In the ink well

Dog Ear

July 25, 2013

Quest (DOG EAR)

My father wetted my interest in a number of things – model railroading, gaming, but most importantly reading. Sure, mom hammered me when I wasn’t reading in school, and I thank her for that. But dad was the pervasive reader, his shelves stocked with heavy tomes of great men, or thick classics like Atlas Shrugged and Winds of War. I took after him on this, setting off on a lifetime journey, not of one road of literature, but of many. I don’t even remember the specific incident – could have been after dinner, or in the car, somewhere. Just a […]
July 18, 2013

Ya ya (DOG EAR)

Instead of writing over Friday lunch as is my norm, this time I got a lesson in writing. Cassandra and Darlene invited me to a “cultural lunch” – Jamaican food down in one of the strips along the west side of town. Bryon, a guy from Darlene’s team, came with us. I’ve make this joke before, since I was the only caucasian in this group, I felt like the gay white guy in a black comedy film. Anyway, lunch was great – barbeque chicken and rice and dumplings – yum! But the interesting thing was the conversation we had, and […]
July 4, 2013

Dark (DOG EAR)

It’s a Western character type, the dark and world-worn hero. He’s got back-story, haunted eyes and a half-growth of beard. His cynicism is cool and his standoffishness endearing. It doesn’t really translate well to real life. I’m finding out how grief and depression really work since my father passed a few weeks ago. The event itself moved me (in a quiet way). I reflected on him, I wrote his obit, and experienced a few moments where his memory came back to me. I talked about him a bit more than I expected, finding myself relating stories about him. But now […]
June 27, 2013

Really? (DOG EAR)

“Really?” Got a coffee-buddy at work, a God-fearing, pool-shooting, sharp-tongued lady with whom I chat over lowest-bidder coffee every morning. She’s a fireball and I like her. The thing is, she has this phrase – “Really?” (used with a dash of incredibility). When she describes someone doing something stupid, her shift from straw-man-protagonist to her own level-headed take is to toss in this word. It’s sorta the story clutch-press, the shift from dumb action to witty observation. And it’s fine – it works. And it’s the word I want to use, fellow writers, when I describe what I feel when […]
June 20, 2013

Styles (DOG EAR)

Nothing prepared me for the contrast in writing styles I just received. Was doing the hipster thing recently – there is a local anthology of books I’ve been interested in reading and they had an open-mike event from some of their authors recently. I’m rather downtown (looks so cool to write that) so my wife and I walked a couple of blocks over to the deal – had sushi at a local restaurant, checked out the hairstylist and considered going there in future (I did – great cut) and then wandered over to the CD shop. They have a good […]
June 13, 2013

Sleeping with the enemy (DOG EAR)

To know me is to know my disdain for Apples and Kindles and all that nonsense. Apples are just hipster connectivity crap. And Kindles I’ve spent many a Dog Ear piece on, talking about how they are rotting the core out of reading, destroying the concepts of libraries and used book stores. Yes, they have giving greater access to the everyday writer, and now we have millions of crappy books floating around in cyberspace. So we got home from dealing with my father’s passing, helping mom with the obit, with cleaning things up, with getting everything rerigged. And that’s when […]
June 6, 2013

Obituary (DOG EAR)

My father died last Sunday. And that’s a pretty good hook. Seriously, he passed away with his family in attendance and everything done well. But it made for a long day in the hospital and a longer night. Finally around 4am it was over. Everyone came back home to crash on the floors, the couches, whatever. After a very sunshiny brunch (if you think we should wear sackcloth and eat ashes, no, that’s not how we wanted to remember our father), we returned home and started to discuss what had to be done next. Someone mentioned, “We need to write […]
May 29, 2013

Storyteller (DOG EAR)

Sat just six rows back, center, at a Garrison Keillor event tonight and listened so hard my ears dried out. This is how you tell the story. Everyone knows (or should know) the host of NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, a two hour variety show on weekends. Keillor’s been doing this for years, a gentle lampooning of Minnesotans, Lutherans, and old radio broadcasts. And he’s got it down pat. With his soft voice and his distracted look, he’s very agreeable, a perfect vehicle for storytelling. And that’s the thing; while I was enjoying it, I was dissecting it. You could actually […]
May 23, 2013

Anti-Semitic (DOG EAR)

“He was a man of about fifty, but from his appearance might well have been taken for at least ten years older. Small and skinny, with eyes bright and cunning, a hooked nose, a short yellow beard, unkempt hair, huge feet, and long bony hands, he presented all the typical characteristics of the German Jew, the heartless, wily usurer, the hardened miser and skinflint. As iron is attracted by the magnet, so was this Shylock attracted by the sight of gold, nor would he have hesitated to draw the life-blood of his creditors, if by such means he could secure […]
May 16, 2013

Carnegie (DOG EAR)

Writing has gotten me to some interesting places. It’s gotten me behind a booth at a scifi convention. It’s gotten me into packed living rooms for a book club speaking engagement, and an empty hall at the library. But this time it got me behind the assistants’ desk at a Dale Carnegie class. I took a twelve week course from the Carnegie folks last year, even got elected class president. I know from previous experience that keeping classes going forward after they end is part of the trick. It’s too easy for people to fade into the woodwork. My idea […]