Henry Rollins – Frequent Flyer Tour

Last night my wife and I got to get out of the house without the kids. This is noteworthy in and of itself. Even cooler is what we did. We went to a local theatre and see Henry Rollins at a stop on his Frequent Flyer spoken word tour. It was amazing.

For those who are unfamiliar with Henry Rollins, here’s some info from wikipedia:

Henry Rollins (born February 13, 1961 as Henry Lawrence Garfield) is an American singer-songwriter, raconteur, stand-up comedian, spoken word artist, writer, publisher, actor, radio DJ, and activist. After joining the short-lived Washington D.C. band State of Alert in 1980, Rollins fronted the California hardcore punk band Black Flag from 1981 until 1986. Following the band’s breakup, Rollins soon established the record label and publishing company 2.13.61 to release his spoken word albums, as well as forming the Rollins Band, which toured with a number of lineups until 2003 and during 2006.

Since Black Flag, Rollins has embarked on projects covering a variety of media. He has hosted numerous radio shows, such as Harmony In My Head on Indie 103, and television shows, such as The Henry Rollins Show, MTV’s 120 Minutes,and Jackass. He had a recurring dramatic role as a white supremacist in the second season of Sons of Anarchy and has also had roles in several films. Rollins has also campaigned for human rights in the United States, promoting gay rights in particular, and tours overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.

He talked about everything really, with the intensity of a, well, punk rocker, the humor of a stand-up comedian, and a knowledge of the Constitution that would best 95% of the United States population (seriously, he seemed to have large chunks of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence memorized). It was the quickest three hours I have spent in my life. His talk was just so interesting and fast paced that when it was over and he told us he had talked for three hours I was stunned. I probably could’ve listened for three more hours (with a bathroom break of course).

The most impressive part of the talk, other than his knowledge of the world, was just the sheer intensity he demonstrated. He didn’t take one drink of water, or even really pause once during the talk, and I’m certain he didn’t speak the word “um” once. Try that sometime in your public speaking.

Henry Rollins has obviously perfected the art of the spoken word. Now, I was never able to see Michael Jordan in his Chicago Bulls heyday, or witness Roberto Clemente gun somebody down at third base, but having seen Henry Rollins speak, I have an idea what that would be like.

For those interested in more details of last night’s show, here are a couple articles from local reporters:

The Collegian

StateCollege.com

Douglas Adams Lecture

Boing Boing posted this wonderful lecture by the late Douglas Adams.  I just had to share it because one, he wrote Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, two because I love smart people, and three because he was a procrastinator much like myself.  For example, he said this regarding deadlines:

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

The video is over an hour long, so let’s pretend this is a really long post instead of a very short one.

Robert Culp

If it’s trouble you’re looking for, you’ve just come across the West Coast distributor.” – Bill Maxwell from Greatest American Hero

Actor Robert Culp died yesterday at the age of 79, after falling near his California home. Mr. Culp played FBI agent Bill Maxwell in Greatest American Hero, one of my favorite shows of my childhood. His role was mentor and straight man in the show, tasked with trying to help the title character with his super hero costume and his search for the instruction manual on how to use it.

He also had a more recent role as Raymond’s father in law in Everybody Loves Raymond, which made me happy. It made me even happier that Katherine Helmond (Mona from Who’s the Boss) played his ex-wife in the show.

Anyway, it always feels a bit funny to me, being sad when a celebrity dies. It’s not like I knew the guy, although it in a way I did. Or, at least I knew his character Bill Maxwell who I suppose died in a way yesterday as well.  I don’t know.

What I do know is there’s a pretty good chance I’m gonna pop my Greatest American Hero DVD into the old player tonight in honor of Robert Culp.

Note: Another favorite show of mine was Dukes of Hazard, but don’t hold that against me. After all, I was 5 and it was about car chases and guys yelling “ye haw!”)

Charlotte’s Web

Last Friday evening, at bedtime, I read my daughter her first ever “chapter book”, i.e. a book with mostly words rather than pictures. It’s about three years earlier than I thought, mind you, but I’m very excited. It seems to me like my parenting philosophy of letting things like this happen and seeing what the reactions are, is paying off. I guess you could call it “seat of the pants” parenting, not much different than my writing, really.

Here’s how it happened. Friday night, my wife took our daughter (who is nearly 4 years old now, eek!) to the library for a bingo night.  I’m not sure what really happened at bingo night other than they were in the kid’s section of the library, they weren’t allowed to be “too loud”, they had a really good time, and my daughter won a copy of  Charlotte’s Web. Upon hearing this I was ecstatic. I mean, free books? Yay!

When it was time for bed, like most nights, my wife took the boy to feed him to get him to sleep, and I went with my daughter to her room to read to her a bit before bedtime.  I asked her if she wanted me to read Charlotte’s Web and she said yes. I told her there weren’t any pictures and she said she was okay with it. I read a chapter, not sure how long I’d keep her attention and even more unsure if it would help her fall asleep. Well, she had a few questions while I was reading (a good sign) and we made it through one chapter before I asked her if she wanted to continue to read or go to sleep. She chose sleep and I put down the book.

The following night we read a second chapter and she did equally well, remembering right where we left off. It was an amazing feeling.

So, yeah, we’re now onto “real books”. It’s very cool indeed. I’m sure we’ll continue to do picture books as well, and I’m happy with that too. Still, I feel like we’ve leveled up a bit, my daughter and I. I also know these days won’t last forever. For now, though, I’m enjoying every minute of it. Now, if we could just get the one year old to sit still long enough to finish a five page board book. Boys…

Daylight is Saved, but at What Cost?

Can we switch back the clocks? Pretty please?

Daylight savings time plus my daughter’s one last final head cold (I really hope so) has kicked our butts this week. Not only are the kids having a hard time realizing that it’s nighttime at their usual pre-savings time bedtimes, but when my daughter finally does go to sleep she’s up several times in the night with a cough. Last night was a particular rough one, as the daughter woke up, asked for a drink, and then flipped out when I brought water instead of juice. When I refused, she screamed/cried enough to wake up her brother, good ol’ T-Mike. Ah well.

So, not much writing has been accomplished. I did get a few minutes yesterday outside and did a little bit of weeding in our flowerbed, “deadheading” the flowers, something I should’ve done last Autumn.  And, it has been gorgeous outside. 70+ degrees in March is a beautiful thing.

Writers Colonies

Nova Ren Suma, author of tween novel Dani Noir had a very interesting article yesterday on the subject of writers colonies.  In a few weeks, you see, Nova will be heading off to a writers colony called Yado.  I ask all of you writers out there to take a moment and read her post. It’s very good and will most likely give you a little writing energy boost. It did me, anyway.

What is a writers colony you ask? Basically it’s a place you can go anywhere from a month to over a month and live there on a beautiful grounds and just write.  Some cost money, and some don’t. Most have an application process to get in. Most have Internet restrictions (I think), and at least some provide meals for the writers while in residence (hence the fee).

I have to admit this is a very romantic idea, to be able to go somewhere away from it all and just write. It is almost magical to think about, really. I doubt I’ll ever be able to do it, what with the kids and the full time job, but you never know. I just thought I’d share it with you all because I thought her post was great and also because maybe one of you would find the information useful.

Enjoy!

This and That

Have you ever been busy but when you look back you can’t really remember what exactly you’ve been busy doing? I guess that’s me lately.

Let’s see. I’ve been playing a bit more hockey than usual. Three games in seven days. That’s not a terrible amount, but is more than my body is used to. What doesn’t help is that most of our players (college age guys) were on spring break so in two of the games I got A LOT of ice time.  Really improved my skating, but this old man is a bit sore.

What else? Hmm. Doing stuff with the kids, I guess. My daughter has a bit of a cough and head cold, but that doesn’t slow her down in the waking hours. She’s been making picture books, which we help with a little bit (she asks us how to spell a word and then she writes it), and really taken a liking to Strawberry Shortcake (Strawberry Shortcake: Happily Ever After, a really cute story which has been the subject of our dinner conversations and the aforementioned books). I think we’re finally exiting the “terrible twos” days. She’ll be four in May.

The son, is enjoying his one-year-old-ness, getting into everything and walking around bumping his head on things, like all healthy one year olds do. He hasn’t said a lot of words yet, but I think he’s close. He also has his first tooth poking out of his bottom gums.

I haven’t done much writing although I do have a new novel idea (finally). Been thinking about that a lot lately and hope to begin writing soon. If I ever get the time. Meaning, if I even stop wasting time on the internet. 🙂

Books Glorious Books

As always, a bunch of books have caught my eye lately. So, I thought I’d share the awesomness. Apologies to your wallet in advance.

Close personal friend of the blog, Heidi Willis, has a book out titled Some Kind of Normal.

About the book (via Amazon.com):

How far would you go to save the life of someone you love? This is the question the Babcock family struggles with when 12-year-old Ashley is diagnosed with diabetes, which quickly turns deadly. A day or two in the hospital stretches into months as the doctors explore every medical alternative to find a way to cope with the mounting complications, but Ashley continues to deteriorate. If faith can cure Ashley, the folks at First Baptist Church are sure they have more than enough to keep her alive. But as Babs watches her daughter’s life and death struggle and sees her family start to unravel, she turns to the Internet and science to find a solution the doctors say isn’t there.

Here is the book’s trailer:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

You can read the first chapter of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” here (direct link to .pdf)

Here’s a description of the book, but really it’s the 16th President, fighting vampires. Man I wish I wrote this one:

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.”

“My baby boy…” she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation..

A User’s Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty
About the Book

“A User’s Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty” answers the sorts of the questions that we (as physicists) have been drunkenly asked at cocktail parties, but lacked the wherewithal to coherently answer.

* “Can I build a time machine?”

* “What is the universe expanding into?”

* “Won’t the LHC destroy the world?”

Each chapter focuses on a single question, and in the process of answering it, we’ll take you on a roundabout tour of the surrounding countryside, with lots of groan-worthy puns and awesome cartoons to boot. In the process, we promise not to lie to you. No false claims about what physicists know; no describing by analogy; most importantly, no equations (save one famous one).
Excerpt

A cute book I’d like to get for my daughter is called The Soccer Princess: Josephina and the Crustacean King

After a soccer distraction at her home ball, Jo is sent off to the Perfectly Pink Princess Etiquette School, where she doesn’t know how she’s going to fit in and still be true to herself. But she is surprised to meet new similar friends: Football Princess “Mack” and Baseball Princess “Sam”! By day the girls learn princess traits and lessons… by night they practice their sport moves. But when the Crustacean King invades the school and robs the prized Pink Pearl, it’s the Sport Princess’ chance to prove whether their sport skills may pay off.

Author: Bethany Hegerhorst
Illustrator: Stephan Maich
Publisher: Leo Publishing Works, Inc.
Hardcover Picture Book and Jacket
Size: 11×10
Pages: 32

I’m A Figure Skater

Sunday, we went to the ice skating rink for “public session”. It’s a pretty fun time. Pay a few dollars and you get two hours of ice time skating in a circle.

Along with my family, my wife’s friend and her husband came along, as did my parents and couple of my daughter’s little friends and their moms. No, we didn’t all ride in the same car. Don’t think my wife’s VW Beetle would hold quite that many people. It was my 3 1/2 year old daughter’s third time ever, and she was pretty excited.

The first half of the skating session wasn’t too bad. My daughter, using one of those metal walker thingies, would skate forward and I would skate backward in front of her, just in case she needed help. My wife skated beside her and we had a nice leisurely time. Towards the end of the first hour, I pointed out to my daughter the small coned-off section in the middle of the ice that was designated for the figure skaters. I thought nothing more of it.

For the second hour of skating, a couple of my daughter’s friends arrived. It was their first time skating, so they weren’t quite as fast as my daughter. I tried to keep her slowed down so they could all skate together, but that was like trying to keep a bowling ball from rolling down a steep hill. Then she started to get brave.

First, she decided she didn’t want the walker anymore. Fine. We ditched that and I skated backwards and held her hands. I thought she was very brave and only slightly risky. Then she didn’t want me to hold her hands. She wanted to skate on her own. I thought this was insane and wouldn’t last very long. I mean, this is a girl that just learned to walk two years ago and had only been skating two other times. There were many adults on that ice clinging to the sideboards because they couldn’t skate. Not my daughter. She actually started to skate on her own.

Was that enough? Of course not. Next, she decided she would stop in the middle of the ice and do some turns, all the while saying “I’m a figure skater”. Remember that from a few paragraphs ago? I do too, now. And so it was for the remainder of our time on the ice. She did remarkable well, falling a few times, but not too often. All the while saying “I’m a figure skater”.

I have to say I admire her courage. The girl has no fear. I can only imagine the trouble I’ll have if she’s this brave when she’s 16. Actually, I’d rather not think about it.

Anyhow, we all had a great time on the ice yesterday. Old daddy’s a bit sore today from all that backward skating, plus my hockey game last night. It was all worth it, though.

Dark and Stormy Win

Author Natalie Whipple, had a writing contest on her blog  Between Fact and Fiction this past week. The objective, in her words, was this:

People say never to open with the weather, but I want you to do just that—make the weather opener interesting. It doesn’t have to be entirely about the weather, but weather’s gotta be somewhere in your 250 word limit.

I’ve been a little bit of a rut lately, so I figured I’d take up the challenge and see what I could come up with. I knew I could never write as well as my favorite author of all time, Snoopy (of “It was a dark and stormy night” fame), but I hoped I’d at least have some fun with it.

To my surprise, I wound up coming in 3rd place out of 49. Pretty cool, right? So cool, in fact, I thought I share my entry with you all. Who knows, maybe I’ll turn this into a novel, or something. Here it is:

She was as cold and bleak as a February morning. That was the truth, and Rube knew it. He lay on his back in the grubby days-old snow, thinking about her and staring at the sky.

He hadn’t planned on conducting an impromptu Meteorological study, but his to-do list for the day hadn’t included being on the receiving end of a right cross, either.

Maybe he shouldn’t have said it. Perhaps it would have been better if he hadn’t insulted her and instead just walked out the door. Who was he kidding? Of course it would’ve been better. If he had just shut his mouth, his flannel pants would not be soaked and his lip would not have the nice little crater in the middle. And his comic book collection wouldn’t be wedged in the snow drift.

As he struggled to his feet, Rube grabbed a handful of snow and placed it on his lip, hoping the cold would stop the bleeding. He took a final look at the closed door. The stupid snowman wreath, knocked askew when she slammed the door, hung crooked in the same spot it occupied since the previous winter. It would drive her nuts. He smiled.

He should have split a long time ago. It was a blessing that he and his fledgling one man private detective agency were tossed out. In fact, if he had to do it all over again he wouldn’t change a thing. Except perhaps duck his mother’s right hand

Thanks again, Natalie.