Category Archives: Humor

abstract image of leaves

Just me and my Leaves

This has been the slowest week since the last one, and boy has it gone fast!

If you came here thinking today’s blog would be about you, think again – this one’s on me – or was that the last one? What can I say? I’m a writer. Hemingway said we’re all liars, but then can you really believe him?

The week in Review (or is it Next Week’s Preview?)

Actually I’ve got a lot done this week, but almost entirely in my head, and a little on index cards . . . why do they call them that anyway? I mean, does anyone in their right mind actually index them? Why not call them what they are . . . illusions of being organized . . . I’m smart though, I put little page numbers on them in the top right corner, and even circle them. I’ve got about 50 of these cards all over the place. I think about 12 of them have a single vertical line inside a moon, in the top corner . . . wonder what that’s all about!

Actually, I’m in the process of writing about five separate blogs, all very related to each other, and way too much for one blog. My intent was to have the first one written last night and posted today . . . this is not that one.

They are all related to three main subjects:

1. Building an author’s platform – It sure would have been easier if this were the 70’s . . . then I could just go out and buy the shoes, click my heels, and all would be well. Time after time I’m reading about the importance of just being oneself, and doing that basically all over the place. That’s fine, but it sure would help if that Wizard could whip me up a storm of “online oneness” – I’m sure he’s got the brains, not sure about the heart, and as for bravery, hmmm?

It takes a certain amount (a lot) of constraint to avoid flogging one’s own creative output, especially when it’s your main source of income and not something done on the side, but that’s an issue all on its own. As well, what I do keeps me occupied for probably 60 hours a week, maybe more, so it could never be a sideline.

2. The Book Environment – I’m using the term environment rather than industry. Actually, more and more, it feels like one of my projects is doing a case study on the whole mess – oops, environment – it is the best of times and worstest of days – catch my drift?

As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking, especially for one person, and it is only one of many projects. It’s an important one though. It’s tempting to say that every indie author should try the same, but I’m not sure about that. To begin with, this is where I actually use my MBA skills, not just in marketing, but mostly in strategic planning, part of which includes doing an industry analysis.

I have already identified the big problems, and opportunities, and collapse them in a sentence or two. That only took three months, not full-time of course. However, that isn’t enough – I need to flesh in more details – then focus more on “what’s next” in this crazy world of platform building, selling books and art and so on.

When I’m done, I’ll be posting my insights on here . . . you can be rest assured that it won’t be the same stuff you find elsewhere . . . and you will learn something valuable, whether you’re a writer or a reader, or both.

4. Technical issues – Should I switch from a hosted blog to self-hosted one? Should I shut down my art site for now, or roll it into a redesigned blog? Technically, I can’t fully integrate this blog into my website . . . that would be ideal. Then there are all the design enhancements that I need to make . . . this is the more mundane topic, so I’ll leave it for now.

Now For the Rest of The Story

I found this link in a discussion group on goodreads. Whether you’re a writer or someone who sometimes wonders about writers, you need wonder no more . . . instead, feel free to laugh your ass off . . . some of you may want to pee before following this link:

The Secret Life of Writers

PS – I found these secrets from another writer – you can find her here: Dianne Harman

Top 10 Reasons To Work From Home

This title isn’t quite complete – it should also include something about working solo, so in this context, here goes!

  1. On birthdays, at the surprise office party, I get all the corners, and now the cake only has 4 pieces!
  2. Some of those telemarketers can be really sweet, my bff for a few minutes, especially if she can manage to turn off that “Your call may be monitored…” function – still wondering when my quality will be good enough not to require the control purposes.
  3. When it comes to softball, now I’m always at bat!
  4. Over time, you learn that overtime is actually two words.
  5. Ellen can actually be pretty cool . . . over time she’s taught me to dance!
  6. You learn that staff meetings are something you can do in bed.
  7. Eventually you need to call an exterminator to find all the post-it notes.
  8. You no longer have time for two hours of minesweeper every day.
  9. You can give the cleaning staff the day off, and sometimes, if you’re really nice, it’s okay to make that two or three!
  10. Dreaming – day or night – goes uninterrupted and turns into an amazing novel or some fine art!
  11. Going out for pizza becomes an adventure . . . enjoy this video, it’s hilarious:

The Pizza Adventure!

Finally, if you’d like to add to my list, feel free to comment . . . love to hear from you!

But Sir, Are You Real?

Youthful Passions

As a child my first real passion was baseball. I loved to be outside and in the summer we played ball every morning, then we would hang out at the community center for hours after practice. For a break from the heat, we would go inside the youth building, where an endless tournament of ping pong happened . . . the winner keeps playing, so it all worked out more or less equal.

There was a drink machine, either coke or 7-up, and at the age of 11 or 12, we tended to lean toward the 7-up . . . after all, that’s what was on our team uniforms, so it made sense. For lunch we had two choices, but this was before the revolution began. We had a choice between plain potato chips and barbecue, and both came in only one size. The revolution came with the introduction of salt & vinegar, but by memory it seems we were unscathed by this – the youth center seemed to be sheltered from the onslaught.

In looking back, everything seemed so innocent then, and perhaps that’s something I’m most thankful for – everything was for fun, with no intent beyond that. That innocence carried through in more intellectual pursuits. At that early age, it was a pleasure to drift off to the library, which was half town away from the ball park, perhaps a mile away. It was a place to go to find some shade, pick up a book or two and sit in the grass, under a tree, and read awhile.

Eclectic, just because

This was all independent learning. My parents didn’t tell me what to read, nor my teachers . . . it was summer and I was free. So for the fun of it I would pick out a big book about some ancient guy named Leonardo da Vinci. The only part that wasn’t fun was lugging this monster home – bike or no bike! It was a mixed bag, a little Leonardo, some Archie comics, detective books, logic puzzles, The Iliad, and those pin-up magazines stashed in a friend’s garage, the ones that belonged to his father. That garage was a library unto itself, and every boy in town knew about it, much more so than the place where I discovered the ancient guy that liked to invent as much as to draw.

This “pattern” of seemingly random interests continued most of my life, though there were periods of interruption, such as 7 years of college and university, and then something called becoming an adult. Eventually I grew out of all that. One piece of randomness really hit home. I can’t remember when I first came across Salvador Dali – it’s so long ago – it seems I found the big books most intriguing, probably because of the pictures. Yes, I’m guilty of not reading about him, of only studying the pictures, or rather of losing myself in them, and again, just for the fun of it.

Along the way I’d do a little writing, often adding some sketches and doodle to the scribbles, though I can no longer remember the details, only the innocent pleasure of the doing of it. The process never became wearisome, and there are limits to all the running around, the sports and stuff, such as the raiding of gardens and orchards.

A Return or an awakening?

About eight years ago, I left behind a lifestyle that is beyond description now. I took a leap of faith of sorts by returning to my innocence . . . my creativity. I didn’t do it haphazardly, though at the time many may have saw my decision that way. It’s a different kind of heartbreak to be ridiculed for such a decision, something I’ll never really understand, and something I really wasn’t prepared for, and I’m thankful for that as well – the lack of preparation. After all, if I had been able to foresee that kind of criticism, I’m not 100% sure that I would have been brave enough to change direction.

At first I thought I’d do some writing, but then the art took hold of me, and that has been a great surprise. In the past number of years I’ve actually done plenty of both, though the only “official” writing is in the form of a book, the novel I’ve been blogging about lately.

It bothers me somewhat, this moving between the art and the writing, even though I know than many creative people have done both, but then I see no valid reason to specialize. Perhaps it is only in this deep jungle of self-promotion where the only trouble lies . . . my self-induced brand confusion?

It does get frustrating at times – frustrating as hell, to be honest – staying positive is more of a challenge than I’d ever want to share with anyone. By that I mean much more than becoming successful, which for me is no more than paying the bills, attaining enough “security” to do what I do, and helping my children financially as much as I can. Yes, these necessities are trouble enough, but it is the bigger set of questions and observations that trouble me so much more – the stuff that is much bigger than me – the kind of stuff that gnaws at our very existence.

My favored combat for these bigger troubles is humor, though I can lose days on end in a personal despair, and hiding that has become kind of skill on its own. I say all this because this morning I came across a wonderful video about a man who seems so little understood – one of my childhood heroes – and the warmth and charm, and perhaps a touch of innocence, is all encapsulated in this clip – and yes, there is plenty of humor!

A leading man . . . undoubtedly, but not necessarily followed

Catalog Writing, and then a Book

If you’re familiar with my blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I enjoy the now-old TV show, Seinfeld.

One of my favorite characters is Mr. Peterman, mostly because when the show was in its heyday, one of main job duties was writing catalog copy for the gardening catalogs I was running – yeah, there were a few “Elaines” around!

Contrary to what the video might suggest, when you write for a catalog, or for advertising, you really are forced to write concisely, yet effectively. The legends (gurus?) of advertising used to claim that all writers should have a stint in advertising. If you think that’s pompous or silly, here’s three writers who spent some time in advertising as copywriters:

Salman Rushdie

Helen Gurley Brown

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I could say more, but then I might be accused of being a windbag . . . should we just keep it at pompous? Honestly though, since I’ve never been to Africa, I’d really like to tell you some of my hockey stories . . . they’re funny. Ha, there’s even a little of that in Dawn at Last!

Salman Rushdie on Seinfeld

Chickens, bravery and bagpipes . . . not the Scottish ones

I had no idea there are so many kinds of bagpipes . . . pretty much one for every European nation, and even a Chinese version . . . the ones in the music of this video are Romanian.

I picked this video for a few reasons. One is that the pictures remind very much of some of the pictures of some of my now-deceased family – my grandparents – they really worked the land. Their stories are heartwarming, funny, inspiring, sometimes so very sad, and sometimes maddening.

They were not gypsies, except perhaps on the occasional Saturday night! I don’t know if the people in this picture were gypsies either – when is a group of gypsies no longer gypsies?

The other reason I chose this clip is because it also reminds me of a brief mention of a wonderfully humorous gypsy folk tale. I mention it in my novel, and no matter how I classify it, the story is about love – both mine and the gypsy tale!

I’ll only mention how the tale begins. Apparently there was a young man who was completely smitten by a certain gypsy girl, but she taunted him terribly. The story is all about his laughable quests to gain her favor, and the first of these is to fetch her a chicken, but not just any chicken!

And so it goes . . . I really can’t tell you more than that here . . . the games we play for love!

I’m kind of surprised that even today there are those who are wary of gypsies, though I apologize here because the term has as many variations as the bagpipes – probably many more!

All I can say is where would Cirque du Soleil be without them first? And even in this video, there must be something of love? I hope so . . . .

Thank you for risking so much!

Other People’s Stuff

A picture of a twig

This is another unfinished piece…it’s based on a variation of a leaf.

Normally I don’t comment on other people’s blogs, nor do I publish a list of favorites, who I follow and so on. That’s totally because I’m worried about leaving someone out by omission. Some days its tempting to single out those who can really strike a nerve, but I’d rather focus on the positives . . . so hopefully I won’t “make the wrong mistake” as Yogi Berra said.

I’m really just getting the hang of Pinterest. I spend most of my time related to that site looking for original pins, as opposed to simply repinning. However, there are a small number of pinners that I’m following, and some or all of them also have blogs. I’m not going to comment on the blogs here, just the Pinterest boards.

If you haven’t spent much time there – or if you think it’s somehow less than blogging – I think you might re-think that if you visit Julie Green’s page. It is fascinating to explore, an intellectual and visual treat . . . the kind where you stop watching the time, so be careful!

Here’s the link, and I hope you check it out for yourself: Julie Green on Pinterest

I’m learning how busy the world of Twitter is, though it has been all pleasant surprises, kind of “rapid-fire” so it’s hard to keep up. I still have much to learn over there, but aside from that, there are some people over there. One guy, @PhilTorcivia , is amazing because of his constant and pretty consistent stream of humorous one-liners. For example, “I told my girlfriend she’d drawn her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised.” I’m not surprised that he has over 64,000 followers.

For all the authors out there, I also came across some named Jane Friedman, but I can’t remember how I came upon her first – Twitter, blog, Pinterest or somewhere else. What I do know is that wherever I come across her, I learn something new and important when it comes to writing and publishing. If you’re looking for book reviews, that’s not what she does, but for tons of great information, resources, and opportunities, I suggest starting with her home page: Jane Friedman’s Home Page

There are many other kudos I’d like to send out, and will over time. There are some bloggers that have made an extra impression lately, including Jackie Jones, especially for her wonderfully honest and great photographs of the Caribbean on her blog. She keeps apologizing for this and that photography, but I’d never have noticed without her mentioning them – they’re imperfections make them all the more intriguing and endearing: Jackie Jones’ Caribbean Photos – the little stories add to the charm.

Finally, thank to Jill Paterson for your tips on writing that all-important blurb, as well for being a friend on Goodreads: Jill Paterson’s Blog

Piece of Cake

It’s about time something was done about this.

The Government of New South Wales has decided to clamp down on what social scientists are claiming is a phenomenon on the verge of getting out of control.

Apparently the feminists in the province have successfully defended their right to decide for themselves in terms of whether their sexual orgasm is real or not; their right to falsify their own climax has passed the third reading and will soon become law.

In her oral defense, the champion of the cause, Mona Lottz, cited the famous case of Kramer vs. Kramer, and after that hearing the assembled members succumbed, stating that their decision is a landmark victory for women, and that it was time to give the issue a rest. Apparently three female members – backbenchers – were heard to howl upon the handing down ceremony.

To appease the male members, and also quoting Kramer vs. Kramer, men now have the same legal right, however this applies only when they are alone, and certainly not in public.

The scientists were ecstatic, claiming that these decisions will now alleviate the pressure caused by a related problem of both men and women claiming that they feel they are not getting enough sleep.

Legislators agreed, and now the house rests – A Fake Confession


Can you tell the difference?

Getting From A to B

Computer networking seems to be quite a popular topic in WordPress, but let me rephrase that…social networking seems to be a very popular topic.

I’ve been very impressed and amused by those who have woke up to what is somehow destined to be a failure in some important respects. I say failure because the long distance exchange of messages done with machines will never be the same as direct, fully human interaction. I would hope that we can all be thankful and appreciative of this truth. And I’m happy for those who have found happiness with others through the use of technology…good for them.

It seems I have a knack for looking at our culture differently than most. Perhaps it is because of the reading I’ve done over the years, but certainly not in totality. I only mention this because of one author and book in particular. The book is Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshal McLuhan. It’s one of those books where every time you read it, or even part of it, you learn something new as well as you can understand the world around you from a different perspective.

A Good Synopsis of “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man”

If it were up to me I’d make it required reading at some point, perhaps even in high school, especially when mass media is so dominant in our culture. But then I’d also make the same requirement of the basic principles of logical reasoning. This may seem like an odd statement coming from an artist, but then I’m not really an artist, I’m a person who has a passion for doing art. There is a huge difference between the noun and the verb, between the object and the process.

The process always seems nice than the object, the journey between A and B.

I’ve always admired so much of what Einstein said, so many great quotes, such as, “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination can take you everywhere.” It seems then, in order to make sense of life in this day and age, a great deal of both is necessary if one is to think and to wonder. I do a lot of both.

I know many will say that that  just living is better than so much thinking, and I can completely relate to that, and so many happy times happened just living. For me this is not that time though. I think a lot about what is natural and about what isn’t and it does seem to come down to machines versus nature, and much of humanity seems stuck in between.

To get back to this issue of computer networking, I’d like to put in the broader context of machines. The mechanization has happened at a very rapid and accelerated pace over the last 100 years or so, and we have collectively made ourselves dependent on machines in so many ways and to such large extents and extensions, the extensions of man.

I could go on at great lengths to explain the implications of this in great detail, but I’d prefer to at least try to make my point with a few statements. For example, now and then the issue of the world being overpopulated comes up. Yet no one ever addresses the issue of the population of machines. The world has gone from about 2 billion to 7 billion people in my lifetime; I don’t have the resources to even begin to calculate what that growth is in terms of machine population. Since many people form emotional attachments to their machines, even love, it is appropriate to use the term population.

Some wars and a great deal of media attention is placed on the issue of energy, mostly oil and gas. And yet not that long ago such reliance wasn’t there. When you think about it though, we don’t need oil and gas. Our machines need it and we now need our machines.

A Great Deal of Food For Thought

In the context of computers and pretty much every mechanical communication medium, including all kinds of presses and our educational system, the reliance on electricity is even greater than that of oil and gas. Yes, electricity is dependent on machines.

And yet we call of this a ‘process of evolution’ and we’re taught about natural selection. However, so much of humanity now seems so very different than anything that I see in nature. There I can see more balance, even kindness, more of what I used to see in people, and I wonder whether we will find a way to return to a more natural life form.

Something is missing and machines won’t help us find it. This is why I’m not surprised at an undercurrent of rebellion and disappointment in what is called social networking. Perhaps a nice first step is to realize that no matter how you brand it, the phone is just a phone.

By the way, in terms of that educational system and required reading, I’d also include something to do with love…I think it might just make a good replacement for much of history.

And so because of the absence of my humor in this blog, I don’t mind borrowing a little bit of nice humor from an old television show, partly to remind you that I don’t think it’s all bad. I’m a firm believer that there is always something good out there, but then what do I know?

I Don’t Know What I’m Talking About

A More Than Golden Silence

Music and silence…combine strongly because music is done with silence, and silence is full of music.

The words above aren’t my words though I recently had the pleasure of sharing them with someone who seemed to need to hear them. Her name is Brenda and I had a conversation with her a few weeks ago, after not being in touch for about 3 months. She was telling me about a presentation she had the next day, part of her training in an MFA program. With her background in marketing I’m sure this would normally be excited about this speaking opportunity, but given her current bout of laryngitis, she was pretty stressed out.

As she’s telling me of her dilemma I sent her this wonderful quote that I’d come across awhile ago. While I knew she would appreciate the beauty of it, I was surprised by how much the words seemed to alleviate her stress.

In my art I often refer to what I describe as a curious blending in nature, and it’s in this context that I think of this remark on silence and music. It is the “silence that is full of music” which is most intriguing, as if at times there is this mysterious child at play…the muse? It feels like this child is very much a part of one of my favorite pictures, Forever Dancing, a spirit that also seems to be forever young.

There must be something of love in it all too. It reminds me of a very special picture called Muse-ic by a kind artist named Pat Erickson. In the way she describes it, I know what she calls a picture is very much an outcome of love. So here is the picture, including such gentle notes…Muse-ic

So thank you Pat for saying so much in silence, and for putting it to music.

This quote also reminds of a rather unusual and wonderful evening of music performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. What made it unusual was that there was a silent movie playing at the same time, on a screen at the back of the stage. The movie was Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times which was done in 1936, some nine years after sound had come to the cinema. Apparently he resisted the use of human voices all this time. This film was to be his last screen appearance. The concert was held in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the day of his birth. I didn’t know until that night that Chaplin also wrote music!

So there you have it, more music in silence, so to speak.

Finally, I like to add a little humor or music to my blogs, but usually at the end. So if you think of my blog as a meal, then you can think of these additions as your dessert…Dinner Roles

Oh, and I almost forgot to reference the quote from the beginning of this blog. It comes from a man many of us are very familiar with though have never heard from…his name is Marcel Marceau.