapes onto cassette.  That was the icing on the cake.  I was on a roll now, I was putting together something special, it was lightning in a bottle.

Or so it might have been.  Joe asked to borrow the tape just before the end of spring semester in late April of ’91.  I agreed.  And that was the end of that.  I never saw it again.  I should have taken it as dark omen of that guy’s ways, too, but again, that’s another story, and I was young and naive.  Still, that loss hurt.  Sure, I would go on to make more mix tapes in the years to come, but it was never quite the same.  I never had the drive to craft something truly special.  My muse had left me by then.  I still mourn the loss of that tape, and now, in this era of digital music, it’s too late.  Putting together a song list isn’t the same.  What takes 5 minutes now could have taken, as I alluded, 5 weeks back then.  Farewell, oh fading ember of my youth.  You are gone, but never forgotten.

 

Jun 032014
 

And day two of Writing 101 presents a much easier challenge for lil’ ol’ me.  Specifically:

We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

So, where would I go right now?  I would go to Istanbul.  And no, I’m not gonna sing the They Might Be Giants cover of that song, tempting though it may be.

Building-wise, the first place I’d want to see is the place to see:  the Hagia Sophia!  Take a look at it – how could you not want to go see a place like this?:

Hmmmm, come to think of it, I need to start thinking about booking a vacation somewhere this fall.  I need a rest.

Jun 022014
 

A new month, a new assignment/challenge from the folks at The Daily Post.  Welcome to Writing 101.

Huzzah.

The idea for today’s assignment is to just take 20 minutes and write.  I wish I could.  But I’ll let you all in on a little secret:  I’m really, really tired.  Weary, even.  The worst part will be that I won’t be able to get to sleep in a few hours (it’s 10:17 p.m. EST right now).  Grumble grumble grumble, I know.  But still, this has been going on few a few days.  I’m starting to wonder if I’m not a little anemic right now.

A little context is in order here, I suppose.  I’ve never slept well.  I had night terrors as a young kid, and I’ve been a night owl for as long as I can remember.  I take Ativan (Lorazepam) to help me sleep most nights, and sometimes, oftentimes, it leaves me groggy.  Still, this is different.  Hmmmm, maybe I’m building up a resistance to the Ativan.  Maybe I’m dehydrated.  Or, maybe it’s something else.  I don’t know.  All I do know is that I’m a-draggin’.  So, take me Morpheus, and hold me tight when you do!  I need a good night’s rest!  Heck, I’ll even hook you up with some of that Tooth Fairy money I saved from when I was kid.  Well, ok, it’ll be my money, but who couldn’t use an extra $20?

Jun 012014
 

Per today’s Daily Post, here’s the first picture I found when opened my ‘virtual’ photo album.  It was taken this past Thursday morning as the final part of a project a friend of mine initiated.  (You can find out more about it on this Facebook page.)  The idea was to take ‘selfies’ every four hours without trying to pose or edit or otherwise do anything to enhance one’s appearance. I did my best to be unguarded when taking these pictures, but I was still a bit self-conscious about them.  But that might just be human nature.  At any rate, I was tired and cranky and wanted to go home when I took this one – and it was only about 9:30 in the a.M.!  The Memorial Day holiday spoiled me a bit and did not feel like being at work this past week.  Oh well, tomorrow starts a new work week.  Perhaps things will start to look up a bit.  Here’s hoping.

Lovin' life on a Friday morning.

The last photo from “Project True Selfie”

May 192014
 

In today’s Daily Post, we are presented with this scenario:

You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake.  Tell us what happens next.

Next, I would ask “Are you here to kill me?”  If they say “Yes”, then my reply would be “Ok, but you do you mind if tidy up a bit first?  I don’t want people to find my body in a messy house.”  If they say “No”, then my reply would be “Great!  Let me tidy up and then we can talk.  But first – can I have some cake?”

May 092014
 

Per today’s Daily Prompt, my favorite daily ritual is also a fairly unhealthy one.  I enjoy a half-pint of 1% fat milk along with two cinnamon and brown-sugar flavored Pop Tarts.  Delicious, flaky, fattening crack that feeds my sugar addiction.  It’s my little guilty pleasure.  Hooray for comfort food!

 Damn you, Kellogg's.  Bless you, Kellogg's.

Nom Nom Nom

Apr 302014
 

From today’s Daily Prompt, we get:

Ring of Fire Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

See what I did here?

It’s funny ‘cuz it’s exaggerated.

I actually just had Indian food last night, so I don’t mind some spice – up to a point.  BUT, a few years ago, a local Thai restaurant asked me if I want my food “spicy” or “Thai spicy.”  I choose the latter.  Foolishly.  My tongue burned with every bite and I was practically shaking.  I think it was even worse when I went back and attempted to conquer the leftovers the next day.  I seem to remember my stomach and intestines filing a restraining order against me after that, too.  So, again, I like spicy food, but only up to a certain level.  All things in moderation, yes?

 

 

Apr 202014
 

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment is to publish a post for our ‘dream’ reader.  Preferably, this will include the use of a ‘new-to-you’ type of post.  So, with that in mind, let me just say  that my dream reader would appreciate, enjoy, and stand in awe of the sublime snark of P.J. O’Rourke’s classic How To Drive Fast While On Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed And Not Spill Your Drink.”

He/She would marvel at a piece of prose like this:

When it comes to taking chances, some people like to play poker or shoot dice; other people prefer to parachute-jump, go rhino hunting, or climb ice floes, while still others engage in crime or marriage. But I like to get drunk and drive like a fool. Name me, if you can, a better feeling than the one you get when you’re half a bottle of Chivas in the bag with a gram of coke up your nose and a teenage lovely pulling off her tube top in the next seat over while you’re going a hundred miles an hour down a suburban side street. You’d have to watch the entire Mexican air force crash-land in a liquid petroleum gas storage facility to match this kind of thrill. If you ever have much more fun than that, you’ll die of pure sensory overload, I’m here to tell you.

Go read the rest of it for yourself, and see what makes it so special.  I just pray that I’ll write something half as witty and entertaining some day.  And I pray that others will appreciate it if and when I do.

Apr 182014
 

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment is to “write that post that was on your mind when you decided to start a blog.”

What I had in mind was a post that would fit the title of my blog.  It was going to be a short introduction similar to the one I just wrote.

That was in 2012.

I hemmed, hawed, and promised myself that I’d get back to it, and soon.  That was two years ago.  But then I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago and wrote down what was on my mind.  Or rather, I wrote down as close an approximation to what was on mind that I could muster.

The result eventually became my introductory post.

The lesson that I learned was not to make the perfect the enemy of the good (enough).  You just gotta start writing and not sweat the fact that it won’t be perfect.  This is all a bit cliché’, I know.  But like any cliché’, there’s a strong element of truth to it, knowhatImsayin’?

Apr 172014
 

First, let me thank the kind folks at the Daily Post for getting this song stuck in my head. Nice going, people. 😛

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment is to edit my title and tag line. Ok, fair enough. Except, I like both just fine, so Yinz’ll have to settle for an explanation instead.

I was originally going to go with just “Making It Up As I Go Along” for a title, but then I noticed that there are many, many, many other blogs with the same title. Since making oneself distinct enough to stand out in a crowd, or at least be distinct enough to show up near the top of a search engine’s results, is a must, I had to make a change. To do this, I amended the title to “Making It Up As I Go Along – Trying To Think It Through.” In terms of substance, it reflects my approach to blogging. I’m new to this, and while I’ve read that having a distinct ‘voice’ (‘brand?’) is key to building a large following, I can’t do that just yet. I can’t do that because I don’t know what my ‘voice’ is and will have to figure it out as I keep learning and posting, hence the title. I’m curious about everything and want to learn a little about a lot, and then learn to focus on a few things that hold me interest. (It’s no accident that I always want to play a Bard when I play D&D.)

As for the tagline, well, it speaks for itself. It could be seen as something of a cop-out, but I don’t see the need to over-explain the title. Besides, I’m all out of bon mots.

Apr 152014
 

Good afternoon, all!  I’m participating in WordPress.com’s The Daily Post’s “Zero to Hero” project.  My first assignment is to tell you all (Yinz, as my people would say) who I am and why I’m here.  Luckily for me, I’ve already done that.  See for yourselves by following this link here:  “Let’s Begin, Shall We?

To expand on what I said a little, I have started this blog because I want to improve my writing skills and to keep mentally sharp.  Writing a blog and learning the form’s “nuts and bolts” (pingbacks, widgets, formatting, themes, etc.) should be a step towards accomplishing these goals.  Plus, as Mid-Life Crises go, this is a hell of lot cheaper than a sports car.  

Here’s to us all getting something positive out of this.  Good luck everyone!

Apr 132014
 

The Daily Post has come to the rescue and helped with my writer’s block. Specifically, today’s challenge is talk about Obsession. So with that in mind, here’s one of mine: Whenever I eat chicken wings, I must stack the bones neatly. It’s as if I’m making a tiny poultry pyre in order to honor the fowl who gave their lives for my dining pleasure. If I don’t, I get noticeably uncomfortable. It’s one of the few times my Prussian Blood overcomes the Chaos Gene that I’ve inherited.