My Renaissance: Blog Notes

Information about this site: updates, redesign, etc. Also a catch-all for things I can’t categorize right away

…and ANOTHER thing!!!!!

Unsolicited Thoughts and Opinions

...and ANOTHER thing !!!!!

This is my attempt at satire.  Regardless of what your politics are; you’d have to wonder what impact the current political environment has on our young people.  What lessons are they learning?

High School Politics:  A Civics Lesson 101 in the 21st  Century

Mount Rushless High School, in suburban Atlanta, provides an amazing insight into what our children may be learning from the current political atmosphere, and perhaps learning from their parents. It involves the school’s Student Government Association (SGA) and it’s a civics lesson for the 21st century… politics at Class AAAA level.

Mount Rushless could be considered a microcosm of America, its student body representing almost every ethnic and socio-economic group. As the new school year began three candidates ran for SGA President: Patrick “Phig” Newton, Abigail Donnareid, and LaJamarcustavious “LJ” Wilson – all juniors. After what was described as an ugly campaign, Wilson won.

A survey taken after the last election reveals the factions supporting each candidate. There are students who say the SGA’s responsibilities should be limited to homecoming and other social events, with no involvement in fundraising. Survey results placed nearly 100% of Newton’s supporters in that category.

Those that supported Donnareid want their student government to promote more after-school religious and family oriented activities. She talks fondly of her father’s efforts to “put God back into the classroom.”

“My dad jokes that what he tells me comes from the “Book of Buchanan” she said. “He also told me that this country was founded by Christians, and most of everything we do here, or at least used to do, was based on that, and we should never stray from it, even at my age. We need to take back our school.”

Wilson’s supporters, according to the survey, agreed with his campaign slogan: “Your Student Government Works for You!” His supporters are a mix of every demographic in the school. “I just want us all to be one school,” he said. “I saw nothing but one group fighting another, and it seemed every group thought they were the only ones who had the right answers, or thought they were the only true Mount Rushless students. Everybody kept talking about how their parents thought compromising was betraying what you believe.  Everybody thought the word “compromise” was a sign of weakness.”

Among the incidents that occurred since the election:

The parents of Ben “Butch” Thompson, starting quarterback for the school’s newly crowned Class AAAAA champion football team, allowed him to skip the trophy presentation given at the school’s PTA meeting. “Dad said he really admired the example set by the pro athletes who didn’t accompany their team to the White House to be honored by Obama” said Thompson. “Dad wants me to stand up for what I believe in, and since I don’t like what LJ’s all about and didn’t vote for him, Dad said I didn’t have to attend.”

Several students, whose parents kept them out of school that day, boycotted Wilson’s inaugural address during assembly. When asked after the event why they took such action, one of the students, Michael Walrump, a transfer student from South Carolina, said, “I never supported any of the ideas that guy was proposing.  If you don’t agree with someone, you don’t have to listen to them or do anything with them. I remember when my parents kept me home that time when Obama made that speech on TV. I didn’t vote for LJ, so I got nothing to hear from him.”

A few blocks from the school, several students, including Donnareid and Newton, gathered at the home of classmate Joseph Brown during Wilson’s speech to stage a “Tweeting for Truth” session. In explaining his actions, Newton told reporters “what you witnessed was a profound demonstration by true Rushless students who’re exercising their constitutional right to follow in their parent’s footsteps, and take bold action in showing those who would try to turn our school into a clone of Carl Marks High that we won’t tolerate it. Frankly, the election was a sham, as anyone can clearly see that it was those students who don’t believe in studying who voted for LJ. Those people, combined with the clear naiveté of most freshmen who believe in LJ’s rhetoric, propelled us into this pit of student misery, and frankly what we need to do is take a look at the qualifications for voting in the next election.”

Wilson’s homecoming assembly speech didn’t fare any better than his inaugural address. It was interrupted by a still-unidentified student who shouted,  “you’re a liar,” causing outbursts of laughter, arguments, and general confusion among the students. It took over fifteen minutes for school staff to restore order. Several students, when questioned about the appropriateness of the outburst, referenced their parents’ pleasure over the “you lie” outburst during the President’s State of the Union address.

In all, what we’re seeing here and perhaps in schools all over the country, are the lessons our children are learning about politics… a new civics lesson for the 21st century.


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?

…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

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.

Renaissance: Resurrection of Dreams Deferred

Version 2.0 – Retired / Rebooted

I’m retired, and now I get to concentrate on what I’ve always wanted to do, and that’s  live the rest of my life in the world of words, images, and sounds.  To write, do lots of reading, take lots of pictures, play around with music, get into video, and on and on and on…

At last the whole world of possibilities I’ve dreamed about lies in front of me.  There’s so much to explore!  So much to learn!  I’m like a kid who’s been given the keys to the toy store.

Version 2.0 of my life.  A complete reboot.  And the resurrection of a dream deferred.  All of those things I mentioned above I’ve touched in some form or fashion.   And that was way before the digital world we’re now living in!  Over the years:

  • I did work in front of and behind the camera for a local TV cable channel.
  • I’ve been a late night DJ on a radio training program.
  • I did voice overs for my job’s benefits coverage video.
  • I worked the cameras for a few of my company’s videos (after bugging the hell out of the Manager to give me a shot)
  • I spun records at house parties, wedding receptions.
  • I made cassettes and then CD’s  for my friends, but mostly for myself.  Created my own labels and pretended I was my own producer!!
  • Editor for my college newspaper my senior year.
  • Did a brief stint writing for a local magazine.
  • I made fliers for my friends businesses.


Renaissance:  Resurrection of  Dreams Deferred

Renaissance |ˈrenəˌsäns, -ˌzäns|

the revival of art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th–16th centuries.

• the culture and style of art and architecture developed during this era.

• (as noun a renaissance) a revival of or renewed interest in something: rail travel is enjoying a renaissance.

I always placed some kind of “label” on my activities.  Most of my writing and all of my music was under what I labeled “Project 13”, a title I decided to not go with this time around.

So in getting started on this phase I came up with “Renaissance:  Resurrection of a Dream Deferred”  to describe the overall effort I’m undertaking.   I think it covers the two main things I’ve been talking about:  my “renewed interest” that so happens to include the arts, and of course I “deferred” this for any number of reasons. “Dennis2.0” is my journal.


So here’s where I am…

I’ve enrolled in two certificate programs:  Voice Over and Creative Writing.  Orientation and classes start in January 2012, so I’ll be a student again!!!!!!!!!   In my corporate life I’ve taken many, many, many courses, and sometimes I wasn’t happy about the subject matter and the fact I HAD to take them.  Now, I train for myself, for my direct benefit.

I’ve also spent some time with a pretty good resource:  Writer’s Digest.  I participated in a few webinars and learned a few things.  I particularly liked the session on creating a blog and building an audience, conducted by Dan Blank.

Right now – and  I’m not exaggerating – I’m like a kid that just won a two-hour free shopping spree at Toys-R-Us.  Come to think of it, a better description is a two-hour free shopping spree at Best Buy!

The hardest task I see now is slowing myself down and tackling ONE THING AT A TIME.  I’m not anywhere close to describing myself as thinking “linear.”   (Some would say I’m not close to logical thinking either, but that’s another post)  There’s about  10,000 ideas floating in my head right now (but only about four or five voices though, ha!) and damn if I’m not trying to mentally handle at least half of them at the same time.

The time period from my retirement to now has been full of reading, researching, writing, and I’ve been having a ball!!!  I’ll save that story for another post, but at least let me show you the “roadmap” that I put together.  I started it before retirement and since then it’s being revised as I go along!  Trust me, it may look like a mess to you, but I know how the pieces fit and what the colors mean.

My roadmap

Mind-mapping... wall-sized

While all of this is  going on, I’’ll be  sharing this journey with you.  I’ve plans to create another blog, more of the opinion/essay type, but for now this is my personal essay and my training ground.  This is will be my home base for all of the one million things I’m thinking I’ll  be  doing.  I’m planning on keeping the fun  going, and I hope you find it interesting enough to share it with me.

Note:  The Renaissance artwork is originally by A. Douglas.  I just added the words.