Friday, January 8, 2010

soft touch ...

...yesterday I was riding home on the subway and, at Downtown crossing, saw a bunch of kids in red coats with white stripes on them. "Would you like to donate a dollar to help kids with HIV," they were asking everyone who walked by ... and everyone just walked by, including me.
"C'mon," I'm thinking, "I wanna help as much as the next guy ... but I gotta have my soda money, right? I mean, how's a brother s'posed to deal with his caffeine addiction if he keeps giving his soda money to folks in the subway?"
But I must look like a soft touch ... all four of the red-coated kids walked by the little old lady who looked like she'd give you the coat off her back and came straight to me, one after the other.
"All right, all right," I said to the last one, "y'all just won't leave me alone." I gave her every one dollar bill I had in my wallet.
Today the soft touch is drinkin' from the water fountain and jonesin' for diet coke!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blogging is Boggling ...

The picture has nothing to do really with what I wanted to post ... it's just one that I like. Only thing Sister Baby asked for this Christmas -- a globe. Guess you can take that two ways EITHER she didn't want very much OR she wanted the whole world. You know the kid -- whatta you think?

So I'm rethinking my whole blogging strategy and here's what I've come up with. Right now I have three separate blogs ( this is the only one I've been actively using ... and we use the word "active" very loosely it having been a month of Sundays since i last posted anything). I had originally intended to use the blog in three different ways:

  1. As a sort of a diary ... keeping track of my thoughts, ideas, activities and opinions and taling about my family and friends. Reminiscing, daydreaming, venting ... you know, that kind of thing.
  2. As a way of thinking about (re-thinking) my religious life ... where my faith is, where it has been where it's going (if there's any left, that is).
  3. A writers notebook where I put down all the ideas I have for stories and characters.

So what I'm thinking now is that I'd like to continue that, but I'll pursue each topic in it's own blog. This'll be the diary blog. A-Funny-Thing-Happened-on-the-Way-to-Emmaus will be the religious one. And The-Autobiography-of-Uncle-Skunk will be the writer's notebook.

And that there is about as close as I'll get to making a New Year's Resolution. Write, write, write ... I need to try harder to keep my mind from becoming a fossil.

And here's another danger I need to avoid -- I feel myself sliding alomost irresistably into the mean-old-man mode in my life. I even said "dag-nabbit" the other day in front of Sister Baby (who immediately cautioned me to watch my language). Seriously, though ... I find myself forgetting or (even worse) deciding not to be ... well ... just kind to people. I certainly don't want to be THAT guy so, to that end, one more resolution two words:


Hold me to it, will ya.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Can't blame this on me, I'm sick in the head ...

I mean, I have a head cold and had to stay home today ... and there's only so much TV a boy can watch before he begins to go loopy. So I wrote this ...

An Un-Poem

I’d like to write a poem but does it have to rhyme?
I’d like to write a poem and today I have the time.
Just a simple something really not an epic or a tome,
Just a mental callisthenic for my brain while sick at home.

So, here goes … I need a topic something frivolous and light,
“The leaves that stir the breeze …” no, wait, that metaphor ain’t right.
It’s the breeze that does the stirring not the leaves let’s get it straight.
Can a thing be called a poem when the lines add up to eight?

No, still not quite there yet, I’m still a literary peasant.
I’ve already used an “ain’t” (it’s more convenient than “isn’t).
I’m just being realistic – this is not the Iliad.
Though I could be like a Homer (the one that Bart calls Dad)!

That’s twelve whole lines I’ve written, but I haven’t said a thing
I’m beginning to despair of my ability to sing.
But THAT was kinda nice -- comparing poetry with song
And now we’re up to sixteen lines and moving right along.

That last one was a little weak, how pitiful a stanza.
I guess I’ll just watch TV – there’s a rerun of Bonanza.
‘Leave poetry to poets,’ is the moral of this story.
Twenty lines and I can’t even find a rhyme for ‘story.’

So here I’ve reached the end of my poetical potential
Clearly lacking talent that is lyric’ly essential.
Here’s hoping that tomorrow this old head-cold goes away.
Lest I try another poem on another shut-in day

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Oh ... Just a little Marvin Gaye, you know ..."

I am of the belief that everybody has them ... those songs on their playlist that they don't want anybody to know that they actually listen to. You know the ones ... you've got your headphones on, listening to 'em and loving it and somebody comes along and asks "whatcha listenin' to?"
And you're too embarrassed to say ... so you turn the volume down, hide the screen on the laptop or the mp3 and say, "oh, you know -- just a little Marvin Gaye" or some other undeniably cool artist who won't reveal your inner eccentricities.

But I for one am tired of living a lie! I'm just gonna put it all out there, y'all and expose the skeletons in my musical closet. Here they are and in no particular order. Enjoy them while you can because tomorrow I'll say it was the cold medicine or the lack of sleep that drove me to such contrivances.

1. You Make Me Feel Like Dancin'

Artist: Leo Sayer (1976)
~ What can I say ... back in the day I thought old Leo was a cool white-boy with an afro and a mean falsetto. Wait, "mean" and "falsetto" don't quite go together, do they? Oh well. The sad truth is that when I am at home by myself and I play "You make me feel like dancing," I do feel like it. Sometimes I even actually do (dance, I mean). Go on, Leo ... witch BAD self.
Favorite Lyric: "You really slipped me a potion / I can't get off of the floor / All this perpetual motion / You gotta give me some more / You gotta give me some more"

2. Theme from "Mahogany"

Artist: Diana Ross (1976)
~ "That song is NOT cheesy like some of those others," remarked Mrs. O when I told her this one was in my mp3 Hall of Shame. She's right, of course. It's here because ... well, it just ain't the kinda song most dudes would admit to listening to. Of course, I could make a testosterone-charged excuse like, "man, that scene when Diana poured the hot candle wax all over herself ... I was only thirteen but at that moment I knew I was a MAN!"
~ Well, the truth is not so prurient.
Favorite Lyric: "Do you know where you're going to / Do you like the things that life is showing you / Where are you going to / Do you know?"
~ The boyish-man in me replied, "no, I don't know!" On the other hand, the manish-boy said, "Diana, wherever YOU'RE goin', that's where I'M goin'!"

3. Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Artist: Judy Garland (1939)
~ Can't be funny about this one. Back in the day, before cable TV and recorded movies, there were certain movies that came on once a year, and always around the same time of the year ... The Wizard of Oz was one of those. I was little and crushin' big time on Dorothy. When she sang that song I was entranced ... and convinced that this was the girl I would marry one day. One year we were watching and my mother said, off-handedly something like "too bad she's gone." "Gone, what do you mean gone? She's right there." She explained to me that Dorothy wasn't really Dorothy but an actress named Judy Garland who had died just recently. I asked her how she died and my mother said she was just very, very sad so she died.
~ I get teary-eyed just thinking about it sometimes and I don't really like to listen to that song. But I keep it on my play list ... after all, she was my first girlfriend.
Favorite Lyric: "Somewhere over the rainbow / Skies are blue / And the dreams that you dare to dream / Really do come true."

Sheesh ... I need somethin' a little more light-hearted after that one ... first some kleenex. Now ... on with the countdown.

4. I'm a Believer

Artist: The Monkees (1966)
~ I like this one 'cause it is just plain true ... story of my life. As a young man, I thought I was in love on about 32 separate occasions. Now most of those girls never said so much as "boo" to me. Now there were a few who noticed me ... a couple even liked me a little. But somehow I always ended up being Mr. Congeniality when Mr. Right showed up. I was always trying my level best to sweep the girl off her feet but dude would come on the scene with a vacuum cleaner. I was just about ready to abandon to pursuit of love when into the George Sherman Union building walked this pretty little girl with a gheri curl ...
Favorite Lyric: "I thought love was only true in fairy tales / Meant for someone else but not for me / Love was out to get me / That's the way it seemed / Disappointment haunted all my dreams / The I saw her face / Now I'm a believer "
~ And she's still HERE, y'all ... minus the activator, of course!

5. Oh, Mandy

Artist: Barry Manilow (1974)
~ So, I like to blame my mild but persistent Barry Manilow addiction on my little sister Carol. I say that I like him because she likes him and his songs remind me of her. Lies, lies, lies. The truth is that it was me ... I am the pusher who addicted her to the drug of Barry when she was still young and impressionable.
Favorite Lyric: "I'm standin' on the edge of time / I walked away when love was mine / Caught up in a world of uphill climbin' / The tears are in my mind / And nothin' is rhymin' / Oh Mandy"
~ O, but, Barry, it is rhymin' ... it's ALL rhymin'. Dude, you ARE Music and you DO write the songs!!!

But, alas ... I sense my momentary vulnerability wearing off. So before I think better of it and delete the whole post, I'd better leave it at this for now. If you want to know more of my Guilty Pleasure Play List you're gonna have to come clean on some of your own cheesy-easy listenin' grooves.

So, in the words of one of my other favorite tacky songs: "There you are with yours and here I am with mine so I guess we'll just be ending it like this."

Thoughts in the wee small hours of the mornin' ...

"... four in the mornin'
crapped-out, yawning,
longing my life away ... "

Okay, so the "longing my life away" part is a little melodramatic, even for me, but the ungodly hour tends to magnify every feeling ... I am longing to go back to bed, though.

The early rising is the price I pay for the school that Sister Baby attends. She is in a special program that allows her to attend school in the suburbs and she goes to one of the top school districts in the state ... probably in the country. The difference between her current school and the very obviously disadvantaged Boston public schools tweaks my sense of justice and I occasionally feel guilty for winning the lottery that put her where she is ... but mostly I feel lucky. Maybe a tirade about the inequality in the system at a later time ..,

See, I feel better already ... just a little writing and I'm already beginning to resemble a human being again. That doesn't usually begin to happen until sometime after 8:00!

====But now we interrupt this program for the morning routine. Time to wake the girl and get her ready. After that I will be completely human ... perhaps even downright amiable. The li'l girl tends to have that effect on me. ============================================

So ... wham-o ... now it's like 13 hours later! I have regained and expended all the energy required to get me through the day and I am tired all over again. A little frustrating ... but I've taken the ol' laptop and set it up in the only quiet room in the house (the kitchen -- after dinner, of course) in the hopes that I might catch some random train of thought before the last one leaves the station tonight ...

Well ... I got nothing.

Oh, wait ... here's something. I can tell you about the new character I'm writing. His name is Calloway Nickel. He's the me I might have been had circumstances been slightly different. Soemtimes he's the me I wish I was and sometimes he's the me I'm glad I'm not and then there are times when he is the me I might yet become. I think I need him to tell some of the stories that have been stuck in the back of my head for decades ... so far, he's scraped a couple off the top.

The other sort of new character I have is Miracle DeVries ... who is nothing like me. She is ... how can I explain it? She is a combination of some of the women who have influenced me (positively) over the years ... She's very cool and likable. I think that's important. I've got to like someone to write them.

Actually ... that may not be a good thing. One of the things I strggle with is making the characters I don't like seem like anything more than cartoon bad guys. They tend to talk and act like characters from old sit-coms and melo dramas. Gotta work on that one, I guess.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ink versus Pixels

I've been a bad blogger, I know ... but it hasn't been due to idleness.

Okay, so there has been a little bit of idleness, but I have been busy. Sister Baby and Brother Man have both started new schools so there was a lot of twisting, turning and maneuvering of family schedules to accommodate the change. Right now, my day starts at 4:30 AM (I know, right?). And since I used to do the majority of my writing late at night and the ol' mind only stays functional for so long before it goes into shut down mode ... well, there you have it.

The weather has been nice, though, and I have found that if I go out at lunch time and find a quiet bench somewhere on campus, the muses visit frequently and their inspiration is golden! I am working on a story that I am very excited about (and hope to share sometime soon) as well as a series of spiritual --- uh, I guess you'd call 'em essays. It's been fun.

I think there is something about the physical act of writing ... I mean, pen-in-hand, ink-on-paper ... that facilitates the process for me. I think I type faster than I think which tends toward drivel. But I write slower than I think -- or maybe at the same speed. It's not very efficient, and sometimes I get impatient with my output and throw down the ball point and trudge back to the key board but in the end I always end up back at the notebook.

But it's no excuse ... I miss my old blog and plan to be a little more faithful to it. Hold me to that, will ya.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jared's "First" Shirt ...

This is Brother Man ... wearing his Famous Shirt. The other night he says to me, "Hey, Dad, remember when we were on are way moving from New Orleans to Boston and we stopped at that Wal-Mart in Alabama or something to buy some clothes?"

I remembered ... we had evacuated after Katrina and had only about a long weekend's worth of clothes for everybody. So we go in the store and we decide to let Jared pick out his own clothes ... must have been the first time we ever let him do so. He picked this shirt and I didn't like it. "Man," says he, "You hated that shirt." I think I did. Or perhaps what I really hated was the fact that home boy was getting older which meant that one day he won't need me to help him with such things. Anyway, I told him to put it back ... angrily, I'm sure ... but Mammacita persuaded me to let the boy have his shirt.

"Seriously, Dad -- I get compliments every time I wear that shirt ... how nice the color is, how good it looks on me." And it still does as you can see from the picture I took yesterday. Isn't it funny how, the day after we had this conversation, he went through his drawers (which he never does) and found that very shirt and wore it. He didn't say anything about it -- just put it on. Maybe it was his way of reminding me that he is growing-up. My first thought was to be flippant and say something like "well, you chose it but who paid for it." But then I thought better of it. I stopped him on his way back in from taking out the garbage and snapped this photo. "Why're you takin' my picture."

"Just 'cause," I said. "There are certain things that fathers like to remember about their sons." And there are. And now I will.