Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Dad

I  don’t have a preference on the Super Bowl match up between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. For the sake of the owners, coaches, players, fans, bettors or anyone else who gives a toot, I hope it’s a competitive contest that everyone can feel somewhat good about when it’s over.
The one person I’m cheering for in the Super Bowl is Jack Harbaugh, the father of the Super Bowl coaches -- Jim and John.
I got to know Jack when he was coaching the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers from 1989-2002., compiling a 91-68 record.
I was an AP sportswriter at the time, and every year I’d make the rounds to I-A and I-AA schools to interview coaches and players for season previews. And occasionally, if there wasn’t a conflict with University of Kentucky or University of Louisville games, I’d cover the big I-AA games.   
I always looked forward to my trips to Bowling Green. Sports information director Paul Just would set up the interview with Jack in the coach’s office and I’d spend an hour or so asking questions about his squad.
And then we’d talk about other things, such as his year at Morehead State in the late 1960s (where I was a student for two years) and his cousin Mike Gottfried.  Jack is a great storyteller and loves a great story.
Harbaugh didn’t arrive at Western at the best of  times. There had been discussions about ending the football program. But Harbaugh was a great choice for the school because he wasn’t a quitter. On top of that, he’s such a positive and upbeat person.  It was contagious.
Harbaugh rallied the students, alumni and townsfolk, and with some assistance from his sons (shoe donations, etc.), he turned the seemingly moribund program around to a winner.  In 2002, he led the ‘Toppers to a I-AA national championship.
He left after the 2002 season to become  an associate athletic director at Marquette University, where his son-in-law, Tom Crean (now at Indiana University), was the head basketball coach.
I was fortunate to interview Jack again in 2003 for a program article for his induction into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. He was most deserving of the honor for what he accomplished at WKU.
I recall Jack being so proud of his family. The outcome Super Bowl is probably unimportant to him because he knows both of his sons are winners -- just like Dad.
Until the next time…

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Story Songs: When I'm Sixty-Four

I was 18 in the summer of 1967 when The Beatles released their masterpiece album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

One of the tracks was the Paul McCartney-penned "When I'm Sixty-Four." For me, 64 seemed distant and so old! I arrived at that number several months ago and I suppose that makes me old now. 

The song is about a young man asking his sweetheart if they'll still be together in their twilight years:

"When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

"If I'd been out til quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?"

The narrator goes on to tell what a wonderful life they'll have if they stay together into old age, such as doing things around the house, renting a vacation cottage, and eventually having grandchildren "Vera, Chuck and Dave."

And he awaits her answer:

"Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.

"Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?"

This is really a feel-good song, full of optimism and love. When I hear this tune it reminds me how versatile the group was and how they weren't afraid to take chances with their lyrics and melodies.

Sadly, only surviving members McCartney (70) and Ringo Starr (72) reached 64. John  Lennon (40) was murdered in 1980 and George Harrison (58) died from cancer in 2001. (As for the image at the right, I remember when it was published. If anyone can provide artist/publication, I will give a credit line).

For me, during those years since the song was released, I've been losing my hair and I've got two grandchildren (Lily and Lola). I have rented cottages a few times and I've fixed (and damaged) a few things around the house. And my spouse still feeds me so I guess she still needs me now that I'm 64.

"When I'm Sixty-Four" lyrics

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Write Focus

I must confess that I haven't been diligent with my writing this year. I can make rationalizations, and some would probably be plausible. But I don't like to make excuses. 
The truth is that I simply haven't been that focused. I have written a draft for one short story and started two others. I also have notes for about eight other stories. So I have made some progress.  Just not enough.
My intention at the beginning of 2013 was to write one short story a week for about three or four months. I thought I'd be able to produce 15 or so stories. Then I would spend the next few months editing, revising, and polishing them for publication.
I know it's still early in the year but I need to get my moving if I'm going to reach my goals. I also have my National Novel Writing Month manuscript on my desktop that needs attention as well.
Sometimes telling others (as I'm doing with this post) will jumpstart serious writing. I certainly hope so.
Until the next time…

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Cluttered Life

I’m as guilty as the next procrastinator about putting things off because “I’m just too busy.” It seems the more I try to simplify my life the more complicated it becomes.
One reason – at least an excuse I use – it that I have to declutter and organize in order to simplify. And believe me, that takes time.
There was a time in my life when it wasn’t much of a problem to get organized. As I reflect on it, I think there are two reasons for that:
1.   I didn’t have as much “stuff” back then to organize (and I've saved a lot of those items from way back when).
2.  As I’ve grown older, I’m slower about getting things done. In other words, I don’t have the energy, and sometimes the inclination, to put things in their place or toss in the trash.
One of my sons came over last weekend to go through boxes that contained some items from his childhood. He’s in his mid-30s. Some of the boxes were nearly 50 years old – from my teen years.  Did I mention that I might be a pack rat as well?
My wife and I decided that we’re going to go through one box a week. A few things we may keep but the majority of stuff will end up going to charity groups and the rest in the trash can.
Now if we can just find the time to get started.
Until the next time…

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Story Songs: The Girl from Ipanema

I believe most of  us have had crushes on someone only to be ignored, or worse yet, to be invisible.

That's what comes to mind when I listen to "The Girl from Ipanema," a huge international hit in 1964 for singer  Astrud Gilberto, guitarist-singer Joao Gilberto, and American jazz great Stan Getz.   It reached No. 5 on the U.S. charts. 

The bossa nova tune, with lyrics by poet Vinicius de Moraes (Portuguese) and Songwriters Hall of Famer Norman Gimbel (English) and music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, is about a beautiful young woman who strolls to the ocean at the each day. As we used to say a few years ago, she was a looker.

"Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes, 'ah'"

The description of the way she moves as being like a samba also brings a image of casual grace and sexy:

"When she walks, she likes a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes goes, 'ooh'"

Part of her cool demeanor is going about her business without noticing the admiring glances:

"But each day she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead, not at me"

And later:

"And when she passes I smile -- but she doesn't see
She doesn't see, she never sees me."

I know the feeling. Sigh.

Photo by Sergio (Savaman)  Savarese
The girl in the song is based on Helo Pinheiro, who was 19 at the time the song was written. She is still quite a looker at 69.

The song is reportedly the second most recorded tune in history, behind The Beatles' "Yesterday." Among the luminaries who have versions are Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, and Kenny G.

"The Girl from Ipanema" won the Grammy for  Record of the Year in 1965. The song is a timeless classic that I never tire of hearing.

"The Girl from Ipanema" lyrics

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making Contact

There are many ways for authors to get the word out about their books. Blogging, social media, traditional media, websites, and personal contact are among the effective avenues to reach people.

I have author friends such as Steve Flairty and Don McNay  who write columns for web-based publications such as KyForward.  McNay is also on the Huffington Post.

Romance author Taryn Raye is a prolific blogger, touching on several topics every week, and not just about writing. Children's author Marlis Day writes an effective blog about her books, upcoming events, and personal reflections. 

Personal websites are another important way for writers to connect with readers. Mystery writer Bill Noel recently posted the release of his new novel, "Missing," at his website. Young-adult writer Tim Callahan has an effective website to get the word out about his Kentucky Summer series. 

Most successful authors have web portals, either personal or through publishing houses. You simply need to do a web search to find them.

A lot of authors, such as Sue Grafton and Teresa Medeiros, can be found on Facebook. Just click the "Like" button and you'll get updates on what they're doing. 

Author information can also be found at,,,, and other book-related sites.

Another way is to participate in interviews on other websites. I was  fortunate to appear on Taryn Raye's and Tugboat Design's insightful interview pages.

Other authors, such as Steve Demaree and Lynwood Montel, find that  face-to-face contact with readers at book fairs, festivals and other events create an effective word-of-mouth marketing campaign for their books.

Because of my background, I still treasure traditional media. I enjoy author interviews and book reviews in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. 

I believe that the most effective way is to have a mix of media.

As a reader, do you have a preference in finding information about authors and books?

Until the next time...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Write Resolutions

It's hard to believe we're already into a new year.
I was able to realize a few writing goals in 2012, such as publishing my short-story collection, "Laments," completing the National Novel Writing Month challenge, and producing blog posts on a somewhat regular basis.
Now it's time to move on. I'm not one to set many, if any, resolutions. As I've grown older, I've learned to move at my own pace and do what I can. I don't like setting unrealistic -- unreachable -- goals. And I believe I have good writing habits.
I think the primary goal for any writer is to write. And that's what I'll be doing on a daily basis. That's been something I've done for me for quite a long time. I guess it must be the journalist in me who cranked out news stories for many years.
I'm currently working on a second volume of short stories. If life doesn't interfere, I can generally write one a week. I hope to produce about 15 this time. If things work out, I'll publish "Laments 2," Laments II," "Laments Two," or whatever.
I also have my raw NaNoWriMo manuscript that I plan to rewrite after additional research. I still haven't looked at it since I saved the last draft on Nov. 30. I know there's a lot of work to do on it so perhaps that's my excuse for not getting back to it. But I will.
Lastly, I plan to read more this year. I downloaded Jon Olson's "The Ride Home" on Dec. 31 to get me started. I'd like to read three or four books a month -- fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Writers read.
What are your writing resolutions?
Until the next time…