Terry M. Clark--back roads traveler, journalist, watercolor explorer, grandfather, lover of New Mexico, former weekly newspaperman, coffee drinker, native Texan, geezer, probably a verb. Retired UCO prof.
A month after being a reporter for the Journal Record, my writing has improved, and so have my eyes and ears.
There are stories everywhere, needing to be written. Just finished two for Persimmon Hill at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for it's 37th Prix de West show. One on Dr. bob Pickering of the Gilcrease in Tulsa talking about "The Image of the Bison." The other on sculptor Richard Loffert's sculpting demonstration of a live eagle.
Other stories: "Husbands keep me in business." There's the lead of a story on window washers.
Susan paid to have our windows cleaned, and the young guy who did the two day job--yes, they were really dirty and all had storm windows--is a pro, taking over with his brother from his dad's business.
Today, I was talking to Charlotte Waddle, administrative assistant for the department, and she tells me about what her church did for Fathers' Day--displays of hobbies, etc., inside. Outside, the dads' car show--cars, trucks, Rvs, the whole bit, for meeting after service, and then lunch served.
I don't think I've ever hear a church doing this before. What a neat idea.
Charlotte says that's what we need newspapers for, to read interesting stories about real people, but today when yo pick up a paper, most people think nothing is in it. That's because they're not telling stories.
It's pretty simple--wish newspapers would figure it out.
When I was a kid my Dad would take me to used bookstores in Albuquerque. There we would find all kinds of treasures, and I think that's why I love used bookstores to this day. The treasures I found there always led to more trips, to adventures and traveling in faraway places. I would sit for hours reading those sometimes musty, yellow-paged books, curled up in a leather chair, perhaps with music on 33 1/3 LP records on my hi-fidelity player in the background. Tommy Dorsey's "Moonlight in Vermont," or "Ports of Call" and others would add mysterious moods to the spell of the words on the pages. My imagination would travel the rivers and roads and jungles.
Two of my favorite authors, and I collected as many of their books as I could, were Edgar Rice Burroughs, who imagined and wrote Tarzan of the Apes and all the other Tarzan books, and James Oliver Curwood, and his stories of the great north of Canada and Mounties and wildlife..
Many of the books were first edition, back when you could find them in bookstores. I think I had a first edition of Tarzan of the Apes but lost it. Looking it up on abe.com these days, I see it's worth thousands of dollars. My son Travis has that collection now.
I still have many of the Curwood books, and recently picked up The Flaming forest, first edition, 1921. I never knew much about Curwood, but now that we have the internet I've found he was the highest paid writer of his day. It may not be literature, but his writing is great narrative, and the kind that can provoke your imagination and make you want to travel.
My copy doesn't have this dustcover, but the illustration is one of four tantalizing peices of art in the book. I was bored and needed something to read, and soon I was caught in the current. With Curwood's books, you want a map of the Canadian north to follow the characters as they travel down rivers like the Slave, the Yellowknife, the McKenzie, or through the Great Slave Lake. You look them up on the map and wonder, and Curwood helps fill your mind with wanderlust.
And then there are Curwood's titles: The Grizzly King, Kazan, Sgt. Steele of the Royal Mounted, The River's End, Gods Country and the woman, Nomads of the North, and others.
How does a song or movie get on a Geezer list?
Depends on the Geezer, but like anyone, I suspect, they all have to do with memories.
Some ideas on my current playlist on this blog.
Paul Simon, and Garfunkel for that matter, "Still Crazy" a long time favorite that reminds me of special times and people. Of course, I ought to have Sounds of Silence, Kodachrome, Scarborough Fair, and more from them.
Ghost Riders in the Sky, so free, s much rhythm, from watching the clouds of the Great Plains.
"Jackson" by John and June Cash...how can you not love it, especially June's throaty, earthy singing, and what a couple?
Blues Brothers, anything, what a beat, what dancing, what acting--makes you want to dance! And of course "Rawhide!" brings back a great TV series with a young Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates, heading cattle up the Chisholm Trail.
Glenn Miller, "In the mood." Brings back an era of music that had just passed when I was growing up, and it's fresh in my mind now that I've just flown in a WWII B-17.
"Amazing Grace." Of course it fits in one of my favorite movies, Memphis Bell."And the bagpipe version in Brave Heart. I've also heard it in StarTrek, but most of all it just brings deep emotion--one of two songs sung at my Mom's funeral.
"Victory in Jesus." The other song at her funeral.
"Satisfaction." Jagger is my age. The comparisons end there.
"A white sport coat." A favorite since when I had a white sport coat and dated beautiful Betty Jean Simmons, with long honey-blonde hair.
"Don't Be Cruel." Young Elvis, when we were dancing away in the evenings in our neighborhood.
"Red River Valley." Lived there a long time. Friends cringe when I threaten to sing it, or anything else for that matter.
"Shane." One of the best movies ever, just ask Woody Allen. I saw it, and the Tetons for the first time. Music to make you want to travel.
"Do Not Forsake Me." The masterpiece High Noon with Gary Cooper. Camera techniques and acting far ahead of its time in perhaps the best Western ever.
Patsy Cline. "Crazy." What a voice, what yearning romance.
"The Yellow Rose of Texas." "The Bonnie Blue Flag." "Dixie." Texas fight son. Aggie War Hymn. Genetic Texas runs deep in my blood.
"Napalm in the Morning." Favorite quote, from a favorite movie "Apocalypse Now," based on my favorite book, "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad. My editing students know this phrase well.
Harry Potter theme. Great music to go with great movies that go with great books. I've read them all. Have you?
"Rainy Night in Georgia." A favorite dancing song for Terry and Susan.
Sitting in class yesterday as we fiddled around putting music on our blogs, I kept noting I'd never heard of a lot of the songs, much less musicians, going up on my students' blogs.
Then I started putting some up on my play list, and also noted the selections were causing quite a bit of humor among the students.
Of course, it might have been the combination of me trying to swing to "In the Mood," and sing "Do Not Forsake Me," or "Don't Be Cruel," or "Still Crazy." And after I'd mentioned I liked Heavy D and the Boys' "Black Coffee," and The Spice Girls, I think I lost any semblance of seriousness from students.
So it occurs to me, as a geezer, that any music I might like is probably geezer music. You know that's true when you consider Paul Simon and Mick Jagger and the Blues Brothers as recent.
At least I got the theme from Harry Potter in there!
Now pardon me while I look for Martin Luther's original score for "How Firm a Foundation."
What was on that blank sheet in that old notebook?
soon it grew to three or four pages
Do you remember the name of your first grade teacher? Why?
Fresh mint and lemon in iced-tea
"I want my country back"
And since then,
up showed a B-17 bomber
And Helen Thomas retires because she expressed an opinion politically correct people didn't like.
And there's more, coming, thanks to the Muse...
It's not the blank sheet of paper in front of you. It's the blank space in between your ears.
What can I write about? What can I paint? What can I play? What can I create?
When the muse departs and goes her own way, far away...
One of my tricks has always been travel, but if you can't travel, can't go experience something, then what?
I don't call it writers' block, because it's not a block. Sometimes you just dry up inside, and can't seem to "get the juices flowing."
You need to prime the pump.
You need to lure the muse back, and she's gullible, she's hungry, and she can't resist even a hint of a come-on. A word, and inflection, a raised eyebrow, a gesture, a smile, a sound, a scent, a touch, and she'll show up.
Perhaps tentatively at first, but once she's close by, once she's hooked, she'll be seduced.
So I went and sat on the back porch this week and opened an old leather-bound 3-ring notebook of my Dad's, one that he'd engraved a nude woman on 40 years ago with his leather tools.
Yellowed blank pages were inside hadn't been touched in all those years.I sat there listening to birds, watching sunlit shadows, listening to the breeze.
I picked up a pen and put it on the blank paper,
and started scribbling a list of things to write about.
I contend there's a direct relationship between your brain and fingers and a piece of paper that is not there with a keyboard. Yes, you eventually have to type it, but it's not the best place to start. Staring at a blank screen is worse than starting to scribble on paper. The ideas come to me from a more tactile experience.
At first there was only one idea on the page, some doodling, and then others gradually came.
Soon, there were enough to provoke more ideas and the list grew into comments and thoughts about structure.
And before the week was out, the list had grown with travel opportunities and adventures I'd not expected.