Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Many

Many complex answers
have no simple explanations

Many earnest speeches
are not honest conversations

Many hopeful starts
are mired in useless hesitations

Many noble goals
are born of unreal expectations

Many healthy choices
become poisoned formulations

Every winding path
will reach a single destination

Friday, August 21, 2009

Goals

The other night I started thinking about what my goals as a writer are.

The more I thought about it the more I realized that I have a lot of fairly concrete ideas, just waiting for the luxury of the time to write. So, I made a list.

Of course, none of these projects will likely earn me much--if any--money, but it is nice to think about where I would like to be as a writer in about five to ten years. The list is ambitious, to be sure, but then, I'm no Asimov, either.

In no particular order, here's the list I jotted down:

Novels

The Amber Room
+2 more

Short story collections/memoirs

Abilene
Paris
86'd: Restaurant memoir

Biography: Lynda

Autobiography

Stage play - Mama's Boy

Screenplay - The Food Heist

TV episode - Law & Order: The Middle Man

Poem volumes
Ink
Bindings
+10 more

Epic poem: The Poet O

How-to: Waiting Tables

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Salt on a Slug

The minds of men
were made to shrink with power.

Reason takes its leave from them
with every precious hour.

Their knowledge is ensconced
within a darkened tower.

They ignore the cost
So lives are lost
And mother's milk grows sour.

Their wars are fought
Our peace is not
To be if we before them cower.

But hope is free
Despite misery
Time will all our pain devour.

For, from Dust to Dust
It's Love and Trust
That do our dreams empower.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The 'Quiet Deluxe' in the Digital Age

So, I have been playing with my new toy, the Royal 'Quiet Deluxe'. Although it is hardly quiet when compared, say, with the sound of this digital keyboard, it is certainly most 'Deluxe'.

It has the feel of an old world machine, the kind that the current 'Steampunk' DIY fashionistas like to falsely re-create. Unlike the Steampunker stuff, though, everything on this baby actually works and is there for a reason. All the gears and levers and knobs have a purpose, which I actually remembered when I sat down in front of it for the first time, a sort of muscle memory that like the proverbial riding a bike, is never forgotten.

Also set aside in my memory but not forgotten was the sensation of typing on a manual typewriter. Like a dance, it takes a certain rhythm, cadence, speed. Too fast and the key jam. Too slow and it becomes laborious. But when the thoughts are flowing and the keys are struck in a steady beat, the page leaps to life. Before you know it, I have a completed page rolling up and out of the machine.

Ah, but what to do with that page?

One of the things that I love the digital age is the fact that once words are captured in the computer, I can reuse them in any way I like. To me, words on paper seem trapped; bound in three dimensions so tightly that it requires another effort just to release them. I really don't like transcribing or even re-typing my work. It seems like such a waste of time that I could spend writing new things.

So, my first thought on getting the Quiet Deluxe--other than delight, which is only exceeded (in the form of a gift received) by the BB gun I got when I was seven--was how to overcome the gap between the words I longed to hammer out on the page and the words I longed to shape and reuse. In other words, how to free them from the ink on the page.

A good friend, who is very technically savvy--ok geeky--suggested that I try Optical Character Recognition software. This involves a couple of steps. First, the typed page is scanned, then saved as a file. The OCR software then 'reads' the machine print (type) and 'renders' it as text which you can then save as a file. After that, I can open up the file and post it to my blog or incorporate it in my novel, for example.

This simple process has a simple flaw. The 'rendered' text is not always, shall we say, accurate.

Below is a picture of the scanned page:


And here is how that got 'rendered':

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Only the last line got 'rendered' correctly, literally as well as figuratively.

The Royal "Quiet Deluxe"

Well, the weeks of birthdays are past and I think we all got what we wanted.

First came Valery's birthday, the big Five-O. Next we saw a real birthday, that of the newest member of our family, Nora Mairead Caselli, who arrived on August 5. Then it was Stephen's turn, celebrating with Heather in San Francisco, now a free man for the first time in twenty-two years.

By contrast my birthday this past Wednesday was a very low-profile event, for which I am most grateful. Actually, the thing for which I am most grateful, truly, is the present I received from Valery and Maddie: a typewriter.

No ordinary typewriter, this. It is a Royal, a "Quiet Deluxe" model that was designed in the thirties by a famous industrial designer and manufactured right through to the sixties. This particular model was purchased in 1957. I know because the sales receipt was in the travel case, along with the original instruction manual and warranty card. It's in absolutely perfect condition.

I did some research on it and it turns out that this particular typewriter was Hemingway's favorite; it was the machine that was on his desk the day he committed suicide. It was also the preferred 'typer' of many famous authors and not coincidentally, the model that I actually learned to write on, way back in high school.

I was the co-editor of my high school newspaper, The Maroon, and spent many an hour in the publications office, banging out stories on one of the old typewriters that we had inherited from the school administration for our use. We had Underwoods and Royals and maybe even an Olivetti, but they were all manual, with sticky keys and no automatic eraser to save us from deadly typos.

I say I learned to write on those typewriters, but I learned to type on another machine, also in high school. I was only one of two guys who actually took typing as a class at Austin High in 1974, not because I wanted to be a writer, but because Lynda told me that if I wanted to be sure of getting a job someday, I had to know how to type.

Although I did indeed learn to type, I have never learned to touch type. Even now I am looking at my fingers and not the screen as I write. Of course, in typing class, looking at one's fingers was not permitted, so I really had to sneak in my looks to keep up with the rest of the class. It turns out that I actually got pretty good at it, running times of 50 or even 60 words per minute, but in a way, that wasn't very accurate because the sentence that we typed for the speed test was always the same, and with the requisite practice, I could bang it out fast without appearing to look at my fingers.

So, this was the first sentence I typed on my new machine:

"The one right way to do the job is to do it as ti ought to be done at the time it ought to be done."

That took about 2 seconds.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The FaceBook Chronicles

These bits of poems come from my FaceBook 'status' lines from the past couple of months.

sun on fire
a crackling pyre
a blazing liar
that won't expire
nor my work inspire
before I die or
escape the desire

can be troubled and ever toils
but to the poet go the spoils

Make mine fat: sugar salt and butter
I like all that.
Make ours cheap: plastic junk and clutter
We like it heaped.
Make theirs dead: spastic drunks in gutter
They need no bed.

I'm intox tox toxicated
by the way way way you play it
don't stop stop stop to say it
just walk walk walk away it's
still the day day day to pay it

Sees a shade on the land, both feet moving slow
Heart bludgeoned by bland, no fire down below
Now pushed round at random by ebb and flow
The trudge of a man with nowhere to go

To a blow job ordered by Ray
His flatulent bride did obey
Alas, he was cursed
She said, "You go first."
And then she just blew him away.

likes the sound of rain
and the heat restrained
though now in the main
it goes down the drain

Beg though we may for a right to health care,
some say the cost is just too great to bear.
While we cling to life; they false witness bear.
With pitchfork and torch we rage and despair
But "all that is solid melts into air".

Wants to look for clues that survive
But waits for the news to arrive
I am what I chose to deny
With nothing to lose but more lies
Can you see the blues in my eyes?

lost wax
post fact
most lax
tossed back

Looking round
For a clock unwound
On that broken down
Side of town.
Do you know of that place?
Do you see it on my face?
Not today.
Look away.
It will vanish without a trace.

sun sun blazing like a gun gun

turning the wheel of history
but it's always been a mystery
just how and why I'm here. You see,
everything seems amiss to me
broken links and missing keys
are just more things I must release
on the path to inner peace

was a wrasslin' with the devil
came in my sleep a revelation you ain't on the level
so put the pedal to the metal
before the dust is settled

gettin' the blues
lookin' for clues
tryin' to choose
the one I'll lose

time just won't stand still
in spite of what you will
you cannot get your fill
of this, the daily kill

Coffee breath smells like death
So take this hint; eat a mint.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Heat Like a Rope

I am in morning
Heat like a rope
With a tight knot at my neck
Hard rays angle in, unseen
Past saving shade.

I sweat through the night
But my exposed dreams desiccate
In the wild wind of dawn.

You are here
Touch me lightly
With a kiss like a spring.
You are now
Life's cool clear passion rush.

I am when
Drunk on you
Not to need or care
Of thieving heat
Or relentless light.

Remind me love
That there is no cruel sun
When I am
In your ever evening embrace.

Friday, August 7, 2009

All

All the madness conflict spite and greed
Spread by tyrants, despots, miters, crowns.
Mercy's denied; innocence drowned
How much more hatred do we really need?

All the revenge, inconsolable grief
Born of war, famine, disease and drought.
Anxieties breed miseries in doubt
In what shelter will we find relief?

All the numbing visions and heavy chains
Restrain soaring passions with deadly dreams.
Motives are vicious and desires are schemes
What is the capacity of humans for pain?