My father is a quiet man. Not to say he doesn’t like to talk, but there is nothing booming about his personality. He is possessed of a dry with and likes to pun, be a bit silly and doesn’t take himself seriously.
For example, as I was growing up he repeated the following bit of drivel often enough that I learned it.
“One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight,
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.
If you believe this tale not true,
Ask the blind man, for he saw it too.”
Thank you, Dad.
That little bit of flummery, what there is of it, is part of a Nonsense Verse called (surprisingly enough) “Two Dead Boys.” Now, I could be snide and say leave it to my Olde Man to not learn me the whole of it, but I sort of doubt he knew the entire thing. Plus, y’know…Dad’s. Right?
Still, I do believe this is the very first poem I ever took the trouble to memorize, for good or ill. Further, when I think of it I smile as it brings my Father to mind. It’s a sweet, albeit silly memory and just one of those things my Father taught me.
The inimitable Heather Grace Stewart tagged me in a blog post as part of a blog hop thingie-majig. She then asked me the following five questions and told me to tag three others.
I have done both. The Taggees are as follows:
Richard Fenwick, Poet/Writer, All around good egg. His first poetry collection, Around the Sun Without a Sail, available on Amazon. White Stones at Low Tide his forthcoming collection will be published in early 2014.
Tell me about your writing process. Do you plan out what you’re writing
or sit down and do it? What was the greatest surprise about
this writing process for you?
Process implies a ritual or routine that is regularly followed. That is why this question fills me with such amusement. I haven’t enough discipline to maintain a routine, never mind a process.
That being the case, I can tell you for me, writing is a variation on the theme of “Whatever works, do it.”
On occasion, ideas for poems or essays show up in a lump and the idea is to carve away the slop and find the treasure inside. Since this is words we’re talking about I seldom worry about pruning too much. I keep spare words in a basket nearby.
Other times, a poem starts as a line or phrase or even a single word. Since we all know that the hardest part of writing is writing, times like this require more labor. Instead of searching in a pile, it’s more like carefully teasing words onto paper to see how they look or sound.
The biggest surprise is that sometimes what I write makes sense.
What was your worst job ever? (doesn’t have to be about writing) and
why? What did you learn from it?
Hands down the gig at the concrete statuary. I’d been working at restaurant jobs for a couple of years in my late 20′s/early 30′s. Some people at my church thought I needed a “real” job and one fellow told about a job near Lake of the Ozarks making concrete birdbaths, garden gnomes and what have you. It also included a place to live and possibly to become the manager.
I was so not cut out for this. The owner was a real jerk which made things so much better. I lasted four days.
If you knew tonight was your last meal for a week, what would you eat?
It’s a toss up between extravagant or comfort food. Both are enjoyable for completely different reasons.
A nice surf and turf meal of broiled trout, a small ribeye, an asian salad, fresh green beans, and new potatoes would be delightful. However, eating is as much about visiting for me as nourishment so I would opt for my wife’s Calico Beans and fresh homemade bread. Wash it down with iced tea and some of her famous chocolate chip cookies for desert. If I gotta skip food for a week I’d rather have dinner with Elaine that she prepared.
How do you feel about frogs?
Frog legs taste like chicken, they go great with catfish, slaw, and hush puppies.
The remainder of the frog I’m rather ambilivalent about.
Where’s your favourite place to chill out, and why?
With Elaine, at home. Oh, and the cats.
That’s it. Be sure to visit the above tagged people in the coming week at their blogs to see how they answered these question. Go see what Heather had to say and the other folks she tagged as well. Drop comments like crazy and above all, thanks for reading.
One of my compatriots on Last.fm was pointing out that I was approaching 200,00 plays since I joined up way back in late July, 2006. Further, I was asked how Last.fm had changed or helped my musical taste evolve over time. This question intrigued me as I’d not really given a lot of thought to it. Plus, homing in on 2K plays is something of a milestone (although I want to have a party when I pass a Quarter Million. I probably won’t, but I’d like to.) and as good a time as any to reflect on the past close to seven years of listening to music.
I honestly don’t know if Last.fm (my profile is here, if you care to look) usage has helped or shaped my tastes or not. For years, I’ve had a very eclectic relationship with music. My play list shows this. You can go back and look at every single song or podcast I’ve listened to in the past six and half years (why you’d want to is beyond me, but hey…) and see that I go through streaks of music. Genre’s or artists or styles or whatever. This has always been the case, and now I have documented proof of it.
I am also an album listener, by and large. Which shows my age or my listening habits. Pandora is great, so is Spotify, but I’d rather listen to 8-10 songs by the same artist. I’ve always sort of been that way. Kids today aren’t and that’s fine with me. My folks weren’t great album listeners. They had some, but generally speaking they liked listening to the radio (as do I, Sports Radio mostly) as there was the variety and it was just easier than changing records.
The lack of a real ability to make mix tapes through much of the 80′s lead me to listening to cassettes, often on repeat, in the car. By my 20′s, a stack of 45′s on the turntable wasn’t very appealing to me. It was much more fun when I was a teenager and sitting in my room listening to some silly record (“Silly Love Songs” anyone?) over and over again, or god forbid, “Please, Don’t Go” because I was feeling all angsty and stuff before anyone knew what angsty was. I’m pleased to tell you that no Doc Martins were ever hurt during these episodes. We didn’t know about them either.
So, my listening habits were fairly well established by my 40′s. That’s not to say I didn’t make playlists or a few mix CD’s, just not many. I certainly never made any to give to anyone. For my own enjoyment and gathering stray songs from albums that weren’t worth listening to the whole thing but had a killer song or two or 45′s I’d picked up from here and there. I seldom found anyone who liked more than about half of my music, mostly those who liked less and had never heard of some of it. OF course with a record collection brimming with country, rock, classical, a few film scores and weird stuff, this isn’t surprising.
What Last.fm did do for my listening habits was change HOW I listened to music. For the most part, I quit listening to CD’s on the stereo. They wouldn’t go towards my play count. They didn’t ‘count’. I couldn’t show I’d listened to them. It also meant I had to, simply had to get an iPod. At the time, it was the only mp3 player that you could ‘scrobble‘ your plays from, so the few songs I’d listened to on the way home would ‘count’ towards my total. Everything became geared towards my “total plays”. Which means, my scrobbles were now a commodity to be detailed, compiled and gaped at.
This point was driven home to me when my iPod stopped scrobbling songs I’d played in the car or through my headphones. I sort of went a little nuts for a while trying to figure out what was wrong with iTunes, the Last.fm client or my iPod. I never did get it figured out and at this point, I guess it doesn’t matter quite as much. I realized I’d become addicted to counting my music as much as listening to it. When the desire to count overcame the desire to listen, it occurred to me I wasn’t enjoying music for its own sake, but for my library totals on Last.fm.
As a result, I’ve taken to using the couple of CD players we have around here, and listening to music when I read on the stereo (Blu-Ray players make this sort of fun what with Gracenote titles and what have you on the TV screen. Or in the bedroom on the Bose or in the car, leaving the iPod alone or even at home.
I find new stuff to listen to mostly by accident. I’m looking for one thing, find another, or find what I’m looking for and other stuff besides. I’ve found all manner of music over the past 10-12 years I’ve been looking for it on the Internet. In fact, I’ve found Allmusic.com and Amazon to be the biggest help in that regard. Chasing tags or links has been wonderful. It’s how I discovered Camel, Gentle Giant, Triumvirat, The Like, Nicole Atkins, The Mynabirds, The Pipettes, plus I learned to rethink some groups or artists I’d formed opinions of over the years and other “stuff” I’m sure you haven’t heard of.
The best thing that I found on Last.fm is community. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some terrific people there, and a few friendships that have moved beyond the site to others and we still stay in touch (You know who you are and thank you!). That’s a marvelous thing, that a site devoted to music would allow that to happen. I guess it was my first “social network” and while I don’t socialize on it nearly as much as I used to, I still check my counts every so often and leave the odd shout in shoutboxes. Last.fm is People and it’s a far site better than the People being Soylent Green. Sounds better when played loud,too!
P.S. Whilst writing this, I was listening to Alabama and The Jooles (discovered via Soundcloud). No cats were harmed in the writing of this post, although our Fat Kitty is bellering up a storm because I won’t stop everything and PET HER NOW!
It’s a bittersweet birthday for my Grandma Stratton today. She turns 102, but is not doing well at all. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she makes this transition in life. It’s been a good one for her…and I am certainly going to miss her.
I don’t know if you were aware of this or not, but I like to use GoodReads to track what I read, and to kinda/sorta see what others are reading as well.
Every year they have a “Reading Challenge” where you declare how many books you’re going to read over the coming year. I’ve done this for 2011, and 2012. Made my goal and then some both times. According to my little tracker, I read 75 books last year (My goal was 40). Sounds impressive, huh? Well, it was to me. Until I actually looked the list over and realized that there were a whole lot more comic collections than I recalled.
I also plowed through a huge chunk of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. A series I cannot speak highly enough about. I’ve got a few more eBooks to read through, but I’ve got other fun on my plate at the moment. Getting caught up on The Hendee’s Saga of the Noble Dead for one thing, and reading The Pickwick Papers this year. And read 65 books this year. Which means I better get cracking.
If you’re a GoodReads user and aren’t already, please consider adding me as a friend.