…funk for the old soul…

Archive for January, 2010

Buffalo Snowy Day

Posted by crowbiz on January 28, 2010

Home Snow Home

Depending on your experience with winter, file this under either “So What?” or “Oooo.”  Much as I dislike winter, I’ve been waiting for a good old-fashioned snowy day for a couple weeks now, if for no other reason than to justify life in this cold, windy, forsaken land.  It was only several inches, but still, it was good for covering up the dirty crap.

The boys were off at 7:40 am.  The bus was on time for SonToo, and SonWon decided to walk with his buddy (a one mile slog ; we ain’t raisin’ no wimps).  I got to shoveling out Mr Crow’s car and carving a little path out of the house.  Notice the cheerily blue sky; it’s nature’s ruse, as we’re set to get another five inches by dinnertime.  As I write this one hour after the photos, the skies have darkened and wave #2 is coming in, and will likely reach its worst exactly when I’m out running errands.

People think the life of a world-famous blogger and entrepreneur is a whirlwind of expense account lunches, fast-paced production sessions and prepping in the green room for my monthly appearances on the Today Show.  Not so – there is unglamorous work to be done!  I chose to out myself before I end up on one of those “celebrities without makeup” websites, so here I am in my $16 Target snowpants (Girls’ Dept.), the requisite Sorels and assorted winter gear carelessly grabbed from the front hall.

Someone visiting Buffalo once oohed and aahed over a measly few inch snowfall and asked “what it means” when we get, say, a foot of snow.  I thought for a few seconds (it would have been shorter, but I was waiting for her to say more… like, a foot of snow in three hours) and said that getting a foot of snow in a day means that you might be five minutes late to hockey practice.

Dig it!

This begs the question: "Do these $16-Target-girls-snowpants" make my butt look big?"

Lexington and Richmond

"I'm Queen of the Drift!"

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Recipe for Phun

Posted by crowbiz on January 21, 2010

With these gloomy days of winter upon me, it’s all I can do to avoid plunging face-down into a carbohydrate-fueled funk every day.   Here’s a little gem I found last summer in SonWon’s shorts pocket and just rediscovered among my papers this week.  It was a to-do list he had made for his 10th birthday last July.  Against all sense, we agreed to host a party and sleepover of seven boys, and G-man – normally as structured as a weed garden – decided it was monumental enough an event to actually plan out.  It’s a bit herky-jerky, with some group activities scheduled to begin before the 5:00 guest arrival time, but c’est la vie when you’re turning 10.

The Perfect Day

Though his spelling and penmanship hint strongly at “short bus,” I’m happy to say that the boy attends an honors school, which – thank god – recognizes other characteristics.

Thus I give you a breath of childhood summer:

1.  Eat breakfast

2.  Collect water guns

3.  Start war and make fort

4.  Wait for 5:00

5.  really start war

(He crossed off these first five items, but evidently, the action began in earnest after this and there was no more time to follow the protocol.)

6. dry off    split into two groups.  play Playmobile.

7.  open presents and mabe biuld one    (Confident he would get several coveted  Lego sets – it goes unsaid)

8.  Play some more, eat.

9.  watch moive

10.  “go to sleep” and draw on someones face   (Foiled!  Sadly, the intended target didn’t fall asleep first.)

11.  build more lego and go to sleep

Would that we could all have that day.

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Tips For Lousy Writing

Posted by crowbiz on January 3, 2010

Notice this post isn’t titled “Ways To Become A Good Writer.”  If I knew that, would I have a blog?  Rather, it’s a little cautionary tale about writing potholes that you’d rather not bend a rim over.

Now then, I could well conduct an authoritative set of lessons on good academic writing and good scientific writing.  I get paid to do that, though the outcome usually leaves me disappointed in the state of humanity.  Most of my directives can be boiled down into “cut the wordiness” and “this is not a ninth grade book report.”  But do they listen?  If they did, I’d never again have to read, “the conclusion of the data of this research on the study of the experiment’s work definitely points to a hugely important finding.”  From graduating college seniors.

Anyway, here is my bad advice for today, applicable to fiction writing:

Channel Your Inner College Sophomore.

Oh god.  I’ve been writing since I was eight years old.  It doesn’t mean I’m any good, but it does mean that I’ve gone through a lot of attempts at something.  My glory years were in college, unsurprisingly, when the world and your thoughts about it become ever more interesting, and you have time to write.  At that stage in my life, I enjoyed manufacturing angst the way cows make manure.  With no warning about a future life of mortgage payments, car repairs, permission slips, endless hockey schedules, and running out of ibuprofen at the worst times, making up strife is all you can do.

For a couple solid years, all my stories seemed to be set in a rather Prague-like place, or occurred sometime in October through March between the World Wars, or contained the desire for something unattainable (the dead lover; recognition; someone’s conversion to something).  Often, it was all of these elements in one dreary tale.

Aiding these criminal devices was my – at that time – fluency with German, which crept into every story.  “Schaden” this and “muede” that…  Characters were of simple means, living on the edge of…of… something, outwardly meager and inwardly a roiling stew.  Everything took place in a Lane Ward-like world of black and white, sharp edges, things divined but unspoken, genderlessness….(drift off here, but with feeling).  One of the most fabulously awful metaphors I produced was that of a tangle of deflated balloons and streamers swirling in the wake of a passing car to signify an unrequited love.  It was after a Halloween festival (October, of course).

Every story was like a shotgun wedding of dimestore Colette and Wal-Mart Kafka, with a little Kurt Weill side affair for both, all with a dash of too many late-night viewings of “Cabaret.”  And wordy.  Hoo boy.  No Hemingway concisely telling us that the sun also rose.  Why use four words when twenty-seven words, several of them German, would tell us how the sun broke bleakly over the ineffable troubles of my lost-soul characters and….  Wait, there was no sun in my stories.  It was November.  In Prague.  How I wish I still had some of these stories!  Alas, they were produced on both manual and electric typewriters, and didn’t stand a chance of lasting 20+ years.

We beg of you, please wait until you’re over yourself until you start writing something.  It’s OK to take notes.  Just promise to throw them out a few years later.

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