Sep 232015
 

Yup, I’m way behind.  But it’s not too late!  Let’s expand a quote!

 

So, when I suggested that text-to-speech software might be a good thing to try, , the author of Just Blank Pages replied that she really enjoyed the actual physical sensations that come from writing.  And I can absolutely see how that would be an empowering, uplifting experience.  She must not be left-handed.  I have had a lifetime of smudge marks that counter the notion that the act itself can be a pleasurable thing.  😉

Still, the deeper that she makes is that one must find what works to motivate oneself to write.  Taking pleasure in a particular ritual or act goes a long way towards overcoming thing like writer’s block.  (I’m still working on that one.)

Yup, I gotta get me one of them speech-to-text programs one of these days.

 

 

Sep 182015
 

Francis Bacon — ‘Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink,old friends to trust and old authors to read.’

I don’t even know if this accurate, as history can be as much plagiarism and guesswork as fact, but I still like it.  And it comes from a smart guy (he was Shakespeare, you know), so it brings the imprimatur of erudition.  In other words, it’s got a bit of that razzle-dazzle that wows others into thinking you’re actually smart yourself.  😉

More importantly, it brings to mind a quiet fall weekend in a secluded cabin in the woods.  You’re there, hanging out with your friends, reading a good book, and enjoying a few drinks, all while a fireplace is crackling and popping contentedly in the background.  It sounds like Heaven to me.  Now that I think about it, I really should look into putting something like that together for October.  Hmm…

Hey Bill, can you cover for me?

I’m classy, no?

Sep 152015
 

This writing challenge asks us to talk about where and how we write.  And with that, I give you my ‘happy place’ where the Muse pays me a visit.  That, or it’s just really damned comfortable and I’m really damned lazy.  Either way, here’s where most of my writing gets done

Sloth is definitely my favorite sin.

Sloth is definitely my favorite sin.

I used to think how super-cool and inspirational it would be to write at a coffee shop or some other public place.  But after trying it a few times, I had come to terms with the fact that all I wanted to do was drink coffee and people watch.  No, more often than not, I just wind up sitting or lying down on this thing and typing away.  The blue light is supposed to help with improving one’s mood.  We shall see.

May 152015
 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Green-Eyed Monster.”

This isn’t so much an apology as it is a reminiscence about an important lesson I learned as a child.

It was the fall of 1977 and I was in the first grade.  Mrs. Cornelius, our (improbably attractive) teacher, decided to hold a handwriting contest.  I felt sure that I would win.  My handwriting was great!  Well, I thought it was great.  Never mind that Mrs. Cornelius had to remind me not to draw little choo-choos on my letters.  That had nothing to do with anything.  Besides, I had just turned seven – facts and logic were still, er, “negotiable” in my mind.  At any rate, the contest was over, and the teacher announced the girl’s winner and the boy’s winner.  That boy was not me, and I was not pleased.  In fact, I was mad, and green with envy.  Oh yeah, I was steamed.  And so, when Mrs. C invited us all to give the winners a round of applause, I began to show my disdain by booing soundly.  You could easily my “BOO!  BOO!” through the clapping.  I was really letting them (well, him) have it.  This lasted for all of, oh, five seconds before I heard “Shawn!  Put your head down!  We do not ‘boo’ in the first grade!.”  from the teacher.  The intensity of her words was matched by her angry glare, and I knew that I had stepped in it but good.  So, down my head went.  Oh, the shame!

But I learned two important things that day:

  1. You have to pick your battles, jealousy or no.  Actions have consequences.
  2. Using the royal “we” when scolding people actually sounds kinda cool.  I have tried to incorporate into my patois from time-to-time since.  So, kudos to you, Mrs. Cornelius!  You taught me something after all.

Jan 112015
 

“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” – And with those opening words Hunter S. Thompson captured the imagination of at least one high school senior – me. I was a nerd, I had few real friends at the time, and I was just itching to get the Hell out of podunk nowhere, but reading that made me feel like I was too hip for the room. I could scoff at the squares and look down on those looked at me like I was the loser. “Ha,” I would think to myself “I get it and you don’t.” Ribald, cartoonish vignettes of drug abuse and flaunting the rules fed my angsty little soul. Back then, those opening words were shocking in just the right way – at least to my mind. I felt as if I were quietly but decisively flipping the bird to the squares who were dragging my world down.

Over twenty-five years later, what I have learned is that the real worth of that book isn’t its shock value but the insight that it offered into that period of time. At its core, its not a tale of drug-addled depravity but a harsh, painfully accurate snapshot of these United States. The country was still very divided but the initial euphoria and optimism of the 60s was giving way to cynicism and paranoia. Thompson notes this clearly when he points out that both Kennedys were dead and Nixon was POTUS now. The party was over and now he had come to Las Vegas to peer into the true, reactionary heart of America. The revolution was over and never spread as widely as anyone wanted to believe, anyway. And it’s here that I see that while the opening sentence of Dr. Thompson’s masterpiece is its most quoted part, it’s his look back at what had become of San Francisco’s “Spirit of ’65” in 1971 that’s the true heart of the book:

“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

I’ve gotten it for a while now, but like all wisdom, it came at a cost. The world doesn’t change very quickly, and simply wishing for it is never enough. The comedown from the whole damned high is never is easy, and it’s easy to just up and fucking quit. But, life goes on, so unless you want to just shrug your shoulders and give up, so must you. And so, it’s back to work. Now if I can just remember to maintain a sense of humor and carry a little hope with me as I advance into the middle of middle age while praying to…something… that things will get better. Wisdom can be a bummer. Bastards.

 

Cazart!

Hey look, a Ralph Steadman image. Ain’t I just the coolest? ;0

Dec 142014
 

Today’s Daily Prompt wants us to post an Anti-Bucket List. As in, stuff we would never do, say, watch, make, etc.  Sure, I’m game.  So, here we go…

  • Vote for Sarah Palin – I doubt she’ll ever run for office again, the money’s too good to just comment on stuff, but if she did, I wouldn’t.  The Apocalypse is on its way without my help, thank you very much.
  • Watch a “Mama June” sex tape – Speaking of the Apocalypse, someone has offered “Mama June” of “Honey Boo Boo” fame to make a sex tape for $1 million.  Be afraid, be very afraid.
  • Be content – I will never be satisfied.  I will always be looking at the horizon and wondering if there’s something better or more exciting around the corner.  If I do explore, I will yearn for home.  I hope this changes, but as I get older, I find it harder to  lie to myself.  The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of my being restless.
  • Stop being a wiseass.  I know that it has held me back in my personal and professional life, but  I can’t help it.  Mockery is my way of coping; life can be shitty under the best of circumstances.  Making a joke is a good way to make things a little less shitty.  We all cope in our own way.  That, or I’m just a bit of a prick.
  • Stop obsessing over pop culture ephemera from my youth – I’m a Gen-Xer.  Fetishizing the trivial bits of entertainment from our youth is what we do.  With that in mind, here’s a clip from one of the greatest shows of the 90s – Mr. Show:

Oct 312014
 

Per WordPress.com’s http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-5/ here is a 10-minute free write. Just writing, no editing, no thought, just doing it for 10 minutes and then stopping. Let’s see what I can do.

So, tonight is Halloweeen and I’ve not a thing to wear. I could dress like an againg nerd, but that’d be redundant. So, I gotta run off to a costume shop and figure something out. I’ve a pleather coat and some black jeans, so maybe with a boa or scarf and some sungleasses and my mutton chops I can be an aging rocker, hipster. I’d wear makeup, I might, like pale face and lipstick stuff to make me ghoulish, but i Have a crooked nose, so dressing up in makeup would draw attention to a flaw I do NOT like. What else? Maybe I can some kinda wolfman thing with ears and clasw? The muttonchops are the defining feature to this, so that will the centerpiece of a costume. Hmmmm…

Of course, what matters is going out and looking at the ladies dressed all sexy-like. I know that makes me a sexist pig, but I am a man and have needs. Besides, it’s not like I’m gonna be all crreppy about it. Well, not too creepy.

Oh hey, runners just jogged past the coffee shop where I am writing this. Nice. now I have Runner’s Guilt too on top of my worries.

But it’s all good, I just gotta remind myself of that. After having to leave my car here in ittsburgh and having to return to Harrisburg and then take the Megabus back, I finally have my own wheels again. W00t! as the young people say. Do they still say that?

But yeah, it’s still a bit stressful. I don’t have a place to crash yet. I could pring for a hotel at this point but that is extra $ and I don’t wanna spend it with a vaacaytion coming up. More on that in a few days/weeks.

I hope I will at least be able t get some candy. And now that song is stuck in my head. Not a bad thing mind you. Of course, the coffee shop here in South Craig St. is blasting all sorts o’ Halloween music, so I’m sure something else will come laong to push it outta my wee brain. I just hope it’s something good as well. At least as good, if not more gooder.

I justrealized that gripe as a I might, this is not a bad situation to be in a overall. 7 years ago I was underemployed, scraping by with a ton of grad school debt and dim prospects. While a job for the stat of PA isn’t super-ideal to some, and I do grip myself, it’s far, fr better than wehre I was. So, I have been able to gain a moment of insight and thereby some relief.

Now if only I can find a place to stay. Eh, that’ll work out one way or anotger, too< I’m sure.

Now I wind down and realize that I am a terrible typist. Yeesh.

Oct 042014
 

Yup, I did it.  I took the big leap and have moved over to a self-hosted wordpress.org site from wordpress.com.  The training wheels have been removed!  Now just sit back as I make my way in what will no doubt be a rather wobbly manner, at least at first.  This is fine as long is doesn’t wind up looking like something like this:

Chaos! courtesy of National Lampoon

But somehow I doubt the good folks at WordPress will let it come to that.

 

 

Jul 292014
 

I will add the hyperlinks later. You have WordPress.com’s Writing 201: Finding Your Story to blame for this. I ain’t even gonna edit it ’til later.  I’m just a Blogger Gone Wild tonight.  Woo-hoo! Just write, they say.  Or rather, they write.  Still, the point stands.  Just get it all down onto paper, er, the screen.  And so here I am, typing away hoping for something that comes to mind that will overcome this accursed, Verdammt writer’s block.  SIDE NOTE: Did you see my use of German?  Aren’t I clever?

 

Random thoughts: She was an idiot.  She still is, but she was a great fuck.  I mean, I don’t know exactly why, but goddamn! did we have some chemistry!  I mean, yeah, it was good.  And I was happy for a while.  Happy, content.  This never happens to me.  I mistook it for love perhaps.  Or, perhaps, there really was something there.  It’s possible that there was.  Four years on and I pine like a fool.  No, not like a fool.  I was happy.  And that counted for something in my life, both then and now.  And where else, when else, am I gonna find a hot nerd like her that I share that kind of chemistry with.  It wasn’t just the sex, it may have been that primarily, but it wasn’t just that.  We kind of got each other.  Unfortunately that has meant that I came to understand that she is not interested in a real, long-term commitment that would involve actually working at things and just showing up every few weekends for a sexual pit stop.  All of this brings me something that my sister pointed out to me a few months ago.  She said that maybe it’s not a particular woman who I’m missing so much as how I felt at the time I was with that woman.  This could explain a lot.  Still, I’m not getting any younger.  SIDE NOTE: I know that one isn’t supposed to end a sentence in a preposition, but what are you gonna do about that, huh?  I got my meaning across, and that’s the point, yeah?

 

Israel is catching Hell over their current invasion of Gaza.  And it stands to reason that the outcry will continue.  Graphic pictures of the Gaza Strip come back almost instantaneously, and however vile Hamas has been and continues to be (hiding rockets in a U.N. school is not Kosher, if you’ll pardon the expression) the response is seen by those sympathetic to and supportive of Israel (myself included)  as entirely disproportionate.  It was also founded upon a false casus belli, we’ve come to find out.  But that doesn’t matter.  Israel is playing a long game here.  They will continue until…, well until they have reached some goal.  How firmly fixed that goal is in the Israeli government’s mind is something that will have to wait until someone’s memoirs (Netanyahu’s, most prominently) comes out.  But I would hazard a guess that the goals are, broadly speaking, to weaken Hamas to the point where they aren’t able to wage any sort of sustained terror campaign for several years and to demonstrate to the Palestinians living in Gaza that the cost of supporting Hamas is too high for them to bear.  These are hardly original thoughts, but I think it stands to reason.  Israel’s come this far, they’re not going to quit until they have what they want.  You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, after all.  Besides, their government probably (correctly) figures that in about three months, if that, we’ll all be fixated on another part of the Middle East, like, say, Libya, or Syria, or Iraq, or Egypt, or, oh, Lebanon, or Iran, or so on and so forth.  Plus, it’ll closer to the November, and that means election time here in the U.S. and A.  And that means that Bibi’s buds in the GOP could be in strong enough shape to hamper President Obama now and possibly even impeach later (for him being, y’know, African-American), which mean s even more freedom from political pressure from the U.S.  And the who the Hell else is gonna stop them?  So, yeah, that’s how it is.

 

I guess I’ve found some sort of voice as I’ve been here hammering this out while having to pee for the past 20 minutes.  So, I guess one dam has yet to break.  That ends now.  Excuse me for a moment. Okay, I’m back.

 

I’m watching Nathan For You and he’s talking about his Dumb Starbucks prank.  He’s basically pulled an Andy Kaufman with that.  People have tried it before.  But they fail 99.9% of the time.  Nathan Fielder did.  Fucker. Thank you, good night for now, and, remember, profanity is awesome!

Oh, and here’s a picture of cat.  The Internet loves pictures of cats.

That should do it for now.

Jul 282014
 

So, I signed up for WordPress’ Writing 201 in the hopes of sharpening my writing abilities a bit. I have been starting at the screen on and off for a week and have nothing to show for it except a case of writer’s block. This is not fun.

 

Oh well, on to @Midnight’s Hashtag Wars.  I can write those just fine.

Jul 102014
 

Today’s Daily Post asks

What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

I’m gonna have to go with watching myself on video.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the sound of my voice when it’s recorded.  It tends to be tinny and nasally more often than not and any attempt to sing results in what sounds like a form of punishment.

But video is even worse, it combines all of my audio shortcomings with my decidedly un-telegenic self (which isn’t to say that I’m ugly; I just don’t translate well “onscreen”).  I have a crooked nose, thin lips, and am choppy  with my gestures and blocky in my comportment – that is, body language.

I would show you just how much worse my video aspect is than my audio avatar, but that would be difficult.  You see, the last example of myself speaking ‘on tape’ is literally on tape.  I took an Adult Methodology class this past January in which we were required to speak.  At the end of the class, our reward for braving public ridicule was an actual VHS cassette.

Who even owns a VCR any more?

Jun 212014
 

Today’s Daily Prompt asks how we in the Northern Hemisphere plan on taking advantage of today, the longest day of the year.

My plan is to keep nursing this damned hangover.  Naproxen, electrolytes, and moving slowly are the ‘cures’ I will be employing.  Ok, the last one isn’t so much a cure as an acknowledgement of reality, but you get the point.  With any luck that will get better by this evening and I will be able to take a nice stroll along Riverfront Park here in Harrisburg, for example.

As for the sunlight, who doesn’t like long summer days?  Vampires, maybe, but that’s about it.  I don’t miss the winter and its short days one bitty bit.

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”

Apr 232014
 

In the spirit of my About page and a gentle nudge from Zero to Hero, let’s answer these good and important questions:

What are the top three things you’d like to learn, or ways you’d like to grow, from blogging? The top three people you’d like to connect with?

OK, let’s start with the first question.  The three things I’d like to learn (for starters) from blogging are:

  1. How to amuse myself.  If I can write something that entertains me and/or makes me laugh, I will have done well for myself.  I need to have fun, and I want this blog to be that.  (If this turns into a chore, then what’s point?  I already have one job, know what I mean?)
  2. I want to become more technically proficient.  I plan on learning enough to be able to migrate this site to WordPress.org.  That would push me to learn how to manage web traffic (well, the traffic that I hope for) and an actual website.  I also know the basics of HTML, Java Script, and CSS.  (Thanks, Codecademy!)  Ideally, this site will help me to build on what I’ve already learned.
  3. I hope to become more connected to the Harrisburg area.  I’ve lived here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for a little over six years and still don’t feel as connected to it as I’d like to be.  My hope is that this blog can help me to network and socialize more than I have in the past, if only a little.

And now, i answer the second question.  Just who are the top three people I hope to connect with through this blog?

  1. Harrisburgers (Harrisburgians?).  Again, I’m hoping to come out of my shell a little bit and am hopeful this blog can be a means to that end.
  2. Smart, experienced bloggers.  With any luck, I will be able to connect with those who have good technical expertise, experience with growing one’s audience and improving one’s ‘brand’ (I think I’m starting to hate that word, btw.), and maybe even those who know something about best practices for website design.   Here’s hoping!
  3. I’m a Virgo with a moon in Pisces.  I like good coffee, good conversation, and long walks on the beach.  If you are celestially compatible and looking for someone who has taken ‘the road less traveled’, then shoot me a message and we can see what happens after that.  (My ex-girlfriend need not apply.)

Yinz satisfied now?

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.