Thursday, December 28, 2017

Saturday, November 04, 2017

First Night. They laughed. They cried. No wait, that was me.

Nervous writer + cel phone = not the best picture.
A while back, I wrote a three scene, one act play called DRIVER’S ED. The story was based on that terrifying parental experience, teaching a teenager to drive. Turns out driving wasn’t the scariest part of the scenario.

Since I grew up in the 60s, it surprised me that I was uncomfortable when my daughter started asking sex questions; which she invariably did on the drive to school. I realized what I thought I should say, and what I really wanted to say often diverged. DRIVER’S ED arose from the idea, what if the unspoken thoughts on both sides had a life of their own.

The play won a few awards on the circuit then went back into the drawer. On a whim I entered it in a Montana contest in which the prize was production, one night, in a theater, with a professional acting troup and director. And a real, live audience.

DRIVER’S ED was one of the winners.

I’ve had a couple of table reads in my career; both times with other writers. It seems to me that writers are dysfunctional in similar ways, and at both table reads I spent most of my time enjoying the goofiness of my peers. From quiet, internally focused writers to suddenly -- ACT-TORS – cracked me up and made me love ‘em for their willingness to let go and help.

Production on a real stage with genuine actors in front of a real live audience was something else all together.


And I had a week to ponder.

What if they hated it? What if they were offended? What if they were bored? What if they became enraged and formed a mad mob like the one that burned out Frankenstein’s monster? What if someone jumped up and hollered, “who wrote this crap?”

What if I just had a heart attack and succumbed right there in the theater?

Well, Mrs. Lincoln, except for that, how’d you like the play?

I’ve had a few surreal experiences in my screenwriting career. Having an Oscar winning screenwriter hand me my first screenwriting award.  Hearing an HBO executive quote my dialog back to me because it sounded cool to her. Listening to the director of a major screenwriting contest report how much the judges were enjoying my story.

Now add to those, sitting in the audience while my play was performed.

The audience laughed.

They applauded.

They didn’t burn down the theater.

Nobody cried. I made up that part.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Age Appropriate

So, I got one of these.

I wanted to see what my heart was doing and the sleep reports looked interesting.

Less interesting was how many steps I took in a day ‘cuz, I’m a writer. The most important steps are the ones that take me to my seat in front of the computer.

Turns out the thing is like that snoopy friend you never wanted.

Lots of intrusive questions.

Then after a couple of days, the reports filtered in.

The first heart report sounded good ... but ... what's that -- for a woman my age?

I beg your pardon. 

That's just a hop, skip and slippery slope to -- you're too old to do that. Or too young. Or too female. Or (these days) not female enough.

How rude. 

Besides what is hidden in the fine print is that the numbers show a resting heart rate, but not a real resting heart rate just an averaging of the heart rate over a day, so insult me with false findings why don't you? Thanks ever so.

Looking at the sleep report, it seemed like I don’t get much, over-laid with a heart rate strip that looked like a nine on the Richter scale.

Suddenly, this was too much information.

And the thing knew where I was all the time, what I was doing (bragged it could guess any activity after 15 minutes) what I’d been eating and how much I drank.

I am almost used to being tracked non-stop by the cell phone. This was one eye on me too many.

I took it off and tucked it into my sock drawer. I doubt it will cause any trouble there.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Back to the Golden State

Here are some of the pictures that ten pounds of camera equipment produced on a nostalgic trip down the California coast echoing trips I took when I was still in college.

Spent my birthday on the Rock. Alcatraz Island.

On to Point Lobos, where Edward Weston and Ansel Adams worked.

China Cove. Edward Weston made a famous photograph here. I stood in this exact spot when I was 19 and all I had was a camera and a future in front of me.

Then down to the relatively crowd-less Morro Bay which was teeming with wildlife.

Then back home where Montana tells me summer is over.

Goldilocks and the Travel Journal

My original travel journal setup was a pocket-size Moleskine with a couple of pens and a pencil, glue stick and folding scissors in a canvas case sold by an entrepreneur who has since gone out of business.

Then I stumbled onto the Midori Traveler’s Notebook universe and well … this happened.

Two! Passport and Regular in black.

 So, when a trip came up, I thought, let’s switch to a better travel journal – Moleskine paper not being what it used to be.

The regular Traveler’s Notebook was out of the question.


Especially when I’m already carrying ten pounds of camera equipment.

So this arrived. 

Passport size, in camel. Cool. Tucked right in the old canvas case.

Away we went.

It lasted one and a half trips before I realized it was TOO SMALL.

Since the addition of the polaroid printer – business card size photos were taking up lots of space. 

I hunted down a stationary store on the road and returned to the pocket Moleskine of yesteryear.  

Which was – JUST RIGHT.

And goes to show, that old adage is correct.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Monday, July 31, 2017


So, enough about politics.


Went to the county fair last week, a bit of Americana I’ve always loved.

Homemade crafts. Farm raised produce. An art show. Livestock. A carnival. The rodeo. What’s not to love?

Our local fair, which used to stretch through four buildings and two barns, toured by walking over dirt paths, in July. Heat stroke kept at bay by free ice water doled out in a booth run by Christian youth. Hunger pangs soothed by steak sandwiches handmade by Kiwanis gents.

A few years back a committee decided to improve the fairgrounds. Well, okay, the grandstand was about to collapse, but why stop there? They paved all the paths, built a large, air conditioned “multi-purpose” building. They tore down the old barn and most of the other fair buildings.

And was the fair improved?

4H seems to be going strong, but the rest of the fair is almost non-existent.

Improved into just an old memory. That haunting refrain that begins … back in the old days.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Dilemma

We're getting ready for a trip to the coast.

And I find myself staring at my travel journal.

This is the setup --

Canvas case, moleskine notebook and various tools. Usually shoved in the suitcase because there are scissors in there. Wonder if a person can have scissors in a carry-on now days?

It has seen me through multiple trips, including being stranded in England because of a volcano eruption and an emergency appendectomy in Scotland. At one point, I realized my travel journal was reading like a horror novel. Nobody vacations like we do.

But now there are other options as I've found Midori Travelers Notebooks. Already have two.

The passport size, I carry around town, it has a calendar, two notebooks and its own multi-pen. I've used it to keep myself occupied while I was waiting for something else to happen. Analog distraction tool.

The regular size, I've used when I've traveled to seminars or taken classes in town. Analog distraction tool on the road to further education.

But now, should I use one as my regular travel journal?

And what about the old setup which has seen me through time and time again?

Old reliable or something new and better?

Can't make up my mind.

Complicated by the addition of these.

Smart phone -- so I always have kind of a camera -- and a polaroid printer that prints business card size prints from an app on the phone.

Certainly is taking PACK LIGHT out of the equation.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Goofy Stuff That Turned Out To Be COOL.

I blame Jet Pens.

Free shipping with orders of $25 is the siren song few can resist, so I found myself adding a MULTI-PEN to my order for the last few bucks needed to reach $25.

My opinion then was that people who used pens with multiple inks were probably those people who dotted their “i” with a little heart.

So, this arrived.

 Then this.

Well, I have two desks. One for each desk. See?
And then I had to get this …

Tombow Compact Multi-Pen
to go with this …..

Passport Midori Traveler's Notebook
 And then my daughter gave me this for Christmas.

FIVE, count 'em, five in one pen. 
Then I saw the famous Bic at Target and thought – why not – it has a pencil too!

So, now look.

And I wonder, how DID this happen?
The reason I found the pens worthwhile is gel ink. The Tombow and the Bic are ballpoints, but the others have a very nice gel ink that makes them hard to resist. Although, the ballpoints are much improved over the old gloppy, leaky messes ballpoints used to be. Gel ink is ruling the place around here right now.

What can I say? Writers like writing instruments and moments that offer procrastination opportunities.

Multi-pens. Who knew?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

You May Be in Montana ...

... if Spring looks like this.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Everywhere, A Critic

I was practicing my ukulele in the yard,


a bird pooped on me.

I tried not to take this personally.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Wild Audio

I never agreed that the on-board GoPro mic was all that bad – even muted by the cases – waterproof and otherwise, but there were a lot who complained that the camera produced crap audio.

Sennheiser has come up with a solution. The Action Mic for GoPro Hero 4.

Wind screen
It’s not cheap – $200. For that you get the mic, connections, waterproof back door for Hero 4, two spacers, and an innovative windshield

Unlike a dead cat or standard foam wind screen – this one is immersible in water – no problem.

Cute as a box of puppies
Take your waterproof Hero 4 case, remove the backdoor, snap on the Action Mic’s backdoor, plug the connection into the usb mic slot on the camera, if you’re not using the battery backpack, add the blue spacer, carefully close up the back door – mind the wire and make sure the seal is good and even all the way round. *

I live next to a creek, so I fitted up my Hero 4 Black, and took the whole thing for a trial run. Nothing exciting, like boating over a cliff, just a dip and dunk in the creek.

First, I tested the audio around all sides of the camera – clear, distinct with no fall off when the mic was on the far side. Then down into the creek we went.

Wow. It was loud. The little tink-tink-tink sounds are debris hitting the mic. This creek moves pretty fast.

Afterwards, disassembled and allowed (as advised) to air dry. Pretty cool. 

I plan to mount the rig on the front of my kayak, control it with the remote and I’ll probably get excellent audio of fish jumping, birds chirping and me swearing at the power boat people. Once Montana decides to give us some summer.

The only down side I see is, rigged with the mic, the GoPro is a sizable chunk of wind resistant object. Although the mic handles the wind well, some people might object to the size with regards to weight and balance. 

Although, I am nobody’s audio expert, I have been experimenting with adding a mic to the GoPro for a quite a while. Here is what I’ve tried.

Olympus, Rode, iGo and a Takstar. The Rode’s the best by far. The Olympus is okay. The iGo is convenient but average (especially when the other camera is mic'd with the Rode. And the Takstar was when I was shooting video with a DSLR and let’s just say, I don’t do that anymore. And of course, none of these are waterproof.

Sennheiser’s Action Mic is an expensive but excellent solution for great audio in all weather video.

* I’m a worrier.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Oh Montana

Just when we think Spring is around the corner, you send us a blizzard.