Need a last minute
stocking stuffer? Let me remind one and all that every child needs to grow up listening to the Trinity (Doc Abbick, Dean Schechinger, and Tom Montag) CD, Fairy Tales & Nonsense, which you can order here (or you simply listen to two minutes of each song).
Trinity is hard at work on our second album, which will be devoted to original train songs. I'd like to call it "Plain Trains," but I doubt the others will oblige. I've got the lyrics written, mostly; one or the other of them may still need to be revised to fit the music. Indeed, Dean has written most of the music already. And I have figured out my basslines for five of the songs, with seven or eight or nine to go, depending on how many songs we decide to put on the album. My fingers are sore from practicing, but Doc says if your fingers get sore, you need to improve your technique. Sore fingers or not, I am still having way too much fun.
On November 27, Jane Hampden of WUWM aired an interview she conducted with Peter and me. You can listen to the interview here - you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the audio file.
Peter and I gave a presentation and signed books at the Schwartz Bookshop on Downer Avenue in Milwaukee on December 4. The event was written up in Schwartz's electronic newsletter, temporarily here (scroll about 3/4 of the way down the page).
There are two things which keep people away from an event such as a reading/book signing. Bad weather is one. Good weather is the other. In our case, we encountered about four inches of snow in the two hours before our presentation. Even so, some fifteen people showed up to listen and talk and buy books. And thanks to Stacy at the store for taking such good care of us!
My guitar-pickin' friend Doug and I played music yesterday in the afternoon. Well, actually what we did was record two instrumentals, "Under the Double Eagle" and "Bully of the Town." Doug had bought a portable 4-track digital "recording studio" recently, which is about the size of mass market paperback, and we wanted to try it out. Doug played rhythm guitar on one track and lead guitar on another, and I played bass a third. The recorder is a remarkable little gadget, and Doug says "You don't have to be an engineer to run it."
The recordings were for practice: (1) Doug got to practice using the recorder: and (2) I will practice the songs using the CD Doug made for me of our session. We'll record "keeper copies" sometime later.
Afterwards Mary and I and Doug and his wife went out for supper, to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary and Doug's birthday. Happy Anniversary to Us. Happy Birthday to Doug.
I had an e-mail earlier this week from the Mari Sandoz Society, asking to use some words about visiting Mari's gravesite from one of my blog posts. Cindy Evert Christ, the Communications Coordinator, wrote: "We are planning an excursion to Mari’s grave after our annual conference in Chadron March 27-29, 2008. I am not sure how I want to use your words—in a flyer for the conference, the newsletter, etc.—but I would like permission to use what you have written about Mari’s gravesite."
Of course, I am honored to have my words used to honor the memory of Mari Sandoz, and I told Cindy that the Society was free to use the passage now and forever as they see fit.
The paragraphs in question appear about the middle of this post, starting with "You want it to mean something" and continuing to "Thank you, Mari" and the asterisk.
I have one more session with my Creative Nonfiction students at Lakeland College before I have to turn in the final grades. We'll meet on Wednesday, the 12th, to discuss the remaining papers of their fourth major assignment, and if we have time we'll also talk about what they have learned to "see" during the course of the semester. Each week in their journals I had the students record a "What I Saw" passage, some observation out of their experience which might warrant recording as prose. For the final session they need to summarize what they've learned about how they "see." Since one actually learns to write pretty much on his own, I figure my task as a teacher this semester has been to help the students learn to see, so they have something to write about.
Well, then, yes, I do liberally mark up their papers. I told them at the beginning of the semester that I'd treat their work as if I were an editor having at a manuscript. And that's pretty much what I've done. If they study the red ink, they'll learn something more about writing from my emendations.
I don't know how those who teach three or four classes per semester are able to do it. I have one class, and it's all I can take care of. Every time I get to teach, I am reminded again how much I admire those who do it as a profession. It's hard work.
Teachers are our unsung heroes.
So I'd like to recommend that, if you have teachers who were important in your formation, write them this holiday season to say how much they meant to you, and thank them.
It will be good for the teachers to hear it. It will be good for you to say it.