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1000 Black Lines

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

Write Stuff: Lit–the Drug

This week's Write Stuff post: Lit–the Drug.

I’d rather be down at the Flood Gallery (in the River Arts District) listening to emerging writers... or sitting on the floor of the kitchen reading Soft Skull Press’s Tear Down the Mountain on a windy Saturday afternoon.

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Poem published in .ISM Quarterly

.ISM Quarterly
Autumn 2006
Earlier this week I got an email newsletter from .ISM Quarterly. If you are not familiar with .ISM it is self-described as "An artistic democracy created under the banner of free suggestion and national exposure for anyone with the talent, regardless of experience. 'For the people, by the people' comes close. 'For the artist, by the artist" comes closer.'"

Anyway, last summer I submitted at least six poems and hadn't heard from the editor in almost nine months; that is until this week. The email newsletter featured a block of names that included yours truly. The poem "Loneliness Visits" is published on page twenty-two and follows a story about Found Magazine. If you are in the Asheville area, run to Downtown Books & News and pick up a copy of the Autumn 2006 issue of .ISM Quarterly, or buy it online from the .ISM online store.

America's addiction

This week I noticed that Edgy Mama's blog features a Blog Ads advertisment for a Glen Beck exposé on porn in America.

I don't know how the Blog Ads system works. Most likely an company places web ads based on demographic studies and market research. I don't know if a blog owner has control regarding what ads to accept or decline. Most print magazines have a legal safety net allowing them the right to accept or decline an advertiser based on the magazine's own discretion. But I don't know how Blog Ads works. Any-whoo...

the blog ad
Whatever the case, I think Glen Beck is wrong to say porn is America's addiction. I know, I know, Wired reported that "Internet pornography is the new crack cocaine..." But I think they are both wrong.

Google has provided something much worse than anything Glen Beck or Wired can discuss and/or report. Those of you who have gmail accounts know what I am talking about.

It starts out all innocent.

First, you get a gmail address and check your email obsessively. Then you realize your google account has much more--like a calendar and weather and date & time. And then there is the link just above the date & time feature that reads "Add stuff." Oh, there's more, you think to yourself. And you click and find out Google has Joke of the Day, Quotes of the Day, To-Do list and other cool internet features and services. And this is all fine and fair until you see they have...

PacMan v2.0.

America's Google Addiction
And you click on it and it appears on your Google account page everytime you log in. And you play a game and can't make it to level two. So you play it again and this time the phone rings and you ignore it because you're almost to level 2 with both "lifes" still available.

Okay level 2 is working well, and the incoming email sound announces someone is trying to contact you and the phone is ringing again and Clyde (the orange ghost) gets you. How can this happen? You hit the keyboard in frustration because the ringing phone distracted you and you lost a PacMan life. So you pick up the ringing phone and shout at the poor person on the other end who is shouting back at you because you are supposed to be in a marketing meeting. You can't make, you tell the co-worker and terminate the call.

Pretty soon hours go by and you've skipped lunch and you are now crossing your legs because you really have to use the toilet but you've made it to level 10 and can't leave. Internet porn addiction is bad, but what Google has done is much worse. Men and women across America are addicted to PacMan v2.0. Homeland Security is investigating this with great concern. White House staffers have not left their offices in weeks. All America is trying to beat Stefan's record score: 312,190! People are losing sleep, causing traffic accidents on the way to the office or internet cafés. How does Stefan do it, they all ask as the log into their Google account.

Misuse of stock photos and other thoughts of art and design ethics

These True.com ads weary me. If you use hotmail for your email service these ads routinely display to the right of your browser window.

What bothers me the most is the objectification of women: "fresh ... take your pick." What is this a deli? Does this not bother feminists?

Further, the use of a stock photo image to sell "fresh" women borders on liability with stock photo image providers. Most stock photography companies include a line of legalese like this:

"... use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content..."

Do the True.com web ads depict the models "in a manner" that suggests "sexual or implied sexual activity... reflected in the Content"? What if the web ad read: "Somewhere in America, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes" [statistic from RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, & Incest Network) Statistics]? Would that be considered a depiction of the model "in a manner" that suggests "physical... abuse"? Would that be appropriate to combine the stock image of a woman with copy that suggests her abuse? Most people would agree that it would not. So would it be appropriate to combine the stock image of a woman with copy that suggests she is a "fresh" single female?

This goes back to something else I mentioned regarding the need for responsibly designed ads. It seems too easy to "paste" an image and copy together with little consideration for business and graphic design ethics.

If a model understands how the final image will be used they may or may not consent to posing. Say for example (since we're all on the eve of mid-term elections), you are a Democrat and you see your image used in a Republican ad sponsoring a university young Republican group (or vice versa). Part of the responsibility falls to the model and part falls to the photographer, designer and art director.

While walking through downtown I saw an art gallery with multiple nude figure paintings. I assume the artist's models consented and understood that their image would be represented and displayed in the context of galleries, museums and private collectors.

Now consider this: if these models posed for this artist understanding it was for a fine art painting collection and later found that it became an advertisement for RAINN or True.com, wouldn't that be a bit misleading on the part of the artist?

Don't mean to pontificate. Just tossing out a few observations in a world of cut-n-paste design and tap-typing a blog post while freelancing on into the night.

Books news

Essay collection: A-- After 24 weeks, the book has sold over 4600 copies.

This does not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of bestseller lists and mass printings of 100,000 copies of name brand writers. But, after a recent conversation with another book designer from the West Coast who seemed very impressed by the numbers, it is a very big deal. Many publishers will print 10,000 to 25,000 copies of a debut author and only sell 10 to 15% of the inventory. Plus, they have huge ad/marketing campaigns promoting the books. So 4600 copies sold with minimal advertising in a national magazine is a very big accomplishment.

manuscript proof book
Essay collection: B--The book is on press. Not too long ago I approved the final manuscript proofs for production. Some call it galley proofs which isn't entirely accurate (Galley proofs are text copy pages before mechanical layout. Since I did the layout using Quark Xpress, I can't call it a galley proof. I didn't do pre-press setup for signatures (Signatures is a sheet of printed pages for publication; usually 8 to 16 pages per sheet depending on the size of the printing press.) so maybe some would call it a galley proof. Due to digital pre-press production the printing terminology is a bit fluid.)

manuscript pages
I check to make sure the manuscript doesn't have odd text re-flow issues, or out of order pages, pagination errors or other assorted potential design/ production defects. Further, margins around the copy blocks are inspected to make sure the final book design maintains its integrity. Keep in mind that the book is to be considered a gift book of sorts and the overall design (page layout, font choice, cover art and binding) must be correct. Also, there is always a widowed word or line that is often missed in the final stages of page layout and needs to be corrected before final press approval.

book cover color proof
The cover was selected by a committee of persons of which the author and myself dissented from the final decision. It is not that the illustrator did a poor job; nor the final decision was a poor choice. But, given the half dozen potential cover designs that I prepared, an executive decision was made and therefore made by the CEO who is the final authority on the matter.

So the color cover proof is approved and I now move onto the national ad campaign planning, production and introduction. Fun, fun, fun. Book is available in November and already there are hints of pre-order sales.

Anthology-- This book launches on the same date as the Essay Collection (B). It will be interesting to chart the success of these books as to their difference in audience and appeal.

A national ad campaign is planned and will focus on the books content as it relates to the targeted niche audience. It is being referred to as a "limited 20-year anniversary edition" in order to add urgency to this specialty product. Further, it will be co-marketed with another entity for further distribution.

The book collects 48 feature stories (as in magazine features articles) in 360 pages from almost a dozen noteable journalists plus a bonus for aspiring writers. That's all I'll say for the moment.

PART: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

Liquefaction afterglow

Those who missed Liquefaction: A Geek and Artist Mixer last night at The New French Bar Courtyard Cafe, sponsored by The Media Arts Project, missed a big event. The place packed in as much creative energy as the bar could hold. For the first 30 minutes I nibbled free food, drank draft ale and watched in amazement the many geeks and artists connecting. Much networking transpired and much craft discussed and much adult beverages consumed.

Now, back to work.

Lunch time update: I left Liquefaction with a handful of cards, brochures and flyers from the following places: Tolleson Design, Creative Inc., The Map, Bid Bridge Advertising and TopFloorStudio.

Autumn under a street lamp

Downtown autumn colors

Xpress plunges into blogosphere

The Mountain Xpress blog (arts & entertainment, news and letters) joins the Asheville blogging community.

Over a year ago, Steve Shanafelt wrote a feature story [that I blogged about here] about the Asheville blogging community. Now the Xpress wades into the blogosphere which Jon Elliston trumpets in his post Blogs to match our mountains.

[T]he Mountain Xpress news department plunges headlong into the blogosphere. Our News Blog is here to offer Xpress readers, writers and editors a forum for sharing up-to-the-minute news and views.
So welcome aboard! Y’all come see us in cyberspace, where our door is always open …

I am so weary of condescending poets...

...talking and writing about jazz music as if it was an intellectual topic to itself. One to be coddled and smiled upon as if jazz was helpless without their poetic touch of authority. I like jazz. I listen to Bob Parlocha in the evenings when I get the opportunity. I have several jazz albums. But fercryinoutloud, enough already with poet wannabe's exploring the topic of jazz as if they are erudite jazz maharishis.

Thank you Pulitzer Prize–winning Paul Muldoon for NOT writing about jazz.
"A lifelong lover of rock music, Muldoon has recently assumed the post of guitar player and lyricist for Rackett, the band he started with a Princeton colleague and a few local musicians; currently they are preparing to put out their first full-length CD themselves and are looking for a manager. He is a man as comfortable discussing the aesthetic value of the villanelle as a poetic form as he is the stage performances of Mick Jagger. 'I like the theater of the big concert. I love the spectacle of it—it's a very particular art form,' Muldoon says."
[from the current issue of Poets & Writers]

That's right. The University of Rock and Roll is now in session with your Dean of Poetry Dr. Paul "Rackett" Muldoon rockin' out with the guitar solo!

Morning Has Broken

Morning Has Broken
sung by Cat Stevens
lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the world

Head down that street (right there in the photo), take a left (directional not political) on to Wall Street; on your left (assuming your following directions based on this photo; otherwise it would be your right (again not politically right but directionally)) you'll find Early Girl Eatery. Breakfast goodness awaits you. OK, forget the photo directions and just google it here.

"The menu relies heavily on the high quality local produce grown in the area by family farms and community-supported agriculture (CSAs)." My morning relied heavily upon their multigrain buttermilk pancakes and at least a gallon of their fine brewed coffee. Mmm... morning has broken and I think my waistline has expanded.

Struggling playwright worries he might offend someone

The sacred and the profane poses the question: where is the line of too far in a comedy? Stuggling playwright worries about pissing off Christians with a few course lines in a comedy.

Here's the bottom line: People, whether Christian or not, will find something to get pissed about. "To thine ownself be true" (Act I, scene iii, Hamlet) is the advice I bring. Don't let the audience or the reader write your work for you. Write what you write, but just write!

Welcome to True Home podcast

True Home Open Mic Podcast
at The Courtyard Gallery
Every Thursday at the Courtyard Galley. Hosted by Jarrett Leone, signup starts at 8:30PM and performances from 9pm-12

My awkward introduction to the world of podcasting began at last week's True Home Open Mic. The podcast is available through Apple iTunes. To subscribe to the True Home Open Mic Podcast, copy this address into your podcast application: http://www.webpasties.com/podcast-8670-930.xml

I'm featured on the fifth episode reading My Father's Promise and Red Dye #40 Epsicle Ice Pop and shamelessly plugging Write Stuff. The fifth episode also includes music by the talented Ash Devine and a "mindless didgeridoo" tribute to a Mountain Xpress writer.

Gypsy Bandwagon at French Broad Brewery

Gypsy Bandwagon
at French Broad Brewery
Tomorrow night, October 18, 5:45-8:00 PM

Gypsy Bandwagon is a high-energy folk band that performs Irish, mountain, and Gypsy music with original songs and arrangements that happened to play before a capacity crowd at Jack of the Wood.

Update: Asheville bus riders: it's Route 8 leaving the Transit Center at 5:30 PM. There is not an evening bus. So you'll have to walk to the Biltmore Village/Lodge Street bus stop and wait for Route 36 heading to the Transit Center which should be there around 8:15 PM. You could also at take a cab or convince some at French Broad Brewery to drive you home.

Guerilla marketing

"Fugazi travel ruined our honeymoon!"

I saw this car while visiting friends and couldn't resist a simple marketing lesson: guerilla marketing works well.

Autumn Asheville high

300 reasons to go

Okay, so that title is a tease. When Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 was first published as a five issue mini series, I purchased it like all the other fan boys of his work. Now a movie version of the graphic novel will be released in a few short months [here's the 300 teaser trailer].

Speaking of Frank Miller ... A month ago I was a bit surprised to hear NPR's Morning Edition host announce his name. Frank Miller contributed an essay to This I Believe. He wrote and read:
Then came that sunny September morning when airplanes crashed into towers a very few miles from my home and thousands of my neighbors were ruthlessly incinerated -- reduced to ash. Now, I draw and write comic books. One thing my job involves is making up bad guys. Imagining human villainy in all its forms. Now the real thing had shown up. The real thing murdered my neighbors. In my city. In my country. Breathing in that awful, chalky crap that filled up the lungs of every New Yorker, then coughing it right out, not knowing what I was coughing up.

For the first time in my life, I know how it feels to face an existential menace. They want us to die. All of a sudden I realize what my parents were talking about all those years.

Patriotism, I now believe, isn't some sentimental, old conceit. It's self-preservation. I believe patriotism is central to a nation's survival. Ben Franklin said it: If we don't all hang together, we all hang separately.
[Read the complete essay was broadcast on September 11, 2006.]

Being a casual fan of Frank Miller's work I was caught off guard. The brush behind Ronin, Sin City, 300 and other comics that pushed and continue to push against the U. S. censorship laws surrounding comics was not one I expected to hear from about patriotism. Everyone has the right to voice his or her convictions and opinions. Some are brave enough to actually share them intelligently and publicly.

Quizilla provides a blog bio

Hi, I'm Deb. I'm a Cultural Creative and a Theory Slut. The true elite of the postmodernists, I collect avant-garde Indonesian hiphop compilations and eat journal articles for breakfast. I positively live for theory. It really doesn't matter what kind, as long as the words are big and the paragraph breaks few and far between.. I am a Visual Learner and if my life was a movie it would be An Indie Flick . I am Royal Blue. People find me difficult to understand. I think so much that sometimes I get lost in my own thoughts!. Some say I Should Be a Film Writer because I have a knack for details and dialogue. I can really make a character come to life. I am an Indie Rocker! It is all about the love of the music... I couldn't care less about being signed by a big label. Others think I Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) because of my blooming artistic talent, even if I am not quite convinced. I best fit into cities like Chicago and New York City.

Fearlessly I braved the cinema

It is a rare occasion when my wife and I attend the cinema. Last week, we braved blustery weather to view Fearless; Jet Li's final martial arts masterpiece.

My wife said she felt like she was in high school again because of the majority of the crowd was of that age demographics. I did not feel like I was in high school. There were no cell phones in high school with which to discuss banal topics while waiting in line to purchase tickets. And, I could be twice the age of the high school kids hanging out on a Friday night. Further, most of the teens were there to watch a horror film (I think it had something to do with chainsaws).

I am curious to know the psychology that draws a particular crowd to a specific movie, book or musical act. I know why I went. It was the only one my wife and I could agree upon--both being Jet Li fans.

Writing freelance design project proposals suck swamp water

I mean, like how tepid can business-speak really get:
Dear Sir or Madam:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit my proposal for your book cover design project. Enclosed please find all information relative to my skills and experience, as well as a plan for project implementation, cost, and time estimates.

In reviewing your project description, I was excited to learn that you are seeking a freelance designer to help you with the book cover designs. In addition to my ten years of design experience, I also have published and designed a few books with small publishers. Please view samples to get a feel for how I may be able to help you.

If selected for the project, I would like to begin with a meeting to discuss the creative direction and book cover copy generated to date. From there, I would like to map out a strategy suited to our dual efforts that will illustrate each phase of the project through its completion.

Given your desire to create a quality book cover designs suitable for publication, I submit a proposed cost estimate of $___.__ (Based on a recent cover designed for a local publication. The time needed to complete this project was 6 hours and the final cost was $___.__. While I am not aware of the full scope of your needs regarding graphics and illustrations, I hope this example gives you an idea of my pricing and time estimates.) and a time frame to completion of a month.

For the proposed cost, I will provide you with a 48-hour turnaround on up to three revisions. In addition, I propose that we utilize __________'s Escrow and Mediation and Arbitration services to protect our mutual investment.

Please feel free to contact me by telephone at (___) ___-____ or by email at _____@_____.com. I look forward to speaking with you about this exciting project.


Coffeehouse Junkie
I'm surprised anyone gets design gigs using this kind of formal business writing. Face-to-face meetings, hand-shakes and general review of portfolio and discussion of project objectives is my preferred new business strategy.

Write Stuff: My Father’s Promise

This week's Write Stuff poem is based on a writing prompt--write from a child’s perspective: My Father’s Promise.

Comments so far:
As usual ... you’ve said a lot in just a few words.
This shows absolute trust - I hope the father doesn’t let him down.

This is loaded! I love it.

"He saught tautness, compactness, the hard image that both conveyed and ... was the meaning the poet was after," wrote critic Thomas Lask (Nov. 2, 1972) in his obituary of Ezra Pound (reprinted in Alan Levy's book Ezra Pound: The voice of Silence). "Every word that was not functional in the line was eliminated."

That is what I am striving toward--"tautness, compactness, the hard image."

Crafting the poem My Father’s Promise took more than a week. It was a process of subtracting or distilling toward a dense yet simple five lines or eight words.

My wife and I debated the last word; “wait.” Initially, I used “waited” to fit a two-syllable line, but I changed it after much discussion to “wait.” She helped me turn the line with a voiceless alveolar fricative stop--word ending with a "t." Using "waited" added voiced alveolar fricative stop which, when read aloud, sounded like I ran over a speed bump. When the last line is read aloud, the "t" in "wait" explodes of the alveolar ridge and ends the poem with gravity and urgency.

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What's your PostSecret secret?

Edgy Mama posted a challenge: What's your PostSecret secret? I thought about it for a couple days and thought of this publishable secret: A few years back I funded a Skillet concert at a really small venue packed with sweaty, moshing people. Based on their MySpace page promo video I'd never be able to do that again. And based on this YouTube video, they've outgrown those small, sweaty clubs.

Update: The funded concert took place on October 16, 1998 at the Power House Room and sponsored by 93.3 The Planet (now known as New Rock 93.3).

D'licious News

D'licious Magazine-- The October/November issue is at the printers. . . or rather the digital files representing the magazine is somewhere in the ether between here and there.

Three of us d'licious staffers were up until 1 AM putting the final touches on the issue. Should be out in the next week or two at select locations--including the Asheville Regional Airport.

More Jaye, more Frazier

First on NPR, while awaking from a very late night at work (like 1 AM), I heard a story about Frazier's new book and then on the front page of the local paper Jaye Bartell is pictured with other Malaprop's staff openning boxes and boxes of Frazier's books. And yes, I read the paper version of the newspaper. (It's really difficult to read newspaper on a iBook while riding the bus.)