Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oh My Deer (Dear)

Twenty years ago, September 1st 1989 Ray and I said "I Do" and we've certainly written a lot of chapters in the book of love and tolerance. Whether freezing at the top of Jackson Hole, Wyoming (who'd think to pack a parka in July?) or lazing on a beach on Oahu (or Florida, etc...we're beach people at heart) or living through the teen years (and staying sane), we've packed a few laughs and tears into the memoir.

My favorite love stories are Gone With the Wind and The Thorn Birds. For Ray, has Stephen King written any romances? Ray loves fast cars, sports, and roughing it in the outdoors. I like fast cars, reading, movies, and my idea of camping is the Holiday Inn.

This is way too wild for me. Set me down in the middle of Times Square, please. Hook me up with an agent in Manhattan, pretty please.

On paper, Ray and I are total opposites. In reality, it works. It's worked for twenty years, certainly have reason to believe it'll go twenty more. His half of the story is a thriller. My half is humor. So we laugh a lot as we keep turning the pages.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Digest Distress

These pictures have no real bearing on this story. I decided to browse and pluck two from a past trip (Australia) and let the reader enjoy. Then again, that's the glory of Reader's Digest, the publication that claims the largest paid circulation in the United States according to the Dallas Morning News this morning. I'll take the plunge and say that you can pick up Reader's Digest in a doctor's office or at your grandmother's house, open it to any page, and pluck a quip or joke or story that's an eyecatching decent read.

Reader's Digest filed Chapter 11 thanks to decreased consumer and advertiser spending and a highly leveraged debt structure. They probably need to saw off a few branches of loser publications, chop out some editor jobs, reduce payments to contributors (gasp), and change their font. (I always kinda liked the big print)
The Digest is an institution and it's rather sad to know that it is a victim of the economy and probably readership in this instant communication world. Hopefully the company can get its act together, dig out of debt, and certainly maintain publication. I have not submitted to Reader's Digest, yet it's nice to know it's there with the corny true life tales and "laughter is the best medicine" yarns. What other magazine stands the test of time in a doctor's office? for clunkers...dollars for digest........

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sir Paul: Musical Poetry

He bounded on stage (new Cowboy Stadium) nattily dressed in a black suit. Sir Paul McCartney has those Paul eyes, that impish grin, and a cheeky sense of humor. He and his band launched into "Baby, You Can Drive My Car" and for the next three hours steered us on a magical music tour.

Two songs in he took off his coat and quipped, "That's the wardrobe change." He rolled up his white shirt sleeves and against a stunningly huge video backdrop shared Beatles, Wings, some Jimi Hendrix, a Buddy Holly tune, salutes to John and George, and sang "My Love" which he wrote for Linda, with an ache in the voice.

At age 67, the lad from Liverpool has lost good friends, but has gained a world of fans of all ages who stood and swayed to "Give Peace a Chance", "Hey Jude", and "Let It Be". We collectively jumped at the pyrotechnics and fireworks during the massive crescendo chords of "Live and Let Die" - definitely a whoa! moment. He rocked us out with "Back in the U.S.S.R", "Get Back", "Band on the Run", and "Helter Skelter".

So many, many brilliant songs - both words and music. My absolute favorites are poignant and stirring and sounded so good even after the millionth time he's played them: "Yesterday" on guitar. "The Long and Winding Road" on piano.

Sir Paul McCartney, a talented bloke and musical poet. Thanks.
(images thanks to cellphone of Cheryl Wolf (fabulous daughter of Ann Summerville) People had huge cameras. But I follow rules and was afraid of confiscation. Damn my rule following heart.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

summer slacker

I've been working on a chick-flick novel and haven't written a grand finale. Like the crape myrtle arbor tangle at the Dallas arboretum I have lots of twists and turns, just no defined ending.
I need that one surprise. That one gem that makes readers go "wow".

I'm treading water here, pondering death or life for one key character.

Then again, I've been such a summer slacker. Putzing about on yard work or floating in the pool. Anything to avoid a crucial life or death decision.

Yep, life is messy. I need to plunge in, make decisions, and just write the darn conclusion. I can always clean up my mess during re-writes. I can edit the crap out of it. BUT, if I don't write something.......then I have nothing but cake icing on my face. (thanks to Makyla's first birthday and the Dallas arboretum for inspiration).
that and the duckie thermometer that records the crazy pool temps of Texas.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Slapdash

Get your ducks in a row. Keep all the balls in the air. In Memphis, in front of the arena, they have all the balls in a row. Currently, my ducks are waddling every which way, and any balls in the air are bouncing onto my head. I was never good at dodge ball - so hey world, hit me with your best shot.
August in Texas is HOT and all signs of organization slip away willy-nilly. The one thing I seem to do well is float in the pool. ( I do go to work and type accurately, but that's work, not play). Oh, I've been writing some and sending out some and getting rejected some, but it's not done in a pattern with purpose. Critiques with friends have gone by the wayside. My sense of publication urgency is sitting seaside at Ocean City, NJ on hiatus or chowing down on a Pudge's cheesesteak, or perhaps staring at the Gateway Arch in St.Louis at yet another angle.
I enjoy the August slip'n slide, the smell of chlorine, the slice of watermelon. However, my brain is starting to compartmentalize chores and tasks and goals for September. It's beginning to round up the balls, prepare to segue from summer slapdash into September short story success.
That still doesn't mean I'm any good at dodge ball.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

On the Road: Road to Rumination

Final post on the road trip. Actually this bridge trestle was viewed during our Mississippi riverboat cruise. Looked up. Thought it was a cool shot.

So, I'm envious of folks that can read in the car. 1437 miles this trip- that could cover a lot of books or magazines. But I get carsick. Did as a kid. Do now. I can handle a map, but even that gets a bit tenuous. Tried to write in my journal - nope, not on the bumpiest roads ever thanks to stimulus money road construction - everywhere. I mean, everywhere. I'd jot brief notes, but absolutely brilliant bon mots sailed out of my brain along with the miles of roadside scenery.

Talk and look out the window. Marvel at the vastness of America. Roiling storm clouds. Magnificence of nature.

Ray took this one out the driver side. Pretty cool. We were indeed headed towards blue sky. Ruminate and contemplate. People's lives - homes built on the highway - we added to the hum of their background life noise.
Billboards. Hate to say it, but Steak 'N Shake has a bigger advertising budget than Jesus in Missouri. Their billboards were twice the size.
What can I say? Maybe it was best that I didn't write down everything........Ray is always afraid we'll be struck by lightning.
Happy trails. Can't wait until next summer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On the Road: Gateway Arch

Meriweather Lewis didn't have an Arch to greet him (nor the McDonald's Golden Arches to feed him either), but thanks to our National Park Service, this icon of St.Louis, MO and the symbol of Westward Expansion looms largely along the Mississippi River.

Instead of a dumpster view (as usual), we actually had this sightline of the Arch from our Crowne Plaza window. Spectacular.

I've written about perspective before and it is worthwhile to explore all aspects of one's writing, one's projects, or an Arch. I imagine the planning meeting -architects with detailed statues, buildings, etc. And then, Eero Saarinen probably pulled out a napkin with his vision of an arch made out of that newfangled material - stainless steel. A gasp, and then applause. Everyone crumples up their drawings. Simple, yet brilliant.
Magnificent glint.

Riverboat cruise and another viewpoint. I'm still in awe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On The Road - Busch Stadium -Bud/Baseball

Baseball - another stadium checked off the list. Busch stadium in St.Louis hosts the Cardinals - lovely facility, nice tour, tons of history, and gasp - cool breezes at game time.

Nifty statues out front lend atmosphere. The stadium is very inviting and it was fun to watch the sea of red shirts stream into it at night.

The fans were polite, knowledgeable, and hugely supportive of their Cardinals. Well, they did boo Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers every time he was at the plate, but that's to be expected. The game zipped along great. Two hours in, 9th inning, Dodgers ahead 1-0, when oh no....the Cardinals scored. So, 1-1 we go to the 10th - as Ray says, "Free baseball.". Then 11th, then 12th and frankly it was like a book I can put down and walk away from - I was done. Please, let's skip to the end. Someone, anyone, please score. We walked back to our room and Ray turned on the t.v. - 13th, 14th. He gave up. Read the score the next day - Cards won in the 15th.

St.Louis is one huge advertisement for Budweiser. A Bud Light Lime proved refreshing........aaahhh!

Tour during the day - you can still see the arch outline in the grass from the 2009 All Star Game.
Baseball and writing - pacing and characters, mini-dramas, atmosphere, and a beer if you so desire.
Winners and losers. Home runs and strikeouts.
Here's a poem for Texas baseball:
Hot Streak

bat crack
arcs home run
over beer pop-tops
shaved heads
signal summer baseball
and sno-cones
late afternoon storm
surprises tourists

pavement sizzles

Saturday, August 1, 2009

On the Road - Gone to Graceland

1437 miles from Bedford, TX to Memphis, TN to St.Louis, MO and back to TX - Mon thru Fri - 24 hours and 32 minutes of windshield time. Our Tuesday soundtrack was Elvis' Greatest Hits - thirty on a CD. It was a rainy day, but hordes of people from all over the U.S.A and the world descended upon Graceland to celebrate a revolutionary talent - the King. Elvis

My mother was an Elvis fan and actually I now have a better appreciation for his looks, singing, and style. The audio tour gave snippets of all aspects of his life and career and I enjoyed hearing Lisa Marie Presley's perspective as a kid growing up at Graceland. Home videos showed that Elvis was a big kid with a big heart.
Love the automobile museum. Cars, motorcycles - anything on wheels. All with a splash of gold and some wild colors.

The Meditation Garden is peaceful and it's amazing that fans, to this day, send tokens of memory.
Elvis souvenir shops at every turn - American consumerism at its best. Yet despite the shag carpet on the ceiling of the Jungle Room, Graceland was a home. You can tell it was lived in by a close family. It's a bit bizarre to traipse through a house and take pictures to capture a glimpse into a music legend's life. And in my mind a soundtrack played - Heartbreak Hotel, Jailhouse Rock, Teddy Bear, Suspicious Minds...