KingMidget's Ramblings

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Another Year

A year ago, I wrote this piece. Another year has passed. These days, I’ve started to talk with Jon’s dad and one of his cousins about how to preserve Jon’s Mountain once his dad passes away. It’s not an easy challenge, but it’s worth it.

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Another Podcast

A few weeks ago, I wrote about S-Town, a podcast I was enjoying. I liked the storytelling nature of the podcast and listened to it on every commute to and from work until I was done with the thing. Since then, I’ve been hoping I’d find another.

This morning, the local newspaper had a blurb that caught my attention.

I’ve lived in Sacramento since 1966. We’ve had a few sports superstars from our area. Dusty Baker, who had a good MLB career as a player and also as a manager. Kevin Johnson, a very good NBA career. Summer Sanders, an Olympic gold medalist swimmer. And others along the way.

One of them was Rae Carruth. He grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods in town — Oak Park. By all accounts he was a model child, staying away from drugs and gangs and violence. He went to Valley High School, a school that has struggled with both academic success and sports success, but while Carruth was there, he was one of the best football players in town. His coaches and other observers considered him as close to an NFL sure thing as possible.

He didn’t disappoint. From Valley High School he went to the University of Colorado and then was a first round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 1997. He was named to all-rookie teams after his first season and then broke his foot and struggled to keep his professional momentum going.

Meanwhile, Cherica Adams entered his orbit. They dated, she got pregnant, and in 1999, when she was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s child, she was shot and killed.

Carruth is a seven-part podcast that tells the story of Rae Carruth, Cherica Adams, her death, and more. I’m in the middle of episode two and find myself just as fascinated as I was with S-Town. The story received a lot of local press when Cherica was murdered given that he was a hometown hero, and over the years occasionally a story has appeared locally because of something going on in connection with the case. But, the podcast puts it all out there, interviewing people that you typically don’t hear from — like the guy who pulled the trigger.

These podcasts which tell stories like this are turning me into a fan.

The Loss of Self Control – There’s an App

I’ve struggled with writing the last few years. I describe it as writer’s block to end all writer’s block. The death of imagination caused by an internal editor run amuck. Name it what you will, it absolutely sucks.

Truth is, one of the problems is with the distractions of the internet. I write on my laptop. The one that is perpetually connected to the internet. And so, I spend my time struggling with writing allowing myself to be distracted by all of the glory the internet has to offer. Check Twitter. Check Facebook. Read blogs. Check my email. Check CNN. Check the sports sites. Do it all over again. Rinse and repeat. And another day and another week goes by without me writing anything.

It is far too easy to be distracted by the brainless fluff than to try to write a story.

A couple of years ago I thought somebody should develop a program, or in today’s parlance an app, that allows you to cut the internet off while you are trying to focus on something that actually matters, that is actually more important. It would allow creative minds to create.

Alas, I didn’t follow through on that.

Turns out, though, that somebody did.

A few days ago, Shannon Thompson, a young writer/blogger who I’ve followed for years now, wrote this post about feeling like she had failed at blogging. I commented that I felt much the same way about my writing experience these last few years. In our back and forth, Shannon told me about an app she uses that helps her focus when she needs to. The app essentially shuts down the internet for you while you get your work, your creation, your whatever, done.

Although it’s described as an app and seems focused on smartphones, that does nothing for me since I don’t write on my phone. I checked the website out. It has an extension for Google Chrome, the web browser I use. I added the extension yesterday and just gave it a test run.

I set the timer on it for 45 minutes, I input all of the websites that distract me so I wouldn’t be able to go to them while I wrote. Forty-five minutes later, the app grew a tree and I wrote almost 600 words on my story. The program has a blacklist and a whitelist, the former for all of the sites you don’t want access to, the latter for sites you still want access to. I made sure I had access to Google because I use that for on-the-fly research while I write. And I needed it a couple of times during those 45 minutes.

So, first try? A resounding success. 600 words in 45 minutes. We’ll see what happens in the future. And, yes, I realize that my laptop has other browsers on it that aren’t covered by this. I’m trying not to thing about that.

It is a shame though that I’ve lost the ability to control my habits to get some writing done and need to depend on the very thing — the internet — that has so distracted me.

A Call for Writers

When I first started blogging and self-publishing, I came across writers that I felt represented the best that self-publishing had to offer. Inventive stories that were well-written. The type that were worth reading but you’d struggle to find via a traditional publisher.

Her first novel was A Warm Wind, a story of a relationship gone bad. (It’s no longer available for reasons I understand.) Her second was Deeper which you can find on Amazon here.  She has written and published a number of additional novels under the pen name Fallacious Rose since then. Some I have read and her creativity and difference continues.

A couple of weeks ago, she emailed me and asked if’ I’d like to participate on a project she is launching.  In her words, she is looking “to put together a collection of short stories around the theme of ‘how things could be better in the future’ – a sort of opposite to ‘dystopian fiction.”

This idea intrigued me as I continue to ponder what I’ll do with The Jump and figure out ways around my writer’s block. I pondered and then came up with an idea. I’ve started working on it. My story begins with the line, “What if I were to tell you there were only two turtles left in the world?” We’ll see what happens from there and if I can carry it through to an end.

But, more importantly, this talented writer is looking for others to contribute to her contra-dystopia efforts. So … if you’re interested in contributing a short story of 1,000 – 10,000 words, tell me in the comments and I’ll connect you to Fallacious. It’s an interesting project. Think about it.

A Song For Today

In downtown Sacramento, there exists a central plaza — Cesar Chavez Park — right across the street from City Hall. During much of the days and weeks and months of each year, it is a place for the homeless. Except in the summer months when it turns into a Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and a concert venue on Friday evenings. Most of the Friday evening performances are local performers.

A couple of years ago though we went to a Friday evening concert that was put on by a local radio station. It was a fundraiser for a cause I no longer remember. It featured more well-known acts of various degrees of national reknown. The main reason I wanted to go was Mat Kearney. While he was good, he played his upbeat pop songs instead of his downer, moody songs. I’m all about the latter, not so much the former.

There were a few other acts that performed. One of them was Andrew McMahon. During his set, he sang Cecilia and the Satellite.

Every since then, I’ve loved this song. It intrigues me and I don’t know why. So, for today, here’s a song for those moments when you’re intrigued and you don’t know why.

 

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