What We Lost Yesterday

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Yesterday the world lost a beautiful freak, an unapologetic weirdo, guitar-slinging, soul-singing, Jesus-loving libertine, Svengali-like madman of a genius whose inspired lunacy helped me survive adolescence, financial drama and instilled a weird belief that dorky afro-clad kids from Minneapolis can grow up to make a living sharing their funky daydreams with the world.

And that’s kind of a beautiful gift to give somebody, isn’t it?

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Reading: Do People Still Do That?

Anyone willing to admit to being an audiobook reader? (listener?). For whatever reason I tend to lean toward non-fiction with audiobooks, but I am not all insulted by the thought of having my words listened to as opposed to read. In fact, I embrace the format, literary purity be damned.

What about you, crime fiction hounds? Is the experience different, richer, more vivid when your nose is buried in a book? Or when the words are brought to life by a skilled actor?

There are those put off by the passive nature of audiobooks. It’s not really reading, they shriek. And it’s not. But it’s the way we’ve told stories throughout almost all of human history. Literacy is fairly recent development in our world — and rare until very recently. Of course, that does make reading wrong or bad. But it’s tempting to fear that reading will ultimately prove to be a passing fad.

Think about it: once our cars and computers and household appliances have the technological wherewithal to talk to us, reading could become obsolete, as unnecessary an act as handwashing clothes or tanning a hide. And we’ll be left with our talking ovens and blenders. And our talking history books telling us about an ancient race of people that actually had to communicate through goofy-looking symbols on screen or, weirder yet, on something called “paper.”

But then again, riding a horse is, strictly speaking, an unnecessary act in the age of the automobile. Just like playing a musical instrument in the world of digitalized music. But that doesn’t stop me from taking great joy in playing my ukulele.

For now, I’ll take both. But today you get audio only. Here’s Woman Seeking Men. I wrote it and did the male voices. But Dawn Brodey is the star. Enjoy:

Monday’s Confession: I’m a writer because I’m bad at all the other things

I’ve always written. I’ve always written a lot and I’ve always written without much effort or inducement. To be clear, writing well is as big a challenge for me as it is for anybody else, but writing itself is just something I just do – pretty much all the time. It started as daydreaming when I should have been paying attention in math class or at football practice or at the dinner table. It then snowballed into writing the daydreams down. Fast-forward to today, and I’m the same dorky kid minus the Freddy Mercury-like overbite (no, I won’t share pictures) stealing an extra moment to scribble away the latest chapter from a story I’m working on.

When I hear other scribes frustrated by writers block, I almost feel embarrassed to admit that the pump in my head never needs much priming. My brain is constantly flowing with ideas, descriptions, plots, subplots, dialogues, monologues and punch lines. This is a good brain to have for a writer.

But it’s a bad brain to have for being anything else.

Examples include everything else I’ve ever tried to support myself with while pursuing writing: Telemarketer, cashier, assembly line worker, janitor, newspaper delivery boy. Yes, I was bad at delivering newspapers.

I’ve only been fired a few times. Mostly I would just quit and move to the next, hoping my drifting attention span wouldn’t mess that job up too. But it always did.

During the course of being really bad at things, I developed an odd affinity for the truly incompetthisoneent. I recall once feeling bad for an oil tanker captain whose ineptitude led to an enormous oil spill with untold damage to marine life. According to the conventional checklist of symptoms, I have Asberger’s-like levels of whatever it is people with Asberger’s have, but really this is just another way of saying I was meant to be a weaver of tales and not, God help us all, an oil tanker captain or an air traffic controller.

And that’s why I’m a writer. No collateral damage.