Doodle 2. The Crossword, Sort Of

Doodle 2.
Doodle one of your favorite things to do.

Doodle 2. One of my favorite things to do. May 29, 2016. © MKW
Doodle 2. One of my favorite things to do. May 29, 2016. © MKW

My favorite thing is to fly to Albany, rent a car, get a hotel room in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and spend several days driving up U.S. Route 7 to Burlington, Vermont, and down U.S. Route 7 to Lenox, Massachusetts (Edith Wharton’s house), and up to Burlington, and down to Lenox, and then turning east to Amherst (Emily Dickinson’s house), and on to Lexington and Concord (Emerson’s, Hawthorne’s, the Alcotts’, Margaret Sidney’s, etc., house…) But that’s more of a video than a doodle.

So I chose to draw my Saturday morning occupation, the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle. We don’t subscribe to the Times, so I wait till it comes out in the Austin American-Statesman and do it retroactively.

Working the puzzle is a two-step process.

Step One: I start. Sometimes I finish the whole thing or leave only a few squares empty. Sometimes it goes fast. Sometimes I suffer and struggle but persevere. Sometimes I get mad and read Dear Abby instead.

I use a pen. It’s better to blot out wrong answers than to erase and make holes in the paper.

Step Two: When I’ve gone as far as I can go, I hand the paper to David. He fills in the rest. In other words, I do the easy part and he does the part that uses the other 90% of the brain.

Here’s a current photo of today’s Step One. It’s not as neat and tidy as I’d like because (a) Ernest the Cat was draped across my right forearm, pinning it to the arm of the chair, while I wrote; (b) Ernest the Cat insisted on nudging the pen while I wrote; (c) I woke up in a nasty mood and hadn’t worked my way out, and superior penmanship wasn’t a priority.

DSCN1728

Yesterday I veered off course and skipped the Times puzzle, and because these things have to be done in the proper sequence, the Los Angeles Times puzzle, which I normally work on Sundays, will have to wait till tonight. Or tomorrow. Or whenever.

In other words, until the nasty mood has passed, I may do no puzzles at all. I may instead hop a plane to Albany and spend the rest of the year visiting every literary house in New England.

Doodle prompt from 365 Days of Doodling, by Carin Channing

 

 

Doodle 1. Don’t Judge, Mrs. Pollock

Doodle 1.
Doodle something abstract, using shapes and only one color.

Doodle 1. Doodle something abstract, using shapes and only one color. May 28, 2016. © MKW
Doodle 1. Something that started out abstract but didn’t stay that way. May 28, 2016. © MKW

Words & Wine Wednesday at Austin’s Writing Barn featured Carin Channing discussing her book 365 Days of Doodling: Discovering the Joys of Being Creative Every Day.

wb DSCF1069
Seated, L-R: Poets Sean Petrie and David Fruchter of Typewriter Rodeo, and author/doodler Carin Channing

Ms. Channing didn’t know she was a doodler until she was forty, when she accepted an online 30-day Doodle Challenge. When the month was up, she began doodling with friends… and with strangers… and then she started teaching doodling.

Why? Because doodling is–I’m pulling from her long list of adjectives–“fun… liberating… fun… energizing… youthfulizing… clarifying… fun…”

I’ve never been a doodler. I have a heavy touch and a tight grip. My pencil doesn’t sweep lightly, freely, and steadily across the page. The pictures on my paper don’t look like the pictures in my head. Frustration guaranteed.

But at Words & Wine, Ms. Channing made doodling sound as much fun as her book claims it is. She handed out paper and markers and invited us to draw.

I used the prompt “Draw how your day started.”

 

DSCN1708
Doodle @ the Writing Barn. Kathy Waller, May 25, 2016. © MKW

The picture wasn’t worth a thousand words, so I added some. The zigzaggy lumps that look like armadillos are cats.

David is a word person, too, but he employs more subtlety:

DSCN1714
Doodle @ the Writing Barn. David Davis, May 25, 2016. © MKW

Ms. Channing’s books were, like Mt. Everest, there, so I bought one.

Today I did my first official doodle, displayed at the top of the post.

English: Action painting - own work. Somewhat ...
English: Action painting – own work. Somewhat similar to Jackson Pollock (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By Michael Philip (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Of course, I dithered first. Abstract? My doodle shouldn’t be anything? How can I draw without knowing what I’m drawing?

Didn’t Jackson Pollock’s wife say to him, “But you have to abstract from something. What are you abstracting from?” (If Mrs. Pollock didn’t really say that, Marcia Gay Harden said something similar in the movie, which is close enough.)

I quashed the dither by turning my pencil on its side and making a blurry square, and another one, and then a couple of ovals, and another blurry square, and another oval… and the ovals began to look like eyes and a mouth. An oval blur in one of the eye-ovals looked like an iris, so I added a blur to the other eye-oval. That made the eyes focus. I restrained myself from putting a ladybug on the shoulder.

So much for abstraction. Some of us, I guess, abstract to rather than from.*

Where creativity is the goal–and this is oh, so important–judgment must be silent. As Mr. Pollock no doubt said to his wife.

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*I write that way, too.

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Typewriter Rodeo, who create “custom, on-the-spot poems for event guests, using vintage typewriters,” was also featured at Words & Wine Wednesday. The typewriters are beautiful. More about that in a later post.

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Keeping Austin, and the Universe, Weird

I’m at Writing Wranglers and Warriors today with a report on Alien Resort. Please read, and view, on.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors

MOW BOOK LAUNCH 003 (3)

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posted by Kathy Waller

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When I met him at a Saturday morning writing practice group at Austin’s Mother’s Cafe, I thought David Davis was a great writer of the impromptu essay.

David Davis at 2015 Fantastic Fest. © MKW David Davis at 2015 Fantastic Fest. © MKW

Give David ten minutes and he’ll create a masterpiece of eccentricity complete with–I don’t know how he does it–beginning, middle, and end. Thousand Island dressing, Monica Lewinsky, elephants that jump through burning hoops–his topics range from the ridiculous to the sublime and back again. When he reads his compositions aloud, people at nearby tables suspend forks and coffee cups in midair and stare at the group sitting at the table in the corner, shrieking with laughter.

Eighteen years later, David still amuses audiences, but he’s doing it in new ways.

Now David accompanies words with action. He makes short-short sci-fi videos and flings them out to the universe. And the universe answers.

rosewell street light img_1697His…

View original post 449 more words

I Lost My Kindle ….. Now what?

Losing a Kindle can be more expensive than just the replacement cost. Sharechair tells how to protect yourself.

sharechair

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 11.15.35 AM Yes, I did. I lost it. The new one. The new, very expensive one. I have only had it a few weeks…… and yes, I’m so sad.

But this post is not about my stupidity or my angst (although I could rant about both!). This is to tell you about the experience I had with Amazon after losing the Kindle …..

My first thought (well, ALMOST my first thought, after a good hour or so of spouting un-repeatable words directed at myself and my carelessness) was to protect my account. After all, you can buy books directly from your Kindle by tapping on any book in the store. If someone had my Kindle, I worried that they could ring up some massive bills by downloading a boatload of books.

And so, once I could think rationally, again, I took several steps to protect myself. I hope you never…

View original post 317 more words

Guest Post: Terry Shames on Writing About Texas as a Lone Star Expat

Terry Shames, author of the Samuel Craddock mysteries, will teach at MysteryPeople’s free workshop today at BookPeople. Her books offer an authentic picture of life in small-town Texas. To read my favorite sentence from A Killing at Cotton Hill, see https://kathywaller1.com/2014/01/22/a-pitch-perfect-paragraph-for-readers-who-know-cows/ and https://kathywaller1.com/2014/01/28/book-not-quite-review-terry-shames/

As we continue on with essays by Texas crime fiction writers in celebration of Texas Mystery Writers Month, we turn to Terry Shames, who will be teaching at our free workshop coming up this Saturday, May 21st, from 9:30 AM – 4 PM. Here Terry discusses writing about her home state as a Lone Star expat.

  • Guest post from Terry Shames

James Joyce said of writing about Dublin, “if you wanted to succeed, you had to leave—especially if success meant writing about that place in a way it had not been written about before.” He writes about Dublin as a setting where he felt constrained by the essence of the place that was so much itself. I wouldn’t think of comparing myself as a writer to James Joyce, but I understand what he meant and I feel in a visceral way the truth of what he said in my writing about…

View original post 554 more words

Facebook, Serendipity, Alec Guinness, and a Cat

What is Facebook good for?

After several years’ pondering, I have the answer:

Facebook is good for

  1. pictures of animals; and
  2. serendipity.

Français : Mon chat Guinness.
Français : Mon chat Guinness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By Jeanjeantende (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I wrote about #1 in an earlier post. If I could remember the blogger who prompted the generalization, I would give him credit. Unfortunately, when I wrote that post, his name had already leaked out of my brain.

Such leakage happens with increasing regularity.

Anyway, the reason for #1 is that pictures of animals make us happy. Videos  of elephants rolling in mud, a sloth petting a cat, (a long video because sloths pet slowly), a hamster wrapped in a blanket and eating a carrot–if these don’t lift the spirits, what will? Facebookers who share them aren’t empty-headed or cretinous or inane. We’re compassionate, caring, and kind. We have senses of humor.

Number 2 on the above list, however, I worked out for myself. Facebook exists for serendipity.

I first heard that word when the Serendipity Singers sang “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down” on the Red Skelton Show. That was a few years back.

Serendipity is the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. Horace Walpole coined it in a letter in 1754.

Walpole’s source was a Persian fairy tale: A king fears his three sons’ education has been too “sheltered and privileged,” so he sends them out into the world. On their travels, “they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of …”

This morning’s serendipity was an article about Grace Kelly and Alec Guinness. A picture of Grace Kelly is like a picture of a cat: it makes you feel better and possibly lowers your blood pressure.

But a picture of Alec Guinness is even better. Alec Guinness is the god of my idolatry.*

Recently, in another bit of serendipity, I came across a video of Guinness’ movie The Ladykillers on Youtube.** “Professor” Marcus, portrayed by Guinness, rents rooms in the house of sweet little Mrs. Wilberforce, telling her that other members of his string quintet will visit regularly to rehearse. Behind the closed door of the Professor’s room, while chamber music plays on a gramophone, the musicians plan to rob an armored truck and use Mrs. Wilberforce to transport the lolly. They don’t reckon with Mrs. Wilberforce’s parrots, her friends, or her penchant for serving tea. Or coffee, if they prefer.

The movie is laugh-aloud funny on several levels, but my favorite part is watching Guinness’s face as his expression changes from moderately crazy to deranged verging on maniacal. I’ve studied and still can’t see how he does it. A slightly raised eyebrow, a slightly lowered eyelid, an almost imperceptible change about the mouth?

Guinness was a chameleon. Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, Japanese businessman Koichi Asano in A Majority of One, eight distinctly different characters in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi–none of these characters could ever be mistaken for another. It’s not because of makeup; it’s because of what Guinness can do with his face.

If only I had access to more photographs, I could prove what I say. The best way to check my facts is to watch the movie for yourself.

Unfortunately, the “full movie” version of The Ladykillers on Youtube lacks the very beginning and the very end. There are also versions available for a fee. I’m going to order a DVD, however. Old technology, but I want to watch it over and over, binge style.

And here’s more serendipity: Kiri Te Kanawa and Jeremy Irons–My Fair Lady in Concert. I hate to say it, but Jeremy Irons makes as good a Henry Higgins as Rex Harrison did. Te Kanawa? Loverly.

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*Shakespeare wrote “god of my idolatry.” I’m just borrowing it.

**Not the version with Tom Hanks. The Tom Hanks version would not be serendipity.

Color Me… Something

This blog was offline during April while I tampered with its appearance. I tried nearly every theme WordPress offers. I tried nearly every color WordPress offers.

I understand that for blogs, white is in fashion, but I like color. I’ve played with the colors a lot. My main specifications:

  1. Background must be light enough for text to be easily read.
  2. Font must be dark enough for text to be easily read.
  3. Colors must enhance header.
  4. Colors must be attractive.

Numbers 1 and 2 are easy enough to satisfy, but 3 and 4 are just bears. Grays are too brown or too blue; whites are too yellow or too pink; blues are too green or too gray; greens are too blue or too yellow; reds jump out at you; pinks and yellows are insipid.

All I want is what I want. It shouldn’t be that difficult to get.

After serious consideration, I’m putting Telling the Truth, Mainly back in public view.

But I still don’t like its looks.