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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

A real marketing, design & consulting agency

Huh? A marketing, design and consulting agency
"Welcome to the world's most dynamic e-business marketing, design and consulting agency," announces the homepage of Huh? "Our name will confuse you, but, you have to admit, the logo design is pretty cool. And... Our office is really modern and we've got nice computers and stuff."

By reading this far you should be clued into the fact that the Huh? marketing, design and consulting agency is a spoof Web site. Or is it? Ah, it's so true it couldn't possibly be a farce. However, if you've every sat in a conference room with a design/consulting agency putting on a dog an pony show for your company's executive staff, then you know this isn't far from the truth.

New-age marketing gurus or design experts
"We have really smart people who... have a meeting room with a big, round, expensive table... Our female staff members are all hot, so, even if there's nothing to meet about, we'll sit and flirt with them, and charge you for the time. When one of our new-age marketing gurus or design experts or consultants has an idea, the rest of us look at him or her with serious expressions and write stuff down on paper."

Hah, the truth is revealed. I mean, this really is a fictional company. But it's such a good impression of what post office personal think of design/consulting agency.

Let me set up a real world example of one of these meetings. There's usually an executive consultant flanked by his/her marketing guru to the right and art director to the left. Following those three are one or two attractive female staff members who have meaningless titles like "Media Buyer" or "Client Relations Accountant". They usually are the ones carrying the meeting agendas, portfolios, samples, and multimedia presentation equipment.

The executive consultant begins the meeting by introducing his/her "really smart" staff including their career achievements with the pride of a military general. At some point during the executive consultant's presentation a member of your company interjects a question to which the executive consultant turns to the glamorous blonde "Client Relations Accountant" and asks her to make a note of that, but never answers the question.

"We're new-age, eMoving, marketing consultants"
The glamorous blonde prop writes something in her executive leather notebook which no one reads but everyone knows it is something along these lines: "Die, die you infernal pin-head! I had to lug all your techno crap up five flights of stairs in these cheap pumps I bought at Wal-Mart because you pay me 18 grand a year. I have a masters in marketing communications fer cryin' out loud and all I'm doing is acting as your personal wait staff. Super size this!"

"Our main consulting strategy is to convince clients that we do stuff they can't do themselves, and that we deserve lots of money for it."

Huh? Corp. needs to be taken seriously. Stop laughing. Why do you keep laughing? Besides the fact that the author of that Web site says what all creative staff members want to say, it is beautifully designed with attractive stock photo images for maximum client impact. Stop laughing! This is my nightmare too. The Huh? Corp. Web site is like a live action Dilbert cartoon. Enjoy!

Rapid River, Publishes Poem

Local arts magazine Rapid River published my poem "Narrative Kernel" in the November issue. Rapid River is published monthly in over 250 high traffic locations in Asheville and Buncombe County. Request a free copy:
Rapid River Art Magazine
70 Woodfin Pl. Ste 212
Asheville, NC 28801

(828) 258-3752

Earlier this week I received letters of rejection regarding a collection of poems and a short story from two publications. I guess the publiscation of "Narrative Kernel" makes up it.

Cafe Press will print anything, but is it art?

"Take That Hippy,
Four More Years"
Is there any thing Cafe Press won't print on custom t-shirts, mugs, stickers, clocks and tote bags? At first, I was really turned off by Cafe Press because it seemed like it was a repository of asinine political slogans. Admittedly, some of the customized products are pretty funny regardless of an individual's political leanings. Most, however, are simply vituperative.

But there is more to Cafe Press than politics. For example, this month they feature, or rather support, Breast Cancer Awareness with several custom products. There are even categories for blog and graphic design products. Some artists offer their drawings, paintings and photographs as a framed panel print. Heather Hacker offers gorgeous collage apparel and merchandise as does Susan Powers who offers her paintings as framed prints and posters. Even a friend of mine has his own Cafe Press storefront.

So, what am I waiting for? I glance over at the right column of this blog and wonder if anyone would buy framed prints or posters (even note cards) of those paintings. Part of me doesn't like the idea of offering my art as disposable prints and posters. I guess it's something to do with the commercialization of art. I'd prefer a person to buy the actual art object. It was handled be me--its creator. A framed print or poster is merely a reproduction. My hands did not create them. The other part of me acknowledges the incredible marketing and PR potential of making my paintings available through Cafe Press. Oh, the dilemma of an idealist in a consumeristic society.

Mountain Rush Hour

This is why I love Asheville. The AM rush hour commute is beautiful.

Blind Date with Poetry

Need a good poetry fix or at least a good cup of coffee?

Thursday, October 27, 2005 6:30 PM
Blind Date with Poetry with host Matt Moon. Ted Pope is this month’s featured poet.

Update: Ted Pope presented an amazing performance and powerful poetry! If you missed it... you missed it.

Asheville Pumpkin

"That Glittering Possibility"

The November/December 2005 issue of Poets & Writers contains the article "That Glittering Possibility: Eighteen Debut Poets Who Made Their Mark in 2005" By Kevin Larimer. Almost all eighteen poets are teachers. This disturbs me a bit because I am not a teacher which reduces the probability of publication.

I thought when I submit a poetry manuscript a publisher would judge it by its contents. Maybe that 60+ page manuscript I've completed needs more than a cover letter--like a resume and list of name-dropping literary connections.

Sketch: Up the Hill to Home

It's fall. The weather has taken a sharp turn toward cold this weekend. With it brought a phone call and an email announcing deaths in families of friends.

I remembered reading a post by Patry Francis, author of The Marvelous Garden, on the death of her father.
"Yes, fall comes again, and that first leaf turns red. Soon it will be Thanksgiving and once again, I will think of my father as he was on his last day."

In light of the recent natural disasters nationally and internationally, I think many people are reflecting on their own mortality.

Earlier this year, Karagraphy, wrote about mortality:
"I wonder if the more mature members of my esteemed readership might inform me what I ought to do with a First Grey Hair, discovered only moments ago... My first thought upon the epiphany: I am aging and will, of course, die. I don’t mind that too much..."

I am aging and mortal, too. This weekend reminded me of that as I spent the entire weekend and a day in bed fighting a fever.

I thought of "Media-Assisted Suicide" By Marissa Kantor again:
"We are a society afraid of death. We are afraid to talk about it, afraid to acknowledge that one day it might actually happen to us and to the people we love."

Do you think Americans are afraid of death because we have so much? Think of how many Americans have multiple televisions and autos. Think of how accessible clean water and food are to most Americans. Yet we can take nothing with us when we face death but the hope of heaven.

One Word on Heaven:
"The reward for a life well lived is a well lived life. It's up to me to make it heaven.
If I am given more, I will accept it with grace, and gratitude."

More thoughts on heaven from The Neanderthal:
"W[h]en I think of heaven... the first image to pop into my mind is my Sunday School teacher’s flannal graph board. As she read from Scripture, she would adhere: the palace, the road leading there paved with gold, perfectly spaced trees lining the blue flowing river, and a great wall around the estate. To me, it was a cold lonely place, not an individual to be seen anywhere... As a child, before I even knew what theology was, I was predisposed to question heaven’s goodness, and hell’s suffering. It was not until later in my life that I unlearned these things."

Years ago I helped publish a collection of my grandfather's poems. It was a deeply personal project for me to ensure a written legacy of my family. One of the poems in that 90-page collection is "I Want to Go Home to Heaven." The last stanza reads:
The things I have on earth are nice,
For these I thank the Lord,
No great earthly treasures have I
Just things I can afford.
I have lots of happy moments;
Lots of laughter, fun and song,
But I want to go to Heaven
For the years down here seem long.

As I consider the changing of the seasons and mortality, I know why my grandfather thinks "the years down here seem long." But I also realize how quickly time passes. Now is the time to invest in the future. Tomorrow is too late.

Sketch: Potted Plant

"Cheaper than a Graphic Designer"

Most people undervalue the potential of a well designed product (be it brochure, magazine, Web site, event poster or kiosk). Quality graphic design provides a much needed smile and hand shake that demands respect. It's strategic communication -- more specifically, marketing communication. Here are two lessons I learned from the Godin School of Marketing:

Lesson one: Knock, knock.

Button Maker is a marketing tool. Bill Zeller created the web application and Adam Kalsey designed the interface (i.e. quality design). Adam is an independent consultant who knows the value of freebies that hook potential clients or at least spreads a good idea.

Lesson two: Who's There?

You've been hooked. Do you continue? If it's a quality product, then spread the idea.

Currency of Ideas

Linguistic pluralism never produces quality results because words have decided meanings. Here is a great piece about the use of language and how asking the correct question may lead to more accurate reporting. Here are some exerts from "Media-Assisted Suicide" By Marissa Kantor:
"Perhaps the greatest offense of all involves word manipulation that, unfortunately, is not so uncommon..."

"A recent poll conducted by the National Opinion Research Center reports that 60% of respondents believe that persons with an "incurable disease" should be allowed to commit suicide; the number drops to 15% when the person in question is "tired of living and ready to die." A recent Gallup poll found that 80% of Americans think that suicide is morally wrong, while just over half agree that physician-assisted suicide is morally justified. The differences here are so nuanced and so strange as to reinforce the former point: We do not know how to deal with death. A change of three words and our opinions are reversed."

"We need to demand greater accuracy from the media..."

Words mean things. Whether discussing public policy or fictional prose, words are the currency of ideas.

# # #

I have been reviewing a manuscript of an author who already has a publisher and for that matter a publishing date (i.e the book is going to be published regardless of my comments or review). After reading through the manuscript several times I found myself becoming a bit perturbed by the misuse of words.

[Paragraph removed for accuracy -- 9:57 PM, October 20, 2005. *]

So, as a writer exchanging ideas, I need to be mindful of using the proper currency.

Look at how changing three words regarding a national debate offered different results to research polls. The words "tolerance" and "acceptance" are often mutilated in the public forum. Tolerance ("The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others") means that I will put up with high fuel costs though I don't approve of the government's energy policy. Acceptance ("favorable reception; approval" or "belief in something; agreement") means that I agree wholeheartedly and chose to ingest the red pill (overt The Matrix reference).

And to think, I used to hate grammar lessons. Go ahead, diagram this sentence (but remember you is implied).

* Thank you for keeping me accountable Stephen

North Carolina Writers' Network

Almost a month ago I received an email from North Carolina Writers' Network about the 2005 N.C. Writers' Network Fall Conference. I've never been to an event like this, but since it's right here in Asheville I might be persuaded to attend. So, I've been saving my quarters and dimes.
November 4-6, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Asheville.

Complete Brochure & Online Registration available here.

Friday's keynote speaker is New Yorker writer SUSAN ORLEAN, author of the New York Times bestseller "The Orchid Thief," which was made into the Oscar-winning movie "Adaptation." North Carolina Poet Laureate KATHRYN STRIPLING BYER will be featured Saturday.

Some of the sessions that interest me include poetry classes by Keith Flynn and Tony Tost and non-fiction classes by Linda Grant Niemann and Sebastian Matthews. The conference costs $350 which seems affordable. However, I couldn't afford to purchase oil to heat the house this month which means I'll have to do it next month which means I'll probably not be attending the 2005 N.C. Writers' Network Fall Conference. If anyone else is planning to attend let me know how it goes. Mean while, I'll keep reading and writing.

Writers at Home Series

Yesterday afternoon I attended a Writers at Home Series which featured Marc Fitten, editor, of the The Chattahoochee Review at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café.

Most of the audience in the cafe consisted of poets and writers seeking information from a benevolent editor who accepts or rejects submissions to a literary publication at his good pleasure. Sadly, most the questions were predictable. Any writer who desires to be published in a literary journal and asks questions like, "Should I call the editor to check on the status of a submission?" obviously has not done enough research in the field. Other fatuous questions include:
"What are you looking for in a manuscript?"
"What turns you off when reading a short story or essay?"

Puerile questions about writers wanting... no... lusting to be published almost drove me from the Café. You might as well tell the editor: "Sleep with me... I'll bear your children... I'll do anything... just publish my short fiction for the love of God."

I sighed, doodled in my notebook and then the gracious Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program asked Marc Fitten to describe the life a manuscript once it makes it to the literary journal's mail box. I listened.

I listened because Marc Fitten opened my eyes to the possibility that an editor of a literary journal might have a very rewarding job. The dream of all poets and writers is to get published, but another take on that dream is to publish a poet or writer of significance.

After the presentation, I told Marc I was almost persuaded to abandon writing and pursue publishing. With amiable fashion he smiled and said, "Yeah, it's great."

The Last Great Blues Man

Listening to Nirvana on the World Cafe

A wonderful week on the World Cafe: Sheryl Crow, Buddy Guy and Roger Waters. I guess that makes up for the fact that I missed the Buddy Guy show at The Orange Peel on Wednesday night. The Buddy Guy segment on the Cafe made the rest of the featured music pale in contrast. Interestingly, my wife rented a "The Blues Brothers" DVD from the library the night before. Seeing John Lee Hooker playing "Boom Boom" on a street outside the Soul Food joint and then Ray Charles singing in a music shop reminded me that people just don't create music like that anymore.

Now listening to Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane" on the World Cafe

My wife attempted to secure tickets and babysitter for the Buddy Guy show at The Orange Peel, but alas, two sick children and no available cash make an evening out impossible. However, as the boys slept, my wife and I sat in the kitchen and listened to a live recording of Buddy Guy in the Cafe. David Dye, host of World Cafe, interviewed the legendary and humble Buddy Guy later in the broadcast and my wife and I realized that we hearing one of the last great Blues men in America.

Closing out the Friday show of the World Cafe is Pearl Jam's "Jeremy"

Another Published Poem

Local arts and culture magazine Rapid River published another one of my poems in the October issue. Rapid River is a free monthly magazine published in Asheville with a monthly readership of over 30,000 readers. You can find a Rapid River magazine rack pretty much any where downtown. I got my copy at Indigenous Teahouse & Juice Bar. So, go grab a copy and see what you think of my poem, "Reading 'My American Body' by W. K. Buckley."

Sketch: Georgia Lamp Light

Before I purchased a digital camera, I recorded many events in a black hard-bound sketchbook. A Sharpie marker was always close at hand to put on paper what I observed.

One afternoon, while in north Georgia, I drew this lamp stand at a friend's home. He was studying film at the time and always had manual cameras around the house. It made a nice still life and record of that weekend.

I've never been back since that summer. The mountains of north Georgia are beautiful, but my friend no longer lives at that house. Like many of us art students, we found work in the cities and haven't returned to the rural areas.

I don't remember if we were watching baseball or NASCAR or a movie that afternoon. I tuned it out and made conversation with pen and paper. I've drifted away from excessive sketching, much to the disappointment of some of those close to me. Started writing more and drawing less. Maybe it was personal frustration that drawing required more time to complete.

Four years ago, I illustrated a 19-page indie comic book proposal in about six months. I was glad it was over but I was really disappointed with the results. The final pages were messy and the figures were horribly unarticulated. A year or so after that I began work on another indie comic series that exhibited a higher quality of drawing, but it took almost a complete year to draw nine pages. I never completed that book like I never completed this sketch. Life gets in the way. Priorities change.

Researching web design ideas, I came upon this musician's web site and was impressed with the look and feel of the site. But I was also encouraged to see that there was a four year gap between his first project (an 8-song EP) and the first label produced studio recording. It's that four-year gap where the artistic voice matures.

Drawings slowly populate my black hard-bound sketchbooks, but they have evolved--hopefully matured

Pumpkin Guts

With all the rain and wind and overall gray weather, it seemed a great occasion to carve a pumpkin. My son encouraged me to carve a big smile with no teeth. He told me last year's pumpkin's teeth were scary.

When asked to help pull the seeds and "gunk" out, my three year old son declined.

Write a Poem Assignment

32 Poems designated last week (or this week) Write a Poem Week. The writing prompt was:
The assignment is to identify those themes, imagery, elements, phenomena that reappear in your life and/or dreams and/or writing. For instance, maybe you have a lot of moons in your poems. Maybe you think a lot about cars, sex, ponds, feet, fabric, etc. Whatever it is, let this guide you to write the poem. Use the "thing" as your title.

Here's the result of the assignment.

* * *


Late summer breeze sweeps through
the streets of the city.

Something has to change--sea can
Not be quiet forever.

Some things never change--
The estuaries murmur.

Lights blink on as sun sets. Dusk comes,
Goes--hiding secrets like the sea.

Music wanders through streets of
Neon lights and ready ears.

September night spills through crowded
Streets, edging summer out to sea.

Night has many shades of dark
Which the wind cannot erase.

Something has changed, the sea no
Longer desires secrets.

In the morning, the air holds
Heavy, sweet sanctuary.

HOWL at 50

HOWL turns 50 today. "When Allen Ginsberg hurled his shattering poem at a San Francisco audience in 1955," writes Heidi Benson for the San Francisco Chronicle. "[I]t proved to be the depth charge that started the Beat movement."
Oct. 7, 1955 -- at the Six Gallery on Fillmore Street ... the moment of conception of the Beat movement.

No photographs of the evening have turned up, but by all accounts, when 150 to 200 people showed up at this low-ceilinged former auto-body shop in response to hastily printed postcards, the size of the crowd astonished everybody.

I've written about this event recently regarding the fact that events like these seem a rarity. Maybe that is as it should be. Maybe that's where poetic movements should be born--away from cameras and microphones. I remember the first time I read HOWL I thought: "What absolute madness." Yet, I read it
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,...

In all candor, Allen Ginsberg is not one of my favorite poets, but there can be no doubt of his influence. He took the coals of poetry from the halls of academia, brought it to the streets, fanned it into a flame and scorched the ears of any one willing to listen. Yes, there are some rather vulgar and obscene passages in HOWL, but most Americans avoid dead rodents on the highway. Not Ginsberg. Most people try to steer out of the way, and hope someone else will take care of that horid thing. But Ginsberg runs to the scene of the roadkill and howls...
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!

Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!

It was the dawn of the Cold War. The Korean War had recently ended. Albert Einstein, who encouraged American intellectuals to sacrifice their comfort to protect freedom, died that year. Americans left rural communities to become city dwellers. Allen Ginsberg observed all this and howled and howled and 50 years later his voice can still be heard.

Portrait of A Young Poet: 07

Last year I drew a series of comic strips for a local newspaper entitled, Portrait of A Young Poet. You can view some of there other strips here, here, here and here. I've been working on writing/drawing a new series. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Cup of Creative Potential

Since I will be joining a few guys from the local chapter of the National Cartoonist Society tonight for supper, I thought I'd post this drawing I did way back when. We gather and show and tell our latest creations, offer comments, encouragement and eat great food. Unfortunately, I haven't kept up with my drawings this month. I guess it has something to do with having children that "borrow" my equipment and decorate their bedroom walls.

Writing binge

See something different? Great. I hope this new design works in all browswers. I suspect IE users might see something different than Safari users. Let me know if things look a bit odd (design-wise that is) to you.

But more importantly, I completed the composition of 30 new short poems tonight! Earlier, I mentioned that I had been working on a novel for about two years and recently rewrote the entire plot outline as a book length poem. So, 30 new short poems is a pretty good start--most of the poems provide setting for the main narrative.