Month: January 2012

How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When YOU Come Around?

English: Guitar Shorty plays at the Bulleit Se...

Guitar Shorty

Ah, the Blues !!!

Flipping through satellite  radio in the car, I  came to the Blues channel and  stopped on a song by Guitar Shorty:  “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around?”  The chords sort of remind me of  the Staple Singers’ “Let’s Do it Again”I came in during the last  few verses, but that was enough to hook me.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed like this while driving, and I’m pretty sure  other drivers were  thinking of reporting some fool who’s acting like he’s drunk or on crack, laughing and crying and there’s no one else in the car with him!   Often I have a hard time remembering the names or titles of songs I hear on the radio, but I had no problem remembering this one, and fifteen minutes after I  got home it was added to my iTunes playlist and I played the whole song!

“Congratulations Shorty, you are the star of my next blog post!”

I’ve talked about my love of music, and while I wish I had the skills to create music, I substituted for it with my deejaying and creating cassettes, making my own covers and pretending I’m my own music producer and my own radio station.  Yea, I was Tiesto and David Guetta before  they came on the scene.  I like almost all types of music, and like anybody else there are songs you hear that remind you of what was going on in your life at that time.  The blues almost always take me back to my college days, where I first heard it, and how much fun  my friends and I had with the song titles and lyrics.  It was just so much fun to laugh and joke about what the songs were all about.  It was not unusual for one of us to spontaneously start singing a verse  of some song.  We called Tyrone Davis the “cryingest” singer we knew, and woe to the brother who had girlfriend issues, who then became a target of every Tyrone Davis song we could remember.  (We liked TD, he just begged so damn much…)

We know what the blues are all about and where it came from, and I never really appreciated it until I heard it that time.  The song was “I’m Sorry” by BB  King and Bobby Blue Bland and when I heard it  it gave me an ever further flashback, to my  childhood.  I was a Motown kid, but now I realized “I’m Sorry” was the music the grown ups listened to.  Those were the songs I heard in their cars, the song covers I saw on the jukeboxes.  This was the Friday and Saturday night music I heard as a kid,  the drinking music coming out of the bar around the corner from our house, and now in that dorm room everything sort of made sense – that’s why I liked it.

Cheating on your wife, your wife cheating on you, you cheating on each other (I was checking out, while she was checking in) she left you and you want her back, she’s begging you to take her back and you don’t want no more of that cheatin’, evil, backstabbing, mean old Mississippi woman.  Everybody’s in your business.  When you see the mailman on the weekends he doesn’t look you in  the eye, the guys in the barber shop stop talking when you walk in,  you’re sitting in church wondering how come the Pastor started preaching two Sundays in a row about  David and Bathsheba –   that’s what it’s all about and that’s what I love about my now #2 favorite blues song.  It’s cold hard facts on dealing with relationships, using plain old common sense.

Baby, something ain’t right. I keep adding one plus one and I keep coming up with a bad three!

As I mentioned I heard enough of the song on the radio to like it, and I kept wondering what the title meant.  At first I honestly thought he was asking his wife. Well, cleared it up when I heard the  beginning lyrics:

You say you never met my wife

You never seen her befo’…

You don’t visit me when I ain’t home

Well here’s what  I wanna know:

How come my dog don’t bark when you come around?

Now he’s about the meanest dog there is in town

He’d  bite anybody, my sister or my brother,

He’d even take a bite out of my poor old feeble mother!

Yea, he bit the mailman

and he sees him everyday!

You say he’s never seen you before

But he just wants to jump up and play?

Now I don’t know just what you are putting down

How come my dog don’t bark when you come around?

(lyrics from “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around”)

Shorty passport photo

Damn Dog, I thought you had my back!!!!

Merciful God, c’mon!  Shorty lost his wife AND his dog to another man!    Jeez, I don’t know how I would handle something like that, but later in the song it’s all about how things like that were sometimes handled back when I was a kid.  Like Frankie and Johnny, violence was a part of some of the songs.  Someone’s gonna get hurt.  I flashed back to a childhood memory of  hearing the guys on my summer job talking about a guy who had to leave town because someone’s husband was “looking” for them.   I can’t help but think about how this plays out in some of today’s music.  I’m just basing my thoughts on what I’ve seen and heard, but the violence I’m hearing bragged about doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with a cheating wife… and a no-good,  two-timing, raised him from a puppy,  dog also.  Now that’s disrespect!!!!

So, this blog’s for a nice musical 48 hours!  Posting while listening , and at some point I may turn off “repeat” on iTunes… but not until I finish this blog!

For your listening pleasure only, here’s the song.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Round?

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Making Lemonade and Chicken Salad. About that Starbucks Thing…

… Does Hooters Count, also?

When I left this morning my intention was to work on my next post while waiting for my car repair, figuring it would only be about a couple of hours. It turned out that they had to wait for a part to be delivered. Now I’m faced with four hours to kill.

I decided to accept their offer to take me where I wanted to go and pick me up when repair would be completed. There!s a Starbucks not far away, but there really wasn’t much else around it. The other bookstore is in one of those shopping centers, where there are also stores like Home Depot, Target, and a Books-a-Million. This one gave me more options. Besides, I’d skipped breakfast and now had serious stomach noises going on, so I figured I’d also get something to eat. I asked the driver to drop me off at the Target, as the longer repair time now requires me to get a charger …which I forgot to pack at home. Target was out so I ended up getting it from the Radio Shack next door, and then walked to the Hooters. (Wi-Fi and food, you understand)

Photo classSo this is where I am now. While eating had an opportunity to do a little camera work. I just bogarted my way into the action, you’ll see they were looking at the photographer. I’ll have to add the photo when I get home, so I wont be able to try posting from my iPad this time. Right now it’s raining so the walk to Books-a-Million is on standby. Darn! If I thought a coffee shop had distractions…

Anyway it’s kind of cool how everything has worked out so far. I did get a chance to do some work away from my desk here at Hooters, and will get to experience that coffee shop thing. And… got a chance to play with the camera. Didn’t have time to play with the settings as I didn’t think they were going to wait for me.  Unfortunately this little episode’s coming via a not insignificant cash output for the car.

Bookstore table real estate:  better be fully charged!

The rain has turned into a tolerable mist, so I  take a nice little stroll to the coffee shop. Now I’m coming to you live from the table, in the corner, almost behind the pastry counter at Books-a-Million. Seems there’s only one, count ’em one outlet in the reading area. The top outlet is occupied by a young lady in front of me, the bottom has a power strip, and now I’m stretched out over the table and the power cord is stretched to reach the power strip. This is not what I had in mind. (hmm, should  I go back to Hooters?)

A visit to the counter for some cappuccino gave me an opportunity to ask the barista about the one thing I was always curious about: do you have to buy the book before you read it? Just seems to me that reading it off the shelf would be counterproductive to selling the book. Nope, I’ m wrong, but now enlightened.

“No sir, we figure why not give customers a chance to see if they like the book before buying it.”

Oh, ok. Guess Starbucks is running the same agenda. So does this mean this is basically a try before you buy library?

So now the lady in front of me has left and now I have her table and the outlet all to myself it’s mine all mine bwaaaahaahhaaaaa! Much better view from here. Dealer just called and advised my ride back will be here around 3:30, another hour and change to go. So far the time has not been wasted – you’re reading it – and I’ve  picked up on something. Maybe it’s tempered by the fact that I’m no longer in the back corner, but this isn’t so bad. The thoughts are flowing pretty good, and I’m having a little fun observing the people coming through this area. I’m looking at three white-haired ladies sipping coffee over books at a table in front of me. Friday garden club? Daughters of the Revolution? Church Auxiliary board meeting? Book club? Sisters of satan planning tonight’s whoop-de-doo?

Much, much better!!!

Another thing I noticed, it’s kind of cool to see things you’ve read about actually in play. One of the first books I read discussed the relationship between  publishing houses and bookstores. The prime space in a bookstore is right up front! It’s reserved for either the best-selling, established authors, or a real hot newcomer. On display here is Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln” and a new one from Grisham. If I remember correctly, that’s negotiated by the publishing house, not by the store. As soon as a clerk is available I’ll ask. It just got real busy, and more customers are coming in.  As I prepared to leave I did get a chance to talk to a couple of the clerks.  The store displays are discussed between the publishing houses and the chain.

Later that day…

Ok, I’m back home, much, much lighter in the wallet, but feeling pretty good about today’s adventures.  Adding the pictures. Reflecting on the day,  I can see where I’ve gained a little insight in to how I need to handle things.  I wanted to stick to a schedule for posting, but I’m discovering  it’s forcing me to be creative, and I don’t want to put something out that’s not good, just to meet my self-imposed deadline.  On the other hand, I don’t plan to sit around for days waiting until I get a Dom DeLuise as Caesar moment either.

The Muse is upon me... I must write!

The working away from  my house experience was not too shabby (yea, I know, Hooters, but B.A.M. was cool too)  I’ll take a second stab at the library.  Right now I’m a little prejudiced.  Based on what I feel so  far the library’s kind of …old.  I need to give it a fair shot, so I’ll try it.  BTW the conversations I had today with the driver from the car dealership is a whole new blog post by itself!  Again, another evidence of fact from my reading: talking to people is like opening a treasure chest of things to write about.

Oh, thankfully I didn’t  have any old lady report me for staring.

A rainy day, a big chunk of change gone from my wallet,  but overall a pretty good adventure. What’s that saying about making lemonade and chicken salad again?

Camera time

Picture of some trees

"Landscape" setting. Nikon Coolpix L120

My old  camera

Rest in pieces. If I knew then what I'm learning now...

Among the gazillion things I’m doing is becoming familiar with my new camera.  I bought a Nikon Coolpix L120, and it’s either the camera or me but one of us can’t seem to get it together.  When I broke out my old SLR  (and I do mean old, we’re talking film here)  it was clear that it had been put away too long.  My telephoto and wide-angle lens attachment rings are cracked, and one of the lenses are scratched and smudged beyond repair.   Battery compartment secured through the greatest invention of the 20th century: duct tape!  I definitely had not planned to use my iPhone as my main camera, and definitely not even thinking about the iPad.

So I did some research and shook the piggy bank to see what was a good fit both technically and financially.  I didn’t look carefully enough though, as I really wanted to avoid a camera with presets only.  Misread on the Nikon, and presets are what I now have. Now I don’t have the freedom to adjust speed and exposure as I’d like to, although I can play around with adjusting the exposure through use of the  “+/-” button.  The funny thing is,  I’ve looked at  several DLSR cameras (what I really want) and they also have presets.  I think it’s back to the drawing board for research on a good camera in the future.

In the meantime, not going to let this one go to waste, and maybe I need to take a second look at the old Canon digital I also have.  That one is  only 8 pixels, and once again, my blog research said go for higher pixels for better quality.  The Nikon is 14 pixels, but it’s not going to do me any good if I can’t overcome the problems I’m having with the new one.  I purchased it just before going back to my college campus for alumni weekend and used it for the first time there.  One word:  TERRIBLE.

I was on my way to the store one winter day when the trees along the road caught my eye.  They stretch about a half-mile, and being no expert on trees I’m not sure what they are.  Thin trunk, white, and completely leafless.  The image in my mind was a wall of tree trunks, and I always thought it would make a good picture.  So yesterday I tried to tackle it, making this  my photography project.  I’ve got the image in my mind, now I’ve got to get it out, and this will be fun.

I think I see how to get the "wall."

Looking at the pictures yesterday didn’t make me happy.  I shot about a dozen  using the “landscape” setting and the same using   the “auto” setting.  What I got was not what I wanted in either setting, basically because it wasn’t that image of a  “wall” that I saw.  That’s composition.   I think I’ see what I need to do next, so it’s back to work.  In the meantime I’m adding a pic from my Orlando trip this past Christmas, showing the interior of a space station.  Shot that one while in line for the “Mission: Mars”  ride at Epcot.  (one for the astronaut in me!)  I used the “portrait > museum” setting.

…and ANOTHER thing!!!!!

Unsolicited Thoughts and Opinions

...and ANOTHER thing !!!!!

I’ve mentioned before that eventually I’d like to get a second blog going. Opinions, commentary, movie, and music reviews, what’s going on with my life, and on and on. Everything I’ve read and heard so far says a blog should be focused, developed so that when you come to it you know what the subject matter is. A blog that contains cookie recipes and commentary on world oil prices may not work. (unless it can show how the price of oil makes it difficult to bake said recipe, maybe)

Right now it’s a bit of a struggle to remember to just stick to one topic, so my words on politics, entertainment, sports, space exploration, or any of the other things that interest me will come later. I’ve seen other blogs that are a combination journal, opinion, and other things, and they really don’t look that bad.  I’ll follow those I like. I hope that   they’ll link back to this site.

But back to this blog.   Again, from my reading I know I still have much work to do on this site alone, among them building my links. For now I’m going to keep it focused on my media growth, however I don’t want this to be all words and no play either. Getting my act together here can’t do anything but help generate success for my next blog. Since this is my blog  (mine, mine, it’s all mine!)  I think I can figure out a way to work a few of the other things in, and it’s going to be this section.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve started using Twitter to get my thoughts out and I’m having a ball posting and replying to the folks I’m following. It really feels good knowing that your voice is out there, the ole “feels good to vent” idea. I’m not linking it back here in this post, again because I’m working on keeping this blog focused on words, sounds, and images. I’m not sure if I’d be distracting from it. Then again, may try it for a while and see how it works.  Feedback is appreciated.   Definitely not going to tie in to Facebook just yet.  One step at a time.

Writing Prompts

Ok, I’ve got my blog going now, so it’s time to reign in my giddiness, stop the Snoopy happy dance, and get back to work.

One common writing advice I’ve seen so far has been this:  you need to try to write something daily.  One way to do that is via writing prompts.  There are no shortages of them out there, and I have a few in the books here.  So I’ll put that practice into good use here on the blog.  After all, this is primarily all about sharing my writing experience!

As I’m still learning how to drive this 21st century vehicle I’ll see how often I can post it here.  Next month classes start and I don’t want to commit until I get settled into some kind of rhythm.

So, with that in mind here’s my first.  It’s just an exercise, just shaking the rust off, and it’s raw like fresh meat.  I just read the prompt, started the clock, and started writing:

PROMPT:  You get into work and find that your boss has left a voicemail message on your phone. The message is urgent. Though, what’s peculiar is that the message is not work related. Write this scene. 

Nothing, absolutely nothing, drives me crazier than to leave for work earlier than usual only to run into a traffic jam caused by a wreck. I just absolutely lose it as I sit there and watch a fifteen-minute lead-time morph into a 45-minute late arrival. So now here I am getting off the elevator with a look on my face that would scare a serial killer into turning himself in to the police and mentally telling the calm side of my brain  – the side that’s whispering “it could have been worse, it could have been you in that wreck” – to shut up.

Luckily, everyone’s either on the phone or not in their cubicle so I don’t have to talk about being late.  As I drop my backpack into the visitor’s chair by my desk I see the voice mail light is on. I just know that this not going to be good.  I check the caller ID for recent calls and wouldn’t you know it… it’s my boss.  OK, if I jab the letter opener into my thigh will I wake up from what I pray is just a nightmare.

So I take a deep breath and dial into the voice mailbox.  After listening to the standard welcome message I get:

“You have one urgent message.  To listen to your messages please press one.  To use other options…”

No need to prolong this, I’ve already lost two promising clients this month and was late preparing a presentation for a third client last week and now I’m late this morning… might as well get it over with. I press 1, little knowing what I hear next will eventually lead me to wish it was me in that wreck.

“Hi Dennis, this is Stu.  As soon as you get in I need to talk to you.”

I start wondering if my best friend from college is still the General Manager of that grocery  chain and if he can get me a job mopping floors.

“It’s real important my man, and I gotta tell you it’s real personal, and I wouldn’t bother you with this if I didn’t trust you. Thankfully it’s got nothing to do with anything here at the job, but I really need  a face to face with you before I say anything more.  I should be available up to 9:00 so come see me as soon as you get in. Got to take an urgent call at 9:15.”

All right, the day just took off in another direction, and now I really feel like I’m not in control of anything. Doesn’t make me feel any better when I look at the desk clock and see it change from 8:55 to 8:56.

In an office record two-minute sprint up the stairs, bypassing the elevators that took  five minutes to bring me up from the ground floor  earlier, I made it to Stu’s office.  I am wondering how many more logs are going to be added to the fire that’s consuming my job, as now I also have to remember to apologize to Polly for knocking her files and her man-eating plants off the edge of her desk during this mad dash.

“Yo Stu, sorry about the timing. God’s truth I ran into that wreck by the Hillside exit. I – “

Stu raised a hand to silence me then motioned me to sit down, all while  flipping through pages of a red folder  that definitely didn’t look like the ones we’re using.  I look closer trying to see if I can make out the words on what appears to be a business card inserted into the lower right corner of the folder front. While I couldn’t make out the words I was about eighty percent certain it looked like a card you’d get from an attorney at some very heavy law firm.  Serious embossing we’re talking here.  Yep, there’s a name and another name and an ampersand there sure enough.

So now the gears in my brain are starting to resemble an  old Looney Tunes cartoon, you know the one where the brain has all these gears grinding and sputtering and springs popping out.

Stu, half glasses perched on the end of his nose and wearing the worse frown I’ve ever seen on him, closes the folder, sighs heavily and lets the folder just fall out of his hands onto the desk.  Was it my imagination, but it sure seemed when it landed it sounded like it was volume S of  the World Book Encyclopedia, even though it looks like only about ten pages max.  Giving another big sigh and rubbing his eyes under his glasses, Stu leans forward, crossing his arms on his desk, and I don’t recognize this man I thought I knew for ten years at this moment.

“Dennis, this is seriously personal, and seriously deep.  I need your help but I gotta tell you before I say anything else you can walk away from this and it’ll be like we never talked as far as I’m concerned.  Not going to get mad at ya, hell I won’t blame you for walking.  But at least let me know right now if I need to stop talking.”

Ten years I’ve known this man.  I was his first hire after his promotion into management, and stayed with him as he rose up the ranks.  While I don’t count him among my innermost circle of friends, he’s right there in the next circle.   Still, I didn’t think we were at the place where he’s now drawing me into something sounding so urgent.  But I’m thinking there’s got to be some real trust going on here to even come to me with this, and he’s a man of his word.  If I walk, there’s no payback coming from him.  Well I could at least hear what’s going on.  If nothing else, the morbid side of me’s saying “dude, you’ll know stuff no one else in the office knows about your boss.  That’s cool!”

“Stu, you know I’m not going to leave you hanging like that.  At least let me hear what’s up.  I gotta tell you, I mean, if I think it’s too deep for me I gotta tell you I’d at least want to give you any advice if I could.  Does that make sense, can we run with that?”

The longest minute of my life crawls by as Stu stares at me over his glasses.  Sighing yet again he leans back in his chair, and there goes my imagination again as the creaking sound from the chair sounds like one of those doors closing in an old black and white horror movie.

“Ok Den, let me at least give you the highlights.  Gotta deal with this call in a few minutes.  I’ll give you enough to at least see if I need to move on, and you have to trust me on not being upset if you can’t help me.  Hey, what I tell you should guarantee I can’t touch you!  Ok, here’s a couple of names you need to remember:  Booger Johnson and Itchy Philips.”

… to be continued

“So Dennis, what did you learn in school today?”

“Hello class, I’m Miss Flinglehogger-Smith and I’ll be your instructor for this course.”

Nothing is more fun than three ring binders.

Image via Wikipedia

Back to school!!  Tomorrow is orientation for my Certificate in Creative Writing Program.

I went through a lot  of years of required corporate training classes,  with completion deadlines, constant tracking,  and  emails reminding you that you’re only 60% complete when you should be 75% complete at this point.  Copied to your managers of course!   Corporate training became a world of web-based, interactive training.  Learning because you have to is not as much fun as learning what you want to.  (the big set-up here:  how embarrassing it would be to fail?)

Now it’s all for me!!!   Since retiring I’ve accumulated a lot of, repeat, a LOT of books, and some of the results of that will hopefully be reflected in this journal.  But I could use a  little more structure and guidance, and this will be great.  I also think I’m going to enjoy being back in a classroom atmosphere, interacting with folks.

Right now it’s like I’ve accumulated a bunch of books and videos on how to be a ninja, but I don’t think I’m ready to infiltrate the villain’s  nuclear facility, take on the guards,  and disable it yet.   (gee, hope I didn’t just trigger any NSA taps)

So I’m enrolled in four courses set for the first quarter of this year, starting with two Orientations this month.  First one starts tomorrow!  Can’t wait !

…and if there IS a Miss Flinglehogger-Smith out there, please, please, oh please, accept my apologies for using your name without your permission!  I made your name up!  There CAN’T be two of you!

Dennis 2.0 Editorial Staff, My Home Office, and Adventures at Starbucks

I’ve read where no blog is successful without some type of support.    In my case I’m getting assistance  whether I want to or not.  I literally have to shut the door to keep them out.  Allow me to introduce my “staff”

Associate Editor:

AJ (Butch)   a.k.a. “Obstacles to writing success”       We’re still working on his 12 Step program… or he tried to read some of my writing.

2nd Associate Editor:

Junction (Peewee) a.k.a ” Another Obstacle to writing success”  She considers being called mischievous an insufficient recognition of her talent.

Renaissance Central – Mi Oficina – Mon bureau – Mein Büro – Il mio ufficio – 私のオフィス – Meu escritório – Мой офис:

I followed some advice and organized my office before I took this shot. If a cluttered desktop is a sign of a cluttered mind then what is an empty desktop huh. huh. huh,? Answer me!  And it’s NOT decor by Toys-R-Us!!!!!

So this is my environment.  I’m thinking it would be a good idea to maybe step out once in a while and try writing from another place.  I’ve always wondered whether I could function in a Starbucks.  God, I’m having a hard time seeing myself sitting there typing away while sipping cappuccino.  I’m going to have to develop a hell of a lot more discipline because I know I’ll be looking around too much!  One of the writing exercises I’m reading recommends doing that – using that environment to observe people.   Build a “collection” of images, it recommends.

I imagine I could try that…let’s see…

I watch an elderly lady enter the store.  Even though it’s a warm for a winter afternoon sixty degrees outside she’s still dressed as though she’s been out since early that morning, when the frost was extra thick.  I watch her for several minutes as she unloads the contents of her pocketbook on the table.  It’s odd, because even though her clothes appears to me to be nothing less than designer brand,  the bag clearly has seen better days.  What is her story?   What is the significance of the bag?

I continue to observe her for several more minutes.  The contents of her pocketbook are what appear to be wedding invitations.  Perhaps a party?  She begins to work on them, addressing and stuffing the envelopes.  At one point she looks up to see me looking at her, smiling warmly and nodding a hello.  I continue to look at her and occasionally I jot a note down.  She catches me looking at her several more times, and when she does I get a little embarrassed and continue writing.

This goes on for a while, and then she motions for the barista, a young lady who has not smiled since I’ve been here..  Now, let’s see what happens.  Motioning the girl to lean closer, the lady begins whispering something to her.  From the look on her face she doesn’t appear to be praising the taste of her latte.  I’m steadily looking and writing and – did I just see the girl slightly turn her head and eyes towards me?  Boy, this is good material here, got to recommend this exercise to others.

I’m about to make a note about the young lady’s appearance when I look up to see her approach my table, and if she hasn’t been smiling all this time it appears it’s not about to change..  Better note this real quick, this is good stuff happening here!

 Nah, I think I’ll just use the coffee shops for drinking coffee, but I will try to do things from different places.  While the exercise is geared primarily towards “collecting” for fiction, my first goal is non-fiction.  I do have a long-range plan for the fiction arena.