IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.


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POET ONLY WHEN I NEED TO BE

The time to rhyme comes and goes, and God knows I’ve served my nickel in that regard. It has gotten harder to concentrate on pentameter when I know the meter is running. So I guess it’s time to log into the blog again and work at a pace that won’t misplace my thoughts. That’s not to say I won’t find my verse in rhythmic muse from time to time, but my time (and following) has seen better days. So for now, it will be just another day dawning and I’ll find myself fawning over what tickles my fancy. Reading this over, it seems it will take some doing to leave the rhyme behind. Oh (Brother! Why) Bother!

 


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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF… SAMUEL CLEMENS (MARK TWAIN)

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Mark Twain lived in Buffalo from 1869-1871. This is significant in that it shaped him as a writer and as a person.

His time in Buffalo was the longest period that Twain had lived in one place since early childhood. Buffalo was the first place he lived as a married man, the birthplace of his first child, the first place he owned a home (truth here is his new bride and father-in-law conspired to buy the house, a luxury that a fledgling newspaper man could not easily afford) and the first place that he became co-owner of a newspaper. Buffalo was a place of many “firsts” in Samuel Clemens life.

Though a time of great productivity for Twain, it was also a period of his greatest tragedies. His father-in-law died from cancer and his wife Olivia (Livvy) from Typhoid. His son Langdon died tragically early in his life as well.

There is a collection of his writings from this traumatic period, entitled Mark Twain at The Buffalo Express: Articles and Sketches by America’s Favorite Humorist (Northern Illinois University Press; 1999).

Mark Twain honed his writing acumen in Buffalo during his time as the editor of The Buffalo Express newspaper, (he often collaborated on articles and columns with  Joseph Larned, his co-editor and friend).

For more on Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) click here.

 


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TRYING TO CUT THE MUSTARD PLAYING CATCH-UP

I’m a poet mostly. I dabble in musical composition and short fiction. Screenplays and scripts for stage become the rage on occasion. And juggling all those balls is an eventual losing proposition.

Getting the word out (or multitude of words out) is akin to reaching into the haystack without a glove. Sooner or later, you’re going to get stuck. And on more than one happenstance. Chances are you fall far enough behind that you give up the ghost and recoup, starting somewhere in the middle.

So I fiddle around with my muse, choosing to saturate my poetry places with pieces of verse and curse the day I discovered like sounding words. Time constraints (and those of a more physical nature) have handcuffed me somewhat, keeping the glut of work I am apt to pen to a manageable minimum.

As of this moment, I think I am at par with the rest of the jackbooted poets, at least on the sites I have chosen to frequent. Keeping up with the Jones and Whitmans and Wordsworths takes some effort. I relish the opportunity, cutting the mustard playing catch-up and being dog tired.

I think it’s lunch time. I just made myself hungry!


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IT’S ONE OF THOSE OPINIONATED DAYS…

Bob Curran was one of my favorite columnists when I was finding my way in life. Writing for the Buffalo (Evening) News, Bob was a decorated combat veteran in World War II. His “Curran’s Corner” column was consistently a tribute to veterans everywhere and through it he had championed many veteran causes. His trademark…  his tag line, encouraging words for his brothers in arms was “Hang Tough”.

BobCurranOf his articles, I loved the snippets of truth he would present under the above title, “It’s one of those opinionated days…” The news of the day can elicit many emotions ranging from compassion to down right frustration with the world at large. It is easy to draw upon these to fester a muse or pose problems; it’s a lot harder to “rage against the dying of the light”; presented as opinion and taken as “fightin’ words”. But to the contrary, those voices be damned. Have your say, but don’t shove your beliefs and vision down my throat (or up the old “Eerie Canal”). Thank you Bob Curran for your service and your common sense approach to dealing with the world. But back to the subject.

It’s one of those opinionated days…

…What ever happened to common courtesy? I remember helping hands extended in the guise of brotherhood,and having four fingers and a thumb, not just a single digit. These days the return of the “Me” society, the “Hurray for me, screw everyone else”, seems more prevalent than a polite, “Can I give you a hand?”

… I remember a little thing that was displayed after e150px-Sealofgoodpracticevery show that aired on television called “Television Code Seal of Good Practice”.  It meant that what was viewed carried a responsibility with it. Family friendly fare and some socially redeeming values. Those were the days.

mayberry…In that vein, it seems the world could use more Mayberry and less Honey Boo Boo.

…Does anyone play the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the end of the broadcast day anymore? With endless infomercials on the air, does the broadcast day even end anymore?

…Reality was every day living; the hardships and joys of life dealt with in dignity and not some scripted adventure show about living in the wilderness, or having babies in your formative teen years. Stars dance (big whoop), and dive (bigger whoop), and race and walk and so on, ad nauseum. REAL people fall on hard times, lose jobs and become homeless, some contract diseases like cancer and AIDS and heart disease, and some even die from them. But I guess such topics are too harsh for a viewing audience.

…Thank a veteran for their service. The freedoms we share (and sometimes abuse) are hard won through their sacrifice and bloodshed.

…We used to care for our elderly and infirm. It became a family responsibility to pick up this gauntlet and carry on. Financial burdens are understandable, but we seem too ready to put our aged into facilities and forget them to carry on with our self-important lives. And so it goes.

…There was a time when crime rates were down and respect for law enforcement was up.

…Does anyone write new music anymore, instead of just talking over someone else’s proven success? Does a lyric carry more meaning by adding the word “fuck” or “mother-fucker” to it? My naivete is obviously showing.

The opinions expressed above have been fermenting for a long while, and appear less relevant in today’s society. When we give governments full control of our lives it is easy to not live (and believe we’ve never had it better). I guess it’s best that I bury my head back into the sand and dream of Bob Curran and the “good old days”. Life just seemed to be more valuable then.

“Say a prayer for our guys (and gals) over there!”

Hang tough!

God rest you, Bob Curran!


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SCHROEDER, LUCY AND THE IDES OF MAY…

Today , May 15th – a reprieve from the weather gods, a return to sunshine, blue skies and seventy degree temps. Ok, so I wussed out a bit when the mercury dipped. I’m just sick of those elongated “winters” three weeks from the first day of Summer.

Summer. (Follow closely kids, because here is where I go off on a tangent or a flashback if I get it right – a little mental slight of hand). Today I’m at work listening to music specifically from 1969 – “Summer of Love” (see how nicely I tied that in?) That was the year I became a teen. What did a debilitatingly shy momma’s boy know from rebellion? I just knew the music was boss. That year, and those tunes are the soundtrack for this life.

The melodies and lyrics so clearly sit right on the tip of my cerebellum.  I found my escape in what blasted from my transistor radio (we won’t get into it now kids, it would take some doing – think of it as an iPod in which someone else picks your playlist – yeah, scary, I know!). I also found my poetic powers that summer… in a roundabout way.

My parents bought a console organ – a nice piece of furniture since no one knew how to play the damn thing worth a lick. I was never sure what possessed them to make this acquisition, but all these years later I see the method to their collective madness. And I thank them. I taught myself how to play it. To this day I can not read a note of music, but I did learn to play. I would place my radio nearby and work out the melodies of the sounds I heard. It came as random noise at first (someone squeezing the life out of a goose) but I did eventually get better.

SchroederLucyThe neighbors started to call me “Schroeder” after the piano playing fool from the Peanuts comics. At first I hated the tag. I hated any nickname (I still shudder at them to this day, but have grown more tolerant). I seemed to grow into the moniker. I started writing melodies; “love songs for no one” (Thanks John Mayer). And at thirteen, I lamented lost love that was years from being reality. First crushes die hard. Needless to say, let she who throws the first Schroeder, be labeled the first Lucy (just to keep the illusion straight).

But for as badly as I tried to write the music, the words flowed sweetly and with a depth I never knew I could possess.  My lyrics could certainly stand on their own. My non-musical poetry.

The music on my 1969 playlist takes me home every time. I miss the house in which I grew up and the parents who gave me every thing I ever needed (wanted, on the other hand was a lesson hard learned). I miss the neighborhood and having an audience who came with lawn chairs to listen. I miss being the Schroeder of my youth. This one’s getting a little long in the tooth. I shoulda listened to my mother and practiced more. I coulda been somebody. Maybe even could have been a poet?

Maybe Schroeder?


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IT SOUNDS LIKE HE’S WRITING AGAIN…

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At different times, I’ve called myself a poet, an author, a composer, playwright (other people have called me other things… but, that’s not important right now). There are times I’ve felt like all those things, but… most times not.

Don’t ask me why that is. I like to write, but a lot of the while it doesn’t feel like it. A writer has an attitude, for lack of a better word. Being inspired does take some doing. Sometimes, I’m just not into it lately. Something was missing.

Enter Film Noir. Those old B&W movies have their charm still today. Surely, they’re campy and cliche by today’s standard, but what isn’t? With a mind set on random wandering, I flipped on the television. Scanning the channels, I came across one such movie. The guy portrayed on the screen was a reporter. Sleeves rolled, cigarette dangling from his lip. His hat perched back on his head, press credentials stuffed in the hat band. (I told you it was cliche). He sat at his trusty typewriter tapping out copy for the latest edition.

For some reason this struck me in an odd way. The guy looked like he was writing his ass off. But, more importantly, he SOUNDED like he was well on his way to becoming ass-less. That old typewriter sound intrigued me to no end. My mind, in its own inimitable way thinks in mysterious ways at times. I didn’t FEEL like a writer because I didn’t SOUND like a  writer.

Long story finally short: I came across this application that adds the clickety-clack of an old typewriter to my computer keyboard. The kicker is the carriage return with the bell at the end. The sound excites me and it inspires me; makes me want to write more. I feel old school with a technological advantage! I’m sure it will get annoying at times and will invariably drive my wife insane (that’s not a drive… that’s a short putt). But until all of that happens, at least I’ll sound like I’m writing my ass off.

Yep, it sounds like he’s writing again…

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P.S. The application is called Qwertick, in case you wondered.