Feb 042016
 

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?”

I get anxious when I speak in public, but that begins to fade fairly quickly, especially if I’ve had some consistent practice.  And therein lies the key to it all.  It may be cliché, but practice does make perfect.  And I have Hugh Ringer to thank for that.

The gentlemen of whom I speak was my high school’s speech team coach (we didn’t have debate as he was also our high school’s athletic director) for several decades.  And he fit the bill, a dapper dresser with a stentorian voice and dynamic manner, he was almost the prototypical protagonist in 50’s musical.  He would see to it that a system was in place.  You were encouraged to join in 7th or 8th and stay until 12th grade, and while you did, you practiced twice a week from December until March or early April.  This was my pattern; I started in 7th and stayed on until I was a senior (12th grade).  In short, I had a lot of practice during my formative years.

Speecifyin' JFK

 

Another way that being a member of the speech team helped was our exposure to those who were closer to what we call the “1%” today.  We were a group of small town kids of whom little was expected, and yet we won numerous tournaments that we entered and collected individual trophies by the armful year in and year out.  And we won by beating kids from other schools who being groomed to apply to – and be accepted to – Ivy League schools while most of us were encouraged only to shoot for a State of Pennsylvania-sponsored school.  We learned to see past that sort of class difference and not let it intimidate us.

So, yeah, I still get a little nervous, but after a while, I’ll do just fine.  One of my grad school professors even told me after a presentation that I “had a great future as a televangelist.”, so I thin I’ll be juuuust fine  with the Speechifyin’ , thank you.  And thanks, Hugh!

Aug 312015
 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Decisions, Decisions.”

So, I try to portray myself to myself as a rational adult who makes rational decisions with great deliberation.  I tell myself a lot of things.  The truth is that if it’s a fairly big decision, I’ll cross a mental and emotional Rubicon and then that is usually that.  I try to think an important decision through, but more often than not it’s my way of figuring out how I can justify the time, and more importantly to a grownup like me, and money such a decision will cost me.  This isn’t to say I’m reckless, but there are some big decisions that just click no matter how much I try to hold off.  Hell, that’s how I wound up running the Istanbul Marathon!  So, it’s not all bad.  It’s not cheap, either, but, what good does it do me to be a miser?  Life’s too damned short.  (Famous Last Words?)

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 222014
 

Today’s Daily Prompt asks how we’ve done on keeping our New Year’s resolutions. I have to be honest, I don’t remember making any – except one.

I’d signed up for WordPress in 2012 and then I just sat it out, thinking that anything I would write wouldn’t be good enough. Then I finally realized that even if what I published was complete crap, I should just go ahead and publish it anyway. Practice makes perfect after all.  And so, I did keep one  resolution – I started this blog.

My brain hurts.

I had to give it some thought first.

 

Thanks for your help, everyone.

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:

Dec 082014
 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “One at a Time.”

Wow, crap, this is tough!  I can’t even begi…, start.  Let me think.  How is this?

Brief words, strong and true.

I think I like to Tweet more.

That takes much less thought.

There, how was that?

Dec 052014
 

WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge “Countdown” challenges us to make a list this week.  It’s with that in mind that I will try to recall the events of the day I ran the 2014 Istanbul Marathon.

I set my alarm for 6 a.m., but that was of secondary importance.  I already had a wake-up call: the muezzins’ first calls to prayer came at 5:45 a.m. and rang from at least three different mosques  in my neighborhood.  What’s more, I got almost five hours of rest the night before.  I only got one before running in the 2012 Philly Marathon, so five hours felt like Heaven by comparison.  I was up, showered, and even managed to down a light breakfast before getting ready to depart my hotel.

 

 

Hotel Uyan

My home away from home.

 

A short five-minute walk took me to my destination:  Sultanahmet Park.  This is where the buses would come to pick us up to drive us to starting point of the race, which was across the Bosphorus Bridge on the Asian side of Istanbul.  I got there a good 30 minutes early, thinking that was plenty of time for the 7 a.m. departure.  What I saw was a pretty fair-sized crowd already milling about.

 

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round.

Sultanahmet Park, a gathering point for masochists.

 

And so, after even more people came, we were all treated to semi-frantically trying to cram ourselves into a series of buses and hoping praying that we wouldn’t get left.  Being in a far away country, and one in which you don’t speak the language, will exacerbate one’s fears of your hosts’ organizational acumen falling short.  But, these fears were unfounded.  We got on, and were carried to the starting area at the Bosphorus Bridge in the city’s Üsküdar district (don’t ask me to pronounce it) and I even managed to make some new friends during the bus ride.  Then we got to the starting point.  It was actually more crowded and more impressive than I anticipated.

Helllooo Aisa!

Out of the bus – It’s too late to turn back now.

 

The Bosphorus Bridge Awaits

The Bosphorus Bridge – The Starting Point. I’m here. It’s getting a little real.

 

I stretched out a bit and chatted with the Americans (and a German by way of Canada) from the bus when I ran into them again.  At first, I tried to play off the whole thing in a light-hearted manner to battle my jitters.

 

No, not really.

Havin’ a real good time! Yeah, that’s it.

 

But then it started to hit me.

 

Fear, I has it.

Uh, was this a good idea? I’m starting to wonder.

 

Then it really started to hit me.

 

Ha, ha!  I got jokes!  I...oh shit.

MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?

 

But of course it was too late by then.  I had to put away my phone and I tucked away my glasses, too.  We lined up, heard some speechifying – sponsors and VIPs pay good money to underwrite these races, so, yinz’ll just have to wait ’til they’re done a-talkin’ – and then the Turkish national anthem.  I didn’t understand a word of it, but it was pretty damned stirring all the same.  This was a good thing.  I needed all the adrenaline I could spare at that point.  And then…we were off!

I didn’t have my camera, but the Istanbul Marathon website has a gallery that helps to fill in that long, long gap.

Now I kinda miss it?

And they came, in their thousands.

 

It's starting to come back to me a little.

And round the bend we went.

 

Tudo Bem?

I am pretty sure I saw this guy at one point. Actually, I’m certain of it.

 

The odd part is that I don’t really have any strong memories of the race itself except for a fairly fast (for me) start and then the last 3k.  It was a tiring, achy race before those last 3k, but I was managing ok.  Then the 3k were basically uphill.  No fair!  By odd happenstance, I happened across this Twitter photo of myself ‘enjoying’ the final stretch of the race as we made our towards the finish at Sultanahmet Square.

I’m at the far left, forcing myself to run after walking at 1.5 to 2k of the final 3k.  Once we closed in on the last few hundred meters I was able to muster enough energy for a last ‘kick.’  I know that’s a cheesy way to end a race, but it was oddly gratifying to know that I hadn’t pushed myself too hard during the race.  There’s pushing, and then there’s damned near suicidal.  I’ll leave the latter to someone else, thank you.  And it wasn’t as if I was finishing ‘daisy fresh’ either.

The biggest problem with the finish was that they ended the race in a heavy tourist area.  This meant that the race organizers were unable and unwilling to let us mill about the square immediately after finishing.  Instead, we were fed through a ‘cattle chute’ that forced us to come to almost complete, dead stops.  This is dangerous.  You can’t just ‘power down’ after 26+ miles without risking serious cramping or other sorts of injuries.  Luckily for me, I still had enough energy to make my way outta the chute and into the more open area of the square.  I drank some water, and forced myself to eat some orange slices and a piece of bread.  Odd as it might sound, I had no real appetite at that point.  This was in part due to the glucose gels and sugar cubes that I ingested along the way.  It also had to do with being to with that amount of running killing my appetite in the short-term.  After my light post meal snack, I managed to convince someone to take my picture next to what’s known as the Theodosian Obelisk.

I don’t usually like how I look in pictures. This is a large exception. I was tired enough not to try too hard to pose, if only for one photo.

 

After I recovered a bit more, I went back and filmed a few seconds of my fellow marathoners finishing.

 

Afterwards, I kept walking to loosen myself up.  I made to the nearby Starbucks and ran into the one other person that I knew from Harrisburg, PA that was running the race for the third time.  The first time was during the race as we crossed the bridge.  I kept up for about two or three miles until she grew weary of my slow hindquarters and proceeded to motor off.  I then saw her again in the square with her in-laws, and then, finally at comfort coffee port known as Starbucks.

After that, I wandered into an English-language bookstore where my smelly, sweaty, half-delirious self engaged in a brief, animated, and perhaps slight manic conversation with some fellow U.S. & A. types.  I don’t think the managers/owners quite knew what to make of me.  Finally, I convinced the one nice lady who I want to say was originally from Canada but am not sure ‘cuz, y’know, I was exhausted, to take another post-race picture.  This one was much more hammy.

Low blood sugar + endorphins = Wheeeeee!

After that, I made my way back to my hotel, cleaned myself up, and then took a nice, long nap.  Then I got a call, explored, and eventually made my way to the Sah Bar (“Sah” is pronounced “Shah” by the way.) where I proceeded (to continue) to reward myself for all of my hard work.

 

Good times.

That’s Sven in the background.  Sven is a German by way of Canada.  This means he apologizes exactly on time.

 

The service was good – and entertaining!

 

Gotta make your work fun or you'll go nuts.

One-Two, Cha-Cha-Cha!

 

But all good things must come to an end.  And so, we headed back to our respective hotels to sleep in after a long day.  But not before getting to know some of the local canines (more on them in another post).

 

Bow Wow Wow

It was a pretty great way to end the night, actually.

 

And that was the end of one of the longest, most rewarding, and most enjoyable days of my life.  May we all be so blessed in the days to come!

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 062014
 

Today’s Daily Prompt asks: “Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?”

My answer is, it all comes down to context.  For example, the New York City subway system is not a magical place, not by a country mile.  This was something that I had to learn PDQ when I moved to Jersey City and then Astoria.  When I got there in the summer of 1999, it was scorching hot.  This meant that waiting for the subway while job hunting meant sitting inside what was essentially a giant convection oven.  This didn’t help things.  But even as the temperatures started to lower, things didn’t change much.  More than a few people waiting for their train were either commuting from the outer part of the outer boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester County, and even Connecticut to Manhattan and  using the subway get to their (often stressful) jobs or going back home the same way with their tired, sweaty, and not infrequently inebriated fellow commuters.  In short, most people were a little wired in the a.m and a little fried in the p.m.  This was not conducive to friendly conversation.  I learned this hard way when I, partially Midwestern person that I am, tried to strike up the odd conversation to pass the time.  I learned quickly that when you tried to do this people thought that you were either 1.) running a scam, 2.) crazy, or 3.) both.  And so, I adapted and just put on my headphones with my portable cd player and stared ahead.  I also started standing a bit towards the back of the platform as the fear of some nutjob pushing my pale hindquarters onto the tracks took hold.  Granted, this was a one in a million chance, but fear trumps actuarial tables.

NYC Subway, Transit, Grim Commute

Hustle and Bustle.

On the other hand, one of my best friends met his wife during a layover in O’Hare airport.  So, again, it all depends on context.

 

 

Aug 182014
 

Soooo, yesterday’s Daily Post asks us to recall a moment of hilarity. (Whoever came up with this prompt must be brilliant, btw.)

 

So, it was the summer of 1992 and my good roommate Chas (as opposed to our evil roommates J and R) headed out from Pittsburgh to go visit his family in Lebanon, PA.  It was a straight shot across the ol’ PA Turnpike, but whereas I thought it would only be taking 3 hours, it actually took closer to four as my sense of South-Central geography wasn’t quite where it is now.

Like any good road trip, we had music.  We were about 60 miles out and I was getting a little anxious as I actually thought we were much closer and I was giddy with getting out of town, actually getting to meet my buddy’s family and see his hometown, and just a-road trippin’ in general.Chas had one of his mix tapes (naturally; have an old person explain the idea to you, kids) in and we were passing the time singing when Steve Earle’s classic “Copperhead Road” came on.  Oh yeah, this was stuff.  We were in the groove, getting close, and I was already giddy, as I said.  And then…the big chorus and song bridge was about to hit.  Yes!  And so, I came in with the chorus, singing (blurting, really) out “YOU COULD THE WHISKEY BURNIN’ DOWN COPPERHEAD ROAD!!! ” – a full half-verse early.  Chas must have laughed for a good ten on twenty seconds straight. I have to hand it to him for managing not to wreck through his fit as it was quite heartfelt. I started laughing along a little, too and tried to play it off, but he held my feet to the fire and pointed out that I was ready, man.  It was hugely embarrassing, but it was funny, I had to admit. Oh well, at least there was just the two of us in the car at the time.

P.S. Thanks to fine folks at the Daily Post for using my idea.  I’m a little flattered, actually.

Jul 172014
 

So the Daily Post asks us about a certain particular smell or smells and the memories they can trigger.

For me, that smell is the smell of old books.  Both of my parents, God rest their souls, were avid readers, so we always had books around the house.  And, my mother was also the librarian at my high school.  I guess over time I’ve come to associate the smell of old books with home and family.  That, or I just like the smell.

This is probably one of the reasons I like hanging out at the Midtown Scholar so much.  The smell makes it feel homey.

And now, some science.  Read below:

 


I was right all these years, even when the occasional Philistine would look at me as if were the crazy one for asking him (it has almost always been another guy) if he liked the smell of old books too.  Yay me!

Jul 142014
 

Today’s Daily Post wants to know what our favorite procrastination destination is.  I’ve got two.

First, I like putting things off by hanging out at the Midtown Scholar after work or on the weekends.  It’s a convenient two-and-a-half blocks from my house.  The coffee’s good, the baristas are friendly and interesting, and there’s always the hundreds of thousands of used and rare books that can be browsed should one feel the need to get up and take a walk.

My second form of procrastination is @Midnight‘s #hashtagwars.  It’s a glaring example of ‘sleep procrastination’ but it’s just so damned fun.  And besides, I need an outlet for my inner Smart-Ass lest it surface at work and get me into trouble.

I could go into greater detail about both, but, nah, I’ll get around to it later.  😉

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 222014
 

Sooo, today’s Daily Post asks for a memorable moment involving a sporting event.  Some of these prompts are tricky, but not this.  I got this one covered.

It was June of 1992 and the Pittsburgh Penguins just swept the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup.  Woo Hoo!  My friends and were at a bar in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh when this happened.  Like almost everyone else, we poured out of the bar, down the stairs, and out into the street to hoot and holler with everyone else around.  It was your typical evening of (thankfully minor league) mayhem that follows a sports championship.  After a few minutes of jumping and cheering, my 21 year-old self looked at some of the other loonies that had climbed on top of a city bus.  “What a great idea.  I wanna do that too!” my youthful, drunken, and possibly, er, “smoked out” self thought.  And so, I made my climb via the back of the bus to its top.  Boy oh boy, was I having fun!  But then, I heard warnings from below that the cops were coming.  Uh-oh.  Better get outta there!  I looked down and two strangers told me to jump.  “Come on!  We’ll catch you!” they cried out.  “No no no, I’m good man!” I yelled back (or something to that effect) and then hopped off the bus.  And then, POP!  I felt something snap in my left ankle.  There was a brief flash of pain but then that was gone and replaced with a swelling numbness and an inability to stand on that leg.  As others were either still celebrating I found myself in a state of panic and possibly mild shock as I limped around the street yelling “CHAS!!!  CHAS!!!” as I looked for my college roommate.  I eventually found him and one of his fraternity brothers after what seemed like an eternity (read: 5-10 minutes).  The next I remember is limping into his car and going to the nearest emergency room.  One long, painful wait later, and I found myself fitted with a nice plaster cast.  I would be wearing it for the next six weeks.  During that time, I learned about the unique pleasures of showering while injured, hobbling around on crutches, and why pencils and rulers are your best friend when you get an itch beneath a cast.  It wasn’t my greatest moment, to be sure.  Still, my sister pointed out to me a few years ago that I was just being young and stupid and that I should just laugh about it.  Plus, she pointed out, it makes for a good story.  And she was right.  And there you have it, that’s my story involving a sporting event.

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 112014
 

Today’s Writing 101 challenges us to write about our observation of a public place without adverbs.  Let me see what I can do.

I went to the Midtown Scholar, a bookstore and coffee shop, after work.  Sometimes I browse the stacks to see if there’s anything of interest to me.  But most of the time I sit at the bar, drink coffee, and chat with the other regular customers and the baristas.  It’s my ritual and I go there almost every day; I enjoy the coffee and the company.

Today, I got dressed for 5K race and went over to grab some caffeine before it took place.  I had time and ritual is ritual and obeying its rhythms brings comfort.  It was quiet.  There were few customers and then one of the two baristas went on break to talk with a girl I assume is his girl-friend.  I sipped my coffee, bantered with the remaining barista, and watched the other customers come and go.  I ordered two refills, and then left to go to my race.

In short, there was nothing new, except for this one thing.  As I turned to glance out the store window and onto the street, I noticed a basket filled with books that were to be refiled.  And out of the tens of thousands of books the store contained, I saw this one:

ADVERBS - The Novel

I think this means:

  1. I have circumvented the rules of this assignment without breaking them, so, yay me!
  2. This has created a paradox that now allows this post to exist in a Schrödinger’s Cat quantum state.  This post now occupies all possible points at all possible times.  It’s a miracle that could lead to omniscience.
  3. I have created a paradox that has torn a small hole in the space-time continuum.  We are now doomed, and it’s my fault, so, boo me!

I’ll let you, the readers, decide.

 

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?”

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 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 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.