Archive for January, 2007

It’s hard to see the target in the haze I’m in. It’s hard to lift the gun. Taking aim? That’s for the professionals. It’s Tuesday morning, and I REALLY need to resume poppiing off the assignments I’ve had for the last three weeks, but didn’t devote serious time to until Monday. Everyone I talk with over the phone is happy to hear from me. Even the esteemed editor’s emails reflect unmistakable hints of cordiality. But knowing I’m so far behind makes it hard to get back on the range and step up to the firing line.

Declined an opportunity to sub teach today so I could give it all to the writing assignment. And true to the promise made earlier in the day to assignment HQ, I advised the sub line to take me off their list until next Monday. I BELIEVE I can complete this absolutely cherished writing project by then if I can get my head out of my hindwuarters and see the sunshine. On NPR this morning a famous writer was quoted as saying (I’m paraphrasing) writers spend their lives in a state of mind the rest of the world tries its best to escape from. And I believe her. It’s true with bush-leaguers, including moi, as well as those who interface with the majors.

I suck (mentally, metaphorically) on the solace from the success of my brush with joy over the weekend: my visit to the Springfield Art Association reception for the opening of their new exhibition: Nellie Knopf: A Life in Full Color. I KNEW I could not mope my way out of attending this event because even though a did attend Writers’ Bloc Saturday morning and had a great time, I still needed to get the heck out of the house for awhile.BTW, thanks to D&SP for their gift of CIVAG support! I do take my visual arts sites seriously and to elicit the support I need to keep them going, the enterprise benefits from my simply showing up at arts events. Besides, the SAA receptions have the best finger food and libations of any arts socials in this city.

Had a great time at the reception. Some people actually approached me to say hello and chat. This NEVER happens at poetry events anymore.

(And that’s one reason why I’m trimming my commitment to attending the open mics. I can watch atrophied aspirants charading through familiar motions on late night television infomercials. But I don’t watch them on TV, so I’ll be danged if I’ll leave the house and buy food to do it. And I have not been the poet I used to be, and I wish I were. I find it hard to appreciate roses of poems when I’m slogging shoulder deep through the unsavory muck of my own making. I have let poetry down. But really, I digress.)

So I took all the pictures I needed to take, talked with many good, convivial and intelligent people and true to form, as I breezed into the living room shedding coat and camera, turned on the TV to watch the last 10 minutes of Cops on Fox on my way to the office to start the computer.

Didn’t return to the livingroom for two and a half hours. Instead, downloaded the pictures from SAA. I had almost forgotten the joy of seeing images well-considered and composed during the event, appear on the monitor screen. It was like opening presents. I knew that with the happy, loose echoing of Chardonnay in my veins, I wasn’t going to do any serious work until Sunday, but it was still amazing to see results I knew I could finess into decent pictures!

<>So the finessing of the pictures is what I did after Meet the Press and This Week With George Stephanopoulous, to be referred to hereafter in this blog only as Goodhead Greek because it’s easier to spell. He is an excellent moderator and fine reporter, all kidding aside. . . . . . Finished up the editing about 3:30. Cleared my head with a few hours in the model airplane workshop and returned to the office to post the pictures at


There’s a link from that page to pictures from the SAA and other recent receptions I’ve attended.

So at about 10:30 Tuesday, by the time I’ve finished tweaking the typos out and rephrasing a liner two. I’m re-constituted enough to engage what I truly love: to be a journalist for six or seven hours today. Honest to gosh, I do feel better about life and the day ahead. Thanks “you all for kindly dropping in.

“You’re all invited back next week to this locality.
To share a heapin’ helpin’ of our hospitality.” — from the Beverly Hillbillies Theme

Live long . . . . and proper.

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A lesson most folks learn before turning 16 is this. Never leave your house wearing yesterday’s underclothing. Because if you get hit by a truck on your way to wherever, when they wheel you into the emergency room, you don’t want to embarrass yourself in seasoned boxers or briefs. We also learn it’s wise to “get your own house in order” before you start sniping at how others live their lives. Good advice times twice.

With a major writing deadline immutably fixed at the end of this month, and after two days of sub teaching at LHS and DS, the most obvious task at hand on Wednesday was GETTING THE HELL TO WORK ON THE ASSIGNMENT! But I didn’t get to work on it. I followed my disintegrating sense of true north to any task BUT the assignment which, when completed will unload some serious, overdue debt.

Parts of the house which I’ve not touched in years were cleaned up. Books moved and rearranged. A walk in closet cleared of everything I won’t reference again in six months. Conger genealogy publications and correspondence removed in storage boxes to basement shelves no visitor will ever see. Files relating to my former role with Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association De-freaking-LETED! (I had already given copies to the continuing powers that be at the helm today. God save the queens! Even a small box of pictures of poetry open mics at Kanes and Capitol Caffe, taken 10 or more years ago, set aside to donate to Poets & Writers Literary Forum of Springfield, Illinois and duly donated Saturday morning, the 27th. A lot of this was simply myopathy at play. optimising arrangements to they are as I’ve wanted them to be subconsciously for years. I even brought ArtsLinks http:..www.civag.com/artslinks.htm up to date for the first time since November freaking NINTH!

I had promised myself to get started on the MAJOR WRITING ASSIGNMENT, but a part of me (the BIGGEST part since it inflenced the rest of me) has felt anxiously, woefully incapable, of completing it by deadline. So why the pathological procrastination? I didn’t want to rush into swimming in my incapacity. Wednesday, hoping for a sub teaching assignment on Thursday, I showered, hoping like the fellow who washes his car in hopes of rain coming the next day) that the desired undeniable impediment to my writing would come with a call from the sub teacher line.

It didn’t come and I was a bitter fart until Thursday afternoon when I FINALLY began work on the writing project. And I absolutely enjoyed the effort! Didn’t do a lot because I was also determined to finish that article culling project with surplus flying model airplane magazines, and I FINISHED that project, by the grace of God! Another distraction fro WRITING ASSIGNMENT! alayYIPPEE!

Friday I hoped the sub line would not call me and this time my hope was granted. And I completed the first part of WRITING ASSIGNMENT and sent it to the editorgod. I say “editorgod” because without his favoring my froggy countenance with honest work assignments, I risk another week of Dinty Moore Stew and Chilli Man Chilli, and like most gods, I never see him; only the happy effects of his beneficence to moi. As a result of the paltry portion of effort given to esteemed weekly publication, I was assigned more writing. EXCELLENT.

I never share what I’m doing before the event because I don’t want the criminal element who peruse blogs to know I’m going to be away from my orifice — make that office. But I ga ron tee you this. I’m accepting no sub assignments next week because I’ll be here working on the WRITING ASSIGNMENT, “all de lib-long dei.” GLAD for the work, being in the grove that comes when everything else is off the agenda, and dancing my fingers across the keyboard like the engaged, writing hummin’ bean I was born to be.

And in the meantime, my house is in order. If the floor were vacuumed and I had wine and cheeze, I’d invite you over this minute. And from my prespective (as 43 might gurgitate), the condition of my underwear doesn’t matter. If I get hit by a truck before my financial dire straights are successfully navigated to safe harbor, the last thing people will care about is the condition of my underwear.

BTW, about the picture if you can see it at the top. It was taken last fall during my friend John Winterbauer’s guided Springfield ghosts walking tour. Unlike some local citizenry, I celebrate the coincidental tie to Abe. Why not be happy with a fellow citizen who did many things RIGHT? Are you ashamed of your successcul brother or sister? No you say? Then why not take pride in this man and his accomplishments as well; aye?

Live long . . . . . and proper!

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Wuth malice toward none,
Stick a fork into 43.
He’s done.

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Food in the Door

With the turmoil of an overdrawn checking account behind me (only temporarily, as I would discover the following Tuesday afternoon) I was still uncertain about (NOT “as to” mind you. Who the hell started saying “as to”anyway? My GUESS is:  a lawyer who eats grass all day; not that there’s anything wrong with them.) whether or not to attend the first UIS Visual Arts Gallery exhibition reception of the new year. From my perspective, with a car that runs on the power of prayer as much as motorfuel, the prospect was equivalent to going rabbit hunting in grizzly territory during mating season; not my mating season; grizzly matting season. Even so, it was important for me to show the fine people who support these events that I’m still on the map, so to speak.

And, just more than two hours after deciding to go, and safely returned to home and hearth, I was glad I attended. Michellle Coakes is a competent, interesting artist; her creations of pottery and digital photography engaging and pleasing to the eyes, and the interaction at the gallery affirming and restorative. To see pictures from the evening visit my Visual Vibes website and look for the link to the new page —     www.civag.com/vv.htm

I felt so good about attending I even decided to return to Writers’ Block in lyrical downtown Springfield. As I opened mon front door, I almost stumbled over a bag of foodal provisions, accompanied by a card, signed by “a friend.” It was as obvious who the friend (actually, probably friendS) was/were. There are only two people in my world who know of my devotion to crunchy Cheetos and a certain “flavor” of Campbell’s Select Soup. But they/he/her wanted to be anonymous, and I respect that. That doesn’t keep me from zaying             THANK YOU!

Monday, instead of taking Poetry (the fab magazine of that title) to LHS where I spent a pleasant day with some advanced math students, I took Lee Gurga’s new book entitled Haiku for Poets — a fab read. Will tell you more about it after I’m finished reading it. Suffice to say for now that if you consider yourself a poet — and BEING a poet is not a requisite for considering yourself a poet — you should boogie to your local book merchant and order the book! By gorry, the Gurga-meister even includes a Corrine Frisch-authored haiku in it!  I bought the book at the Vachel Lindsay Association meeting last fall where Lee was reatured epaker. I still consider every paragraph in it to be a gift from the author!

Final thought for today:

There has been no time in my life
when I have avoided, so resolutely
the solace of the cultivated grape and/ barley,
yet wanted to embrace them more.
But now, becoming reacquainted with these old friends
is out of the question.
Not even help from friends who care
will permit such a reunion. It would insult
their/his/her higher hope for me,
and more greivously,
it would insult my higher hope for me as well.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper!

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Ice Storm 1-7-007
Pictured above, a glimpse of front yard ice at the peak of the ice storm Saturday, January 6. I state January/ 7 007 in the caption, but if memory serves (better) it was Saturday. While preparing this picture for this blog, I tried different color treatments which one can do with Corel Photo Paint and other programs. I decided I can’t gild the color nature has provided in this picture. I’m not making a political statement with it, endeavoring to embellish it into “art.” I like it as nature shared it with me, and I hope you do too.

Nothing says “I’m not ready for a refrigerator crate condo!” more than a baked chicken. I’m dodging the bank until I can deposit dollars into my overdrawn checking account AND eat twice a day. Thanks to helpful innocent conspirators who care, I found a way to enough dough-re-mi to purchase a Shop’N’Save baked bird, a jar of Peter Pan Crunchy a loaf of Bunny Whole Wheat nd another can of iced tea mix.

I won’t have to look a can of chilli or Dinty Moore in the eye for at least four days.

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Books for $ale

If sharing this information with you is illegal or inappropriate for a WordPress blog, please let me know.

I need to lighten my book collection to add substance to my kitchen pantry. I won’t attempt to prey upon your head with the tawdry details. If you want any of the books on the list at the link I’m about to post, e me. My book list may be found at


It’s been a ragged week. I finished proofing the American Aviation Historical Society Newsletter.


The issue features my first article published therein, and it was amazing to find so many things lurking in that article worthy of my red pencil. I’m happy with the piece and the rest of the newsletter as well. I was even mentioned in the annual January President’s Message. Seems I’m the only member of the editorial staff who’s not a board member. Believe it or not, I’m happy with that. Most of the association management (all volunteers) are California people, and I have to say the commute on the transportation I can afford would take longer than tolerable. I figure at least four pairs of hiking boots for each round trip, plus hard tack and Gatorade.

I’m having trouble getting started with my paying writing assignment, due in about two weeks. It was wacky this morning when I received an e from the local daily publication asking me to confirm info for a local museum. I wanted to tell him how interestingly coincidental that we’re working on the same assignment: him for a daily and me for a weekly.

Did get a call from an international aviation web site owner. Unfortunately my voice mail fielded the call, and he was just getting into an airplane when I returned his call this morning. I had sent him my resume, and he wanted to talk to me about possibilities . . . . after the flight. So I’ll call him back late this morning.

Am pouring most of my time into the AeroKnow action. Am not even attending the Dan Guillory reading tonight at Poets & Writers, Gallina’s Pizza extremeganza. I’m going nowhere (figuratively and literally) until I sell some books or find a job. It’s amazing what a steady diet (since last Friday) of Chilli Man Chilli, Dinty Moore Stew and all the Folger’s Instant I can swallow will do to a person’s outlook on frikking life.

Live long . . . . and proper!

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There are few moments homeside, when I’m away from the shower and computer, when I don’t have pages in my hands and words before my eyes. Take Sunday afternoon . . .

Of COURSE I was watching the Bears defeat the other team. “Enraptured” is not a word I use in connection with football; I think the other team was from Washington. It’s been 45 minutes since the game winning kick by number 9, and most of the game is faded already. But I watch football, usually a quarter or two; sometimes more, to NOT work on aviation history, model airplanes, poetry and web pages. Today, I combined the entire game with an ongoing project of culling articles, covers, cartoons and photographs I want to keep, to read for the furst time and then save or discard when I have time to concentrate on content.

Esteemed acquaintances DandSP generously gave me several years’ of New Yorker magazines they no longer wanted around their fine home. At first I savored them one at a time before setting each aside so I could go back and save afore-mentioned content which matters to me. WHY?

In part so I can go back to it years later and enjoy second encounters with the articles, so I can extricate special cartoons from whole pages and add them to a growing collection of humor from New Yorker and other magazines.(Don’t know why I’m still in italics; I hit the right keys to return to regular, but it’s not working.)

In part also to leave behind a collection of reportage art and humor that shows the living what mattered to me, perhaps a hint of the man I was despite a career that brutally suggested something far different. Let others collect paintings on walls for that purpose. The collected articles, including Playboy interviews, articles, etc, like art, like the books I keep, are the world’s clue to me — as though the life I’ve lived is not clue enough!

I call this process “pre’ading” — short for pre reading. Synonyms: scanning, glancing at, I don’t have to give my entire attention to the process. A few key words, mostly relating to politics, the arts, even authors’ names including Angel, Auletta, Hersh, Sedaris, Trillin are all it takes to cull the piece for later second-looking. Not all cartoons that bring a chuckle are worth saving.
By the end of today’s Bears game, I was done with my pre’ading. Finished during the overtime. In the name of “waste not want not,” the discarded pages are being neatly stacked to be placed into boxes of solid volume I intend to place in my basement crawl space, where the coal bin used to be, for extra insulation. I’ve noticed some potentous daylight down there over the last year and to save the expense of real insulation (due to the rising priority of buying FOOD), I’m going with boxes of unread pages. The process began about two months ago when I launched a similar project with aviation magazines with only limited content relating to my interests. The only thing keeping me from working on the insulation installation instead of yammering on at this keyboard is the fact it’s so fripping COLD down there. It seems I’m just going to have to wait for decent weather before I can begin pushing ahead down there with this project.
Maybe by April . . . . .

Live long . . . and proper!

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