Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Boxing Day!

As promised: The Second Christmakwanzika Posting!

For your holiday pleasure, here is
Gerry Phillips the Manualist performing his hand fart rendition of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes."


What's that got to do with Christmas? Who cares! It's hand farts. It's funny!

If you love Gerry -- and who doesn't -- then you might want to considering dropping by his web site and buying his DVD. For yourself or that certain very special someone.

buyDVD

And if you love The Who, their latest album is one of the best albums of 2010.
Live at Leeds, the Super Deluxe Edition. Yes, one of the best albums of 2010 is a new version of an album from 1970!

But don't consider that a knock against the music of 2010. This is just one really great album.

What was once a 6 song LP is now a 4CD, 65 song set. An entire extra concert is now included -- the long-thought-lost second night performance in Hull. If you're a Who fan, you
need to buy this album. Townshend, Moon, Daltrey and Entwistle are all in top form here. Both nights. And mixed into those 65 songs, you get two live performances of the entire rock opera Tommy. Great stuff.
LiveLeedsSupDeluxe

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmakwanzika!

The first of two Christmakwanzika posts!

Holiday love sent your way from The Ramones.

And congrats to The Ramones on their
Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. I'm dying to see the end of the night jam when Julie Andrews sings I Wanna Be Sedated.

Till then,
Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight) will do nicely.


And if you haven't bought that certain special someone a gift yet, consider giving the gift of
Timeless Rock and/or Roll:

RamonesGreatestCover


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Do Kids Like To Read? Ask Them.

Number One Question I'm Constantly Asked: How do I get my kids to read?

Obvious answer: Give them books they'll enjoy.

Obvious follow up question: How do I know what my kids will enjoy?

Obvious final answer: Ask them.

In case you don't trust what your kids tell you -- or you want a wider sample -- Renaissance Learning has asked about 6.2 million kids that exact question.

The answers appear in the newest annual report called
What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools. It includes a section devoted to struggling and/or reluctant readers complete with a list of popular high-low books.

What Kids Reading small

My publisher,
Capstone / Stone Arch Books, is featured prominently in the report. Which makes sense. Their speciality is creating books for kids who think they don't like to read. Books that turn reluctant readers into enthusiastic reading fans.

So download the free report, peruse it with a highlighter, then drop by your local bookstore or library and check out some promising titles.

Or better yet, have your kids do it.

They can treat it like one of those flyers from
Scholastic Book Club. Remember those? Good times.

Arrow Book Club 1

Monday, December 13, 2010

Close Call

Manco

What do you do when your hard drive decides it's going to become unreadable and your backup glitches out on you?

Besides panic.

Or cry to your Facebook friends.

Luckily, I've bought all my computers from the same place since the 80s:
Manco -- on Glenoaks Boulevard in Glendale, CA. And I haven't bought from them just because they were around the corner from me in Burbank. I bought my last Mac from them when I was living in Virginia. And took the time to ship them my old Mac so they could port my computer life over to the new one. Smooth and clean -- and fast.

Why do that when there's an Apple Store nearby?

The best reason is because they are fantastically kind and bright people. Les, Jerry and Margie treat you like family. But for those of you who don't do business based on warm and toasty feelings (and shame on you if you fall into that category!) there's an obvious practical reason.

For as long as you own your computer, you can call or email them for help. With anything.

You're having trouble opening your email? Call them.

iTunes suddenly can't find your 30,000 song library? Email them.

You foolishly decide to defrag your hard drive and it fritzes out during the process becoming completely unreadable? And the backup disk image you made of your drive just to be super-safe winds up having a glitch and it too is unreadable?

Email
and phone them. With repeated questions. Over the weekend even.

And Voila! Your hard drive and backup are resurrected. Disaster avoided.

They've saved my hardware, data and butt more times than I can count.

So there you have it -- two Big Reasons I've bought from Manco since
Flock of Seagulls was considered relevant.

What more do you need?

How about they know their stuff -- more so than the supposed Gurus at your local Apple Store.

Les turned my wife into a Mac convert, making her move from PC super-easy. He's like the
Rick Steves of the Mac World. He sat with her and showed her everything she needed to know to become an ex-PC-Pat and make the permanent move to MacLand. She loves her Mac now like it's her high-school sweetheart -- and would never buy a PC again. Or buy from anyone other than Manco.

My writing partner has given into my harping and is set to abandon his PC and buy the new MacAir. From Manco. And he doesn't even live in Los Angeles.

See. You don't have to live around the corner to buy from them. If you do live in Los Angeles, it's foolish to buy from anyone else. But the guys at Manco are there for their customers even if you don't live around the corner.

Of course, if you can't just drop by their offices, you'll be missing out on some seriously tasty food. Les, Jerry and Margie are serious foodies and usually have some majorly tasty snacks -- and they share freely!

Like I said, they treat their customers like family.

If you want more thumbs up endorsements, feel free to check out the comments at
yelp or insiderpages.

Now, I'm going to get back to work on my freshly restored Mac.

Thank you, Manco!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Typing Away

Continental typewriter
By Sommeregger http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Continental_typewriter.jpg

Hello Dear Reader!

Sorry I've been incommunicado for bit of a time slip.

I'm whirling through several projects that will provide more lengthy entertainment for you than a quick, web/diary entry here.

The two optioned scripts are making their way through the funding maze, so my writing partner and I are diving into a new one. Outlining is almost complete and we should start the actual writing in a few weeks.

I've also got some solo projects in various stages of completion -- middle grade, YA and adult. Graphic novel and prose. Enough of a mix to keep things interesting. And busy.

I'm also way behind on a promised comic to a friend with a superhero website. Story done, but my Wacom tablet died on me and I'm having to draw old-school. It ain't pretty. Sorry, Blake. I'll get something semi-comprehensible to you soonishly.

Finally, there was a rumored school visit in the works. Some folks on the East Coast really love Dwight and Gabby and are anxious to have me come do a shindig for their students. I think that's making its way through funding channels too.

So lots of things doin'. I'll keep you posted. And make a solid attempt to make those postings more regular. Ish.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Theme Song for the Day



I have a meeting with my writing partner in about an hour so the longer post I'm working on will have to wait till later. But in keeping with my promise to post two to three times a week...

Here's the
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain having a go at Ennio Morricone's classic theme to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly -- one of my all-time favorite films. Mucho Excellente! Sing along!

Or better yet, set aside three hours and immerse yourself in one of the coolest movies ever made.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Whoopsie-Daisical

bob claw 2

Man, what a wild and bumpy month just slid down the worm hole. At least I'm assuming it was a worm hole because it feels like a major time slippage.

It's almost October? How'd that happen?

So new pledge. I'll do my best to make posts on average of two to three times a week. Doable? You have my most lackadaisical pledge!

When last we spoke, I promised some titles for those of you trying to build a library for reluctant readers. I gave my friend a list designed to build that library fast. I'll gussy that list up and post it over the next couple of whiles for those interested.

Honest. This time for sure.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And The Winners Are...

Wow! That was fast! Goodreads just sent me the names of the winners.

So without further ado, congratulations to:

Eric T of Provo, Anna S of Lake Mary, and Kady L of Oceanside!

I'll package up your books and send them out pronto.

Thanks again to everyone who participated. I truly appreciate your interest in Gabby and Dwight.

For those who didn't win but still really want to read the book, please consider requesting a copy from your local public or school librarian. LIbrarians are an endangered species these days and they could definitely use your support.

Mucho Thanks!

Goodreads Contest Closed

That's it! The week is over and the Goodreads contest is closed. I'm amazed and humbled that over 650 people entered for a chance to win a copy of Dwight's latest adventure, Monster Speller.

I'll let you know who won just as soon as Goodreads picks the winners and notifies me.

Stay tuned...

...And thanks to everyone who participated!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Day Left to Enter Contest

Heads up everyone! There's just one day left to enter the contest over at GoodReads.

Over 550 people have already signed up for their chance at a copy of
Monster Speller.

Golly!

And good luck!
MonsterAndMeBook4

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dwight says, "You LAAAARG Me! You Really LAAAAAARG Me!"

sallyfieldfiddle1done

Wow! It's only the second day of the
Goodreads Monster Speller Giveaway and already over 200 people have entered the contest.

I'm floored. And honored.

Plus, it's a big boost to Dwight's fragile self-esteem.

There's still several days to go in the contest. Just click on the button above to enter for your chance to win a copy of
Monster Speller. Good luck!

MonsterAndMeBook4

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Contest Starts Friday the 13th!

Enter to win one of three copies of Monster Speller that I'm giving away on GoodReads.com.

Contest starts this Friday and runs for one week only!

So remember to come back here between Friday the 13th and Friday the 20th! Then click on the button at the top of the page for your chance to win a copy of Dwight's latest adventure!

Winners will be chosen at random by GoodReads from the pool of entrants.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rules of Engagement or 3 Paths to Derelunctize the Reluctant Reader

So you want to build a library that stands a reasonable chance of tempting your Reluctant Reader. Good for you! But what if you want more than a reasonable chance? Are there any guidelines to help you do that?

Yes!

Here are your rules. Reluctant Readers love books that are:

1. Funny
2. Filled with Action
3. Full of Freaky Shizzle

If you can find a book with all three, you're gold.

Okay. 1 and 2, those are pretty straight forward. But 3? What's Freaky Shizzle?

Freaky Shizzle means anything paranormal, scary, horrific, gross and/or likely to induce vomiting. This includes tales of unbelievably over-the-top child abuse. Especially includes.

Kids eat up stories where other kids are forced to endure physical and psychological trauma that would make a Green Beret break down and cry for his mommy. A mommy that, in one of these books, would arrive on the scene just in time to beat him senseless then yell at him to stop his x#@&*!@ crying.

Back when I taught middle school,
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer (and its sequels!) passed through my class like Ebola. I had to replace that set of books four times in one year because they were being checked out and read so often the paperbacks were disintegrating.
a_child_called_it

Personally, I didn't get it. Every time I heard the title, I thought of Charles Addams and The Addams Family.
AddamsFamilyEvilution_cover

How I wish the book could have been
A Cousin Called It! THAT I would have read!

Which leads me to Rule Number 4 in your 3 Rule set.

4. These books aren't for you

They are for the Reluctant Reader. You need to turn off your inner snob and not pass judgment on these books.
Oh! I hear you say. I can't let my kids read junk!

Why not? They're reading. Isn't that the point?

And besides. Who says the books are junk? To you maybe. But these books aren't for you. They're for that Reluctant Reader. The one who started out the school year telling you he hates reading. The one who just enjoyed that "junky" book so much he's gone back into your library to see if you have any more books just like it.

You should consider that a success.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I've Had A Request!

MorePlease1

A friend of mine just found out he'll be teaching three periods of reluctant readers this fall. Not something he was expecting. Or prepared for.

He asked me if it was possible to find a book that a non-reader will actually read. Are there any books so enjoyable a reluctant reader will buzz through it -- then consider reading a
second book?

In short, are there any books that will kick-start a Reading Nuclear Reaction in a kid who hates reading?

My short answer -- Yes!

Longer answer -- each kid is different, so the book that starts that reaction will be different for each kid. Which means filling a library (school, classroom or personal) with as many books as possible in order to reach as many kids as possible.

According to a recent report from Google, there are about 129,864,880 books in the world. That's a lot to choose from.
somanybooks1

My friend wondered if I could narrow that down a bit. I said yes.

Then it dawned on me. This is my chance to give my blog the semblance of semi-coherency! At least temporarily.

After all, I know a lot of teachers and parents. Many of them have asked me this very question. Why not post my suggestions here?

So that's what I'll be doing. For the next couple of whiles, but especially over the next few weeks as students start back to school, I'll post titles of various graphic novels and books I recommend to reluctant readers. In fact, I'll tag these entries Reluctant Reader Recommends. That should help anyone who's interested find the entries.

Now if you're thinking
why should I listen to him? I first say, Woo-Hoo! Someone who doesn't know me is reading my blog! At last!

Then I say, OK. If you insist on a Justification Bio, here it is:

In my not-so-distant past, I taught both middle school and high school Language Arts. My specialty was working with reluctant readers. I've also written a few books for Stone Arch Books, a publisher with a reputation for hooking reluctant readers. Basically, I at least know enough about the subject that I was able to help out a panicked friend.

I hope my recommendations prove useful to you as well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Updated My Books Page

For those with a jones for clicking, I just updated The Books page here on my site.

To check out info on my latest release or learn more about my previous books, follow the directions below...
withoutlineforweb

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monster Speller Unleashed!

MonsterSpellerCover

Attention one and all! But especially Teachers, Children's Librarians and School Librarians lucky enough to still have a job!

Copies of
Monster Speller, Book 4 in my Monster and Me series, are now sitting in my publisher's warehouse ready to ship. Schools and libraries can place orders HERE.

Click on the photo above to enjoy a preview of the book.

If you like what you see you can thank Tom Percival, the talented artist who makes Dwight lovable, huggable and slightly dangerous. Seriously. Click
HERE to see more of his work (which includes ZOMBIES!), then click HERE and send him some fan mail!

For people who aren't librarians but want to own a library-bound book that will last till our sun implodes, ask your local bookseller to order you a copy of
Monster Speller. As always, I suggest my favorite booksellers, Mark and Cindy Ziesing. You can find their website HERE.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pookie -- Not Just an Annoying Nickname Anymore

Oh. My. God!

Somebody figured out how to put pie and cookies together into one dream dessert. The combined fat may bring your heart to an untimely halt, but its final beat will be a happy beat.

Since we've all gotta go sometime, why not go with a mouth full of Pookie! And I'm not talking about the secret, gut-churning, pet-name you use in private with your beloved Pookie-Ookums -- or worse, Snugly-Wuggums. Pookie from now on means only one thing:
Pie on the inside, Cookie on the outside. Sweet, sweet Pookie.

20100718piecookie3-thumb-500x375-101086

20100718piecookie2

[Original artwork and photographs: Jessie Oleson]

Check out the recipe from Jessie Oleson either at her website
Cakespy.com or at SeriousEats.com.

I just joined the email update list at
Cakespy. The person who dreamed up the Pookie is definitely someone I want to get to know!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Llama "Accident" Now Looks Like Attempted Murder

That Reuter's story about a comically lovelorn llama chasing his prospective mate into heavy traffic took a sinister turn today.

According to witnesses, the two llamas were involved in a heated argument just before Luisa's mad dash onto the freeway.  Police now believe Helmut purposefully pushed Luisa into oncoming traffic. He is being held for questioning.

Luisa told
Der Spiegel this morning that Helmut had been taking anger management courses, but they didn't appear to be working.

Check out this original Reuters story below:

(Reuters) - A male llama chased his prospective mate onto a busy German motorway forcing police to rescue her...
20091122131300_llama
The photo Llama by Joseph Bergantine is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA License. Licensing Terms and Conditions.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fun, Bouncy Ditty from Paul Loren and The Well-Informed

If you're in need of a pick-me-up, check out this video of 'daddy's dime' from Paul Loren and The Well-Informed. It's bright and fun. You could even say it sparkles. Plus it features a uke front and center. Nothing like the strumming of a uke to lift the spirits.



If you like this song (and who wouldn't?), you can currently nab it as a free download from Paul Loren's Bandcamp page.

Also give a serious think to checking out his
website for all the latest Paul Loren news -- plus "Wurlitzer-driven romps!" What's not to love? Check him out now, you'll be able to say I knew him when.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

He's Baaaaaack!

Oh no! I just found this tidbit of news:

"Bob Saget’s Strange Days. In the [seven-part] series, Saget travels around the country, immersing himself in unusual cultures including mail-order brides, survivalist cults, biker gangs, Amish teenagers and, of course, Bigfoot."

Wasn't Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos enough? Must the Luckiest Man in Showbiz barge into our homes once again?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for TV bringing us more Bigfoot, biker gangs and mail-order brides -- especially if it's all combined into one show. Think of the TV Guide description: "Mail-order bride Bigfoot shows up COD one day on the doorstep of One-Eyed Tommy, the lonely leader of a biker gang. Hijinks ensue." Now that's great TV.

With luck, Saget will get eaten by Bigfoot. If there's a God, he'll be eaten by Amish teenagers.

Click on the picture below to link to the original story.


doc4c336f90017c0019558558


And yes, this is the most recent picture of Bob Saget. Legal Disclaimer: Not really. That's a joke. Please don't sue me, Mr. Saget.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Let It Flow

Okay, not certain if this will make my fellow writers and/or musician friends feel inspired -- or if it will make them want to bang their heads against the desk.

But here's a little clip to show how easily Elton John writes songs. Sir Elton is rumored to be able to write music to anything. Any piece of writing. Hand him the phone book, and he could turn it into a song. Let it be rumor no more. In this clip, Elton is handed an oven manual. In other words, the directions to using an oven. He places it on the piano and proceeds to turn out a song. On the spot.

Feel free to use this clip as a cure for writer's block. Sir Elton doesn't need a special room to write. Or a special pen. Or a special piano. He just sits down and gets to it. And as soon as I post this blog entry, I'm going to do the same.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So Long Pete

Just got word that Pete Quaife died. For those unfamiliar, he was the original bassist for The Kinks.

Sad day. But he left us some kick-ass music. RIP.

Trilogy of Tunes:

1. Milk Cow Blues, live


2. Or check out this live performance of "Last of the Steam Powered Trains" and "Picture Book."

3. I Gotta Move, live

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Book's Cover!

The cover for Monster Speller has just been released! Cover only -- the book itself comes out in August.

MonsterSpellerCover

I'm a big fan of Tom Percivial's art. Notice how Dwight's shirt is reflected in his thick glasses? Nice touch.

Dwight as a brainiac and/or nerdling. I love it.

Here's the descriptive copy from the publisher:

Gabby's pet monster is supposed to compete at the district-wide spelling bee. But how can Dwight be a champion speller when no one understands him? After speech therapy fails, it seems the only answer is an interpreter. But if Vice Principal Burns has anything to say about it, there won't be an interpreter or a monster speller.

What fun! I can't wait to see the complete graphic novel.

I'll let you know when the book is released.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Rip-Van-Winkled

Man -- those black out curtains really work!
I put them up a month ago and woke up today to find I'd Rip-Van-Winkled a month away.

If only that were true. Sleep would be nice, but it doesn't look like I'll have time for it until sometime in September. For now, I'm looking forward to a life brought to you by espresso.

Hard at work on the main project. Spending spare time on a handful of second tier projects.

So while I work, here's a Helpful Household Hint for all my readers who are either felons or deviants:



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WATT?

Have you ever come home to find out your landlord stole two stadium lights from Wrigley Field -- then installed one of them right outside your bedroom window?

Okay, I don't have proof about the stealing from Wrigley Field part. But if Wrigley isn't missing lights then some airport somewhere is having difficulty bringing its pilots in at night.

I mean, these lights are Bright. Capital Insert-Your-Curseword-of-Choice-Here Bright. I guess they're for security. The second light is at the back of the apartment complex, and illuminates the entire parking area. And the parking area of the coffee house next door. And the entire parking lot of the church that is behind the complex, but actually on the next street over. Plus the church itself. The first night it was installed, the priests came rushing out thinking God had arrived.

That's the first new security light. The second is now right outside my bedroom window. And it uses the same Visible-From-The-Space-Shuttle lightbulb to illuminate the tiny 6 foot wide walkway between the two apartment buildings. I can now get a nice tan from sitting outside my apartment at night. But really, who needs to go outside for that special night tan when you've got a Klieg light for a night light -- and just two feet from your pillow!

Blackout curtains arrive Friday. I'm looking forward to sleeping without the sunglasses this weekend.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Got It And Going

Front burner project chosen and rolling along. Back burner projects in place. I've even worked out the line-up for future projects.

With that said, it's time for me to get back to work. But before I go, here's your video ditty for the week...

MUSIC MONDAY

The much harder rocking, original version of John Lennon's "I'm Losing You."

Harder rocking thanks to Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos. They worked with John on three songs before Yoko gave them the boot. I believe this is the only one of those three songs to be officially released. There's mystery and controversy surrounding why Nielsen and Carlos were "let go." When asked why, Nielsen often supplies a diplomatic response, while Carlos points to Yoko with an unflattering and blunt description.

Whatever the reason, it sure isn't that the musicians failed to come together and jam. This track rocks! And offers a tantalizing glimpse of a few harder-edged Lennon tunes that might have been.

Compare the tracks for yourself and see which you like most. For me, the second one is good, but the rocker version blows it away. By the way, there's a Cheap Trick video version with much cooler visuals than the one below, but the sound's not as good on that video as the one I'm posting here. To check out the cool visuals video, go HERE.

For the auditorially inclined, just click below...

Lennon/mit Cheap Trick "I'm Losing You"



Lennon/sans Cheap Trick version "I'm Losing You"


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tomorrow's Post Today!

NEW MUSIC FROM PETER FRAMPTON!

While I'm largely avoiding the web and typing away on my keyboard, here's a song from Peter Frampton's new LP, Thank You Mr. Churchill. The song's called "I Want It Back!"

It's got a great, snarly guitar riff. In other words, it rocks!!

So does the rest of the album.

Check it out at iTunes HERE.












Another Day Unplugged

Project Whittle continues. Down to 6 most likely. Meaning most itchy -- the projects itching at me the most.

How far do I have to whittle? Didn't Asimov always have a few projects going at the same time?

Constantly writing and making progress. That's what counts. Right?

What's the best way to pick a project when you have several eating away at your brain?

Coin flip? The I Ching?

Cash?

Call me crass, but cash definitely speeds up my selection process. Throw wads of cash my way and suddenly I've got razor sharp focus. The path is clear!

But I figure I need to keep busy while waiting on that offer of filthy lucre. So I'm unplugging from the net and getting back to The Whittle.

Or better still -- figure I've whittled enough and just dive into writing one of those projects.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Whittling And Special Diets

Lost a day. These things happen when you give a shut-in a car for the day. My schedule is inked and sacrosanct. But sometimes… not so much so.

I had to break from routine yesterday for a visit to my doctor. It was just a yearly physical, but since it's been five years since my last yearly physical, I thought I should probably keep this appointment. It got off to an alarming start when I stepped on the scale and the nurse called out my weight. Loudly. "196 pounds!" 196?!

My response, and I quote: "Holy crap! You're kidding."

The nurse assured me that's what the scale said. A number a good 30 pounds over what I just told the DMV they should put on my driver's license. But then the receptionist offered these encouraging words, "Don't worry. That thing is way off."

Ah, good. That made me feel better. Until I realized that means my doctor knowingly uses a scale that makes his patients feel like ginormous, fatty fats. What's up with that? Some sort of cruel psychological experiment designed to rattle those with low self-esteem?

My doctor is one of the kindest people I've ever met, so I can't quite see that. Maybe he's trying to gently nudge his patients towards exercising and eating right. If so, time to reevaluate. I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and picked up a couple pints of Haagen-Dazs. Midnight Cookies and Cream. Oh, sweet chocolate-soother of shattered self-esteem! (If you click on the link, don't look at the nutritional facts. Just don't. Haagen-Dazs is for eating, not reading!)

haagendazsframe


Honestly, if I'm shooting for a new target weight and starting at 196 pounds, 200 is a lot easier to hit than 165. Thank you, Haagen-Dazs. You make changing weight so easy! Provided you don't care about terms like "gain" or "loss."

Okay -- now it's back to work on choosing my Batter Box Project. I've whittled the top 20 down to the most likely 9. Time to concentrate on more whittling. And to sticking to my new, cream-based diet.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Unplugging From the InterTubes

Brief posting today. And then I'm disconnecting the hose that connects me to the InterTubes. Temporarily.

The Internet is a useful tool, but I find it sometimes turns me into a click-happy vegetable. Maybe the Internet really is nothing more than a giant Skinner-esque experiment designed to keep the masses busy clicking their way towards irreparable repetitive stress injuries.

And there you have it. My pathetic attempt to get my blog noticed by the conspiracy theorists out there.

But for those of you interested in how writers use the internet, here's the secret: sometimes we don't. Writing requires isolation from time to time. A stillness and focus of the mind that isn't possible with the constant bombardment of the Internet. So when I have a task requiring focus, I turn off all the software connecting me to the Internet. And since I'm weak, I have another software program called Concentrate. It makes sure I can't simply turn my internet programs back on with a simple click. I'm considering getting yet another program to make sure I can't change the settings on that program. Have I mentioned that many writers suffer from OCD?

So today's focus-necessary task?
Sift through the several projects I'm currently working on and decide which one gets moved to the front burner. As in the primary project. The one that gets focused on and seen through to completion first. I usually juggle several projects at once. I like the way it makes my brain feel. Alive.

It makes me feel like I'm visiting one of those giant Las Vegas buffets. The kind with 10,000 different items of food to choose from. Only instead of food, I'm at the Idea Buffet. In Vegas, you can spend hours moving along, filling up your plate with twelve different entrees and and a growing mound of side dishes. But eventually, you have to take that plate back to your table and eat what's on it. All of it. Because if you don't, you'll feel guilty when you get up to hit the desert line. And you know you're going to hit that desert line -- several times. So you have no choice but to focus on the task at hand. Loosen your belt and eat your way through to a clear table. Then head back to the buffet's desert selection with a clear conscience.

That's the plan. Which I'll get to right after I have something to eat. I'm suddenly hungry.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What Do You Want From Life?

So what's my blog going to be about? Is there a goal -- other than chronicling my meteoric, 40-year rise to the top?

What makes a good blog?

From what I've seen, a blog is a place to tell the world what you think of it. A platform for calling the good great and the bad despicable. No problem. I'm highly opinionated. I can manage that. But is there something more to it?

According to the many blogs on blogging, I should have a niche, a topic, something to say. Above all, be positive. However, a recent article in New Scientist Magazine reported on a study finding the single most important key to blogging success is to post often. The more one writes, the more successful the blog. Regardless of whether you're a happy-go-lucky Mr. Rogers or an angry old man screaming at the neighbor kids to get off your property.

What matters is bulk. The more words you spit out, the more successful you are.

Which I guess applies not just to blogging, but to writing in general. If you want to be a successful writer, you have to spit out the words. The more words you spit, the more you can sell.

Don't get me wrong. Quality spitting is important. But you're only going to reach quality through quantity. Like Strother Martin's character in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He's always spitting tobacco, trying to get that perfect, straight stream. Sometimes it's a misfire and it sprays out or dribbles down his chin. But every third time or so, he gets that straight, clean shot. Bingo!

That's writing. A lot of time spent perfecting your spitting skills. Working your way through those messy misfires on the road to more and more of those perfect straight streams. Bingo!

Which brings me back to the main question -- what exactly will my blog about?

I don't know. But my guess is it will involve a lot of spitting.

Now, on to...

Music Monday

Today's Music: "What Do You Want From Life?" by The Tubes.

One of life's great Getting-To-Know-You Questions is: What was your first concert?

For me, it's The Tubes. Orpheum Theater, Omaha, '79 -- the tipper-most top row in the balcony. And they were LOUD. Like Rock should be. My ears rang for a week. Excellent! I was hooked for life.

Their 80s stuff is great, but I have a real fondness for their more free-flowing songs from the seventies. I'm posting two versions of my favorite Tubes tune: "What Do You Want From Life?"

The sound is better on the first version, but I enjoy the live version most. The live video looks like it was shot from a seat high in the balcony -- so it's like I'm time traveling, peering into my past through the viewfinder of a barely functioning chronoscope.

Enjoy!







Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Blog Begins

I spent all my time this week whipping the new website into shape -- and completely forgot I'm supposed to have something to say in the blog.

So for today the blog entry is simply this: The new website is up and working!

Tomorrow I start the daily blathering in my blog.

Enjoy!