Monday, December 23, 2013


Thursday, December 19, 2013

the jam hole is a lubbock tradition and has quickly won my heart, being full of down-to-earth, wonderful people some of whom drink too much or fall off the edge in one way or the other. it has some pretty reputable musicians coming through every once in a while and tonight i played with two of them, but also had a great time just playing, and traded phone numbers with the guy who runs the auto body shop that it's in.

that guy, one M.F., was suffering tonight because of a health problem of his step-mother's; he asked us all to pray for her and we did, and this was touching. it seemed he hadn't slept in a while; he was out of sorts. most of the musicians at the jam hole maybe didn't make it, or made it and came back, or made it and didn't want it, or never bothered making it. some touched fame in some kind of way. nobody i've met has mentioned natalie maines yet; one says his claim to fame was doing the sound check at a local willie nelson show. they generally, one could say, feel religious about willie nelson. i have stopped picking willie nelson songs, because i don't do them well enough, and that's a kind of sacrilege. shouldn't even touch them, if you're going to mess up.

so tonight this one guy started telling me he was buddy holly's nephew. buddy holly was maybe 14; he was maybe 3 or 5. he hit buddy holly on the head with a croquet mallet. he wanted buddy holly to take him to the movie; it was a john wayne movie. it was a movie in which john wayne said "that'll be the day" maybe five times. buddy holly came home and wrote the song "that'll be the day."

i told him, i wanted to run a tour bus, around lubbock, of buddy holly sites. this or that house that buddy holly lived in, or the schools that he went to, that my kids also go to, by the way. you can't do that, he said, because buddy holly's wife owns the name and the image, and she has it locked away, and anytime anyone wants to use it, she sues them big with all her lawyers, to make sure they can't use it. there's a feud, apparently, between the remaining family, and the wife.

this guy played backup to jenni dale lord, a local singer who apparently has made it big. if you look her up on youtube you can see her playing at sxsw, and with a band, now called the jdl band, and if you look back far enough, you'll find this guy, buddy holly's nephew. he's good. he sounds good as her backup. he, however, wouldn't leave lubbock, while she had to go make it big, i guess.

tonight the other fiddler walked in. he too was famous; his name is jimmy blakely jr., here singing a song called "Amanda" which i heard tonight. jimmy blakely, his father, was a famous old-timer who bought a club out on the east side and settled in lubbock. jimmy jr. has played fiddle around town for years and is very popular, but was apparently not in great shape, in a wheelchair. not fiddling at his best, apparently; he could hardly play whole songs without getting tired. still it was an honor to play with both of them. it was an honor, in fact, to play with the whole crowd, which is a diverse group of musicians from all over town. they've been real nice to me too, yankee that i am.

you occasionally hear stories there. one person got into a horrific accident recently. one has had a lot of health problems, in and out of the hospital. one was on the brink of making it, in california, but came back. one does gigs around nursing homes, a task i aspire to, actually. one's wife actually runs the symphony orchestra in town. i was thinking, guess that's slumming, hanging around this crowd, but he probably didn't think so; he's a regular contributor.

one thing i like about them is their consistent loyalty to music of any kind. they play on holidays, they're there almost every week, and if somebody doesn't call a song or start one up, they're pretty quick to move on to someone else who will. i've taken to passing my turn to someone else. tonight i sang "kansas city," though, one of my favorite songs to perform. i will sing, and i enjoy it, but i can't sing and play fiddle at the same time, and i get so nervous that i lose track of simple things like the natural progression of a song through the verses and chorus. people have trouble keeping up with me because i'm erratic especially when i'm nervous. and i'm not very easily picking up this ability to sing and play fiddle at one time, that john hartford could do so easily.

this crowd likes "tell me baby why you been gone so long" and they're ok with "kansas city" and a few others. one guy keeps singing "neither one of us wants to say goodbye" which makes me want to suggest marriage counseling. why does he have to sing it every week? he says he's practicing a supertramp song and will bring it soon. buddy holly's nephew says he practices two hours a day. i practice zilch except that i go to the jam hole whenever i can. i'm enjoying the place; it's lubbock at its best. i need good musical partners; i'm hoping i'll find them eventually, one way or the other.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

the big cat has settled next to me on the couch where i moved over because the computer was about to die & i had to recharge it. this cat is snoring gentle snores but nevertheless keeps me good company; i could fall asleep too. but i don't; i've been a little stirred up by life events. my wife, leafing through the aarp bulletin as she is wont to do, ran across an ad asking for memoirs and offering a five-k reward. i could use five k, of course, and wouldn't mind the publicity - the contest is cosponsored by huff post, and one would be a star in both places. my memoir is mostly written, on this very blog, and is really a page turner if i say so myself though it's not finished and life adds layers as i go along. i could, quick, wrap up my esl career, music, etc. and send it all in, i've considered finishing it anyway, since moving to texas is such a dramatic new chapter. yet other dramatic new chapters are opening up even as i write.

a strong cold spell let up a bit around here and we went out a little, drove around, began to recover from a long semester. but alas, we went to a movie, got to the mall about ten minutes before it started, then blew about thirty minutes, in the mall parking lot, trying to get over by the theater. there wasn't a parking spot in miles. finally, traffic still stalled, i veered around back and parked out in left field. we watched a later movie; we got a taste of jam-packed mall. it's depressing to me, because i haven't even started my shopping, yet i know that most stuff is gone. the trees are gone. the decorations are gone. people are almost done with it, ready for valentine's. yet we haven't even started.

ao this memoir contest, i probably couldn't join it, because my memoirs are essentially already published, that's right, here...this is a complex site, not much in the way of sharp snazzy pictures, or ads, but it does have my life story, and it'll probably stay that way. then again, i could put it all together, package it, put it forward, and nobody would ever know, things being what they are. but why would i want to sell my life story for five k? i'm sure many people would have no trouble with that. some free publicity in the process. but i got kind of stuck on it, finally, and i thought, nah, it's not for sale. i'll hang onto my own life story, bizarre as it is, it's what i've got.

Friday, December 13, 2013

pause for a commercial

i've been mulling over my lame marketing efforts; i sell virtually no books of short stories or poetry, in spite of going to a lot of trouble to produce them and make them presentable. in fact at first it was ok that i didn't sell much, because i was aware that i was only beginning to understand the process, and in fact some of my early works were riven with typos, poor presentation or other problems. i'd try to make a book without actually buying one, and as a result got somewhat experimental results.

but now i feel that the third set of stories (see below) is better than the first two, deserves to be read, and represents a steady improvement in both the writing of stories itself but also in the compiling of an acceptable presentation in terms of the book itself. i actually have an ambitious marketing plan, but i don't think i've ever articulated it exactly. it has many parts, some of which i've done.

in fact i finished the book on CreateSpace way back in what, july or something, but then i dropped it like a hot potato. i don't remember the reason; maybe we went on vacation, or, i started working full time at the summer workshop, or some such thing. in any case, i'd never quite even put it on kindle. now, i have a three-fold goal: make and sell the book in book form; put it on kindle, also in presentable form, and finally, make an audio book. so far i've got one of three. my work is cut out for me.

as far as marketing it online, i've done two things: i put it on facebook, and i put it on my tlevs site. the tlevs press site tells about each book and provides a direct link to amazon or to kindle for each one. the tlevs press site needs to be overhauled, needs to look better, but at least it is a collection of links and information.

so how to lead people to the tlevs site? for starters, i posted in all my blogs, or at least five out of at least 30, the five that are most active. i actually have a few on other servers, and i'll get to those: thumb science, for example. on this note i might offer advertising to others in return for a link to my tlevs press site.

then, i have a plan to make little click-ads that look like google ads, but are just a little bolder. these, i want to have a little jump to them, make you wonder if it's actually a google ad or what.

a final possibility is to have a commercial site, one that blatantly goes for the page views. i'm not quite sure how that would look. i've often toyed with the idea of making this site commercial, but i've never had the nerve to do it. actually it just kind of goes against my general inclination. but one side of me is getting impatient with always being so low-key, unassuming, etc. i mean, i think that's fine for this site, which is basically my personal ramble, my train of thought, my day-to-day record of where my mind is going. but i've developed an author's presence, and i want a site that reflects that: that announces stuff i've made, that provides commercial links to other places and that, basically, isn't beneath being commercial. most places that make money just give in to being commercial, and go for it; that's what i'd like this site to do.

in a way, i'm just coming out of a caveman era; i have things to sell, but just got a pay-pal account, what, yesterday, so i'm just getting the mechanism prepared to actually have an author's setup. a commercial blog-type place would help here. i love producing stuff, and will probably keep doing it, though whether i can ever get the esl side up-and-running, i'm not sure. i'll try, and i'll keep you posted!

Five-Second Rule

Pick it up!

Available at Amazon
More info here

Be a reader

I put this post on my personal weblog because, basically, it is a standing offer to all my friends. It goes like this: If you read what I write, and give me honest feedback on it, good and bad, I will make sure you get a copy of whatever you have read, eventually. My stories right now are produced at CreateSpace and are basically printed on the cheap. You would read the stories in digital form, give me feedback at your convenience, then, I would get a copy to you after it's printed. Interested? email me.

This is what's happening these days: Having produced three volumes of short stories, and a few more, I'm considering making a "best of" collection. Advice on these three volumes alone would help me to compile this volume. It might take a while, but I need the help. This is all in the "short story" department.

But, novels are coming, and so is an ongoing poetry volume, e pluribus haiku...these need readers as well. You can be a reader for one, or for all. Sometimes it may involve making comments before something is published; as of now, what's published is published, and I don't intend on changing much at the moment. That would be available here, more or less. Thanks for reading this; if you're interested, drop me a line.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

new story:

The Interloper

enjoy! comments welcome as usual!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

the road to las cruces from here is a single highway most of the way; it goes through brownfield and plains, across the new mexico border to lovington, across the oil fields and down across the scrawny pecos river to artesia, and then over a wide, open, endless plain with a huge sky. finally you come to some mountains and go up to 8800 feet, where the air is thin and there are pine trees and lots of rain and snow, then quick you shoot down these intense dry mountains past some ancient caves, into the wide dry tularosa basin, past white sands, and then once again, over some high, dramatic organ mountains and down into the city. going there we had tom and jerry movies. i thought, i should really make the kids watch the scenery, and there are some places, they probably did. most times i was really glad i had the movies; they got to choose, really, since they watch the scenery anyway. to them it's about as good as it gets, watching tom and jerry, and going through the stunning scenery.

don't have much to report about the family; i never do, only that my parents are doing fine, and my sister is out there with them, soaking up the wide new mexico sky and learning her way around the mesilla valley. the boys like the trip, in spite of the fact that it's long, lots of driving, my parents live a slowed-down life, and we of course don't know many other people in town. grownups tend to talk a lot, that's a given. but they still had fun, came back with stuff to talk about.

tonight, a "carol of lights" celebration here where the band plays christmas music, everyone stands out in the square, and all the lights come on at once. i went down there alone this year, surrounded by a sea of students, a warm night, as most are, so everyone's just standing around listening to this band play. kind of reflective, that christmas music. you only hear it once a year. might as well take it all in.

couple months ago, this bizarre story unfolded in lubbock. ten foster/adopt children were taken from a house, they hauled them all away. the neighbors had noticed something not right over there. they had money; they got it from taking in the children in the first place, and from social security, but they weren't spending it well on the children, and bad things were happening. one girl stopped eating and lost many pounds. this was the tipoff, gave them the reason to go in there. she was twelve, but was down to fifty-seven pounds. in desperation, she broke apart the whole thing. now the kids are scattered to the winds. they are still looking for homes for some of them; others have gone to amarillo, dallas, houston. the parents are in jail.

why do i know such things? truth is stranger than fiction, i must say, but, the best i can answer, i'm doing research, you could say. these kids, life's victims, more valuable if they're branded as somehow needing more state funds. they find homes of dubious value. it's tough times, different things get called "home"...the state gets involved, because it has to. the foster parents, it's tough for them too. they figure they can do this, and get some money, it will feed them too, and they know they have to keep their eyes open, but that's hard, with ten kids. for these two, there may have been more problems, more distractions. who knows? the ten kids in a nightmare-house, now that's what i'd call out there...