18 October 2012

Dog Con, Here We Come! Pink Floyd "Dogs"

You got to be crazy. You got to have a real need.
You got to sleep on your toes, and when you're on the street,
You got to be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed…

Nobody wants to run alone. The need to be part of the pack is in our DNA as much as eye color. You know you need the pack as much as the pack needs you. 

I'm part of Raw Dog Screaming Press's pack now, and that's what I've been counting down. A celebration of this innovative publisher's ten years in the business. It's a chance to strengthen our bonds, to have a laugh, and to figure out how to make 2013 a year filled with moments just right for striking.


Roger Waters "Dogs" Better quality, but Waters only plays bass, so not really 'Pink Floyd's' "Dogs."

Dog Con Countdown! Def Con 2. The Beatles "Hey Bulldog"

#2 Dog Con Countdown! Def Con 2. The Beatles "Hey Bulldog"

Dog Con Countdown! Def Con 3. Led Zeppelin "Black Dog"

#3 Dog Con Countdown! Def Con 3. Led Zeppelin "Black Dog"

17 October 2012

Psych 101 at Uniontown High School.

This morning a student asked me to help him with an assignment for psych class. It was easy, so I agreed. Every time he rang a bell, he'd give me a treat...

I'd love to see other people post their answers to the same set of questions. It was a great exercise and the questions were much different than the other types of questions I've been getting lately. If you decide to answer the questions, please post a link where I can read them. 

Here are his interview questions, followed by my answers. (--Thanks, Dakota!)

1) Hardest part of life?

Growing up, without a doubt. And I don’t mean ‘growing up’ in the sense that you just get older, I mean ‘growing up’ in the sense that your responsibilities change.Things that shouldn’t matter suddenly do-—bills, how your wife is feeling, saving money instead of eating out. I think the challenge-—as an adult—-is to hang on to the things that you love and not be defined by your job.

Ironically, I know that the wisdom I’ve gained by ‘growing up’ is what makes me appreciate the fact that I can pursue my passion, and makes me realize that I no longer have to try to ‘grow up.’

2) Earliest memories?

Memory is tied to language, I believe that without a doubt. So my first memories come from around the time I was able to speak my first words—-right around the time I turned three. My brother was born a week before my 3rd birthday in 1977, and I remember going to the hospital with my dad and grandma to pick him and my mom up.

Also, STAR WARS was released for the first time in May 1977, and I have pretty strong memories of that.

3) Biggest regret in life?

This is a tough one, because I know now that if I had done things differently I wouldn’t be on the path I’m on today—-which I love. For example, my wife was in a really bad car accident when we lived in Florida. She had just dropped me off at work, and was headed home when a guy ran a red light and smashed into her. It was a horrible time for us. We used all of our savings to cover rent and bills. She was in a lot of pain and we didn’t have insurance. But we had a typewriter and she had it on the kitchen table because she wanted to write. I’d never had any desire to write up to the point, but something changed right after the accident. And now writing is the biggest part of my life.

4) When did you know you were financially stable enough to raise children?

Well, we are childless by choice. I want to go back to Prague, want to see London and Perth and Everest Base Camp and Patagonia. I want to be able to get a new guitar every two years, or a new mountain bike. As much as I hate to admit it, I like to buy clothes and I like to eat out. So, if there ever comes a time when I feel like I’m financially stable enough to raise kids, I’ll let you know.

5) Choose any age to be?

I’d be the age I am now. The older I get the more control I feel I have over my life. I know that control is an illusion, but every year the illusion gets bigger.

Would I want to go back to high school? Never. I hated it the first time around. College? No way.

6) Biggest influence?

My wife has been a pretty good one. She got me into writing, got me onto a plane and across the ocean. She was the reason I finished college.

Even now, it’d be easy for me to become complacent with my career, with the way that I engage people professionally as a writer, and she has a subtle, maybe even indirect way of inspiring me to reach just a little further or put in just one more hour of work.

7) How hard is it to become an independent adult?

To some extent, I think independence is an illusion. We rely on other people to get us through life. Imagine a world without a best friend. What kind of place would that be?

Having said that, becoming independent is the greatest challenge I’d ever faced. So it’s probably one of the accomplishments I am most proud of. THAT’S how difficult it was.

8) Did your life turn out the way you expected?

No. Not at all. I thought my life would be worse.

I sat out a semester of college on academic probation. I didn’t think I’d ever go back. My motivation to get a degree and get a real job was very low. So I had very low expectations for myself. In that way, I know I’m fairly lucky to be where I am today. Anybody who tells you luck isn’t a factor is straight-up lying.

9) Happiest moment in life?

It’s very a long moment that started with my wedding day. There have been low points since then, of course, but it is the moment that represents the happiness I feel even today.

10) As you get older, why is it harder to make friends?

Jeff Tweedy, lead singer and songwriter for the group Wilco, says people like the first albums better because they’ve been around longer. Nobody ever says the newest album is their favorite because they don’t have the wealth of memories built into that particular set of songs. It’s the same with friends.

School is traumatic. Bullies. Nasty teachers. Break-ups. Meaningless assignments. Waking up at the crack of dark. Parents making up new rules every day. You share those memories with your friends at the time. Anybody I’d meet today wouldn’t know about the time I got sucker-punched in the locker room after gym class in 8th grade. You simply can’t share the same type of experiences with new people. It’s impossible. There will never be another time in your life when you will spend nearly 180 consecutive days with the same group of people for 13 consecutive years.

Having said that, I met an awesome group of people just last year. We’re headed out to D.C. to see them in a few days. So making new friends is more difficult, but certainly not impossible.

Dog Con Countdown! Robert Johnson "Hellhound on my Trail"

#4 Dog Con Countdown! Robert Johnson "Hellhound on my Trail"

15 October 2012

Snapperhead Traps!

In the early Nineties, people would set snapperhead traps near rafting outfitters in Ohiopyle, the most effective being the rope that ran through D-rings around the raft itself. Here's how they worked--you're surrounded by thirty raft guides, pulling rafts off of a flatbed truck, and your Teva catches a rope, throwing you to the ground. But it's not so easy to slow a 250 lb raft, so you'd inevitably end up beneath the raft you were pulling off of the truck. Hence--snapperhead trap.

Dog Con Countdown! Back to Work Edition. Iggy Pop and The Stooges "I Want To Be Your Dog."

#6 Dog Con Countdown! Back to Work Edition. Iggy Pop and The Stooges "I Want To Be Your Dog."