Musical Bookends Needed!

Okay, Fragmented Few, here’s an opportunity to pool your collective nostalgia and set the musical score.

The situation: on Saturday at the Roanoke NPR station, I recorded a shortened version of the Reunion piece posted here a while back. Dutchie at WVTF wants me to suggest an appropriate musical introduction and trailer for the piece. It needs to be instrumental because the spoken intro and byline will have to be done over top of it.

Of course, given the nature of the little essay, it should be an “oldie” from the sixties–a melody, I think, that is more emotionally evocative than rhythmatic; and preferrably one whose title has to do with love lost or found.

I have one such song in mind, but won’t bias you by telling yet. I’d be interested in hearing your ideas, you boomers out there. Send those cards and letters in. The winning submission gets a free pack of Fragments Notecards. Drawing ends at midnight, Friday, December 22.

Sand in the Gears

Technology. Bah! Humbug. It’s down a few notches on my list of the Wonders of our Age. Sometimes I wonder how things would be without so much of it intruding into our dreams and waking hours. But then, I’ve just been dealing too much lately with computer keyboards and not enough with family and friends. Maybe that is about to come to an end. I’ll be with folks for the bulk of today, much of tomorrow, and away from blogger issues, upgrade decisions and the fine print of digital paperwork. I bet I’ll wake up in a more technophilic state of mind tomorrow.

Blogger is unreliable. Several times in the past two weeks, it won’t let me post (like yesterday for instance.) Then after I give up and am away, mysteriously, it posts. Something about an sFTP socket error.

Failing Memory
I probably should upgrade and add another gig of RAM to bring my 3.5 year old desktop up to 2 GB. On such an old machine, does that make sense? And with four 256Mb chips in the four slots, I’d have to replace them all with 512MB chips to get to two gig–more than $200 upgrade. I’ve lived this long with barely enough memory to run Photoshop, Word, Excel and InDesign at the same time–sluggishly. Maybe I should just make do.

Did I say that?
The speech-to-text software (Naturally Speaking) is a mixed blessing. I can’t use it in the mornings when I do a good bit of my writing because Ann is either here talking or here asleep. It has done some strange things on my desktop–like hanging the system during use, deleting entire email messages suddenly, as if I said “the dog ate my lunch” which means “delete this document immediately!” On the laptop, it is helping with the physical therapy paperwork, now that I’ve finally trained it to recognize that I’m saying PARASPINALS and not PAIR OF SPINE EELS. And so on.

Thanks to Fragments friend, reader-editor Bob, for helping me find my way forward into what happens next with the life of Slow Road Home. I’m dipping into the last of the offset-printed books (about 160 left from the first shipment of 1145) and need to move on. Here’s what I’ve decided to do, with advice of those who have a better idea of how these things work than I do: Have the book digitally printed. Call it a second edition rather than merely a revision (it has a full TOC and I made maybe 100 small changes and a dozen corrections). Give it a new ISBN number (I purchased a bundle of 10 and only used the one for SRH 1st ed so far). Get a Library of Congress catalog number for the book (a PCN that is the self–published book version of the LCC#). This process will pass the book back through Books in Print and help it “start over” with the potential of distribution through Ingrams to those places that wouldn’t bother ordering it from my back room here on Goose Creek. So all that is in place, just awaiting a few final details.

Christmas Giftpack from Goose Creek
Thanks to all who have availed themselves of the one-book plus notecard set offer for $25. I packed one up last night, and stopped for a minute to really appreciate how amazing that really was. Last year this month, I told people (and myself) I was finally going to complete the book. I honestly didn’t know if I would or could do it. Then it was done. Then hundreds of them came up our drive on a truck. Then I wondered if I’d still have 900 in the Annex come Christmas. The notecards came only a week ago–at Ann’s insistence, and now I’ve done another thing I said I was going to do “some day” but never really believed myself. And what a wonderful role you readers, friends, editors, writers, bloggers and general characters, online and local, have played in all of this. And that is the most wonderful part–to be able to share these times from this place with you, in words and pixels.

And coming full circle, it certainly wouldn’t have happened this way without the marvelous technologies that we rely on. When they work, they are the most amazing tools. Now, let’s see if the software will hark up a hairball when I try to post this at 6:45 on Saturday morning…

Mixed Nuts

NOAA Wx Radio’s Greatest Hits

We call him Jose because he seems to have a south-of-the-border ESL quality to his robot speech as he reads the weather synopsis, forecast or current readings of conditions around the area. He came out with a good one yesterday. Of course he just reads what the statisticians put before him:

November 19, 2006. Blacksburg Virginia set a record for snowfall amount of TRACE which exceeds the former snowfall record for this date of ZERO recorded in 2002.

Words Fit to Print

Drove to Wytheville yesterday to make final arrangements for the notecards. They are spot-on and will be ready for me to pick up on Friday, December 1. But the best part of the trip was the guided tour of the facility at Wordsprint, owned and operated by Bill Gilmer. We knew Bill when he moved to Wytheville in the mid-eighties, a young man with the purpose to live away from town, and write–short stories. He took in typing by the page because it was something he did well. He now has both floors of the old Leggetts building on main street, twenty employees, and a thriving regional print and mail business. I’m pleased with what he’s produced for me, and more than that, with what he has produced for himself and the community by persistence, character and hard work.

Words Fit to Finesse

Two words were added to the Fragmented Fred lexicon at the writers workshop in Tennessee a few weeks back. I’ll share: 1) efreet (or afrit) — an evil spirit, especially in Arab mythology. It came up in a bit of science fiction poetry that was read, and everybody went HUH? and 2) ekphrasis, which poets are more likely to know, perhaps, than other flavors of writers. And I guess it deserves more, because without knowing it, it is this kind of one art leading to or enhanced by another that is inherent in my “images in words and pixels” relationship between photography and the written word. Here’s the fuller description of what the word means:

Ecphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one art tries to relate to another art by defining and describing the essence and form of that original art, and in doing so, “speak to you” through its illuminative liveliness. A descriptive work of prose or one of poetry, a film, or even a photograph may thus highlight through its rhetorical vividness what is happening, or what is shown in, say, any of the visual arts, and in doing so, may enhance the original art and so take on a life of its own through its brilliant description. The kinds of art described in this way may include painting, photography, sculpture, architecture, etc.

And a third word often used, never dissected by me until someone did so in church a couple of weeks ago. The word is SARCASM, and I claim it reluctantly as a perverse gift of mine, pulled out when threatened, wounded or frustrated, usually with family. And I should have picked up on the word root long ago; it is well-known in medical terminology (e.g. sarcoplasm). It is in the word sarcophagus. In the word sarcasm, too, sarc– means flesh. When we use sarcasm in our language, it causes the hearer to bite the flesh of their lip in pain, is the original meaning. I’ll remember this, next time my words risk wounding another.