Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All You Need is Like

I'm just gonna pile onto the original post of this vein. Change a little here, retool a little there, get some mileage outta this baby 'cuz I love it so much and think it's just so freakin' funny.

I think The Boomers are the luckiest generation of the last several before and after, even though several thousand gallons of 50s blood was wasted in Southeast Asia, because of the unique historical and cultural vantage point we've had to watch the digital revolution unfold. Most of us experienced our entire educations without the benefit of a PC, while most of us have experienced the bulk of our careers being married to one. (end of post in progress number two. We now return to our regularly scheduled first post: )

Wherever You Go There You Like

In the beginning there were online bulletin boards...
(CUT! Yeah uh huh that sounds pretty goddamn clever, doesn't it? It's got that smarty pants "life didn't exist before the internet" air to it, and it establishes that bond between YOU, savvy digital intelligentsia, and ME, wireless know-it-all that finds it dreadfully inconvenient to have to write this much without using a hashtag or the "at" symbol at least 3 or 4 times.)

Lucky for us, we know that before online bulletin boards there were these boards, usually made of cork or some other pin-able surface, to which people would affix bulletins -  pieces of paper popularized by their use in the Napoleonic Wars as the name for dispatches sent from the front meant for the home public. Somewhere between then (not the Napoleanic Wars but shortly thereafter, right around the time of the invention of the internet which was a lot closer to the Napoleanic Wars than a lot of hashtag monkies would like to think) and now the online bulletin board became the social network.

It would be too easy to go all sour grapes on social networking. Everybody, even it's greatest proponents, knows that its basically killed what at one time were considered "social" skills. Worse yet, it would be disingenuous of me to dis social networking because I LOVE IT! I mean, I must, right? I spend so much time doing it an outside observer might think social networking was better than sex, or better than drugs! All I can say is that both sex and drugs are better when you are tweeting about them in real time, there's at least one video camera involved, and some sort of sequenced synth part droning in the background. Why bother with real sex when you could have @sex, hopefully with #sex? But there I go - the old guy getting snarky and sour grapesy on the tech scene. Entirely to be expected.

But wait just one minute there young feller let me tell ya I was online while you were still @diapers.And like I said why would I want to bite the proverbial teat on which I suckle? So, maybe I am a little behind here, but I am learning quickly and now I must ask:  why would anyone want to create anything at all  when it appears that, these days, your calling card or claim to intelligence is not the result of original thought but instead it is by knowing where to find it.

Consider the "like". Isn't "liking" something as good as having either said it, or worn it, or played it, or wrote it yourself? It's gone far beyond the idea that everybody can be their own fanzine by creating the online persona, and recreating it, and recreating it just like Madonna, except that the audience is the 8th grade. Or, for most of us the audience is a dozen or so folks we knew in high school that we now call our friends having been unable to create any new ones in the digital wasteland. (Oooh that IS snarky and sour grapesy! And cynically deliciously so! Maybe some really hip blogger will like that line and RETWEET it! Fuckin' A!! Where's my goddamn thumbs up widget when I need it?)

Today, not only can we quickly and instantly define who we are by what we "like", but, way way more importantly, we can define our success by how many "likes" we're able to collect. It's as if the idea of commerce has been redefined, and that the notions of poor, fair, good, very good and excellent can now be quantified in terms of the number of "likes" an item - be it an idea, a song, a hairstyle, or a pimple on the ass of a wild boar. The intrinsic worth of just about everything can now be characterized by how many thumbs thrust upwards it has affixed to it's lapel.

With such silliness set loose in western civilization, who could possibly go all snarky and sour grapes on Social Media. I don't just love it! I LIKE it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Women's P/S Conference Pt. IV: The Skinny

That's "The Skinny" not "The Skinny Dipper" (nor the "Honey Dripper" for you blues fans) for all my warped pals who would expect me to use the phrase "The Skinny" - as in "the lowdown", "the facts", "the inside track", "the G2" - to riff on skinny dipping. They know how I've been a proponent of spontaneous nudity in the past, and with some memorable skinny dipping going on in "My Week with Marilyn", the timing would be ripe for a little jam on skinny dipping. Well, sorry fellas. I mean "the skinny" - as in "the lowdown", "the facts", "the inside track", "the G2"...etc.

So here it is. I am a participant at this conference because my publisher, HarperDavis, is putting on the conference and the authors are part of the show! I will be sitting on a panel that is described thusly:

Men Say the Darndest Things: A Panel Where We Finally Learn What Men Really Think
A tech expert, a physicist, two film makers, a producer, a singer, a radio show host, and a stand up comic, all men from the ages of 20 to 60, help solve the age old mystery about how men think. Comedian Joe Klocek will lead a panel which includes Jeb Harrison, Gil Mansergh, Justin Oliver, Ransom Stephens, Alex Vargas, Niko Volonakis, and Jody Weiner in answering questions that have been submitted by conference attendees about how they see relationships, fatherhood, women, and more. (Note: to submit a question for this panel, email Jane Hunter at: Put “Question for Men’s Panel” in the subject line. 

 The only trouble is I'm not sure which of those guys I'm supposed to be...

The tech expert? I may work for the largest IT company in the world (no it's not Apple, and it's not HP, and it's not Oracle. Gee I wonder who it could be?) but I'm a marketing guy in corporate communications - very little technology knowledge required, though I suppose I could tell you what cloud computing is. But I can't imagine I would the tech expert. 

Physicist?  No. Film maker? Not that either. A Producer? I guess it depends on what is being produced. If it's bad jokes, or bad gas, yes, that could be me. A Radio Show Host - mmm, not outside of my own wireless range. 

So that leaves a stand up comic and a singer. That's it! I'm the singer that everybody thinks is a joke! Whew. I'm glad we got that one figured out. I coulda been on that panel and had no idea what my expertise was. Now I know. Thanks for helping me through it!

So take note lads and lassies: you can ask your questions in advance. Ever wonder why I wear this ridiculous beanie? Wondering if we'll ever have another Twangfest? Wondering if my first novel gets published, when will the second be coming out? Wondering about my golf game? If I ever plan on being single again? How my kids are doing? If it's hard out here for a pimp? Just send your questions to Jane! Put “Question for Men’s Panel” in the subject line. 

So now that the cat is out of the bag I suppose I can quit blogging about it, eh? Maybe now I can get back to the more important topics. Like Crunchy Roasted Nibs How to Fail at Cleansing. Boy that will be a relief, eh? 


Sunday, March 18, 2012

NEWS UPDATE: Ducks Delay Debut of Droll Drama

San Ansmello - A flock of unruly Bufflehead ducks has disrupted the release schedule of publisher Beak Books entire spring list, delaying publication, originally scheduled for May 2012, until June. "I've seen a lot of ducks in my day", noted president Amanda Huginkiss, "but I've never seen ducks quite this devious." The delay will affect the debut of novelist Jeb Harrison's comic double-crosser, "HACK".

The Bufflehead ducks are known to be particularly dastardly. They are not the most intelligent ducks in the pond, hence their somewhat disrespectful name, but they generally follow the rules. This flock of Buffleheads, who for generations have hailed from the mudflats behind the old Greenbrae Lanes bowling alley which has always been considered the low rent district for Marin County ducks, has proven to be both dimwitted and just plain dumb, and as a result it is virtually impossible to get them lined up in a row. "No publisher is going to release books if they don't have their ducks lined up, and with these Buffleheads, it's like herding cats," Huginkiss remarked. The ducks are responsible for the creation of the hardback, the paperback, the ebooks in all their various formats, and the audio books.It is ideal for the book to be ready in all it's formats on the release date, hence the dependence on the ducks.

 Not only is the rather dubious behavior of the delirious ducks deemed destructive, but, according to Huginkiss, "they're just being dicks." That makes it all the more difficult to direct the ducks into an acceptable design where they are neatly lined up one after the other like Ping the Chinese Duck who got spanked for not being in line. But, we digress.

"It's a drag when the ducks are being dicks because you just don't want to deal with a dickhead duck", Huginkiss said. So until the douchebag ducks get their doo doo together, we'll just have to wait until June!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Women's Power/Strategy Conference Part III: What It's All About - Honest!

I'm still here. That means I'm still scheduled to participate in the Women's Power/Strategy Conference this coming Sat. Mar. 24 at San Domenico. 

The fact that I have not been asked to make myself scarce that day and vacate Sleepy Hollow altogether can probably be attributed to a couple of things.

1. The conference organizers have beefed up security such that none of the misogynist philanderers that find more to like in a Fender guitar than they do in most human beings, and whom I often share a stage with, won't be able to get anywhere near the place. Most of these fellas have yet to get in touch with their feminine side.

2. I've lost my touch and, try as I might, I just don't have the heart to be the rude, offensive, mean-spirited skeptic that I've worked so hard all these years become. Maybe it's the Sunday morning armchair Buddhism, or perhaps the warnings about the blood pressure and cholesterol, but I can tell you from experience it's tough to be a prick when you don't eat any red meat and find yourself pausing now and then to appreciate the profound flying skills of the hummingbird.

So last night I softly suggested that these girls, regardless of the degree of Spice in their lives, have probably never participated in a grown up conference before and probably have very little idea that it consists of a bunch of women, many of whom look a lot like mom, talking. Sure there might be some gesticulating, a dance step perhaps here and there, interesting powerpoint slides, but for the most part it will be talking. That's why they call it a conference. But, to make sure the girls would at least show up with an open mind, we've told them that the conference is about teenage vampires.

Here's the press release that went out to the adults:

San Domenico hosts Women's PowerStrategy (a new word, check Webster's) Conference, March 24

The day-long event, presented by Sleepy Hollow resident, Patricia V. Davis, is a gathering of leaders from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise who are joining forces to educate and inspire women of all ages to believe and invest in their own talents, skills and potential. Speakers include: Malissa Shriver; A Band of Wives founder Christine Bronstein; Marin Magazine Executive editor Mimi Towle; and Red Room CEO Ivory Madison. For registration and event info, visit

(I guess u noticed I wasn't included in the highlights, nor were any of my male counterparts. Like I've said you really gotta be in touch with your own femininity to roll with this crowd, and that means stepping aside and letting the ladies do their thing. )

So, if you think that little blurb might sound boring to a 14-year old girl (I don't know why it would but having had a 14 year old girl living with me not that long ago, the description just doesn't sound like a whole big barrel of monkeys.) SO - TOMORROW I WILL SHARE WITH YOU WHAT WE'VE TOLD THE GIRLS ABOUT THE CONFERENCE. YOU KNOW, ABOUT THE TEENAGE VAMPIRES AND STUFF. SO BE SURE TO TELL A FRIEND ABOUT TOMORROW'S EPISODE and in the meantime:


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Women's Power/Strategy Conference Part II: Standing on Shaky Ground!

The women that have known me for awhile and may happen to have heard that I am involved with the Women's Power/Strategy Conference in a non-musical capacity are probably jumping around their desks waving their arms and shouting "Danger Will Robinson! Danger Will Robinson!" I did make a passing reference to a reputation for poor taste. I did not mention one of my many nicknames: Mister Inappropriate - for good reason. There's always the chance that the organizers of the Women's Power/Strategy Conference will get wise and shitcan my ass before I scar the minds of Marin's latest crop of fine young women. (Oh shit there I go. Did I just say "fine young women"? Does that sound like a line from a old blues song? Oh maybe that was "Honky Tonk Women". Boy it's easy to get confused at this age. Just wait 'til I turn 40 there will be real trouble!)


(the best thing to do at this point is click over to the event and buy a ticket, because reading this is only going to get more and more painful)

I may be full of shit but that doesn't mean that I am always wrong. I mean look at the Spice Girls? I mean stop right now thank you very much I need somebody with a human touch! Not only did the Spicy's have a great sound they had a great message: GIRL POWER! And we're talking about the Women's POWER/Strategy Conference. The Spice Girls honed in on that teen girl set with a completely different angle - it wasn't all teen angst and rebellion, it was about getting a handle on some POWER. And what better way to carry that message to teen girls than through a pop band.

So how do we get from pop band to "CONFERENCE"? Okay, it's not a slam dunk I'll admit. But I've never been a girl which is perhaps why I've been such a complete failure as a woman. But even if I had ever been a girl, or a boy as the theory has gone, the idea of spending a Saturday at a conference sounds like torture. Worse than school. But hey - do these kids really know what a conference is about?

Find out in our next episode: in which Artie eats Dr. Lovelace's oats!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Women's Power/Strategy Conference Part I: What's a Guy Like Me...?

...doing as a panelist at the Womens Power/Strategy Conference? (Get the Event Details now before I ruin it for you. Then come back if you dare...)

Well, like you, I can only imagine what a card-carrying self-defeatist with well-publicized poor taste is doing as a public speaker anywhere, (that includes the Bait Fisherman of America's Annual Cheese Curd Toss in Appleton, Wisconsin, where, believe it or not, I was rejected because of my weight! I mean really. Do I look too skinny to you?) I agree, it's a real headscratcher. What could the organizers possibly been thinking? Here's my theory:

When the Spice Girls came out, I totally went against the grain. I was probably the only middle aged male in Marin County who absolutely fell in love with those wacky Brits, and not just their fantastic "Hard Day's Night on Birth Control" movie. Even today if you ask, I'll tell ya what I want what I really really want I wanna I wanna I wanna I wanna zig-a-zig ahhhh! And it's true. I played those first two CDs to death - the first one I believe still stands up as testimony to the ingenuity of the British entertainment industry: Posh, Scary, Sporty, Ginger and Baby...(especially Baby) - what a concept! I can see why the organizers of the conference would be happy to get such a fanatic evangelist for GIRL POWER on their program.

...more to come in Part II

Saturday, March 10, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog

It's been said that the writer must write, as surely as the bee must buzz and baby the rain must fall (name that singer). This might imply that those who label themselves as "writers", when presented with the myriad possibilities of ways to spend time, are more likely to need to write, be it poetry, essays, short stories, novels, letters, etc. than to need to do anything else (not including basic physical needs like eating, sleeping, sex etc. Sex? Is that a physical need? Did that memo go out to everybody?)

One easy way to avoid this trick and thus be able to guiltlessly do things besides writing is to avoid labeling yourself as a writer in the first place. Even if communications has been your primary source of income over the course of a 35 year career, it doesn't mean you have to go around calling yourself a writer and thus be driven by this urgent need to write all the time! Even if you are being paid to write meaningless corporate drivel and powerpoint presentations during the normal business day doesn't mean that when you clock out you have to continue writing, for if you don't you will surely burst with all the words, sentences, metaphors, similes, double-entendres, stories, rhymes, verse and general bullshit that has inexorably built up inside your tortured brain. Even if your muse has been suffocated by the deadening monotone of business-speak for 9-hours at a stretch doesn't mean that you have to set it free to romp around your brain the rest of your waking hours.

Then again if such were the case why don't I just shut up and go watch TV? These days it obviously doesn't mean watching re-runs of Hogan's Heroes and Kung Fu, wondering if Bob Crane and David Carradine might have been secret buddies. This could lead to conjecture about the nature of Hollywood sexual dysfunction and the next thing you know another worthless blog has been born. Round 1: blogger.

Everybody knows there are plenty of ways to muzzle that irritating little voice. Call it the muse, call it psychobabble, call it Mexican Radio. For years it was as simple as just doing something else. Drinking, for example. Drinking and cooking, even better! Drinking and writing/recording songs. Drinking and painting. Drinking and watching Mary Poppins, or Bambi, for the 134th time. I guess since I don't drink with the same level of commitment that I once had I've found myself with time on my hands.

So why blog? It's hard, it eats up time like a nasty-ass honey badger munching on the head of a cobra, and without a compelling topic - like a CLEANSE - the readers hardly come flocking. We know it's not because the writer is inexorably driven to write else the brain will spontaneously combust, and we suspect there are quite possibly better things to do. There are no profound insights that I feel so strongly about that I must broadcast them to all 7 of my followers. The CLEANSE is gone,but not forgotten, and the next colonoscopy...well let's see maybe we could get something done this year, just for the sake of something newsworthy. My daughter the lovely PieWhacker is working on a full length feature film starring the actor we love to hate, Bruce Dern - I could report on that, but it would probably be easier just to link to their FB page. And there's always Jack's fish, but again, he does a better job blogging on that than I ever could.

Here's why, and I say so with as much certainty as I can muster about anything these days: blogging is like practicing my instrument (which I don't do so much of now that I'm blogging!) When practicing, every once in awhile the player may come upon an accidental arrangement of notes and rhythm that can be a discovery of pure delight. It may happen while improvising at a gig, but it is more likely to happen when simply messing around. The blog is the mess-around. During the process of arranging words on the page, it is possible (though be no means guaranteed) to come across an accidental turn of a phrase, a combination of sounds, a juxtaposition of imagery, that has a freshness all it's own (though the smart cynics always know better).

Okay, that's a pretty weak reason, I admit. But if you promise to follow, I promise to think of something better! And if you like my FB HACK page, I promise I'll write a better novel next time! By then they will be printed on rolls of toilet paper so as to maximize the value of a tree!

PS. My son Jack is a much better blogger than I am. He just lets it rip - whatever is on his mind so long as it has something to do with fishing. Even then he has this wonderful natural ability to weave his fishing experiences into broader observations that ring clear and true for the 23 year-old putting together his "book of answers". And his blogs are short, compact, concise. Perhaps the loss of a taut mental process is just one of many taut things that gets looser with age. Youth feels as if there's no time to ramble. Unfortunately it is I who has less time to ramble than does my son, yet I am apt to do just that...another of life's cruel ironies.If you can't follow me, follow Jack: he's the snappy and fun one! I guess I've got the morose and contemplative beat for now...