Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rejection Isn't Always A Bad Thing

Daily Science Fiction rejected “Snowball The Wonder Cat.” That wasn’t really a surprise, but I just thought I’d try.

However, the rejection gave me the impetus to show the story to my writing group. A couple of members gave me suggestions that have proved very helpful. So, I’m now working on developing the story. It’s already twice as long as it was and considerably deeper. Developing Cassie’s personality and the relationship between her and Snowball. It’s going well and I’m excited about it.

...and all because of a rejection.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maybe not much, but something

Started working on a new song today, “Come to Me”. The timing, that is to say the note values, isn’t quite right in the last couple measures, but it’s definitely coming along nicely.

I’ve also been working on more Engelbert quizzes for Fun Trivia. (To see my existing quizzes, follow the “My Quizzes” link in the sidebar.) Not only do I very much enjoy researching and putting together these quizzes, but this is a great time to be promoting Enge, now that he has been named as the UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. As one of my friends said, “Engelbert Mania has begun!” I’m not sure I’d go that far. But, at the very least, people are going to be looking for info and trivia about him. And your humble Cat is well positioned to fill that need.

I’ve also been forging ahead with my Hadley course on Punctuation. This stuff is harder than it looks! I express myself pretty well, but the finer points of punctuation, including italicization and capitalization, have always eluded me. That’s what comes of reading with audio rather than direct from a print or braille text. But now I’m discovering that some of the things I thought I knew – things I’ve been doing for years – are not according to Hoyle, or at least not according to this course. * sigh * Live and learn, I guess.

Anyway, I haven’t been accomplishing a whole lot lately. On the other hand, I haven’t been accomplishing nothing either, and I suppose that’s the main thing.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Braille Phone

An Industrial Design student has designed a braille display phone.

Check it out!

Shikun Sun's DrawBraille Phone Concept for the Blind
Posted by

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Here We Are"

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Viva Ls Vegas

Changeable Weather

- Photo by listener

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Someday Tonight

Vermont Moon

- Photo by listener

Friday, February 03, 2012

Thursday, February 02, 2012


- Photo by listener

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bleak House

Currently I’m rereading Bleak House by Charles Dickens for the empteenth time – I really have lost count. Other than The Lord of the Rings, it’s my favorite book of all time. How it came to be so is rather curious.

It was assigned for a Dickens course I was taking, taught by Prof. Clement, my favorite professor. He loves Dickens and Bleak House in particular. I don’t know if I ever saw him as animated as during the classes devoted to this novel. “Connections,” he used to say, leaning forward intently and waving his hands, “it’s all about connections!”

I’d already read Little Dorritt a couple of times through the years and had at least a passing familiarity with most of the other books assigned for the course, but had never before read Bleak House. I read it before the start of the course...and hated it! It was tedious and confusing and made no sense to me whatsoever. In class, though, it was obvious that Prof. Clement loved the wretched book. There must be some merit in it somewhere.

When the semester was over, I doggedly began the book again, determined to find out what was so special about it and again, like Lady Deadlock, was bored to death. I like to consider myself a reasonably intelligent person; so, it puzzled and downright exasperated me that I couldn’t see what my professor – someone I admired – saw in the novel. So, I started it again! I didn’t keep a journal and don’t remember at what point the penny finally dropped, the book finally clicked in my mind and I saw, well, the light. But it did. The plot, with all its myriad of interwoven tributaries of minor characters and subplots is dazzling. But it’s the language that gets me every time, the sheer lyricism and descriptive power, particularly in the chapters with the third person, omniscient narrator. How I ever could have disliked the book is completely beyond me. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Quiz Me A Quiz

My new quiz has been up for a while. Come join the fun and see how much you know about Engelbert's music.

Engelbert and Friends II

And don't forget to play and rate my two other quizzes on Engelbert and his music.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nominate Engelbert for an Honour

A move is afoot to nominate Engelbert Humperdinck for one of the British national honours, such as a knighthood, an OBE etc. Join this grassroots effort by sending in your nomination today.

Nominating someone for an honour

I am advised that for his address it "should do" to put Great Glen, Leicester.

Here's to Sir Engelbert!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Here it is the middle of the week, and what have I done? Not much.

Got a package off to a friend

Uploaded a song to YouTube, “A Chance to Be a Hero” by Engelbert from a concert recording. It has proved popular, which is most gratifying.

Dashed off a quickie poem. The moderator of my Engelbert discussion list usually includes an original poem in her daily message to all members. Today the title sparked an idea and in response I produced the following:

Don’t Tear Our Love Apart

Can't remember when you kissed me
I Don't know when last we touched.
Though you're sleeping here beside me,
I miss you o so much.

It's like you cannot see me.
Is ambition all to blame,
The drive to make more money?
I thought not. What's her name?

Don't tear our love apart.
You already broke my heart.
So let me keep the memory
of days that used to be.

It's over now. You're leaving,
Your eyes as hard as stone.
And I am left here grieving,
Forsaken and alone.

Don't tear our love apart.
You already broke my heart.
So let me keep the memory
of days that used to be.

Don't tear my heart apart.
You broke it, so we'll part.
But let me keep the memory
Of days when you once loved me.

Actually, I think that last line should be:

Of when you once loved me.

Not great poetry, certainly, but not bad for an off-the-top-of-the-head effort. And even writing bad poetry exercises the brain. The rapidity and ease with which I produced that surprised me.

Still, gotta get my act together for the remainder of the week.

Have Lesson 2 of Punctuation to do. Also, need to redo Lesson 5 of Abacus 2. And I was so pleased with myself on that one. Guess being pleased with a result is a bad sign. Much else to do as well. Got to find the motivation somewhere. I don’t want this year to slip by, as so many years before it have done, with nothing to show. I guess discipline is the word. But, oh, how I hate discipline!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The End of the Week

Yesterday was amazing. It seemed like the entire population of Facebook turned out to wish me happy birthday. I also got e-mails and phone calls. It made me feel wonderfully warm and fuzzy, and quite humble.

Today, my friend Patty and her little girl, Sara, came over. They brought me a lemon meringue pie (my favorite!) and beautiful roses. And, they were able to stay for a couple hours, so we could have a nice visit. All in all, I had a great birthday.

This evening I started a new Hadley course, this one on punctuation. Oh, if only I’d had access to this as a youngster, how much bother and embarrassment it would have saved me throughout my life! But, better late than never. Should be able to get Lesson 1 e-mailed in on Monday.

Also, I need to check on my final Abacus 2 lesson, which I submitted right before the start of Winter break. Hadley re-opened Tuesday, but my instructor hasn’t responded to my submission; hence my concern that it might not have gone through.

Knock on wood, this year is starting out pretty well. There’s a great deal to do, but I’m cautiously optimistic that at least some of it may actually get done. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Week So Far

I’ve submitted “Spirits from the Vasty Deep” to the NFB Writers Division /fiction Contest. Need to find some poems too, but since the contest doesn’t close till April First, there’s time for that.

Started work on a new song, filename “Easy Listening.” No lyrics as yet, so no real title.

Took a look at “The Lady of the Stars” and made yet another start at casting into verse the version of “Silver Sheen” that Gillian sings or recites at the court of the Witch Queen. None of my previous attempts have met with success, but it has to be done. This time I chose Rhyme royal. Actually got two stanzas written, but they are dreadful. No idea how I’m gonna get this task done. But as I say, needs must. Gillian is acting as harper or minstrel, so the tale she tells needs to be in verse. * shrug * I’ll tell you one thing. Struggling with narrative verse increases my already high respect for Chaucer, Coleridge, Tennyson and other masters of the craft. How on earth one can tell a story while adhering to iambic pentameter and a strict rhyme form is totally beyond me. It’s an art I’ll have to master though. Wonder if there’s a course I can take or a book I can read on the subject? Must look into that.

Also took a look at Marooner’s Haven. Made a change to the chapter where Charlie buys the painting and comes across Mrs. Morrow in the gallery. But there’s so much more work to do! So many inconsistencies to work out and connections to make and background material, mainly on social conditions on Nova Britannia, to include that the prospect is terribly daunting. Still, I’m tired of piddling around. This year is going to be the year I finish the thing!

Got started on another quiz on Engelbert’s music for Fun Trivia. This one’s called “Dancing with Engelbert.” Believe it or not, it was a struggle to find ten songs with a form of the word “dance” in the title. Fortunately, though, I managed it. There are plenty of such songs in general circulation, of course, so finding red herrings (incorrect answers) for each question isn’t going to be a problem. The quiz is going well. Researching all the answers, both correct and incorrect, is what takes time. Now the lords of Quizziland demand “additional info” on every question; so I like to give info on each of the four choices. That’s what I mean by research, and that’s what takes time. At the same time, that’s what makes creating each quiz interesting. Selecting the topic and thinking of, or searching out, the song titles and lyrics to fit it isn’t hard. It’s writing each question in an engaging manner and finding all the info that’s the fun part for me. I hope to have this quiz submitted by the end of the month at latest.

Put up two YouTubes on Sunday, with a current combined view total of 35. That brings my grand total of YouTube uploads to eighty-three, with total upload views of 46,409. Amazing! And it’s surprisingly satisfying to know that my simple little “videos,” if you can call them that (most are just the song with a still or album cover), get so many views and give so many people such enjoyment.

Speaking of enjoyment, I finished Allen Steele’s Coyote Horizon this week. When I first started reading his Coyote stories in Asimov’s I wasn’t all that enthusiastic. Over the years, though, I’ve gotten hooked. The fictional planet of Coyote is so lovingly drawn, so minutely detailed that, especially for longtime readers of his tales, it seems as familiar as Earth, though full of constant surprises. I highly recommend Steele’s books.

Mostly this week I’ve been spending time feeding CDs into iTunes, discovering ones I didn’t know I owned and rediscovering ones I’d forgotten. In the process, I’ve been able to make a much needed start at organizing my CDs. The stack of those that can be gotten rid of is small as yet, naturally, but it’s there. The problem then becomes how to get rid of them. Don’t particularly want to sell them, though I’ve bought so much on ebay recently that they say I have so many – fifty was it? – free listings. So, I’ll think about it. Would rather give them away though, especially duplicates of Engelbert’s CDs. We’ll see.

Tomorrow’s my birthday, and I’m really feeling the pressure to get my act together. Forty-eight! Yikes! Time is running seriously short on accomplishing anything, making my mark, making it. Gotta get going!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Celebrating Our Lady

Today Catholics observe the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It seems fitting this day, as we begin a new year, to celebrate the first and most perfect disciple of Our Lord, the mother of the Incarnate Word and of us all, to whom we appeal for aid and whom we strive to emulate. May we have the strength to put ourselves in her hands, to dedicate this new year, this fresh beginning to her and to ask for her help as we face the challenges ahead.

Here’s a lovely song in praise of Our Lady, sung by Engelbert Humperdinck.

Happy New Year!

A new year is beginning. May it bring peace and prosperity to all!