Archive | February, 2007

The State of Main

My father knows he came from Maine. But the presence of the State of Maine in his life has only been a mystery. To say a mystery sounds like it is something to be solved. The potential for resolution is part of the pleasure of owning a puzzle. Put together the puzzle is a New England water mill on a day it snows — the same picture as the one on the box. This isn’t worth anything. You’ve already seen the picture. But apart, it is the potential of being put together. For my father Maine was like this. He sometimes took out the pieces and thought about them, but he never put them together. And this conception of gathering things and storing them in a box was how my father remembered his life. I don’t have a narrative shape to my father’s life — even the parts I know. For a son, I know a great deal of my father’s life, nearly half of it I share with him. He was nineteen when I was born, and in my earliest memories, he was only twenty-three years old. I hardly remember myself, now, at twenty-three. Even though I have known him as I have known my mother, longer than anyone else in my life, I still don’t understand the shape of my father’s life. I know certain events happened to him, but unlike my mother who constructs the story of her life over and over again, each version layering over the old one, each one controlling some nuance of her present life, my father exists mostly without a story. “I didn’t do it,” he would say. If you were to ask him, “What’s your story?” he’d feel put on the spot. It is simply enough to know he came from somewhere that isn’t Seattle, a somewhere that is Maine. And it is simple enough to know some of the incidents that have happened to him in his life, his drunk driving arrests, a short stint in jail, the death of his brother, Fred, but these are pieces and do not fit into a whole. Maine means certain things to me that they don’t mean to my father. For my father they mean the childhood he can’t remember in the way that West Seattle means the childhood I can’t remember, and to you, these things mean something else entirely. He was a child. Now he is grown. That is my father’s story. To put together the pieces I do know wouldn’t even result in a kind of solution but rather questions in how they relate to each other.

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One in Ten Books Makes Money

“We estimate that out of every 10 hardcover adult books, seven lose money, two break even and one is a hit,” [according to Albert Greco, a Fordham University economist who analyzes business trends in the book world.] “So, of course, this business is secretive about sales. Would you want to tell the world that 70 percent of your output is losing money?”

From an interesting article about the secrecy in sales in the publishing industry from The Seattle Times. I wonder, though, how this compares to the movie or record industry? It looks to be the same. One in ten records turn a profit. And, too, one in five movies turns a profit.

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L’Uomo Control Live

Evan James (of San Francisco by way of Portland by way by way of Olympia by way of Bainbridge Is-Land) has launched/is launching a new magazine. It has found itself halfway launched, tottering in blog-space before being lost to print. He desribes his magazine this way:

“Control is at heart a lifestyle magazine, without a magazine, but the lifestyle is one of controlled, aesthetic acts of triumphantly unconventional syntax that address lifestyle topics (music, food, fashion, design, and so on). Control is a mutant lifestyle magazine without a magazine.”

The first issue is a perennial “Best of…” issue. Portions are being released, here and now.

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The Hungry Prince and the Plentiful Witch

witch.jpgI told my daughter this story the other day at dinnertime. She had her dinner. She only eats yogurt, peanut butter, and cream cheese for the most part. She was eating yogurt and said she needed entertainment while she ate. So I told her a story.

There was a fat prince in a kingdom that had fallen into a famine.

What’s a famine?

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Thank You Nabakov, Longview WA

bothell.jpgA couple of weeks ago I read in Bothell at the U Bookstore on the UW/Cascadia CC campus with Eli Moore. He and his friend played a lot of great songs from Eli’s new band named “Lake.” There were horn parts, for instance, that the two musicians sounded it out with their mouths. They also sang an old song from Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. For the lit game, I asked people who came to to the reading to write a thank you card to a musician, writer, video game, whatever, that had provided them a meaningful experience somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Say, they read Lolita in Longview, and it meant something to them. Write a note to Nabakov. They traded their notes and affixed them to a map of the Columbia River drainage.

Here is a PDF of their postcards. (11.2 MB PDF)

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No Cost Software

I was wondering if I could put together a suite of software applications for producing professional documents FOR FREE that functioned pretty much as well as a combination of Microsoft Office and Adobe CS. Yep.

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Jack Straw Podcast LIVE

jackstraw-pod.jpg The Jack Straw Pod Cast is live. The first post features Seattle Poet, Larry Laurence reading from a series of poems entitled “Reading Aloud with Both Ears Open” at the 2006 Jack Straw Writers Program Reading Series. This performance was recorded with a live audience during the Spring of 2006 at Jack Straw Productions in Seattle.

Subscribe (free) with iTunes or visit the site.

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