Whatever Happened To…

I’ve been going through my downloads folder on my desktop computer containing all the files that I’ve, um, obtained perfectly legally, and I’ve run across some music that I sort of forgot about.

Whatever happened to Tara McLean?  Great voice, great songs, unique sound, and nowhere to be found.  I first heard Tara in 1999 on a live broadcast concert on the RADIO, of all things, with Justin McRoberts.  I was instantly taken and I purchased Passenger.  But I haven’t really heard anything since.

Of course, as I write this, I am also looking up Tara McLean on Google and found her Wikipedia page.  She has apparently formed another band called Shaye, whom I’ve never heard of.  I bet they’re huge in Canada.

So I guess I answered my own question.

Now, whatever happened to Jennifer Knapp?  Her last record was released in 2001, and she hasn’t done anything with music since. I hope she’s okay.

On Being Poor

My very good friend, whom I’ve never met or spoken to, John Scalzi is an excellent writer.  I cannot over state the influence he’s had and is having on my life.  I’ve chosen him as the archetype for my chosen profession.  There is no question in my mind that he will be regarded as one of the finest science fiction writers of this era.

Now, it’s worthwhile to examine why I feel a connection to this person that I’ve never met and with whom I do not have a personal relationship.

I discovered John Scalzi through a link on Wil Wheaton’s blog to Scalzi’s advice for writers (it was on the Wil’s old site wilwheaton.net, which is like, broken).  I was immediately drawn to his frank, conversational style of writing.  I became a regular reader of the Whatever, along with 25K other daily visitors.  I ordered Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades from the SciFi Book Club and read them in a weekend.  I knew that I would be a fan for life.  But what sealed the deal for me was this post, which has been remarked upon several times by other people.

I grew up poor.  We moved from house to house, because my mom wouldn’t have the rent and we would be evicted.  I had a lunch ticket and was always embarrassed to use it, sometimes going without lunch so my friends wouldn’t know I was on welfare.  My mom couldn’t find a doctor that was willing to do tonsillectomy.  I broke my wrist roller skating when I was 14 and we had to wait in the emergency room for 7 hours.  My wrist has never been the same.  There were times that there was no food in the house and I drank barbecue sauce because I was so hungry.  I watched my mother’s boyfriends beat her mercilessly and I started provoking them, so they’d hit me, because I knew she would never leave them.  I ended leaving and moving in with my grandmother, and that’s how I stopped being poor.

I know what it means to be poor and without hope, and here to tell you, so does Scalzi.  I don’t know if he grew up poor or if he is just a very good observer. 

There is a way out, a way up.

Please, share John’s essay with everyone you can.  If you are blessed enough not to be poor, help those in need in your community.  Be a mentor for your local school.  Be an example.  Be grateful.  Get involved.

My grandmother rescued me, you can rescue someone else.

If you are poor, don’t lose hope.  There are wonderful people in the world that are willing to help.  If no one steps up, you can do it on your own.  Libraries are safe places to stay after school and you can learn there.  Do your best to stay in school.  Be nice and respectful to everyone.  And if you get out, make to lower middle-class or above, remember your roots.

I’m only 32 and I’ve been a Youth Coordinator and Assistant Director for a Youth Center in San Francisco.  I’ve worked a Drug Rehab counselor.  I’ve participated in many homeless outreach programs with my church.  And I currently work for the County welfare office.  I have not forgotten what it was like to be poor, and I try everyday to make a positive impact in people’s lives.  And, really, I’m nothing special.  Anybody can do it.

I have say, though, the coloring books and crayons from the community center Santa were pretty sweet!

So there it is.  Through empathy and style, Scalzi has made another fan for life.

Feelin’ Ill

Of course, since I boldly declared that I am now a writer, I got to spend the evening splitting my time between the couch and the bathroom. In fact, I am feeling so crappy that I won’t even get up to grab my laptop out of it’s case. So, check it out, my very first post via my Palm TX!

Since I don’t have much too say, here’s a picture of me from last Halloween. I was local hero, Kid Guitar. If you don’t know Kid Guitar, you need to move to Modesto.

Getting the brain out was easy, the hard part was getting the brain out!

Today, I am a writer. I have a laptop, a blog, John Scalzi’s writing advice, and I just received my very own copy of the 2007 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition.  So it’s official, I am a writer.  Please start all e-mails and comments with ‘Dear Mr Writer, Sir’.

No, as a matter of fact, I have not written any pieces of consequence.  I fail to see how that is relevant.  I think that I will join a local writer’s group…you know what, I just did!

In earnest, have you seen the going rates for advertising copy writing? $92/hour average.  That’s a day’s take home pay for me.  How do you crack into that field?

I’ve been taking baby steps on this journey for the last fives years or so, and I think the time has come to start pressing harder.  I’m not sure what this means for me, but I feel confident that I can make a living as a writer.  I’m reasonably intelligent and I know how to put words together.  From what I hear, that’s 90% of being a successful writer, followed by hard work, a good attitude, and lots of luck.

I expect that is what is this little journal will be, a chronicle of my successes and failures as I follow my dream.  Come with me, will you?

In case you were wondering, I’m open to all kinds of writing: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Journalism, Technical, and, of course, Advertising Copy.  Wish me luck, and if you want to hire me for a project, even for free, drop me a line.

BTW: Did you see American Idol tonight?  Freaking awesome!  Finally, a good episode this season.

These Ordinary Days

Have you ever been devastated?  I used to think I understood what that meant until it happened to me.  A little over a year ago, on March 1, 2006, I found my mother dead in her bedroom.  My heart was broken, is broken.  Before, I had girls reject me or dump me, and I thought my heart was broken.  But I always got over those hurts.  I still hurt for my mom.  I miss her so much.  Over a year has passed, I still cry at least once every three days.

I was singing a Jars of Clay song today called "These Ordinary Days".  The refrain is "I don’t know where, I don’t know how, I don’t why, but your love can make these things better".  It is cry of longing for God, when words aren’t sufficient, when my all is not nearly enough.  The tears flow.

I look for the day when my heart will be whole again.  I really miss my mom, I miss her, I do.

I guess that’s all I have to say about that.

None like it HOT!

I’m a little late for the bandwagon, but everyone should see ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘.  I don’t care what your politics are, just watch with an open mind.  At the very least, Mr. Gore does a good job of explaining the problem and it’s significance.  And where many Environmentalists advocate radical actions that will, frankly, never happen (i.e. shutting down ALL the power plants, everybody driving electric cars, etc.) or Despair, I found Mr Gore’s ideas to be both practical and hopeful.  If we do our part, it will make a difference.  Small things like: recycling, using energy efficient appliances, and driving cars with better fuel economy; can make a difference.  And, hey, all those things benefit us, as well.  Lower energy bills and gasoline expenses would certainly help me out.  Give it some thought.

Of all the friends I’ve had…you’re the first.

It’s 11:00pm on a Saturday night.  I have been sitting at my computer studying PHP and writing a template to make my website easier to update.  I rule!  I bet there a literally thousands of people that would like to trade lives with me right now.
Well, the good news is that I have learned lots of cool techniques and, so far, I haven’t broken anything.  Yay me!

If we don’t perform, in what sense do we have an act?

I want to take a minute to remind everybody how unfair life is.

Today’s lesson:  Wil Wheaton is a really decent guy who cares about people and how he affects the world.  Yet, he is not an "A-list" celebrity and has, in fact, taken a lot of crap from people.  Check out this post.

See what I mean?  Life is unfair, not because Wil isn’t a millionaire, he actually seems to be pretty happy with what he’s got, which is another point for him.  No, it’s unfair, because our culture is obsessed with fame and celebrity.  I wouldn’t have a problem with that, if not for the fact that most ‘celebrities’ are jerks.  Well, maybe not, but the ones that are always in the papers and tabloid shows are.  So we, as a culture, a being taught that to get ahead and become known is to be an ass. 

Life is unfair because there aren’t more people like Wil Wheaton, or if there are, we don’t care about them.

Lesson over.  Stayed tuned for lessons about how water is wet and rocks are hard.

Can’t Sleep…Clown Will Eat Me

It’s 1:00 in the morning and I cannot sleep.  I blame the government.

Let’s see…what’s been keeping me up?

Okay, how about this: Do you remember in Science class in Elementary school when they taught us that water going down a drain twists counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere?  No?  Well, I do, and apparently it’s a damned dirty lie myth.  Thanks a lot, Scott Adams.  Thanks for pointing out that something I’ve believed almost my whole life is a lie.  Jerk.

Speaking of jerks disappointing people:  I am a fan of John Scalzi and I read his Whatever blog everyday.  I even buy his books (which are very entertaining and which I highly recommend, but wait, I’m pissed).  I bought his oh so special limited edition "You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop To A Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing" book (I got # 409 of 500).  I bought it mostly on the strength of the eponymous post (point #5, specifically).  Go ahead, read it, I’ll wait.  Okay, I read the original post and I bought the book.  And heeding Mr Scalzi’s advice, I bought a laptop and started hanging out in coffee shops.  And guess what, yeah that’s right, NO SEX!  I’m talking with my lawyers in the morning.

Since I know you’re thinking it: yes, as matter of fact I wrote that previous paragraph in hopes of being ‘Scal-Zinged!’ (c) Jonathan Ward aka CosmicDog 2007.  If you hang around The Whatever long enough, you will discover that John Scalzi is all over any mention of his name or any name that sounds like his within moments of it being published on the Internets.  Some say it’s a sixth sense, others say it’s Google Alerts.  Only the Shadow knows.

Regarding the laptop: I received a nice tax refund this year and I had a some options on what to do with it.  I could A) Fix my Ford Explorer that’s been in my driveway since 1/1/07 or B) I could by a new laptop.  Yep, I picked option B.  Did I mention that I’m still making payments on the Explorer?  Yes, I am, in fact, an idiot with a bizarre set of priorities.  But, hey, the way I figure it, I can fix my car anytime, but how often am I going to have the chance to buy a computer?  You gotta look at the big picture.

Go read Wil Wheaton’s blog.  Wil rocks.  Wil brought me to Scalzi.  I like Scalzi, I like Wil.  Go read Wil.  Go read Scalzi.

Did I mention that I want to be a writer?  Just look at the previous paragraph.  For a low, low price, I can teach you to write such eloquent prose.  E-mail me for details.

Anyway, that’s what the laptop is for: writing.  It’s not for playing games and it’s definitely not for downloading porn.  Okay?  As long as we’re clear about that.  Moving on…

I like American Idol, but this season has, thus far, left me wanting.  I’ll try to make my thoughts clearer later.  Apparently the four beers warm milk I’ve been drinking are is starting to kick in.  Hey, look, Futurama is on again.  It must be 2:00AM.

More to come later.  Thanks for reading!