NOVEMBER STARTED with high hopes. But as the month draws to a close, I will emphatically not be among the thousands of writers celebrating the completion of their works and hence their victories in National Novel Writing Month.
At the same time, on this final day of November, I am very happy to have had my best blogging month in … years, probably. These posts will never get published, and no more than a couple of hundred people, if that, is likely ever to see them, but I’m writing, goddamn it, and it feels good. It’s as if I’ve reconnected with an old friend and realized over a couple of beers how much I missed him.
So for those who have stuck with it from Shallow Center and Poor Richard’s Scorecard on through to Dadlibbing, my heartfelt thanks. And to the newcomers getting acquainted through Facebook and Twitter, welcome. I’m grateful that you’re here and hope to give you more to read in the weeks and months to come. | DL
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
PRINT SNOB that I am, I never gave audiobooks the time of day.
Until, after nearly a year of commuting 60 miles to work and 60 miles back, I realized how little listening to the radio helped all of that Turnpike traveling pass more quickly.
And so, last month, I used my iPad to borrow The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin from the library and gave myself over to reading a book in a voice other than my own.
Franklin’s work probably wasn’t the best book to start with. It’s written in 18th-century language, which I often found difficult to follow. And it’s not as if I could reread a difficult passage, either, though that may have been for the best–using my eyes instead of my ears would have tacked a hell of a lot of hours onto my reading time. Continue reading →
YOU THOUGHT jamming yourself down a chimney, piling presents around an evergreen tree, and hightailing it out of there without waking a soul was something else?
Rise of the Guardians gives us a Santa Claus who’s a master swordsman with massive, tattooed forearms. Also an Easter Bunny who’s deadly with a boomerang, a Sandman who battles nightmares with golden fairy dust, and a Tooth Fairy with a molar fetish.
Oh, and a Jack Frost mired in an identity crisis. Continue reading →
TWO PEOPLE took pity on me at the Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting yesterday afternoon.
One was a teacher, the other a bookstore staffer. What earned me their benevolence was the completely useless discussion I was having with Q. over what I would buy her.
I was arguing for books that reflected her status as a kindergartener who’s reading at a second-grade level. She dug in her heels over a princess sticker book.
Each woman, the teacher and the bookseller, tried engaging Q. over what she likes to read and suggesting various kids’ series and chapter books. Each was met, as I had been, with folded arms, a dark scowl, and pouting lips. Continue reading →
HAS FACEBOOK rendered the high school reunion obsolete?
Last night I gathered with several dozen people with whom I graduated 25 (gulp) years ago. Several of them are Facebook friends, so I already knew about their professional successes, their personal situations, their kids, and what they looked like. In other words, most of the reasons you go to a reunion had been obviated.
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LEAVES CONTINUE to fall from the trees, a week remains in November, and all of America will gorge themselves on turkey sandwiches this afternoon. Today’s retail tsunami notwithstanding, we have every reason to bask in Thanksgiving’s glow for a little while longer.
But I’m ready to turn the page. I’m ready for bells jingling, chestnuts roasting, and herald angels singing. I’m ready for Nat King Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., and the Waitresses. I’m ready for classic holiday specials old and new.
I used to delay my Christmas reveling until well into December. Chalk it up to some kind of weird purist streak–one heavily marinated in Catholic guilt–that demanded proper respect for the season and all of that nonsense.
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Yes, of course I’m thankful for my family, my health, my friends, my job, and my house. But there are other, less obvious things for which I am grateful on Thanksgiving Day 2012:
- “Lonely Boy.” The guitar-crunching, beat-driving, blessedly economic anthem celebrating unrequited love was my gateway to the Black Keys, and the best rock song of the year. (Yes, I know it was released in 2011, but I didn’t hear it until this year.) A staple on my iPod.
- Cole Hamels. The suave southpaw would have commanded a massive contract on the free-agent market, but instead signed a massive extension to stay with the Phillies. No, he won’t be hurting, but Hamels’s deep ties to Philadelphia–he and his wife are among the most visible and outspoken philanthropists in the region–seem to be genuine. Here’s hoping a few Cy Young Awards and World Series titles are in No. 35’s future.
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THEY’RE CALLING for a man’s job here in Philadelphia, and chances are they’re going to get it.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid long has been the subject of fans’ frustration over his perceived arrogance and failure to bring a Super Bowl to town. “Fire Andy” is not a novel chant at the Linc this season.
But now, amidst a six-game losing streak, catastrophic mismanagement of his coaching staff, mediocre drafting, awful personnel decisions, and continued in-game gaffes, the Eagles’ failures are real, not imagined, and Reid’s fingerprints are smeared all over them.
And so the “Fire Andy” drumbeat has been taken up by the local media. The storyline now is “when,” not “if.”
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SEVENTEEN HUNDRED words and change. That’s how much fiction I wrote on November 1, the first day of National Novel Writing Month, a balls-to-the-wall creative sprint in which writers challenge themselves to produce a new, 50,000-word work in the space of 30 days. That works out to 1,667 words a day, so I was right where I needed to be.
The idea behind the thing is to force you to get words out of your head and onto the page, working so quickly that you just don’t have time to listen to the crippling criticism of your inner skeptic or fuss over each sentence until you have the precise word picked out, the exact punctuation marking your sentences. That stuff comes later, after you’re done; for one month you’re doing nothing but writing, 1,667 words a day, your personal editor bound and gagged and locked in a closet like the Gimp.
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