Liking the New Blog

So far, I’m really liking the new blog format. I’ve been able to customize it some to get rid of the stuff I didn’t really want, I’ve been able to add other things, and I’m considering playing around with the default skin to incorporate the blog into my regular site design. First, though, I should probably see if I can import all my old blog entries into this one. There’s not much future in continuing the exercise if I can’t do that.

I’ve also been working on websites for a couple of other people, and I’m pleased to say that I’m really happy with the way they are turning out.

I did just notice that my timestamp is an hour off. I must have specified the wrong time zone somewhere …

We’re supposed to get another half a foot or so of snow tomorrow. We just dug out of the one-two punch of what has become known as the “Holiday Storms of ’06.” I don’t mind the snow, personally. It’s nice to have it again, frankly. I grew up with lots of snow in Durango, and it brings a smile to my face to see piles of snow taller than I am in my front yard. This is Denver, though, and snow never hangs around here for long. By this time next week, I suspect that all of the snow from tomorrow’s storm will be gone, and much of the snow still on the ground from the Holiday Storms will be gone, as well.

As one of my resolutions from a few days ago, I pledged to write every day. Although I haven’t been writing in this blog every day, I have been keeping true to my self-assigned task. Just before New Year’s, I purchased a book at West Side’s Book Annex in Denver. The book is A Writer’s Book of Days, by Judy Reeves (1999, New World Library, Novato, CA.) It consists of many essays about writing and the lifestyle changes that come with a commitment to heed the muse, as well as writing prompts for each day of the year. I’ve been dutifully using the prompts for the first four days of the year, and I’m surprised to see what has come out. So far, I have an essay, a self-reflective journal entry, a prose poem, and a piece of humor written in the style of the old Zork text adventures. Where the hell did that come from?

At this point, none of the above are suitable for publication, and I probably won’t even develop most of what I write in these exercises. But it is nice to feel the juices flowing again; it’s been a while.

Well, I’m off to do my homework.

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Isabelle and Steel River Three

I wrote yesterday about how my cat, Isabelle, needed a new home. One of the people from work took her home to introduce her to the family, and since she brought back an empty pet carrier, it was evidently a successful introduction. I hope that Isabelle brings joy and light to her new family, and that they give her the love and attention she deserves.

Since this is supposed to be a creativity journal, rather than a diary, I should talk a bit about what I’ve been doing that’s creative during the long dry spell in this journal.

Since I last made regular journal entries, I have continued to play music and attend writing groups, though not with as much vigor as I did before. I needed some space and brain cells to deal with Real Life Occurrences, and keeping an online creativity journal was neither a priority nor a need. I gave up the reins of the West Side Books website, as well, and scaled back my involvement in writing groups from three groups to only one.

The music I have been playing has been primarily acoustic, and I have been playing with a trio called Steel River Three for about the last year. We have had several gigs and were even taped for a local access cable television production. We have a copy of that performance, and currently give out free DVDs at our shows.

SR3 is a good group. I have played with the two other members for a while now, both assisting them with short notice gigs for their other project, the Dante band and performing with them at a benefit for the Summit Apartment fire victims in January of 2003. (My old band, Eight Inch Weeds, also played at that benefit.)

Last night, I practiced four songs that we are adding to the set list for an upcoming show. It’s nice to have a small list of gigs on the schedule; it feels like we’re accomplishing something.

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Poetry, Batting Cages, and Moss

I read poetry tonight at Coffee on the Lowell. The event had a modest turnout, though from what I understand, it was better than the last meeting. I didn’t think it was too bad for only their third outing. I did find out, however, that I listed the cross streets incorrectly on the West Side Books website. Coffee on the Lowell is at the corner of 50th and Lowell (or Regis and Lowell, depending on how you look at it) but I had listed it as 58th and Lowell on the website. It’s fixed now.

Ira Slotkin hosted the open mic, and Seth from the Mercury Cafe Jam Before the Slam was there as well. Zach, a counterpart of Seth’s, accompanied many of the poems on keyboard. (Sorry I didn’t get all the names, guys. I’ll get them next time.) Ira read several of his Spam haiku, the humor highlight of the evening. One woman read for the first time — and read well — choosing Wordsworth as her initiation. Another woman, a friend, read a poem that she said “scared her.” I can see why, after hearing it. It was disturbingly effective, and I think it took guts for her to air it. I read a few of my own poems, and closed with Hopkins’ “(Carrion Comfort).”

Afterward, I was finally able to deliver a critique of a story for my friend, the “scared poem” woman. I’ve had the critique for months, and have been wanting to get it to her, but our schedules haven’t allowed it until tonight. She appreciated the critique, despite all the green pen marks on it.

As for my own writing, I jotted down few more paragraphs of “Chesterfield Gray” at lunch. I hope to finish the story’s first draft Sunday and revise it the same day. I noticed that the new Writers of the Future Vol. XVIII is out, and Kim bought it for me as another early birthday present. (Thanks, Babe.) I’m officially getting behind. I still haven’t read last year’s volume, and I still have to read the second Harry Potter book and re-read The Two Towers before those movies come out.

I want to rant a bit about a couple of news stories that came to my attention. The first is fairly minor; it has to do with the lawsuit settlement between John Cage’s estate and a British composer name Mike Batt. The upshot is that Batt included a piece called A One Minute Silence on a CD by his band, The Planets. Cage is famous for his avant-garde piece 4′ 33″, a four minute, thirty-three second piece of silence which Cage used to perform live by sitting and looking at his piano as the audience fidgeted. Cage’s estate sued Batt for plagiarism, which seems ludicrous until you learn that Batt credited the piece to “Batt/Cage” on the CD. Oops. I’m guessing that if he hadn’t credited Cage as a collaborator, he would not have been hit with a lawsuit. Then again, he knew the piece was inspired by Cage, and acknowledged that. For that, he has to pay a six-figure sum to the John Cage Trust? Isn’t this a bit out of hand?

Speaking of “out of hand,” let’s talk about Randy Moss and the NFL. Specifically, let’s talk about Randy Moss getting his wrist slapped. This is a man who, intentionally and methodically, pushed a traffic officer half a block with the nose of his Lexus. He was charged with two misdemeanors, for which he will only be fined a maximum of $2000 by law. He is not likely to spend any more jail time because of the nature of his occupation and because of his celebrity status. The NFL has not suspended Moss for his actions, though he will be up for evaluation after his arraignment on October 2nd.

Compare this to the NFL’s denial of Peyton Manning’s request to wear black hightop shoes in tribute to Johnny Unitas. Manning is quarterback of the same team that Unitas helmed (or at least the team with the same name) and most of the news that I’ve read states that people in general think this was a classy move by Manning. However, the NFL denied the request, saying that if Manning wore the hightops, he could face up to a $25,000 fine.

One man commits a near-felony (some say it should have been a full-blown felony) and will probably get away with a slap on the wrist. Another asks if he can break uniform dress code — not breaking any laws, mind you, just a dress code rule — to pay tribute to one of his heroes, and is told that he will get a large fine if he does so. He decides not to, in order to keep from creating a distraction for his team. This says volumes, not only about the NFL’s priorities, but about the differences between how Peyton Manning and Randy Moss look at their positions on their respective teams.

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Dolphins for All Seasons

As promised, I did get some writing done at lunch. It wasn’t a lot, but I did get a few paragraphs of “Chesterfield Gray” down.

On the way to Stories for All Seasons, I noticed a wispy cloud being pushed over the jagged edge of a Flatirons peak by the wind. The cloud curled over the edge and followed the face of the rock a short way down before dissipating. I could see the wind swirl in the arch of the cloud, and I imagined the cloud was a dolphin jumping over the waves of rock. God, I love Colorado.

When I got close to the West Side Books Annex, where Stories for All Seasons is held, I had some extra time. I decided to stop off at Guitar Center and browse for a while, which is always a dangerous thing to do. This time was no different. Fortunately, I only left with one item, a book about guitar soloing in different modes and patterns. After hearing my clunky minor key solos against Dante Spumante’s major key music, I decided it was time to arm myself with some tools and do a little studying. I hope to find some time to go over the exercises in the next few days.

Lucy Taylor was the guest at Stories for All Seasons this month. Lucy writes horror and detective fiction, often with an erotic flavor. Lucy also happens to be a very pretty redhead. Both of the pieces she read were a bit erotic, one more so than the other, and I will admit that I felt a little uncomfortable watching and listening to this siren of a woman reading erotic fiction. I wasn’t uncomfortable in a bad way; it was just a turning of the tables that I wasn’t expecting. (I guess that means the erotica in the stories worked!)

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Sophie’s World

I almost finished Sophie’s World today. It’s amazing to me how a book can have such high worldwide sales and be so little known in the U.S. That’s probably an indicator of just how egocentric we are as a nation. I should have the book finished by tomorrow, and I will write a review for this site shortly thereafter.

Other projects on the burner include redesigning the West Side Books website, reading and reviewing several different books, finishing the first draft of “Sphere of Success,” revising “Saint and Cynic” and trying to find a home for it, doing the homework for Melanie’s class next week and critiquing a long story for the Writer’s Circle group for the week after that. Oh yeah, painting, wainscoting, and wallpapering, too. Oy.

It’s probably not smart for me to rattle off a ton of things like that. It’s daunting. It’s like saying, “I need to lose 150 pounds in three months,” when a more realistic goal would be to lose 15 pounds in three months. That said, let me revise my project list.

  • This week, I need to write a review of Sophie’s World and complete a basic redesign of the West Side Books website.

  • The week after that, I need to work on “Sphere of Success” and “Saint and Cynic,” as well as doing the homework for Melanie’s class.

  • The week after that, I need to critique the long manuscript for The Writer’s Circle.

  • Home improvements can come on the weekends.

Well, I didn’t drop anything from the list, and I only slightly reworded it, but it does seem a little less daunting now that it’s broken up into weeks with specific goals.

Somewhere in there, after I get broadband tomorrow, I will need to work on the network at home, but that’s almost a relaxing activity for me.

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