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1000 Black Lines

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

Love it, or hate?

Facebook. Rule number one, don't drink and facebook at the same time.

I think I just invited a whole boot load of strangers to do something through a Facebook app, but I can't remember what it was or who I sent it to.

Should have never logged onto to Facebook... should have kept designing that book cover... should have gone to sleep before 11PM... should have never...

Photoshop Tutorial: Correcting photos using the Warp tool

So the product, a 2008 Weekly Planner, arrives and my Nikon Cool Pix 5600 captures an image under a desk tungsten-halogen lamp.



A quick, clean mask is applied to the product image. One challenge is presenting a linear image of the book's edge. So, back to the Transform tool Warp for photo correction.



This is the oft debated linearity and nonlinearity vrs. convexity and nonconvexity. I don't pretend to know which side to support. All I know is that I don't want an image of a "bloated" new Planner.



A minor correction to create a more linear image is one of the most practical application of Photoshop CS3's new tool Warp.



Then to finish the image, I include subtle shadows using gradient and effects applied to a few layers.

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It's drip dropping outside

That's how my child describes the yesterday and today's weather. It's what I thought of yesterday afternoon's reading at Malaprop's Bookstore. The author wasn't really a downpour but neither a sunny day. So I headed to the Downtown Books & News for a few minutes of book perusal. The smell of old, used books, the in-store music playing a bluegrass version of "There's Power in the Blood" and the damp weather seemed to agree with the purchase of a Ted Kooser book I've never read.

And now I feel homeless in the blizzard of 1888.

Photoshop Tutorial: Warp tool

Photoshop CS3 offers a practical vector-based tool. Here's the assignment. New product of a 2008 Weekly Planner has not arrived at the office and an ad promoting it is due by the end of the week. So, a photo shoot is out. Custom stock photography is out. Or is it?



In less than an hour this image of a female writing in a journal was located at iStockphoto.com. But how do I transform sample Planner pages into a stock image? Use Photoshop CS3's new Transform tool Warp.



The Warp tool provides 12 vector points to allow image manipulation.



One of the obvious applications of this new tool is to "wrap" a flat image around a can or cone or wave. But I need the Warp tool to "wrap" around the stock image journal pages.



The key is subtlety in this "product" ad. Using a couple effects, masks and layers, I present the illusion of a "product" placement within a stock image.

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NCWN Writers Residency

The North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference in Winston-Salem is this weekend. I received a scholarship to the Summer Writers Residency in Raleigh and received a week of great mentoring, studying and crafting new works. I told several people I planned to attend the Fall Conference.

But I've got the post-writers-residency blues. I should be elated at the wonderful events of the Summer Writers Residency, but why am I so blue these last few months? Does this happen to anyone else--these unexplained sometimes disabling blues?


Prior to the summer residency I took a writing class that I learned so much from I was ready to explode. The experience was so rich at moments I thought maybe I do have the stuff and stamina it takes to be a writer. So I prepared a poetry manuscript for the Summer Writers Residency and applied for a poetry scholarship. In a couple short weeks I was in Raleigh enjoying an intense time of writing, reading, and studying contemporary poetry. By the second day I had met kindred spirits (known affectionately as the "Triumvirate;" pictured above). Less than three to five days after that fantastic experience I was having trouble sleeping. With in a month I was irritable (and I am sure on edge emotionally) at the lack of time I was spending playing with words.

A lot of this may be directly related to my professional life--manager of a "new products" division. Many decisions had to be made--or rather, many sacrifices had to be made. I stopped certain activities relating to writing so I could focus on developing "new products." Not only do I have to come up with "new products," I have to make them myself, design the ad/marketing material and campaigns and a few other elements like e-commerce and what-not. But I digress.

Attendance at open mics and poetry readings became rare. I resigned from my weekly post at Write Stuff. Regular submissions to The Indie almost vanished as well as serious blog writing. My composition book and notebook I half-filled during the Summer Writers Residency accompanied me everywhere I went. They were always hidden in one pocket or another in my backpack. I would open the books and start to write new material and something interrupted me or nothing would come at all.

Soon I stopped opening the notebooks. I began to hate them as one might hate a tattoo of that one girl's name. The girl you thought you might love forever but forever is a myth and the tattoo the slavery of reality. At one point, a guy at the church I attend asked if I had written anything recently. I said no. He encouraged me to spend at least fifteen minutes writing something that week. I did. It was about resigning my post at Write Stuff.


Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression include: "depressed mood, tearfulness, inability to enjoy pleasurable activities, trouble sleeping, fatigue, appetite problems, suicidal thoughts, feelings of inadequacy... and impaired concentration." Weird how some of these symptoms fit in regards to my writing life. I wonder if all poets and writers feel this way after a writers conference or one-week residency?

The composition book was opened once recently--at the Marvin Bell reading. I sat next to Sebastian Matthews that night. I read a few pages of notes from Evie Shockley's residency discussion on blues in poetry and self-consciously felt like an impostor. A woman sitting in front of me at the Marvin Bell reading requested a story about a beautiful woman. Mr. Bell chuckled and said, "Beautiful women never come to my readings." The woman who requested the story was very beautiful that evening. I haven't opened that composition book since that night.

Further Edumacation of widget making

Given the choice of reading books on management or productivity, I'll chose a book of poems any day. What about a poetry collection on management and productivity? In a stream of conscious flow, I am reminded of Time & Money by William Matthews.

That's all.

Thanks for swimmin' thru my cerebrum.

Do coffee shops discriminate?

For coffeehouse junkies everywhere, Slate.com explores coffee shop economics and more.Waiting for Good Joe asks if coffee shops discriminate against women.

[T]he conclusion of American economist Caitlin Knowles Myers.... Men get their coffee 20 seconds earlier than do women. (There is also evidence that blacks wait longer than whites, the young wait longer than the old, and the ugly wait longer than the beautiful. But these effects are statistically not as persuasive.)
More Slate coffee talk regarding Starbucks' elusive "short" cappuccino and how to open an independent coffee shop and watch it destroy your life.

What to do with old poetry

Jeff Davis interviewed Jessica Smith for WordPlay on WPVM [more here]. It's a good interview on a challenging poetic form for a radio broadcast.

Anyway, it reminded me of something I heard on NPR last week:
Joe Queenan's advice to aspiring writers is, "Don't write until you're 25. Don't write for the high school yearbook. Don't write for the college literary magazine. Don't write that stuff — you never had any experiences, you don't know anything, just shut up."
from The Writer's Almanac.
I found a box of poems I wrote before I turned 25 years old while cleaning the house. I have half a mind to chuck it and focus on new material.