Blog-O-Nation

Floatin’ Like A Butterfly!

The other day I got caught up in some “discussions” on the subject of Sports vs The Arts. I’m not a huge sports fan but I do enjoy the concept of the game and of competition itself. This is not an endorsement of “militarism 101,” as a certain friend of mine will insist. If anything, fair sports play tends to defuse belligerence and violent hostility rather than promote it. Although, I do agree with her that the NFL is a crock of capitalistic shit and, furthermore, it’s my opinion that professional American sports are headed for a toppling of financial importance. But that’s a whole ‘nother rant, and I’m not here to inflict the evils of the game onto its players. Heroes or villains, they’re human beings who have their own share of problems that most non-players won’t understand.

Another friend, who I didn’t suspect of having any affinity for sports, put on the table the words of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton:

“…I just want to become relatable, you know what I’m saying? It’s bigger than race. It’s more so of opening up a door for guys that don’t want to be labeled, that have bigger views and say: ‘Well, I’m in this situation, I’m living in this environment right now, but I also want to be an artist, I want to be a poet. But I don’t have the means, you know, to necessarily do the right things at this point.’ As for me, I just want to give those people hope.”

ali01Smart man. Sounds like he’s got some stories to tell and I hope he writes them down. I’ll read that book, just as I’ve read classic sports writing by guys like Roger Angell and Troy Soos (whose novel “Hanging Curve” I recommend highly). But this whole thing made me remember the poetry of one of America’s greatest athletes and, like it or not, purveyors of pugilism, Muhammad Ali. I don’t care what anyone says, Ali’s poetry was easily on par with the comic verse of Ernest Thayer:

“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale;
Handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail;
Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick;
I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

and

“Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat.
If Liston goes back an inch farther, he’ll end up in a ringside seat.
Clay swings to the left, Clay swings to the right!
Look at Cassius carry the fight!
Liston keeps backing, but there’s not enough room.
It’s a matter of time until Clay lowers the boom.
Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing!
And the punch raises the bear clear out of the ring.
Yes the crowd did not dream when they laid down their money
that they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.”

Once reviled, the man persevered and proved he was a king. He remains so. The Lord of The Ring. A great American who stood up, ready to fight for what he believed, and knew how he wanted to be remembered:

“I’d like for them to say he took a few cups of love, he took one tablespoon of patience, one teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness, he took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then he mixed willingness with happiness. He added lots of faith and he stirred it up well. Then he spread it over the span of a lifetime and he served to each and every deserving person he met.”

I salute you, Muhammad. Against the world may you have the last word:

“I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be who I wanna be and think what I wanna think.”

Prologue: Decline and Fall of Alternative Civilization

This is a re-edit of the first of SPOT’S audio files from the book project. There’s more to come (I’ve heard them—just not ready to post here yet) and so far I like where things are going. Of course, I’m prejudiced because it’s my words, but I really like this reading!

Remember, He Wasn’t There

It was a @WriterlyTweets prompt on March 2—“In six words or fewer, write a story about a mind-altering experiment.” Sometimes you just gotta share the story (in this case, six words per line…):

Dock Ellis, O, pitches had stung,
and Nixon barked “Aye, he swung!”
on balls yea big, yea small,
a day he does not recall.

hogh_dockI don’t think the protagonist did it as an experiment, but he would agree it was definitely an experience, as much as he could remember of it. June 12, 1970 in San Diego, CA; Pirates vs Padres. To hell with the politicians, preachers and pundits. This is the kind of thing that makes America GREAT!

 

Red Eyes at Midnight

My entry for How We’ll Prompt’s second #7/200 Challenge,
from a ten-word story about “two red eyes peering from a dark alley”:


Rounding the corner I heard a familiar growl in the dark.

“Annie?”

There it was again.

“Annie Pants? That you?”

Annie didn’t meow so much as blow a one-and-a-half note solo—an alto with a sticky key, hoarse and unsatisfied. Against my ankle, her head ordered a scratch behind the ear.

“Hey.”

I looked up at two floating devil eyes. “Shit!”

“Hey, it’s me.” The voice scraped like Annie’s.

“Fuck. You scared me, dude!

“Need a favor, man.” It was Marv, smoking a cig.

“What’s that?”

“Got this mirror from upstairs. Ol’ lady Harris says I can have it.” He took a puff. I could barely see his reflection. Just the glowing embers. “She’s gotta have her stuff out by Friday.”

“The Medicare deal?”

“Yeah. This’ll go real good in the corner of the bedroom. Serena’s gonna love it. Long’s I don’t drop it. You got your ride close by?”

“No. Walking.” Annie Pants snaked between my legs, purring.

“Well… if we can get it to the corner, I’m sure Omeir’ll lemme lock it up til morning,” he rasped. “Need some smokes, anyway.”

“I thought you quit, dude.”

“Not for me. For Annie.”

Recognition Due

While the audio files of text excerpts are progressing well (I’ve been told), I need to give a shout out to Austin, TX-based artist Joey Marez for his excellent cover design. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It’s difficult to convey visual concepts to someone who has not read the book but Joey did a great job of translating my un-anchored ideas into a coherent whole that was better than what I originally imagined. That’s the sign of a real professional.

I should also acknowledge Ms. Laurel Violet whose editing skills—both copy and content—proved indispensable. Yes, writers, do yourselves the favor of hiring conscientious artists and editors you can communicate with. You’ll never regret it.

Speaking of Prompts…

chimp01…I’ve found Twitter to be a great resource for writers. The 140 character limit goes a long way to help folks edit their own thoughts before presenting them to the world. Aside from that and the various writers’ blogs, there are the prompts—the word games akin to literary stretching exercises, warm-ups and calisthenics (and often just a chance to wisecrack).

It all started with Writer.ly. Their six-word story setups sucked me in and I got addicted to it. Then came (in no chronological order) Liz Geisert, Kelsye Nelson, How We’ll Prompt, Tablo Prompts, iAuthor and, oh yeah, Nest and Story. If I’ve forgotten anyone, forgive me; I promise I’ll update.

We Had Pea Coats

I totally enjoy the writer prompts on Twitter.
I took How We’ll Prompt’s #7/200 Challenge and expanded
a 10-wd story about “being aboard a boat drifting in heavy fog” :


Zero visibility for hours.

“Miss Queeg?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Dear,” I huffed. “Knock off the formality. This was your idea.”

“Maybe.”

“It was.”

In the blackness, the vacuum pop of a metal container. Silence off all bows, sterns, sanity, motion, and oars bouncing against the thick soup. Fuel was useless without spark. On the deep a man has only so much mettle to deal with currents, windmills and hulls of invisible freighters looming in the murk and hiss of fading drumbeats, rimshots or pounding solos.

“I don’t understand mutiny,” she said.

“No?”

“Strawberries don’t need sugar. They’re sweet enough on their own.”

“You don’t say.”

“You need to keep up your strength.”

A misshapen orb pressed against my lips. She was right. I hoped the fog had been saturating the towels. Coffee was gone, one sandwich left, we could be going in any direction possible, one oar stroke shy of infinity.

“Is there enough battery for a heading, Miss Queeg?”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“Oh, gee.”

“I’ve been leaving a trail.”

I closed my eyes and kept rowing.

“We’ll follow the sugar trail when it gets light. In the meantime we go wherever these strawberries want to take us.”

A Book? Epic Unattended Blog-alia

bk_cov02Again I let my blogtation duties lapse.

The other day’s was all the suspense I could stand, and no one else could. Mostly cuz no one else saw the showboat go by. And I’m not gonna recap it. If you missed it, it’s gone. Another splashdown into the river of self-contempt, on its way to an ocean of floating lunch trucks. What’s good for the raft is good for the stand-up paddle board.

Yes, I announced the end of the road—the impending release of the (e)book. The novel. “Decline and Fall of Alternative Civilization”—and if you didn’t hear it here first, folks, don’t worry. Had to consider the editing done and let it drop sometime, come hell or groves full of lemon trees.

Scheduled street date? April 1. Why not?

cho_line01

To quote Mr. Dennes Boon: “Objects, material, possessive, unreal circles, and games contradicting lies…” 

And thanks to Spot for allowing the “donation” of the photo—an image that didn’t make it into his “Sounds of Two Eyes Opening.” I’ve always liked it. He says the 4th & 5th (l-r) women are mother and daughter. Wow.

Never Bring a Book to a Word Fight

I’ve lost that battle many times. I’ll lose it again. You’ll laugh again.

9780802124371It’s the last gasp of end-of-the-year summations, a concept that’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. To circle a hot, burning star and make definitive judgements based on where the journey always ends before it starts? To rationalize nothing being something that the nothing is? In this lies the seed of all comedy and tragedy. Just don’t take my word for it. You’ll be disappointed because, for once, I’ve got a post-yuletide shopping recommendation. That’s rare, and like hell if I make any resolutions for the next round of disappointments. But this might serve someone nicely. It’s all I’ve got and it keeps me out of loud bars and most other desperate situations.

I’ve been a follower of @NeinQuarterly on Twitter and I bought the impending “Nein. A Manifesto”—Eric Jarosinski’s book that uses a few words to say what most books attempt with many. A “failed intellectual,” he fled the ivory tower and showed a smiling finger to academia, philosophy and wheezing, positivist platitudes. Last month I posted a customer review on Amazon but failed to tell anyone. Right or wrong, I’m announcing it now. And if the world ends before midnight “happys” get exchanged, you can blame me.

Lemmy? Lemmy. Yes. No.

The only poetry is that Lemmy graced our presence at all.
Loudly, proudly, and if you didn’t like it… tough.
It’s all I’m gonna say about that. If you think I’m shirking a writer’s duty, so be it. It doesn’t matter how many friends or enemies either of us wins or loses. Life is what you make it? No. Life is what is made. Beyond that, the decision is what to do with it. I’m not gonna argue with those who analyze or categorize or try to put music into some predetermined box of popularity.

This may be the worst thing I’ve ever written but I’ll defend it against those who ask, “Who the hell is that? Never heard of him.” It doesn’t pay to write or read too much into anything. I’ve never been a fan of Jack Daniel’s but I like my whiskey, whatever the choice of the day may happen to be. Dig?

lemmy bass
www.musicradar.com

Lemmy lived.
Lemmy lives.
I’ve raised my glass.
It was never empty.