Thursday, May 28, 2009

Philanthropy and Other Words I can Spell

Philanthropy is a good thing. I wish I had more to give. Something between what I actually have and the pesky billions that Gates and Buffet have to struggle to organize and give away.

That's FFP with a sign in the front of Arthouse at Jones Center. We were a minor sponsor so they put our names there. Deprived FFP or one of his 'r's though. (Rule of thumb: spell donor's names correctly. Double check.)

Reading List
I haven't been getting much reading done. The other night I told a friend that when we went to New York we planned to go to Symphony Space and hear actors read from James Joyce's Ulysses. The friend looked a little puzzled. I said "It's Bloomsday, June 16, the day the book is about. You've read it?" "Nobody has read it, all the way through," he asserted. "I've read at it." Well, I did. It took a long time, but I did. But lately magazines and newspapers (mostly papers) are all I seem to get around to reading. I have been listening in my rare and short car trips to books on tape and I've been listening to an explicaton of Wagner's Ring Cycle that has the occasional musical fragment. Have decided I need to see the Ring someday, but maybe not someday soon.

I worked on the novel some. A character I hadn't really anticipated having showed up due to some random detail I wanted to include because I found it amusing. Then this ten-year-old semi-prodigy hijacked the book. The main character (assuming he can hold onto that position) and the boy child are frozen now in a game of Scrabble and a discussion of tennis and life. And the meaning of the word 'craven' which I anticipate the man will make by adding an 'n' and other characters to the boy's word 'crave.' I will, with craven disregard for the folly of it, milk all the metaphor I can from all of this. I am wondering what word the man should make crossing craven. Perhaps 'knight.' I really haven't written all of's mostly in my head. I think they are really eating dinner and haven't fetched the Scrabble set yet. I had to research the letter mix in Scrabble to think about this, however.
A-9 B-2 C-2 D-4 E-12 F-2 G-3 H-2 I-9 J-1 K-1 L-4 M-2 N-6 O-8 P-2 Q-1 R-6 S-4 T-6 U-4 V-2 W-2 X-1 Y-2 Z-1 Blank-2

Where is the Time Going?

Well. Screening movies for Austin Film Festival. Not allowed to say anything except the most general about that. I have decided, however, that use of the following devices to drive the narrative has to be done with care: road trip; time travel; youthful angst; drug use; the play (or film) within the play (or film); mistaken identity; vomiting; your friends' music; multi-generational conflict; fake documentary pose. Also, I believe documentarians will finally get so close to the interview subjects that we will be looking at a single eyeball. Then it will be cool to pull out again until the subjects are speaking from down the street.

I've been planning my New York trip. Seems it will be interesting.

I've been getting out and about. End of social season hasn't really stopped the non-stop scene downtown. Sometimes I don't think I'm up to it.

My tennis doubles continue. I have more wins than losses in these casual games. Am convinced the secret is encouraging your partner and capitalizing on her strengths while looking for weaknesses to exploit when the person becomes an opponent. We change partners after each set. And yeah I've been watching too much tennis. I confine tennis watching to Grand Slams. Still too much.

I'm thinking of trying to improve my exercise and diet (inspired by one friend) and write more (inspired by another).

I've been writing too many tweets (which I have set to migrate to facebook where most of the friends are). I should blog more. Or write my novel. Or read a book. Or go to the movies. I'd like to see Up in 3D. I have three Netflixs I've had forever. Sigh.

And to a museum opening and some jazz.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pleasing the Public

If you had a store, what would you sell? (Here we have some of the wares recently on display at Mercury Design Studio on Second Street.)

If you wrote, would you blog, twitter, make facebook notes and updates? Would you labor quietly in your corner on the computer or in longhand on legal pads writing short stories, essays, novels? What would you give the public?

If you were a visual artist, would you make photos, collages, oil paintings, acrylics? Would you represent things realistically? Abstractly? Small works? Big? Sculpture? In what?

Would you insist that people pay to read or look? Or would you just be happy to create and give it away?

Art is a series of choices, but a lot of them, I think, seem pre-ordained to the chooser.

I've been working on a novel that I've been kicking around for a long time. Over two years. The main character is clear in my mind. However, the secondary characters are not. And I apparently can't keep up with the main character's given name. I am working on it, though, not for the public but just as a project that keeps me thinking and researching the peripheral ideas.

I am writing this blog entry, however, why? Because some people don't won't to read twitter updates, facebook comments and look at a blog that is largely about straight-up pictures of Austin. And you have to give your audience something even if it's a weak effort and even if there are very few of them. Not producing anything? Yeah, that's a choice, too. But it seems weak to me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting a Handle on It

There is something I want to do. A goal is lurking out there. Do I want to write? Do I want to make collages? Do I want to research something? Maybe study some obscure historical or technical subject. Throw myself into raising money for a good cause? I think there is something. But I'm not sure what it is.

There is still plenty of 'need to do' activity lurking, of course. Wednesday I attended a couple of meetings at the club. (And got righteously frustrated listening to two issues I have really, really heard quite enough about. Settle them already and move on.) I had to pick up a prescription for my dad and also take him to a doctor yesterday. That and a workout pretty well shot the day. I spent a bit of time on financial shenanigans (not in the Madoff sense, just in the balance checkbooks, pay bills, calculate cash flow sense). There wasn't time for much else especially since we decided to go out for a Happy Hour drink and snacks. There is always some dalliance to displace from any serious endeavor whether it's the must do cleaning and errands or writing a novel or whatever creative and questionably constructive thing that might 'fulfill' me. We really dallied at Ruth's Chris on Wednesday because all the owners were there, they had Guy Forsyth behind the bar, friends wandered by. (One said she moved to Austin on my 50th birthday and was invited to the blow-out party I had by a friend. I had no idea she'd been there.)

I started writing this entry yesterday (Thursday) and decided to displace from it to clean the main bathroom and the bedroom. Then when I got back to it I decided to pick up the fragments of the novel scattered in blog entries and assemble them in a document and work on it a bit. So I did that. It doesn't feel like a particularly profound or necessary piece of work, but I'm thinking that I'll work on it nonetheless. Until some other idea comes along. I've also been working with a children's programming language called Scratch. Ostensibly I'm doing it so I can show it to my nieces for my great nephews and great niece. Really it's sort of fun and I'm interested in the formal logic behind the point and click object-oriented language. Invented at MIT, it is the modern equivalent of the 'turtle graphics' in the old LOGO language. I'm not thinking of getting into programming again. But I am thinking of studying the higher concepts of languages. It is infinitely fascinating to me even though the curtain has been pulled back for me for years and I understand conceptually how it all works. We all think what we are doing on the computer (or a phone or other gadget for that matter) is the interaction. But some levels away the chips follow instructions that are 'hard-wired' into them. And typing a sentence does a plethora of things starting with sending a key from a USB gadget (in this case). I understand this, but I still fall into the 'interface is the message' mode. Programming anything, even coding HTML, removes one from this false world into the inner workings a little, backing up a level.

But I digress. So, yes, I've been fooling with a programming language for kids, making 'sprites' move across a 'stage' sometimes leaving tracks or reacting to other sprites or the edges of the stage.

But I did pull the novel fragments out of this blog and edit and add to them a bit. I have about 3500 words. In that version. There are other versions lying about with completely different character names, events and time lines.

Anyway, I can't seem to finish a blog post. (Let alone a novel.) So I'm going to sign off on this rambling bit and hope that, having this drivel out of the way will help me move on. Yeah. Good luck with that, as the kids say. And move on to...where?

[Photo taken at Mercury Design Studio last weekend. They really come up with some weird goods!]

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Why Haven't You Written?

Remember when there was no on-line chat, no e-mail, no blog, no IMs, no text messages, no social media, no unlimited long distance calling plans even? Yeah, people wrote letters and mailed them. It cost less than forty-four cents to post one, but still what an effort! And people would write you wondering why you hadn't written. And famous peoples' letters were/are preserved in books and carefully archived and edited.

I don't write any more. It's the middle of May and this blog has no entries for May. The Journal of Unintended Consequences is fallow. I'm not writing a novel. Sadly I have been transcribing old journals into the computer. In some cases old 'to do' lists as if this typing was somehow writing. I twitter (and my terse pronouncements are echoed on facebook). People comment. There are e-mails and responses. Today FFP and I actually talked, in person, to an old friend. My time doesn't go to writing. It is swallowed by eating and drinking and watching stuff I shouldn't watch on TV and cleaning. FFP has an excuse...he has writing jobs, he has follow-ups for his non-profits. I'm playing tennis or goofing off. I embrace distractions, I think.

I also am pretty sure that I no longer have anything to say. I started an entry with this title a week or so ago, accidentally lost it. When you become cavilier about your words...yeah, you are probably right about what they are worth.

I have kept up with Austin Daily Photo, which seems like a distraction in and of itself. I updated a friend's WEB page. There is always something else to do besides my own allegedly creative stuff. I need to finish reading the paper, I need to go brush my teeth, I need to pay some bills, I need to tidy my desk.

Life will hand you whatever distractions you need, I think. I'm off to type in years-old paper journals or extract the bits of my novel from this forum and fret over it or, oh, I don't know. But I wanted to stop by and say that I hate that my mantra ("Pretending to write but really just blogging") has now become "Pretending to write but really just tweeting." Heck...I haven't even taken that many shop window reflections lately. (The one here is from weeks ago.)