Arthur says: “You should write a book!”

The readings MAY involve the consumption of alcohol

write a bookArthur, who is experiencing that brutal Kiwi winter right now, was the first person to both Tell AND Ask Roger Anything.

TELL: You should write a book!

ASK: What obstacles would you have to overcome, and/or what would you need in place to write a book?

Back around my birthday in March 2019, I thought what I might do in my retirement. Writing a book was not even a consideration. What would I write it about? Me? I wasn’t feeling it.

Then in May, I came around to maybe writing about the house in which my mother grew up. I’d actually floated this to one of my cousins a couple of years ago. She was doing some genealogy about our common ancestors. It was beyond the scope of what she was working on, but I spent a lot of time there myself.

Moreover, my sister Marcia has a LOT of photos that she’s scanned. the pictures are mostly of the exteriors, but also a lot of people over a roughly 60-year span.

There’s another book that I thought about, involving the year I turned 19. A momentous year in my life. The problem is that I’d have to reveal my own shortcomings publicly.

The good news, however, is that I had kept diaries as far back as March 1972, so I have detailed accounts of at least some of what I did. And I mean OVERLY precise. What I ate, and where, et al.

I think I got the idea from my college roommate in my freshman year, a grad student named Ron, who wrote down EVERYTHING he spent, a candy bar or going out to dinner. One day, he spent $1,000 on a car, which really skewed his daily averages.

My diaries, and there are about a dozen of them, continued to about 1986. It’s not the entire period, because several of the journals were destroyed in the flooded basement of the apartment building I was living in c 1997. I genuinely don’t know what I have and what was lost.

At the time, I was quite upset, but now I am somewhat relieved that at least part of my ever-present past has been obliterated. It means, though, that EVENTUALLY, I’m going to read those remaining chicken scratching. Thus, the advantage and the obstacle are the same.

Some of it will be great. Is THAT when I saw that concert! I’ll get to relieve some of the history of FantaCo, the comic book store where I worked in the 1980s.

Some of it will be awful. My, was I petulant? Or unkind! Or oblivious! I’ll probably get to relieve heartbreak that I caused, or received! Oh, boy.

And, ha! now I’ll probably have time to read the damn things. The readings MAY involve the consumption of alcohol.

From that mess of a life, I’ll have to figure out what the STORIES are. 1972, which I remember surprisingly well even without the prompts, has a certain dramatic arc. Other than that year, I’m not at all sure about a narrative. And how do I write about other people I’ve mentioned, many of whom are still around?

Once I DO start writing, if I start writing, I realize that I need to do it when I’m mostly alone, when my wife and daughter are asleep, or downstairs watching some dance show on TV, or off to work/school. I work best in the presence of semi-loud, generally familiar music.

A fortnight of years of blogging

“There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an ‘aspiring writer.’)

14 ballIt’s another anniversary at Ramblin’ with Roger. If 14 days is a fortnight, is fourteen years a fortnight of years? Probably not. Don’t care. (Not to be confused with Fortnite, which I’ve never played.)

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the look of the blog in the past month or so. This was not done for aesthetic reasons but rather operational ones. My old design was clashing with some PHP function – too boring to explain, frankly.

So I changed to some WordPress in-house style called Twenty Sixteen. I like that it does the pull quotes, that the comments are on the side, and the basic clean look. I need to tweak it eventually.

Of course, earlier posts may look “off” – pictures too wide, notably. But I don’t foresee changing the previous output any time soon.

I came across this article called The State of Blogging: Post Length and Publishing Frequency Trends. “The proportion of bloggers who typically write posts under 500 words has steadily declined since 2014.” The vast majority of my posts are under that threshold.

“…while the proportion of bloggers who typically write posts longer than 1,000 words has steadily increased.” I doubt I have five posts TOTAL out of over 5000 that have over a thousand words. I am a blogging dinosaur; so be it.

I am occasionally reminded why I blog. One of the factors was the Inaugural post of the late Steve Gerber, who wrote, among other things, The Defenders, Howard the Duck, and Man-Thing.

He wrote back on April 4, 2005: “There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an ‘aspiring writer.’ A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.)”

Less than a month later, I started this blog, which proves that I am susceptible to suggestion. It makes me a good hypnosis subject and a dogged daily blogger.

Image by wisconsinpics from Pixabay

Lydster: Cursive writing, analog clocks

Even thirty years ago, I realized some ten-year-old children could not read an analog clock.

The Daughter was practicing her signature, using cursive writing, earlier this year. A couple generations ago, this wouldn’t have even warranted a mention.

Now there’s a great debate regarding the necessity and efficacy of cursive writing. In some circles, it is now considered a form of creativity, art, if you will, and I think the Daughter was attracted to it at that level.

It is also true that, for some time, she was having difficulty READING cursive, notes from her grandparents, for instance. To the degree that she can, it’s like learning a foreign language. I imagine the folks who design logos are cognizant of that trend.

One of the “cons” of cursive listed: “It’s gone the way of the typewriter.” Of course, the typewriter is making a comeback.

Is the loss of cursive a “dumbing-down of our education system” or is teaching it time wasted? As one who thinks that quicker is not necessarily better, I believe that since it appears to be good for the brain, it should be taught.

“Since it engages both the right and left hemispheres of the brain, it can actually aid in reading comprehension, idea generation, spelling, brain development and memory.”

Even thirty years ago, I realized some ten-year-old children could not read an analog clock. The Daughter was learning in second or third grade, but I know I understood it before I left kindergarten, and I might have known it earlier.

The announcement that analog clocks are disappearing from UK schools caused similar conflict, with some bemoaning it, others suggesting that we can’t read a sundial either, times change, etc.

I suppose I like the analog clock – a retronym, BTW – precisely because it’s imprecise. A quarter to three might be 2:44 or 2:46, and unless you’re trying to catch a train or something, it matters little.

If I had to keep one or the other, it would be cursive writing. Yes, toddlers might have computers to type on, but there’s value to the hands-on craft.

W is for writing as a useful exercise

“You actually have to spend some of your life living and doing normal life stuff.”

Writing is a very useful, even necessary, exercise for me. It helps me offload stuff in my brain, where it would otherwise interfere with my life.

I can tell when I haven’t written something for three or four days, usually because of technical difficulties. Sometimes life gets in the way – busyness, illness (mine or the Daughter’s). I’m usually emailing myself – “you should write about X”, which somewhat alleviates the frustration.

Writing helps define what I believe. And by that, I don’t mean a knee-jerk response to someone’s comment on Facebook, which I generally consider the fast food of communications. You won’t starve, but there are probably more emotionally nutritious options.

I’d rather work on a (hopefully) thought-out, considered opinion in the blog, or perhaps in a private journal. I consider it more like the slow cooking movement that is taking hold in some parts of the world.

I find writing easier than talking because one can spend time thinking and contemplating while writing. I can even change my mind, deciding that another option would be the better choice.

Still, I found this piece useful: Am I still a real writer if I don’t feel compelled to write?

“Not writing gives you time to have experiences. I can’t stand that thing where people are talking about something interesting in the world on social media or whatever, and some scold pops in to say, ‘This is a distraction/waste of time, get back to work.’

“As though anyone can literally work all the time and never stop to talk to humans or engage in politics and expect to make good art out of that. You actually have to spend some of your life living and doing normal life stuff or you can’t be a good writer.”

The message of this vlogbrothers video, The Secret to my Productivity, I hope to emulate. 80% ain’t that bad.

For ABC Wednesday

June rambling #2: Sheila E. and Lynn Mabry

Adam west was one of “most accomplished and revered ‘B’ level actors of all time”

Rebecca Jade, Sheila E., Lynn Mabry

Three new discoveries in a month rock our African origins

THE ARCTIC DOOMSDAY SEED VAULT FLOODED. THANKS, GLOBAL WARMING

Left-lean faith leaders are hungry to break the right’s grip on setting the nation’s moral agenda

Amy Biancolli: I yam what I yam by the grace of God

Social Capital and Inequality

Time for equal media treatment of ‘political correctness’

The toddler defense

American Ex-Pats Explain Why They Quit America

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Brexit II

Dustbury has discovered not everyone he’s likely to meet is prepared to deal with someone who walks only with a bunch of equipment

The Short, Sad Tale of Allyn King of Albany

Arthur is 15 Years a Kiwi citizen

Baby boomers are downsizing — and the kids won’t take the family heirlooms

The Negro Motorist Green Book, which I wrote about here. Check out
the 1949 edition

The art of writing an obituary

An Interview With Author Kelly Sedinger

She returned from Iraq to a broken family. Then writing changed her life

Anne Lamott: 12 truths I learned from life and writing

Anita Pallenberg Passes Away at Age 73

In appreciation of an old-school journalist, the late Dan Lynch

HEATHER FAZIO: I spent two days with Dennis Rodman

The Tony Awards — rehearsals

Documentary producer Robert Weide interviewed Woody Allen live on Facebook

Gary Burghoff explains Radar

Bill Messner-Loebs and Jack Kirby to Receive 2017 Bill Finger Award

Night Court was the black sheep of NBC’s sitcom dynasty

Pete and Harry, two rabbits in commercials for Carnation Milk. I DO NOT remember this

Too Many People Still Think Chocolate Milk Comes from Brown Cows

Now I Know: Fighting North Korea in a Flash and The Counterfeit Money Which is Intentionally Worthless and The Green Versus the Eardrums and Why Mattresses Come With Warning Tags and There’s No Place Like 0,0

Adam West, star of the ‘Batman’ TV series, dies at 88. Here’s his Idaho phone listing. Some insights from Mark Evanier and reflections by Chuck Miller, plus Eddie’s elegy and Rob Hoffman calling him one of “most accomplished and revered ‘B’ level actors of all time”

MUSIC

The Absolute Authenticity of REBECCA JADE (niece #1) and CD REVIEW – PETER SPRAGUE & REBECCA JADE: Planet Cole Porter, available here. Recently, Rebecca has sung at least twice with percussionist Sheila E. and singer Lynn Mabry. Lynn, among many other things, sang backup on the Stop Making Sense tour, which I saw at SPAC in 1984

Coverville: Sgt.Pepper 50th anniversary plus Gregg Allman tribute and All 213 Beatles Songs, Ranked From Worst to Bestand The Final Beatles Concert

What is Life – Weird Al

K-Chuck Radio: The Mystery of Blueberry Hill

Bohemian Rhapsody – Vika Yermolyeva

Pieces about Bobby Vee and Brian Hyland, both apparently inspired by me

Wap Bap, the most hated song on YouTube

Song of the Volga Boatmen sung by the Red Army Chorus

Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens

Billy Joel on Self-Doubt and Finally Becoming Cool