Improv Class Starts Tomorrow! (Feb 2015) and other stuff

It’s been a busy week – I haven’t posted since the 16th. (I never made a commitment to myself to “post everyday”, but it was a fun run.)

Since the 16th, though, I’ve finished a draft of my MA project paper and finished assembling the book of poetry I’ve been working on since the end of summer. I have a copy with me, formatted for 6″X9″ with page breaks and fonts. I am going back over to see if I like the sequence of the poems and whether I am going to include any pictures (drawings and/or photos). Then, off to the editor.

I’m working on some music for an Indegogo promo for Pointless Pub and starting to pull together the setlist for our May Rotary Club gig “Lost in Space”.

But, the big news is that my Improv for Non-Actors class at Ann Arbor Rec and Ed starts tomorrow night. It’ll be about the sixth or seventh go-round and it’s always a lot of fun. Seeing new faces and some repeats and opening up space for them to just relax and have a good time is a real treat.


Daily Thought for Feb 16, 2015 (Mon)


With Lent coming up, we are looking into a program that
suggest eating a reduced diet for 40 days as a way of
showing solidarity with the poor, of experiencing a tiny
bit of what it means to be without readily available and
abundant food, and maybe just to simplify things a bit.

I wanted to provide some links, but I can’t find them right now.
I will post them later.

I do know that the origin of the idea was
a conversations Jean had with me about the book
“A Place at the Table”.

Daily Thought for Feb 13, 2015 (Fri) – Road Trip to PonyCon 2015!

Wow, it’s been a Hard Day’s Night.

This weekend is Ponycon. A year ago, that didn’t mean much around our house, but things have changed. OK, here’s the story: a few year ago, while on a road trip to Crazy Horse Monument, Lisa and I drove through Riverside Iowa, the future birthplace of Captain James T Kirk (( click me! 20150213e)) a federation captain known for piloting the USS Enterprise. While there, she picked up a copy of Year One  20150213f by Five Year Mission  20150213d . Well, as it turns out, these guys are QUITE good and this is not their only band. They range from a Guns’ n’ Roses cover band 20150213g to the surf-influenced Madeira  20150213h to this one:


The Shake Ups in Ponyville!!!

When Lisa found out they were playing Ponycon, she bought a ticket then asked if I would be her road-trip backup if none of her friends could go.

“Road trip?” is always answered “yes”, so at about 3p Friday, we climbed into the KIA and hit the road.

Along the way, we went past the old site of the 50 foot Jesus Status (Solid Rock Church on US23 in Ohio).


I always wanted to post a picture of that. Not that it’s great art, but I admire anything on that scale!

It was a long drive, but beautiful. Really. We’ve been on several of these long trips and this one was magic. Almost no traffic right from Ann Arbor and all the way into Manhattan. Just the road curving along ahead of us, an assortment of different music and stops every few hours at the truck stops for snacks.

We listened to Tom Ashbrook’s interview with David Duchovney, a mediocre 2-CD set of “classic cowboy songs” (75% unknowns and the ones I did know weren’t the recordings that hit the radio), and a whole lot of me listening to the sound track of Season 1 of the X-Files while Lisa watched them on my laptop. (The KIA’s a stick and she can’t drive it, so I had the duty the whole time.)

We hit NYC about 1 a.m. There was construction at the Holland Tunnel but Lisa used GPS and got us to the hotel by 2.

We’re at the Super 8 at Union and 3rd St. (not Ave). It’s actually a very nice a place and I want to write them up on Tripadvisor. I looked at SO many hotels over here that had bad reviews. (Of course, I’m shopping “under $100” so my selection is limited.)

20150213bThe morning was rough – after we were seated WAY in the back, we waited 12 minutes before we got up and left because nobody came by. But we found a great little bagel shop across the street and enjoyed. I dropped her at St. Frances College and headed back to work on my Performance project for Eastern. Good progress all around.

She had a great day, hung out a little with P.J., I taxied over for Indian, then worked at Starbucks the rest of the night. We just got back, I’m finishing this, then a few episodes of X-Files and off to sleep.

Words for the wise today? Road Trip!

Daily Thought for Feb, 10, 2015 (rough morning)

Black Day V2_sm

Goal for the day: spend as much time as I can on the M.A. project.
Step 1: Find the notes from my last draft.
So: searched and searched and can't find them. Frustration. Anger. Self-loathing, etc, etc.
Until: sat down and made the drawing above.
Then: decided to take a different tack - reading "sista docta" (Joni L. Jones) 
and going through my notes on "What the Buddha Taught" (Rahula) to bolster my 
argument for using a phenomenological approach to thinking about ADHD.
Result: yep. When stalled, switch gears.

All of this made me think of using the phrase “The only way to it is through it.” Which made me think: “where did this phrase come from?”

Earliest reference I could find was in a poem by Robert Frost titled “A Servant to Servants” (1914). A woman – exhausted from taking care of her husband and many men who seem to room with her – is ruminating about a new fellow who is camping out on their property. How she finds that attractive – that he has just walked away from life and is living in nature.

Here’s the original passage from Frost:

Len says one steady pull more ought to do it.
He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through—

The line seems to refer to her husband’s attitude toward her exhaustion and possible mental illness. He argues that she should just “tough it out”. I’m not sure that’s the answer in ALL cases, but it got me through the morning. I went “through” it by accepting that I was not going to find what I wanted and that there was still plenty of other work to get done.

Daily Thought for Feb 4, 2015


Over the years, I’ve had conversations with different people about the idea of “law”. You can talk about it in terms of politics, religion, justice, even the rules of writing poetry and blogs. My position has always been that laws are useful in the same way grade school is useful: you need clearly defined boundaries until you are are wise enough to make up your own mind. Then, it can be a different story.

One quote I’ve had around for a while is credited to Plato and shows up all over the Internet:

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Laws, Book IX

As a philosophy teacher (at least up until March of 2014), I knew enough to be suspicious of the way that was phrased. I’m a Platonist at heart and I don’t like seeing my guy misquoted. So, I went and found the original reference. Sure enough, it’s different. And not just subtly, enough to make you stop and think.

So, here are two other translations for your consideration:

Laws are made to instruct the good, and in the hope that there may be no need of them; also to control the bad, whose hardness of heart will not be hindered from crime. This is from a web post titled “Pet Peeves and Plato’s Politics“. He doesn’t cite his translation.

The Internet Classics Archive translates it this way: Laws are partly framed for the sake of good men, in order to instruct them how they may live on friendly terms with one another, and partly for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose spirit cannot be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging into evil.

The key difference between these two and the original, more popular, quote is this: Plato understood the need for law. Yes, there may be times for civil disobedience and even for ignoring laws that are outdated or senseless, but the idea that we don’t need laws wasn’t his point.

Daily Thought for Feb 3, 2015 – A Poem that Didn’t Make the Cut

I made another pass through some of the poems that didn’t make the cut for the book. For a lot of them, it’s obvious why they didn’t make it. Some are a bit more borderline. This is one of them:



A white flower
in the middle of the table
resting on a perfectly ironed
white linen

A young child
standing on the back porch
seeing everything as a perfect
and exciting new

A couple
still in wedding clothes
lost in perfect love
and anticipation of their unscripted

A weed
warm and fragrant in an open field
destined to be cut and burned
because it is

A teenager
shuffling through the hallways at school
avoiding the glares
of the kids who are

A couple
many years later
taking desperate measures
backs against the wall

Update on Poetry Book Project

Seven months and counting.

When my friend Catherine encouraged me to collect some of my poems and make something called a chapbook, I initially resisted. Most of my effort over the last few years has been on devising Performance pieces, largely around Adult ADD/ADHD. Before that, my main focus was music and all of my writing was songwriting. But every so often, I’d return to one of my first loves: short fiction and poetry.

For most of 2013 and some of 2014, Catherine and I ran a “daily prompt poetry blog” for a small group of writers in and around Ann Arbor. It was called Ann Arbor Poets Online. That was a lot of fun and gave me the structure I need to produce work consistently. It was a great experience and I expect we’ll keep resurrecting it from time to time.

So, back in June, I contracted with a publisher and started going through my backlog of work.

There were a few obvious clusters: high school and early college, my writing after Amy’s death, coming to terms with my ADD, Robert Lee Browner’s Poem-a-Day prompt series, and, of course, our poetry blog. In between, there were a lot of one-offs, pieces inspired by some event that happened or some realization I’d come to. I went through over 400 poems and winnowed them down to about 80. Then, I asked some friends I trusted to help me validate my choices and rework some of the pieces I liked but weren’t quite there.

I am now in my third and, I hope, final pass through the poems. Putting them in order. Dealing with punctuation decisions. Choosing which photos or drawings I want to include. Wrestling (over and over) with whether or not to include the 1 page story fragments.

I’ve given myself a deadline of Feb 28. One year since I left my full-time job to focus on creating things.

Let’s see how it goes.