The Cars Lead Singer Ben Orr

The Cars lead co-lead singer, Benjamin Orr, along with fellow singer, Rick Ocasek, brought Boston's favorite band (okay, maybe next to Aerosmith) to national attention.  Ben Orr was the "sexy one".  Good looks, British mop-top 'do, and a velvet voice brought the ladies out to The Cars tours.

The ravages of pancreatic cancer--the most virulent of cancers--robbed The Cars and their fans of Ben in year 2000.  He was only 53.  Below is a video of the band only months before Ben's passing.  Ben insisted, despite his terminal condition, to sit in with his bandmates for what would be the final interview of the original The Cars band.  The video is hard to watch--Ben's robust good looks and athletic build has been stolen by the cancer. Eliot (guitar) speaks first, then Greg (keyboards), and Rick (lead), and then...Ben (at 1:58).  +While my guitar gently weeps+


Death According To Holden

Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 20


St. Charles Illinois Writers Group

Wonderful weekend in Geneva, with the Swedish Days.  Saw bands outdoors on Friday night, ate at some cool restaurants, all with our lovely and fun 21 year old niece, Sydney.  Today it's bicycling to the windmill and lunch at a local deli on Third Street.

With my wife and Sydney eating at a bookstore cafe and taking a cardmaking class yesterday morning, I had an open schedule to write, and looked at the St Charles, Illinois library hours and what did I see?  The St Charles Illinois Writers Group, which meets for two-and-a-half hours every other Saturday, and have done so since 1996!  Expecting a handful of people, the group had 26 writers yesterday, some of which were published authors.  One submits a work (under 3000 words) on paper and in two weeks, everyone is to have read it, marked it up, and given it insightful comments and ideas.  The group leader, Rick Hollinger, has a doctorate in creative writing and is a writing professor. The youngest in the group appeared to be 22, the oldest about 80.

It's fun and enjoyable to hang out with others who share my muse.  For anyone interested, the St Charles Illinois public library website has more information.


A True Classic Commercial: Apple

I'm using my MacBook Pro daily for writing, and find it easy to use, quick to start, and aside from a few quirky glitches compared to my Win7 laptop, a breeze to learn. And with OS Lion in July, I will be using the iCloud to sync my iPod and my iPad to the Macbook for the ultimate traveling setup. Appreciate the efforts of Mr Jobs.

I bought it to use Scrivener, the much touted writing software.  Although there is a new, very buggy version of Scrivener for Windows, I can see that there's at least a year or more until the parent company gets it even close to the updated v2.0 of the long-honed Mac version.  With only one laptop Win 7 that I own (with all my photos, iTunes, the works), I thought I'd check out the Apple store.  With over $200 in discounts for academia (my U of Illinois clinical instructor ID card), I took the leap.  After a week, it's a superb machine, with plenty of horsepower for what I need.  I did not get the MacBook Air (which will be updated yet this summer--the MacBook Pro was updated in March) because its increased portability (2.3 lbs) comes at too great an expense (high price, only 128GB SSD, no backlighted keyboard, shorter battery life than MacBook Pro, no DVD CD slot, etc.).

So far so good on the Macbook Pro (Intel i5 2.4mHz chip, 320 HD, 4.1 lbs, 13.3 all glass screen, aluminum body, DVD slot (no tray), Magsafe AC cord, and silent as a titmouse (no HD or fan noise, at all), and I especially love the longest battery life I've ever had on a laptop at 7-8 hours (I tested it yesterday, it's about 7.65 hours).  Some quirks of the main software are unlikeable (expanding window does not fill the page, no inherent way to delete/uninstall programs -- have to buy a third party program to do so, no right click button), but those might be fixed with the Lion OS, a new operating system that comes out in July, which I will get for free since I bought the Macbook after the announcement of it.

Having all information on the free iCloud will be a help.  My writings will be available on all my Apple devices, which will allow me to better use my time.  For instance, I can write on my Macbook, and edit on my iPad or iPod Touch in any wi-fi hotspot.  All photos, all music, all everything is on all devices all the time, instantly.  No more syncing cables.

I'll review Scrivener software after using it longer, but so far so good.  Very organized for writers, and lets me manipulate portions of my longer work much better than MS Word 2010.

The MacBook Pro does come with software (no bloatware), and a user who knows how to use it (I likely never will, fully) made this video on youtube using only the video editing program that is standard on MacBook Pro.  Enjoy!


Breaking Bread With The Best, Writers

I’m amazed by the writers that I enjoy reading.  The ones I prefer are adept at character-driven, literary fiction.  I don’t read genre fiction any longer.  Although James Patterson, Harlan Coban and Michael Connelly have intriguing plots with more twists than a bread tie, I find that the bread within is plain white.  Wonder bread.  The stuff of PB and J.  Nothing wrong with Wonder bread, mind you.  Just sometimes like something a little more substantial.  Healthy.  Unique.  Chewy. 

But to read a fantastic author, although an acquired taste, is downright delectable.  Cormac McCarthy (The Road is the best book I have ever read).  JD Salinger.  Ernest Hemingway.  F Scott Fitzgerald (I’m reading The Great Gatsby right now).  Oh, the grainy rye of these talented writers.
I find the thing that most separates these literary greats from some of the more prolific writers of plot-driven fiction is their uncanny ability to communicate the most subtle of feelings with actions, not words.  The writers I favor -- and not even all literary authors write this way -- give a reader a sense of character from action and dialogue.  They don’t “tell” us that old Bessie is angry as a hornet.  They “show” us old Bessie, wringing out the wet laundry on the scrub board.  We don’t need them to tell us the laundry is the philandering husband’s neck.  We get it.  Literary fiction from world-class writers allows us, the readers, to figure out the characters, their thoughts and their motivations -- Triscuits of word puzzles, true treats for the hungry reader.

I have learned so much from reading these authors.  Every time I write -- and having completed one short story for Glimmer Train and having four others in various states of creation in my Scrivener “chop shop”, I am now writing daily -- I revise my words to communicate meaning through action.  Each and every time I write “she thought”, or “he wondered”, I stop myself.  I get back to my mentors, the writers I emulate.  And I rewrite the passage with an action rather than a thought.  A telling piece of dialogue rather than a mental note.

Many thanks to the best teachers I could ever hope for: the writers I love.  

Wham-O Tank


I'd give my left nut for a showroom new 1975 Mercury Cougar with clustered instrument panel.


What a great blog!  No, no, not mine, which is full of random thoughts about my convoluted time on planet Earth, but the one linked above.  As every writer knows, every word is important.  Like small poems, these six line "stories" are like a tiny bite from a jumbo chocolate chip cookie.  Each a morsel of fine writing served on a pretty platter than is the website.  I enjoy this site daily.

(p.s. the post above is exactly six lines)


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