DATELINE 7/3/19: There will be a short pause of about a day in the thrilling tale of our travels to the Grand Canyon: we were on the road both yesterday and today on day trips here and yon.
Your regular amusement will resume tomorrow. Probably.
A simple task in my to-do app: Call Medicare. This is my prompt to call Anthem/Blue Cross to double-check on my Medicare coverage, which kicked in on May 1.
Why? Because I continue to receive mailings from Anthem asking me to sign up for Medicare coverage as well as mailings confirming my coverage. I want to know exactly what I am signed up for, especially whether I’m signed up for Part D, which covers prescriptions.
No, I’m not explaining Medicare coverage to you. You have to go through that dark period all on your own.
So I call the number on the latest flyer I got. The first thing I did was to ask the nice lady to turn up the volume on her mic, because I couldn’t hear her—and no, it wasn’t because I was old.
I explained what I needed. She said I should talk to Medicare. I asked why, if I needed to talk to Medicare, was I holding an Anthem/Blue Cross coverage card in my hand that said they were handling my Medicare Preferred (PPO) coverage?
Fine, she said; she’d connect me with the PPO customer service. Please hold.
Dee dee deet: the number you are trying to call is not available from your calling zone. (WTH?)
This time it’s a young man who understands what I’m asking. He offers to hook me up with the correct people. I ask for the number just in case. He gives it to me.
This time the transfer works, and I get another young man. We’ll call him Nathan.
Nathan understands what I’m asking about, so he asks for my Member ID number. I give it to him.
He can’t find me in the database. I give him my name, birthdate, and the Member ID again.
Nathan says he needs to look in another database. Nathan says he needs to transfer me to someone who can actually answer my question. Please hold.
I order those nifty Celtic cloak pins for 3 Old Men to use when the ambient temperature is a little chilly during our rituals.
I order more copies of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Tao te ching to give as graduation presents.
Nathan comes back on, and they’re having a fire. (I can hear the alarm.) He’ll have to call me back. I wish him luck.
This is a beauty: the Hot & Sour
Shake with ice, pour into cocktail glass, garnish with lemon peel.
Very very nice.
There are multiple versions of this recipe online. This is the one I’ve settled on, but you can do all lemons, or any variety of orange instead of grapefruit.
Peel the grapefruit and the lemon. Place the peels in a medium bowl; add the sugar. Muddle the peels with the sugar about a minute.
Leave for 4–6 hours. The oils from the peels will puddle at the bottom of the bowl.
Add the lemon juice and stir to dissolve all the sugar.
Strain into a container. Refrigerate and enjoy!
I’m double-posting here, because that’s what us self-marketers do.
It’s almost here! On Friday, November 17, you will be able to give me money via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other venues!
In return, of course, you will be receive your very own copy of Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, first edition!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
As a special promotional deal, anyone who buys the book from Amazon on launch day will receive a couple of bonus gifts. From me, you will receive an autographed Official Lichtenbergianism Precepts Bookmark and an invitation to join the Lichtenbergianism: Doing the Work group on Facebook, where you will have access to my advice and guidance on any of your ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS.
Also, several of my friends are offering freebies of their own: things like chapters from one of their books and other goodies. You’ll have the opportunity to request one of these. (A page listing these goodies is forthcoming.)
How do you avail yourself of this treasure trove?
This is so exciting! Start spreading the news.
We’re rearranging about half the house and in doing so are coming to those decisions one comes to when one has a metric tonne of stuff.
You know what I’m talking about: those tubs of t-shirts and sweatshirts that commemorate things like shows you were in or GHP summers or (now) burns. I understand completely that I have not worn any of them in probably a decade and I am not likely to wear them ever again. Even I understand that they need to go, even if it means — to me — cutting the ties to that event.
But that’s a discussion for another day. Today let’s look at this sweatshirt, which we made to advertise the Newnan Community Theatre Company’s production of Comedy of Errors, back in 1993.
First of all, I am still delighted when I see my tagline: deadpan hyperbole of obvious truths that say nothing about the quality of the show itself. (One of the younger cast members asked, quite sincerely, “How many twins does Macbeth have?”)
We had done Tartuffe back in the spring of that year. Jeff Bishop directed, and he wanted to do it in straight-up period style, so we built a raked stage with wings and all those costumes. I love costumes, I love period costumes, but these got to me for some reason, and one day as we were all furiously cutting and sewing, the subject of Comedy of Errors came up: would we do Elizabethan costumes for it?
Aghast, I joked that no, we would put everyone in sweatpants and be done with it.
And then I thought: why not?
In a play about identity, what could be more appropriate than a mise en scene where all the characters are identical? So I decided that everyone would wear grey sweatpants and sweatshirts, and that each character would have a different color of facepaint. The twins, of course, would have the same color as each other. (We came to refer to the show as “the Smurfs do Shakespeare.”)
This concept had the advantage of being astoundingly cheap, of course, but it came with a cost. As I explained to the cast as we began work, the facepaint would obliterate any but the wildest facial expressions. They were not going to be able to rely on subtle glances or grimaces. This was going to have to be the broadest slapstick ever, with Shakespeare.
This was the first time that I auditioned a show and didn’t cast it right away. The actors and I spent a couple of weeks working with the text, playing with it, and developing a physical language, a shorthand that we could call on when we began putting the show together. Finally, the actors began to panic and demanded that I assign roles, mostly so they could start learning lines. Fair enough.
Somehow it all worked. The actors all became extremely free in their physical work, and that spilled over into their ability to interpret the text as well. One night I had to leave rehearsal for a short meeting, and I told them to play around with the scene in II.2 in which poor abused Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, confronts the wrong man in the marketplace with her complaints. When I got back I was presented with the astounding spectacle of Judy (Adriana) doing the entire long speech pursuing Mary (Ant. of Syracuse) as if they were in a professional wrestling match, ending with both on the floor. Mary dragged herself free, panting, stood, and barely gasped out, “Plead you to me, fair dame? I… know… you… not.” Brought the house down.
More: Blue (Pinch) being flipped on his back by Jeff (Ant. of Eph) in a cloud of white hair powder.
More: the performance when Jeff, refused entry into his own home, hurled himself at the door three times during his long speech (with the elders of Ephesus nodding complacently behind him)—only this performance, on the third run he suddenly grabbed Brady (Dromio of Eph.) and hurled him at the door. Brilliant.
So yes: the sweatshirt is a physical reminder that we did good work. But it has to go. If nothing else, I’ll need to make room for my Peter & the Starcatcher sweatshirt, won’t I?
 Yes, yes, I know: make a quilt. Now I have a quilt I have no use for and have to store. But that’s what I’ll probably do.
It’s official—the Newnan City Council has approved my request to stage Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night in downtown Newnan on Friday, December 1.
Here’s what you need to know:
All ages are welcome—let’s make this the first of a new annual tradition!
If you’re sitting there trying to come up with the central idea for your next science fiction novel, have I got an idea for you! Feel free to use it. If it makes you rich, invite me to your yacht sometime.
Imagine a planet like Saturn, with huge gorgeous rings. They would have to dominate the sky, right?
But imagine that this planet has a smallish continent at one of its poles. (It’s close enough to its sun that it’s warm, etc.) It’s isolated enough that they’ve never had any contact with any other cultures on any other continents on the planet. And they cannot see the rings.
So they hit their Age of Exploration, and an expedition sets out. (No, I don’t know why they’d go sailing off the edge of the world if there weren’t pepper involved, leave me alone. I’m not going to do all your work for you.)
What happens when they sail south and these rings begin to slide up over the horizon? What is their reaction? What do they tell people back home? How do they explain and incorporate this thing? Is there religion involved? How much might this affect their society and its worldview, so to speak?
Anyway, there’s the idea. That’s all I got: the look on their faces when they first encounter the rings. (Or maybe the entire novel plays out on ship, their society in microcosm…)
Yes, it’s true, I have written a book.
The title is Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, and yes I have a macro that types that out for me. I was a little startled a couple of weeks ago when I started checking the blank spots in the text I needed to fill in and found that there were none. I was, in essence, done.
Why haven’t you heard about this? You have if you also read my other blog, Lichtenbergianism.com, where I have tended to shunt all my whining about creative work. Even there, though, I haven’t really documented the travails of the process. It’s more of a marketing/social media tie-in for the book, the sales of which of course I expect to catapult me into the first ranks of Twitter like Austin Kleon and others. Too much whining is not customer-friendly.
So why can’t you give me money this very moment? Several reasons, and here you get to read me whine because THIS IS MY BLOG, KENNETH.
√ 1. I invited my fellow Lichtenbergians to proof and kibbitz the text along with a select few others. Their input has been valuable, so thank you, guys!
√ 2. That necessitated—as it should—corrections and emendations of the text, and I’m about done with that. I have two or three more sticky notes on my monitor to do, and then it’s on to…
3. I have to export the text from Scrivener, the most excellent authoring tool from Literature & Latte. (If you are writing anything of any length, go buy this software and before you do anything go through the entire tutorial. Pro tip: after the third time you’re thinking there must be an easier way to accomplish something in the program, take the tutorial again.)
4. I have to edit that Word file, applying styles to paragraphs and terms so that I’ll have a slightly easier time of it when…
5. I import the text file into InDesign to lay out the book. I expect this to be an orgy of moaning and whining. I’ve done a little work already, but I’m not really happy about any of it. For one thing, the font I thought I was using for the main text doesn’t really work for me, so I switched to a simply sans serif font, and now I can’t find a contrasting font for headings and quotes that I like. Ugh.
5a. I have to go back and make sure that all the images I’m using are at least 300 dpi for publishing purposes.
6. I have to design the cover. Again, I’ve done some work but hate all of it. (My placeholder design, which I’ve used as an image in several posts, doesn’t even have my name on it.)
Then you can give me money. Two weeks, maybe?
 Aren’t you glad I didn’t write “haven’t logged my slog”? You’re welcome.
 Jeff’s most recent book, Agatahi, is a marvel: the Cherokee Removal, aka The Trail of Tears, told via first-person accounts of the Cherokees themselves. Go buy it. It is profoundly moving.
The other day my good friend Pilliard Dickle (no really) showed up in my labyrinth and gave me a copy of his new book, Avocado Avenue. It is published by Boll Weevil Press, who will also publish Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy in a few short weeks.
It is, like all of Billiard’s work, inventive and twisted and funny and highly entertaining.
However, I have to say that after reading the first eleven pages I was fully expecting that it would end in cataclysm and flame. It only made sense, given the subtle buildup of absolute stasis on Sally and Rodney’s front porch.
I was severely disappointed, then, when it failed to live up to my expectations. It was much the same when George Lucas failed to end Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in an appropriate manner. Or when Peter Jackson made three Hobbit movies instead two. Or when Michael Bay made movies.
This time, though, since Dilliard is such a dear friend, I am able to fix it for him.
And now, the exciting conclusion of Avocado Avenue—
BACK ON THE PORCH, LATER, AND WHAT HAPPENED THEN
Sally opened the front door. It was long past midnight.
“What on earth are you doing out here?” she asked. The old man was standing there, agitatedly staring out into the dark.
“It ain’t right,” the old man muttered. “It ain’t right.”
“What’s not right?” asked Rodney, who had wakened to find Sally gone from their queen-sized bed. Rodney had actually wanted a king-sized bed, but their bedroom wasn’t big enough handle a mattress of that width. It still nagged at him.
Rodney never found out what was not right, because at that moment the old man trotted off the front porch into the night, picking up speed as he ran.
Sally and Rodney stared at each other in shock as they listened to the cries of “It ain’t right” diminishing in the distance. Rodney fleetingly wondered whether the old man’s bedroom would hold a king before he too ran off into the dark.
“What on earth…?” Sally said, then she too began to run.
The old man was standing in the back yard of Doris and Delores’ house when Sally and Rodney caught up with him. He was weeping openly.
“Whatever is the matter with you?” Rodney gasped as they ran up. The old man turned to them.
“This…” he began in a hoarse whisper, but what he said next was overwhelmed by the sound of an explosion behind them.
Sally and Rodney never had time to realize that their house had exploded because Doris and Delores’ house was now similarly engulfed in a roaring fireball.
“Just like in the movies of Michael Bay,” thought Rodney, or at least that’s what he began thinking before thinking was no longer an option for him or for Sally.
“This is for you, Horace!” screamed the old man as he plunged into the conflagration.
Then there was only the night and the flame.
No one ever saw the lone female figure escaping into the darkness. If they had, they might have wondered why she was nude.
There you go, Gilliard, a proper ending. You’re welcome.
 You should probably read the book first before reading this.