Thursday, August 28, 2008

Observations from a college town

Greetings ET's:

Okay, so this blogging thing I do is probably in need of life support. Hey, I've been busy, so fuck off.

Yesterday was the day when all the dorm residents here at IU come streaming back into town. Like the swallows in Capistrano, in a single day the city of Bloomington transforms from a quiet, sleepy, Midwestern town to a city swarming with all the energy and rambunctiousness of an academic hotbed. So here's a random list of things I've observed on my daily treks about town:

1. I don't care where you're from or how old you are, you should never tuck your shirt into your shorts.

2. Any sport that requires you to wear spandex should be banned.

3. Dude, how much did your mom pay for that cleavage.

4. I hate to tell you this mister, but your daughter's going to a kegger tonight and will probably engage in promiscuous sex by the time you hit the interstate.

5. That poster you bought of Van Gogh's "Sunflower" doesn't qualify as art.

6. You're going the wrong way on a one-way street.

7. Stop signs generally mean you should stop.

8. MacDonald's doesn't count as "eating out".

9. You still drive a Denali?

10. Thanks a lot for taking my parking space.

Hee Haw

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Organic as it relates to several aspects of life

Greetings ET's

First things first. I never did get around to finishing off what I started last week, so let's just say Friday was frondiferous.

Glad I got that off my chest.

I've posted a lot on message boards and written out my own personal credo in my journals on how I go about writing a novel. Now it's time to officially share with the Universe.

For me writing is an organic process, meaning I allow my stories and characters to develop in as natural a way as possible.

Allow me to elaborate.

Mr. Author dude wakes up one morning and has a concept for a novel. Pixies are secretly taking over the 7-11, or an alcoholic estranged uncle discovers he has the power to make perfectly good soda go flat. Anything as long as it hasn't been overdone by one of those writers who have reached the point in their careers that they could type the member list of their local Masonic lodge, submit it, and it would still get picked up and placed on the front tables of every B & N or Borders on the planet and probably sell a bajillion copies.

So, providing I'm not in the middle of something, like sticking metal skewers up my nose or polishing my collection of turtle shells, I sit down at my decades old computer and begin typing.

That's it!

No outline, no months of research, no lengthy analysis of the meaning of names and how they relate to my main characters.

Just start typing the fucking thing.

The trick is to get a good first line. Something that doesn't have the word "was" in it. Something that when read, makes a reader go, "Fuck, I wonder what's going to happen on page 354?" Something like: It's not easy being the only person on the planet capable of unassisted flight.

Between 6-9 months later if all goes according to plan, I should have a healthy, happy, bouncing, baby first draft. Or as I like to call it, an 80 to 100 thousand word outline.

That's step one. If I don't totally slack off this week, there will be more written about some of the other things involved in the gestation period. Those hours and hours of slaving away before I can finally sit back and say, "I guess now I should write a query letter."

God, don't get me started on those things.

That's all
Hee Haw

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Searching for the point...Threadbare Thursday


Yeah, I put a bit of thought into this. When was the last time you used the word "threadbare" in a sentence?

I thought so.

Let's get this part out of the way first:

1. (of cloth, clothing, or a carpet) having the nap worn off so that the threads are exposed
2. having been used or expressed so often as to be no longer interesting: threadbare ideas
3. wearing shabby worn-out clothes

And from the thesaurus:
Adj. 1. threadbare - repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse; "bromidic sermons"; "his remarks were trite and commonplace"; "hackneyed phrases"; "a stock answer"; "repeating threadbare jokes"; "parroting some timeworn axiom"; "the trite metaphor `hard as nails'"

I like those thesaurus entries. Especially "hackneyed phrases" and "parroting a timeworn axiom".

Inching up the ladder in my quest for understanding the universe, I'm glad I found this word today. It's like a bird in the hand, good as gold, ripe for the picking, something to think about in the wee hours of the night.

You get the picture.

So I asked when the last time was you used this word in a sentence. Let me give it a shot:

In the waiting room of the tiny clinic, Johann paced back and forth on the stained, threadbare carpet.

Hmmm...not bad.

Hee Haw

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Searching for the point...Weary Wednesday

Of all the adjectives I could have chosen for today, this one jumped out at me as being most appropriate. Why? First let's get the precise definition thing out of the way, not that "weary" is an unusual or uncommon word. It's just that those are the rules I've established and what kind of example would I be setting if I turned around and flaunted my almighty ability to trample them?


1. physically and mentally fatigued; "'aweary' is archaic" [syn: aweary]

1. exhaust or get tired through overuse or great strain or stress; "We wore ourselves out on this hike" [ant: freshen]
2. lose interest or become bored with something or somebody; "I'm so tired of your mother and her complaints about my food" [syn: tire]

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

We all know that weary means tired, so that checks out with definition number one. Less common, but probably--no definitely--more appropriate to my current status as a human being on this planet is found in definition number two. I confess. I'm losing interest in many of the things that used to get me excited. "Stuff" if you will, just doesn't do it for me anymore. Oh sure, I probably wouldn't mind more "stuff", but then again, as long as the "stuff" I've got works, who cares if it's not the most current and up to date. I mean how much more do I need out of a (insert item here)? My (insert item here) does what it's supposed to do. So I guess you could say I've grown weary of always wanting newer and better "stuff", which for quite some time now has been one of the activities I always enjoyed. The latest electronic gadgets or a newer car or home. Maybe I'm just weary of not having money to buy new "stuff". I guess that could be it. But after all this time struggling and being poor, I've kind of gotten out of the habit of wanting stuff. I got tired of being frustrated. Now I just want to rest. Wallow in my weariness. Give in to the circumstances that surround me. I guess you could say I've finally decided to proclaim "fuck it all."

How's that for being weary.

Check in tomorrow to see what I come up with to describe Thursday.

Hee Haw

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Searching for the point...Tenacious Tuesday

In case you haven't figured it out yet, this weeks theme is focused on vocabulary. Each day I'll come up with a word an adjective that describes how I'm feeling within the boundaries of using a word that starts with the same letter as the day of the week.

Today's word:

Main Entry:

Latin tenac-, tenax tending to hold fast, from tenēre to hold
1 a: not easily pulled apart : cohesive b: tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance 2 a: persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired b: retentive

Now of course the first thing that pops to mind with this word is the fun little project band called "Tenacious D" created by Jack Black and Kyle Gass who rocked the show VH1 put on honoring one of the greatest rock bands of all time - The Who. Their rendition of Mama's Got a Squeezbox was magical.

For my part, being tenacious means I'll persist in my endeavors despite the fact that I may get beat down time and again. This is something I have to remind myself almost daily, and from now on especially on Tuesdays, because the only way to be successful as a writer to keep plugging away no matter how frustrating things might get. I'm poor, have a distinct lack of social skills, and can barely dress myself, but if I give up on this writing thing then I'll literally have no plan for the future.

So that's it, extraterrestrials. Whatever you're doing with your alloted time here on the planet don't give up. As they say in Galaxy Quest, "Never give up, never surrender."

Hee Haw

Monday, August 11, 2008

Searching for the pont... Maudlin Monday?

Okay, so it's Monday, some things in my life a really sucking right now, and I'm trying to figure out what the hell I can do to make myself happy.

So far I've got nothing.

This has led me to label today Maudlin Monday, but before I went ahead and made it official, I had to make sure I: a)spelled the word maudlin right (which I did, thank you), and, as long as I was looking up the spelling, I figured it wouldn't hurt to b) check the true definition of the term. Not exactly how I was thinking of it, but close enough. Here it is:

1. tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental: a maudlin story of a little orphan and her lost dog.
2. foolishly or mawkishly sentimental because of drunkenness.
[Origin: 1500–10; special use of Maudlin, ME Maudelen ≪ LL Magdaléné < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">Magdalén Mary Magdalene, portrayed in art as a weeping penitent] —Related forms
maud·lin·ism, noun
maud·lin·ly, adverb
maud·lin·ness, noun Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Well, I'm not drunk and I'm not tearful (at least not on the outside), in order to make this concept work I guess I'll have to describe my down in the dumps attitude as being foolishly sentimental. Hmmm...let's see...what kinds of things do I get all maudlin over?

Music - Sometimes
Movies - Rarely
Old photos - maybe
Revisiting old haunts - Bingo!

How's that for grasping the meaning of a word?

Of course now I've set myself up for having to write a new post tomorrow with the additional burden of carrying on with this theme. Let's see, what groovy new word can I think of that starts with the letter 'T'?

Hee Haw

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

About Fair Trade

I'm a coffee drinker. Not the kind that will swill a cup from Denny's or some other crappy franchised sub-mediocre dining establishment that I wouldn't step foot in even if I had a $100.00 off your next meal coupon. Nor am I a big Starbucks fan, deciding that the pros definitely don't outweigh the cons when it comes to price and social conscionability. I don't even drink the coffee at work, of which I am solely responsible to provide and charge for (one of my more important job functions). What I do like are the great Equal Exchange beans I buy at Bloomingfoods, which I grind just prior to brewing in my fabulous Melita coffee maker. It's good coffee and I feel good about drinking it, being organically grown and fair trade certified.

So as I mentioned, I buy the coffee that we use here at work. When I took the job I was given a Sam's club card and shown the ropes on how to make the coffee service we provide sustainable. I have since expanded the service to include snacks and occasionally beverages. I turn a small profit so I guess whatever I'm doing is working. But being all about social consciousness, and good taste, I found it hard to continue buying the jumbo sized cans of Maxwell House that had set the standard for office coffee years before my arrival. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered that Sam's Club sells their own brand of ground coffee that is certified fair trade in the same jumbo sized cans that Maxwell House did. There even wasn't much of a difference in price between the two.

But I had to look at this objectively. I mean c'mon, this is Sam's Club. You know, the big warehouse store owned by the same demonic powers that have almost single handedly destroyed our American culture. What's the catch.

So I did some research. Apparently there isn't any. Unlike the hazy standards set by the FDA regulating organic produce and dairy products (one day I'll get into the whole bullshit surrounding Horizon dairy products) it seems as though there are no loopholes when it comes to fair trade. You either are or you aren't End of story.

Here's what I learned by going to the The

Member's Mark Premium Ground is a medium roast, Arabica coffee grown and hand harvested by 3,678 small-scale, independent farmers. After harvest, farmers sell their green coffee to democratically-run cooperatives for a set, guaranteed minimum price. The coffee is roasted and packaged by Cafe Bom Dia, a Brazilian company with four generations of experience in the coffee industry.

Sam's Club will also partner with Cafe Bom Dia and TransFair USA to offer a summer 2008 week long study grant opportunity for junior high and high school teachers interested in teaching about Fair Trade. Teachers can enter the national essay contest and apply to win one of 10 expenses-paid trips to visit Fair Trade cooperatives, farms and communities in Brazil next summer. For details, click here.

The I found this detailing a bit more of the fair trade process. Apparently the FDA has nothing to do with it, which makes me fell better already.

From reasononline

TransFair USA certifies Fair Trade products and audits the chain of custody from producer to finished product, verifying that Fair Trade standards are met by everyone along the line. But it relies on the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International, a global group based on Bonn, Germany, to certify coffee farms. TransFair is one of 20 members of FLO, an umbrella organization that has channeled ideas about social cooperation into pages upon pages of mind-numbing certification standards. The FLO defines a fair farm as a family farm that is a part of a large democratic cooperative. Farms cannot be "structurally dependent on hired labor," which means that hiring even one laborer year-round makes a farm ineligible for certification. Even more controversial is the cooperative requirement. Rather than deal with individual farms, the FLO exclusively certifies large cooperatives composed of hundreds of small land-owning farmers, each with a single vote on how to best spend the Fair Trade profits.

Sounds fair to me. I guess I can stop beating myself up over going to Sam's Club and buying their brand of coffee. Not great, but not terrible either.

Hee Haw