And They Say That He Got Crazy Once

Do you remember the first time you heard "Rocky Mountain High" on the radio? I do.

I was driving up to Elk Creek in northern California with Joel, who was about two, I believe. We had friends up there who lived on a 76-acre spread and who'd invited me up just to get away. They had man-made lakes, mountain streams, riding paths, cattle, horses, peacocks, and a big front porch that faced the eastern ridge of the Sierras, where I spent my evenings with my 12-string, writing songs...

The Insomniac Interviews: Bob Slentz-Kesler

Bob Slentz-Kesler (aka Bob S-K)
Bob's blog, Neither Clever Nor Witty, is not the place to go when you're in the mood for prolonged reading. Let's face it, he doesn't have the time. Instead, Bob posts (usually) daily insights into his fragmented but surprisingly balanced life. A stay-at-home dad, novelist, and a member of the Beer Of The Month Club, Bob has become one of the five bloggers I'd take with me if I were to be stranded on a desert island. It's time for you to get to know him too!

ii: What made you decide to start blogging? In what year did you open your blog?

ii: Has your blog and/or blogging style changed over time? In what way?
Bob: Even though I've tried from the beginning not to put pressure on myself to write something interesting each day, I find that as time goes on I'm even more cavalier and nonchalant about what I splash onto the page each day.

ii: What advice would you give someone who is new to blogging?
Bob: I'm not a person who gives advice. To anyone who's new to blogging, I say "Welcome, and pull up a chair. It's going to be fun."

ii: Do you see a time when you may decide to stop blogging?
Bob: I can see a time when I'll take breaks (maybe even months at a time, much later in life), but at the moment, it's a habit I can't break.

ii: What are your 3 favorite blogs?
Bob: Irregular Times - An unapologetically partisan blog with excellent writing, good citing of sources, and concrete recommendations for taking action.

Incurable Insomniac - No, seriously! I do love your blog. I love how the layout changes from time to time, and I love your graphics and the way you write and what you write about. Silly, serious, bawdy, sad, introspective. Good stuff.

Foner Books Blog - As a self-publisher, I love reading about the experiences of others. This fellow, Morris Rosenthal, has a lot of experience and has amassed a great archive of blog posts about self-publishing and print-on-demand technology.

ii: What do you most enjoy blogging about?
Bob: Nothing in particular. I really do splash up whatever's in my brain at the moment. I avoid themes.

ii: What is your "Day Job"?
Bob: Stay at home dad.

ii: What one thing in your life has suffered since you began blogging?
Bob: Nothing that I can think of. The amount of time I spend writing the blog is less than 10 minutes a day. It's often closer to 5. Also, I don't read the blogs of others every day--I might check in every few days. I recognize it could become addictive, so I try to keep a laid-back approach to the whole thing.

ii: What one thing in your life has been enhanced?
Bob: Connection with people, definitely. I've made new friends online, and I feel more connected to the readers I see around town from time to time.

ii: Is there someone, either living, historical, or fictional, that you wish had a blog?
Bob: A toss-up between the musician Dave Guard (dead), and the writer Reynolds Price (living).

Bob Slentz-Kesler Online
Neither Clever Nor Witty

Thatcher Forest Publishing

Sylvia, Rachel, Meredith, Anna - A wonderful book, rich with characters and deceptively complex with sparkling prose.
Search For the Flaming Chalice - I haven't read this one yet.

Romancing the Sauce


My Quasi Hermetic Life

The life of a writer is not for the would-be author. It's not for those who are looking for a glamorous lifestyle, or for those who consider being on the A-List a good thing. It's not for those who are attracted to the romantic image of the tortured genius in his garret, drinking absinthe. For every book one may get asked to sign there is a year of nights of sitting alone, hammering ones head against the monitor. For every compliment one may receive, there is a month of sitting, staring blankly at the computer...


Composing Thoughts

I seldom write about composition because it's such a personal thing to me and because, when I try to put my feelings and thoughts into words, they melt away. This is probably only natural because music itself is intangible; the transcribing of music is always left wanting when the composer is faced with interpreting what he or she hears within...


You Can't Captcha Me

Am I the only person who's mildly bugged about having to say "captcha" instead of "capture" when referring to those little jumbled letters we have to type before we can do just about anything online?

Wiki tells me that it's an anagram for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart", but that doesn't justify it for me. In this case it should be CAPTTCHA. Why not "STUDS" ("Spam and Troll Ultimate Deterrent System") or "BITE" ("Back Into The Ether")?

I'm not under 25, I'm not from the hood and I love and protect the English language. Why did they decide to give these little buggers an urban dialect rather than an actual name? WHO decided this? When I'm forced to say it I feel stupid, like one of those middle-aged weekend Mods in the 60s who tossed around words like "groovy" and "outtasite" thinking that it fooled us into thinking they were cool.

I'm not cool, okay? So I'm not going to say "captcha". I don't say, "The Untouchables was about gangstas", or "Please pass the pepa." Forget it. You can't make me.

False Noses, Kaiserschmarren & Evensong

What a great day yesterday was. Actually, it began on Saturday night when Nettl and I settled back to watch the 1948 version of Oliver Twist, with Alec Guinness in the role of Fagin. I was a bit offended by the false nose they gave him, but his performance was brilliant...



Alison Jackson creates films, photographic images, and sculptures about our fixation with fame and celebrity culture. These Mimeses use look-a-likes of celebrities and public figures to create a photographic or filmic image, which challenges the observers' perception of reality by creating a false reality. Only on second or third glance does the viewer question the truth of what they are seeing. Jackson describes her work as an exploration of what we see and what we imagine, the interplay of our voyeuristic needs and our urge to believe, challenging the photographs' claim to tell the truth.

Jackson is an astute observer of the contemporary cult of celebrity. Her reinterpretations of familiar media images have shocked, provoked, amused, and most importantly caused an entire generation to re-assess its perceptions and expectations of modern-day icons.



The manuscript is finished and ready to mail...
All of the website projects have been delivered to my clients...
My different sites are all current...

Does this mean that I actually have free time to work on my screenplay?

No, it means that I finally can get around to emptying the trash and cleaning the house.

Friends I Can't Wait to Meet

I've met a lot of really fine people here in Blogsville. I've even met a few in person. But sometimes I like to think about the others whom I haven't met, and if we ever shall. Here are those I hope to meet one day. If you're not listed here it's not because I don't want to meet you, it's just that I nowadays have to know someone online for a long time before I trust that a face-to-face meeting will be a mutually happy thing. I know that most of these meetings won't happen, but that doesn't mean that I can't want them to.

Bob S-K: I'm looking forward to kicking back a few beers with Bob and meeting his wife and kids. Hell, I feel like I know them already, due to his candid blog. And I want him to give me a tour of his back yard and show me his masonry. We'll even take a couple of goofy pictures of us together!

RW: Sitting in leather club chairs sharing brandy and cigars while comparing notes about who we met in the Sixties. What could be more cozy than two Libras cruising together in a situation like that?

Joe: Come on. I want to meet him at what he knows to be the best deli in New York City, and shoot the shit.


Things I Just Don't Understand

There are some things in this world that I just don't get. Sure, dark matter and undulating membranes are up there on my list, but they don't make me wag my head in utter disbelief. What I'm talking about is mainly people stuff. We're a fascinating species, full of paradoxes and possibilities, and I believe that even we don't get us. Here are a few of the things I don't understand. Some of them have to do with human nature itself and some have to do with the situations we create. Feel free to comment on mine, or name a few of your own. But please, no Steven Wrightisms. Those have been hackneyed to death and have more to do with semantics than anything else...


Random Crap

Why does everything go at once? Not only is it freezing downstairs, but the ice maker has quit working. I know that sounds paradoxical, but that's because it is. When it's 16º outside and 66º inside, why would anyone want ice?...


I Have Never Met a Miserly Wine Lover

There is little that gives me more pleasure than drinking a glass of red wine late at night while I'm writing. Second in line would be doing what we did on Saturday night. Jacey came over and we sat in the living room drinking red wine and listening to folk music of the mid-sixties with soft, cuddly blankets thrown across our laps while we talked and candles glowed.

Red wine possesses a quality that whites just can't claim. It renders me mellow and soft-spoken. I become more of a listener and less of a talker, and I feel a glow from the inside out. I usually wax poetic, not in the sense of writing prose, but in the way I think and feel. And I wonder about things...


Mérida Esta Noche!

Want to check out Mérida? It will be featured on HGTV's House Hunters International tonight at 10:00 pm CST.

Every day, we're leaning toward spending a year in Mexico's "White City" before going on to Vienna.

Find out why!


As Seen From Space

This is purportedly the largest Coca-Cola logo in the world, created near Arica, Chile, out of something like 70,000 coke bottles to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the company.

There are 19 other such images in an article, 20 Awesome Images Found In Google Maps, written by Chris Silver Smith at Search Engine Land.


How Did I Do That?

Last night I made a steak fajita dinner for the first time. It was a big hit and a definite "Make that again!". Later, as I sat adding up how much it cost to make such a successful dinner, I was stunned at how cheap it was. The following are approximates:

Pre-seasoned steak for fajitas: $3.26
Season packet: $0.76
Flour tortillas: $1.79
Red bell pepper: $0.88
Green bell pepper: $0.88
(already had the onion)
Sour cream: $1.32
Grated Fiesta cheese: $1.76
Refried beans: $1.06
Mexican rice: $0.96
Grand Total: $12.67

For FIVE people. That's just a little over $2.50 apiece.


The Ten Tenors...

Because three just weren't enough...

And speaking of TV commercials, why, oh why do we have to look at a 50" waisted, half-naked Tony Orlando?

I'm permanently scarred.


Child Interrupted

This is a subject I shy away from here on my blog mostly because, if I've learned anything through my long life, it's that people don't want to hear about it. From strangers to my own mother, the subject of child abuse—especially child sexual abuse—is one they'd rather me shut up about because no one wants me to blow their tidy image of what childhood was like for me and how it still affects me half a century later.

I'm one of the fortunate ones. I somehow was able to analyze my abuse as I grew into adulthood, neither allowing it to destroy me nor causing me to repeat it. Sure, I know that all of the partying and wild living of my late 20s and 30s was part of a self-destructive cycle, but I pulled out of that as well.


I'm Consummate!

AKA_Monty has honored me by making me the subject of this week's Word Picture Sunday. I'm flattered and honored. Thank you!


Please Pass the Guacamole

For the past two or three weeks Nettl and I have been tossing around an idea to go to Mérida, Mexico for a year. Because housing is dirt cheap and the currency rate is about 10 cents to the peso, we could invest a little money here, then live in the Yucatan to allow it to grow. In a year's time our move to Vienna would be a lot easier. Besides that, it would give us a year to lay back and heal after all of the traumae and crises we've been through over the past decade.

Imagine lying in a hammock during siesta, shopping in the local mercados, dancing in the streets on Sunday and being only 45 minutes from Cancún. Imagine a house whose entire back wall opens to the scent of Jasmine, citrus and wisteria.

Imagine the knife sharpener who steers his pushcart through your street every week, telling you he's there by playing a penny whistle, and who sharpens your knives right outside your front door.

Imagine the feel of cool, hand-painted pasta tiles beneath your feet and of year-round average temperatures of 87º.

Imagine living in an 150 year-old Spanish Colonial with Cuban doors that allow air circulation when closed and shutters that keep out the heat while allowing filtered light to paint the stucco walls with the tropical light.

Imagine a culture that is a lazy blending of Mexican, Caribbean and European.

Imagine a place that is GLBT friendly, where we are not only tolerated but welcomed with open arms, a place that celebrates the arts (especially classical music) and claims a large enclave of expat artists. If you want to know more, watch House Hunters International on Monday the 21st at 10:00pm (CST) on HGTV.

Winter being my favorite season, I couldn't live in paradise forever, but a year wouldn't suck!


A Hot Weekend

We don't cook around here on the weekends; dinner is each family member's responsibility in what we call "fending", as in fending for oneself. Sometimes Nettl and I will order something in, but usually we'll just eat when we're hungry, throwing some frozen crap into the microwave.

I worked on the new site all day then took a nap. When I woke up Nettl asked me if I wanted her to order some hot wings to be delivered. Yes! I loves me my capsaicin! They were so hot that we had to stop in the middle of them to give our mouths a rest. Then we were back at them.

Tonight at 9:00 we'll be tuning into the OETA Movie Club to watch The Paper Chase and A Shot In The Dark. Being a show that airs only "classic" films (although they never go back as far silents, damn it), we enjoy their weekend programming. Last night I watched The Seven Year Itch and the original Moulin Rouge starring Jose Ferrer.

Yep, capsaicin and old movies. I'm a happy body.


Vienna Dreaming

If I could be anywhere today, I would be sitting in a cafe in Vienna, doesn't matter which one, drinking copious glasses of beer with my friends.

That is all.


Losing My Religion

I'm tempted to supplement my income by hacking out a bodice ripper under a nom de plume. Seriously, how hard can it be? And cashing in? Don't bother me with that; some of the world's greatest writers have turned out dime store drivel in order to pay the rent.

If I were to actually do this, I'd write something about pirates, or maybe a tale about a woman in love with sailor who's in love with the sea ("Brandy, you're a fine girl..."). Or maybe I'd combine these ideas and write about a good girl from a good family who falls in love with a pirate and becomes a pirate queen. Oops, I think that's been done...

I've even toyed with the idea of trying my hand at writing a Lifetime movie. That's a pretty simple formula. After all, they're basically just romance novels on film, minus Fabio.

Or I just may have to forsake my ethics and throw more sex into my current manuscript. Nah. If this publisher doesn't take my book, I'm putting it on the shelf for my family to decide what to do with after I'm gone. I have other things I want to write before it's too late.


The Insomniac's Progress

I've been walking a certain road for many, many years, 43 to be exact. Like a traveler who researches and plans a trip to a new destination, I've always understood where I was going, although I'd not yet actually been there. I've experienced a lot on this journey. From Good Samaritans to Headless Horsemen and everything in between, everyone and everything I've encountered has served as a teacher, whether they had my best interests at heart or not...


The First Normal Week of the Year

I don't know about you, but I'm damned glad that the holidays are over. This was a schnozzwangling flapdoodle of a season at our house. Like the most extreme roller coaster at a monster theme park, 2007 began as a hair-raising ride and ended up the same way. I'm green with nausea and my knees are shaking as I step into 2008. All I want to do is sit down in the shade with a snow-cone.

This is the first day of the first normal week of the year. The parties are over, as well as the concerts, shopping and haunting the mailbox for checks that never came from wealthy clients who promised to pay before the end of the year. Did you even stop to think that our family really counted on that money? Thanks for nothing.

It was a season of burying and grieving cherished dreams. Everything that made up 2007 culminated during the last three weeks of the year and I'm about 25 minutes from selling everything and moving to Mexico, where I can lie in a hammock on a patio drinking Corona with lime. I'm serious. I came into 2008 feeling like I was swimming upstream with sand bags attached to every limb. I want to shake it all and go someplace where I can exhale and not run around like Henny Penny, looking out for the pieces of sky that have been falling on my head for so long.

I'm used to toasting an exciting New Year on December 31st, but this year all I asked for was an uneventful one. I want to pass the coming year quietly, calmly, invisibly. I'm worn out.


Still Meming

Still Loving: Nettl.
Still Not: Financially secure.
Still Glad: I listened to my heart instead of my head.
Still Enjoying: My laptop.
Still Doing: What it takes to get my book published.
Still Proud: Of making it through a damned hard life.
Still Amazed: That I can dream.
Still Hoping: My hard work will be rewarded.
Still Grateful: For Nettl and our family.
Still Wanting: To be an expatriot.
Still Trying: To figure out if there's a God.
Still Failing: To be a success.
Still Passionate About: Life.
Still Taking Up New Things: Learning German.
Still Working: On my book.
Still Reading: My favorite blogs.
Still Thinking: There's an order to things, even if I sometimes can't see it.
Still Wondering: When my ship will come in.
Still Dressing: in "Dad" shirts
Still To Do: Have a happy childhood.
Still Cherishing: Those who have stayed with me through the years.
Still Will Never: Understand people who enjoy hurting others.
Still Will Always: Laugh.
Still: Meming after all these years.

Harvested from Kay's Thinking Cap. Thanks!


Conspicuous Stupidity

There's a commercial that begins with, "People are smart", but I have to disagree. Overall, I think that people are pretty stupid.

Take the lottery. Why is it that nearly everyone who wins has front teeth missing, looks as if they reek of tobacco, cheap beer and motor oil and say things like "we was" and "it don't"? Why is it never a widowed grandmother, or a young couple who is working hard to save for their child's college fund, or, well, me?

It's because Uncle Dad and Aunt Mom spend their money on lotto tickets instead of pulling themselves out of the trailer park, or getting their kids off of the free lunch program. It's because the widowed grandmother and the diligent young couple can't--or don't--spend their extra money at the local Stop-N-Rob. One woman won several one-million dollar tickets, but that was because she spent nearly $100 every week on buying them. Hell, I wish I could afford to shell out that much money each month on something not food or shelter related!

Our country is one of conspicuous consumption. Most lottery winners piddle their money away on things that are designed to impress others and fill the void rather than invest in a comfortable future and something to pass along to their children and grandchilden. A garage full of cars takes precedence over a family trust, being encrusted in diamond watches and gaudy rings almost always wins out over prudent planning, and filling their noses with white powder is more fun than helping the poor.

Let's face it. Winning a large amount of money only magnifies what's already there. If you're an unhappy, empty person when you're broke, you're still going to be that way when the big check arrives at your front door, but if you're stable and self-accountable that will evince itself whether you have a fat bank account or not.


What's In A Name?

How did these names happen? How do we get Bob out of Robert or Peggy out of Margaret? Here are some others that bother me:

Chuck out of Charles
Dick out of Richard (no jokes please)
Hank out of Henry
Nancy out of Ann
Hal out of Harry
Bess out of Elizabeth
Ted out of Edward
Bill out of William
Jim out of James

And I'm afraid that's all I can muster up today.