Archives for August 2011

Write What You Know

Somewhere out there in the cosmos is a person who understands the magic number of 83168 equals 44 and damn doesn’t that just sound old. Just saying it out loud makes me feel like a mere babe in the woods. This post you are reading and the words that comprise it are part of what some people call free association.

I have no plan, outline nor map to use here. This is not a coup-deblog or anything all that special. It is merely the words of the man who is silly enough to call himself TheJackB even though that is not my real name. Stop gasping, all that air sucking is unbecoming and will give you a bad case of the hiccups or worse. Hell, you could end up in cleveland singing Weekend in New England or Somewhere Down the Road.

Not me, no sir, no ma’am. Me I am going be standing right here preaching the good word to write what you know and what you feel. Know and feel are key elements in writing, parenting and life. I use write and know to feed my fire and add fuel to the tanks. They are part of the practical tool kit that I carry with me…always.

For example, when I work on Fragments of Fiction I rely upon several simple elements.

  • 1) Every story has a piece of my life in it. That personal experience provides the know in the story.
  • 2) I try to inject some action and or emotion that my readers can relate to.
  • 3) Accessorize- that is a little girly sounding for me so maybe I should say that I try to add some spice to whatever I am working on. It is the marinade if you will.

Examples:

Every one of those posts contains those basic elements and every one of them has won more awards than your blog has. Ok, I haven’t a clue where that last comment came from and will plead exhaustion. Really, I am exceptionally tired and in need of a vacation.

Ok, quick intermission to share the last five songs on my iTunes:

When Angels Sing– Social Distortion
Cosmic Love– Florence  & The Machine
Hot For Teacher- Van Halen

Sorry, I changed my mind and decided to share just three songs. Just didn’t feel like going further with it. But in the very near future I think that it will be time to revisit cars. Been a while since we talked about them here. Been a while since I shared some of the cars that have served as my chariot and it is about time to rectify that. Can’t live in LA without having some good car stories and I have more than a few.

Concluding Thoughts

I need to clarify something from my open letter to Triberr members post. I am always concerned about quality. I always pay attention to the posts that I produce and am well aware that some of them don’t meet the mark that I wish to set. But unless they are truly horrific I publish them.

I refuse to let myself be paralyzed by fear of failure. I won’t not publish because I think that a post is subpar. I am the publisher here. I make the rules and I set the tone. This place is my home, my cyber refuge and the place I use to practice my art. Writing is an art and there is no way to improve without practice.

Sometimes your feedback helps me in ways that I cannot predict. Sometimes you catch things that I don’t and point out details that I miss and I find that to be quite helpful. Sometimes you love the stuff I hate. Good content is of paramount importance but when I write about what I know I usually come close enough to the mark to not be embarrassed.

An Open Letter To Triberr Members

there's no need to worry this is just a vacation

there’s no need to worry this is just a vacation (Photo credit: Robert Bruce Murray III // Sort Of Natural)

If you are looking for a post that explains what Triberr is and what benefits it offers this isn’t going to be that post. I am not going to provide you with a 500 word essay extolling the virtues of using Triberr nor am I going to provide you with a list of crap that they don’t do well. There are lots of those posts out there already and I don’t feel like adding to the echo chamber.

Instead I am going to engage in my curmudgeonly ways and rant about some things that irritate me about Triberr members. But before I do let me provide my credentials. I am Jack and I belong to two super tribes and a handful of normal sized tribes. The two supertribes have more than 50 members between them. Add the normal sized tribes to the two others and in theory I have a reach that is larger than many newspapers.

Yep, posts like this are broadcast to hundreds of thousands of people or so the theory works. It is always possible that my fellow tribesmen will decide that this or any other post I write are not appropriate for their tribes and will choose not to tweet them. Because I like to push the envelope I sometimes think about writing headlines like “My first Blowjob” or “Hung Like A Horse” for no other reason than to see how many people let them fly.

But I haven’t written those for a variety of reasons not the least of which has been my foray into hell known as moving. Being a man’s man I can only focus on two things at once and as a result that experiment got bumped.

Anyhoo, the reason I am writing this is because frankly I want to share my irritation with the bloggers who expend copious amounts of energy worrying about ratings, karma score and all things related to this.  My friends and I say that loosely why are you worried about whether your fellow tribesmen are giving you a thumbs up or down.

Most of you will never get famous, earn real money or get a job from blogging. I attribute that to the Fouker Study of August 30, 2011 which discovered that most bloggers quit after 90 days because they find it is work. That same study also demonstrated that very few bloggers have passion, persistence and perseverance tied to their names.

They get caught up worrying about trivial things and ignore the big picture. They don’t spend time building communities. They don’t spend time developing friendships and rarely ask for help. But they do a damn fine job of of whining about crap that doesn’t matter.

Writers write. They do it because they love it and because they can’t imagine a world or a time in which they can’t manipulate words to tell the stories that reside in their heads. They spend minimal time worrying about readers because their head feels like it is about to explode-not because it is filled with air but because it is filled with stories.

They write every damn day and go a little crazy because every time they read their words they see a way that they could have said it better.

That doesn’t mean that writers never worry about readers or that they don’t want comments. Of course they do. It would be great if I were published more places and every post had a hundred comments, but they don’t and I am cool with that because I have to write. I have to do my daily dance with the keyboard. I have to set the letters free and watch the words roll down the page.

I don’t fear writing bad posts because I have written plenty and will write more. What I fear is different. What I fear is letting fear of failure fan the flames of doubt and insecurity. What I fear is giving up one day before I am discovered or one word before creating the perfect post. What I fear is not leaving it all out here,

Anyway, that is my deal. You can worry about the thumbs down crap. I don’t give a damn about that because frankly half the time they aren’t reading your post- that rating is strictly off of the headline. Did I mention that I think that headlines are overrated. I’ll save that for later, it is after 1  I finished cramming for finals years ago.

A Moving Story

I have used One Slip lyrics to fuel my fiction on a number of occasions but there are large pieces that could easily fit into this post of reality. Except I don’t have the time nor energy to weave the words into my detail. But I’ll do my best to give this a double dose of my normal alacrity and we’ll see what happens.

“A small regret, you won’t forget,
There’ll be no sleep in here tonight”

The move has been harder, tougher and longer than expected in every way. I am built like a bull and not Baryshnikov. You won’t look at me to dance gracefully across the stage but you’d hire me to move your couch or engage in general demolition. I have hands that some refer to as paws, arms like a gorilla a broad back that has been used to move more than a few pieces of furniture.

This is not the first time I have moved furniture for myself or for other others. I know what it means to work with my hands and have never been the stranger to hard, physical labor. Grunt work in basketball and football has always been where I made my mark. I pound, push, pull, tug and shrug my way from place to place. So I approached this move like I had with every other.

But time is a fickle woman who sometimes can be a friend and sometimes a foe. She tossed her head the other way and I found myself fighting aches, pains and bruises that had never been. Add in a heat wave that sent the temperature soaring above triple digits, more stuff to move than anticipated, unexpected emotion and you to can chug down this witch’s brew.

+++++

Somewhere around midday I found myself thinking about my paternal grandfather and what sort of stories he might have shared with me regarding the move and the accompanying nonsense. But instead of focusing on what he might have said I remembered a different story that took place when he was in high school.

Grandpa got in trouble in school and was told that he couldn’t return to class unless his father and he met with the principal. Grandpa was less than thrilled with the idea of telling his father about this and decided that there had to be a way around the punishment that would have assuredly been doled out by my great grandfather.

So he hired a man to come to school with him to pretend to be his father. The time and day arrive and together the two of them walk into the principal’s office. The principal begins a lengthy recitation of what my grandfather has done wrong. Midways through his recitation the man who is prentending to be my great grandfather reaches over and belts my grandfather, knocking him off of the chair he is sitting on.

A few minutes later my grandfather is furiously berating the man who hit hm and asks why he did it as the whole purpose in hiring him was to avoid getting punished. And in response he was told, ‘you wanted it to look real, didn’t you.”

+++++

The majority of the move is now done. There are relatively few items left to pack and or process. The majority have been moved into storage pods, given away or left in garbage cans. Soon we’ll have completely crested the hill and it will be time to decompress and let go of the energy that I have been carrying around. New chapters remain to be written and new opportunities to be discovered.

Much has been learned and more remains. This post is really just part of short diversion designed to help me catch my breath. It is time to pop two Advil and finish what has been started. This story remains unfinished.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

August has been one hell of a month. Buried my grandfather, celebrated my sister’s wedding, went on vacation and moved. Ok, haven’t officially moved yet but are in the process of doing so. Is it fair to say that I have some severe attachment to social media? Don’t answer that question because we all know it is yes. I am taking a ten minute break from shlepping furniture on my back to share some thoughts and music.

Got friends and family battening down the hatches because of Hurricane Irene. Had others who called me to ask me what to do in an earthquake and responded with a friendly reminder that we eat 5.8 for breakfast. Try a 7.1 on for size, that my friends is a different sort of animal.

So I had intended to set up a playlist for moving but didn’t manage to make it happen. But the good news for you is that I am going to share partial list of what I have been listening to.

  • Forever Young- Bob Dylan
  • Rain In The Summertime- The Alarm
  • Time To Say Goodbye- Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
  • Wake Up- Arcade Fire
  • Rebel Yell- Billy Idol
  • Into The Ocean- Blue October
  • Do You Wanna Hold Me- Bow Wow Wow
  • Everything I Own- Bread
  • You know My Name- Chris Cornell
  • Southern Cross- Crosby Stills and Nash
  • Black Celebration- Depeche Mode
  • Can’t Get It Out Of My Head- ELO
  • Right Here, Right Now- Fatboy Slim
  • Right Now- Van Halen
  • Cosmic Love- Florence and the Machine
  • Without You Here- Googoo Dolls
  • Brokeback Mountain- Theme
  • How You Like Me Now- The Heavy
  • This Time- John Legend
  • The Gambler- Kenny Rogers
  • The Mummers Dance- Lorenna McKennit
  • If Today Was Your Last Day- Nickelback
  • I Would Die For You- Prince
  • Killing The Blues- Robert Plant & Allison Krauss
  • Crying- Roy Orbison
  • I Was Wrong- Social Distortion
  • 99 To Life- Social Distortion
  • Panama- Van Halen
  • Into The Mystic- Van Morrison
  • Join Together- The Who
  • 6th Avenue Heartache- The Wallflowers
  • I Will Follow- U2
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For- U2
  • Cornflake Girl- Tori Amos
  • Wicked Garden- Stone Temple Pilots
  • Sir Duke- Stevie Wonder
  • The Sky is Crying- Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Life Without You- Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Its Been A While- Staind
  • Tom Sawyer- Rush
  • 2112- Rush
  • I Want To Take You Higher- Sly and the Family Stone
  • Suds In The Bucket- Sarah Evans
  • Out Of Time- The Rolling Stones
  • Lady Jane- The Rolling Stones
  • Crying Time- Ray Charles
  • At The Club- Ray Charles
  • Your Time Is Gonna Come- Led Zeppelin
  • I Had A Dream- Ray Charles

What have you been listening to today? Are there any songs that have special meaning for you?

The Story Of A House- The Final Night

I wasn’t angry when I wrote the first post but I certainly am now. I don’t have to look in the mirror to know that the vein in my forehead is protruding ever so slightly or to know that I am wearing a face known as “don’t fuck with me now.”

In the days when I was a but a young lad it is the sort of look that accompanied me on more than a few forays into the outside world.  Some would term that time the boys will be boys period but I just call it “boy I was really fucking stupid and incredibly lucky.”

I have some great stories that come from those days. I can sit down and tell you about the idiot who drove drunk, raced a train, jumped off of buildings and got into a few disagreements here and there. Not only can I tell those stories I can make you laugh, clap me on the back and tell me you wish that you could have been a part of it. That is the benefit of being a writer and a decent storyteller.

I am not proud of all of those stories. Some of them do nothing but prove that I survived playing the fool. They also are what scare me about being a father. I don’t spend much time worrying about pedophiles, rapists, robbers and thugs. Most of us don’t run into them and I’ll take the odds that we will be fortunate enough not to encounter them.

What I worry about is that the kids will be like me. I have lots of good traits that are worth emulating but that crazy, reckless guy isn’t one that I am eager for them to take after.

+++++

Technically Friday night is our last night here but in my book the last night is tonight. Right now it looks a bit like a tornado swept through this place but when I get through with it tomorrow Hurricane Jack will make it feel like a 7.2 earthquake has come through here. It won’t resemble home at all. It will be a few boxes, scraps of paper and the beds.  The bookcases are naked and the shelves devoid of the pictures that helped to add warmth to the room. The CDs have been packed up and boxed alongside the vinyl 33s that I say I am going to play again.

As I sit here typing Sweet Child of Mine is playing and I find myself remembering what it was like to roam the Sunset Strip in the late eighties and early nineties. Big hair, red fingernails, leather skirts and long legs that gave me all sorts of funny ideas. We didn’t hit the strip often, but every now and then it made for a fun time. I can see us riding in the back of an old convertible next to guys on Harleys. Skinny guy with long hair, headband and a bad attitude is shouting at us. We’re stopped at a light and he is talking way too much for a guy who is alone.

He stares at me and rattles off a bunch of names. I laugh and tell him that I don’t hit girls. The guys in the car laugh and we slap hands. While my head is turned he takes a swing at me but doesn’t quite connect. Someone hasn’t figured out that a Harley isn’t a warhorse. It doesn’t have a mind of its own. It won’t kick, bite or protect the knight who is riding it. He ends up falling against the car- right where I happen to be sitting. I am true to my word, I don’t hit him.

+++++

Moving under any circumstances brings a certain amount of stress but this time around there is more than normal. If karma is real I might need to think about why things have happened like this and figure out what my role is., but I won’t. Much as I like the idea of fate and or destiny being involved I just don’t buy into it or so I say. This situation is explained far too easily. There is nothing abnormal or supernatural about it. That doesn’t make me feel any differently about it. There will be no tears or laughter because of that.

I have long since turned this situation into business. That is how I view it. I pull emotion out and look at it as objectively as I can. The reality is that if you love your home it is invaluable to you. You could have given me a billion dollars and there would be some sorrow at leaving. The dark haired beauty was created in this house. The kids learned how to walk here. This neighborhood is where they went through a million different pieces of childhood. This is the last house my grandparents saw me in. This is the scene and the setting of triumph, tragedy and failure.

Ten years ago I watched them jump from the towers while my son built towers with blocks and knocked them down. This is the house where Thomas the Tank Engine made him jump up and down with excitement. It is where Dora had a dance party and children celebrated a million different events big and small. Or should I say…it was because that place exists now only in memory.

+++++

When you weigh a buck twenty naked you need to remember that a headband, shoes and jeans don’t add much more in the way of weight. It is probably not smart to aggravate the guy who has arms like a gorilla and hands that his friends call paws because if you do he might gently use your lips to buff the side of the car. And one day years later he might sigh wistfully and wish that it had been videotaped because he recognizes that some memories evolve over time.

It has been fun my friends. Be good to each other.