blogging the day away

July 7, 2008

All right, don’t get too excited, but this is my second blog entry in 5 or 6 days. Unreal, right? Man, I feel like all I’ve been doing with my life is writing blogs! Two in one week? It’s definitely time for a vacation or something.

    Could this be the Soul’s year?

What a game it was! What a finish! The Philadelphia Soul are hosting the division championship game for the first time ever. It should be quite the scene at the Center on Saturday. Whaddya mean you’ve never heard of the AFL? It’s football in the spring and summer. What more could you ask?

    The Tipping Point

Now, you people know by now how late I am to so many different things. Could be cultural, could be historical, political, whatever. Could also be literary. I’m finally reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Mr. Gladwell already blew my mind when I read Blink, which was a great book, and he has done it again with The Tipping Point. It’s all about how little things can make a major difference and how things like ideas and behaviors can spread just like a virus would. Like an epidemic. And why.

    Other current events

… but only the ones that center on ME. I am preparing for another round of submissions for Lilly Dances, my sort-of-picture-book-but-not-quite project. It’s more of a very short book with pictures. Actually, it has no pictures right now (I’m no artist), but it would be way better with pictures. Like a picture book would. Like a really long picture book.

but not quite.

The kids are doing fine on their summer break from school. I’m doing fine also, but I CAN tell you how many weeks until the school buses start rolling again.

seven.

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wake up

July 1, 2008

Wake up, John. It’s July.

What? July already? Can’t be. I’m going back to sleep.

It’s July, John. You need to get up and write a blog.

Well, I’m looking at the calendar right now and it says, “July 1”, so that means I have 30 OTHER days to write blogs and it doesn’t have to be done right now. Thank you, by the way, for waking me up so early in July. You know I hibernate in the summer. Now, leave me alone.

Now, what kind of guilt-inducing blog conscience would I be if I just left you alone to procrasticate? You have to write. People want to know what you’ve been doing.

No they don’t.

They do. WRITE.

Fine.

Hey everybody! How y’all are? Things here are actually going pretty well, considering the kids don’t have any school or sports keeping them busy right now. This is our down time. July. July goes fast only in retrospect. When you’re in the middle of it, July seems like a month with 74 days.

    You should go ahead and read Suite Scarlett, ‘k?

I’ve finished reading Suite Scarlett, finally – I know, and I’d say it was pretty good. Maureen was definitely on her game when she wrote this one, and it’s cool to see so much of her own personality in her writing. Really enjoyable read. I don’t know what I’m going to read next, but it will probably be yet another book about marketing, advertising and copywriting, which is a potential new career path for me. More on that if it actually develops.

    Check out Lewis Taylor, too.

I don’t know why I’m so late to the party, since Lewis Taylor has already quit the music business, but I recently heard a live version of his song, “Stoned Pt. 1” and it’s so good. Wow. I could only find the studio version on YouTube, so I’ve stuck that in here. The live version I heard is on Volume 22 of the Live From the World Cafe series and it is better than the studio version, if you ask me – or even if you don’t.

    Out and about

Daughter 2 and I spent some time at Canal Day in Chesapeake City last weekend and had a really good time. The crowds were not as bad as they have been in the past and there were lots of things to see and do. We had a great little father/daughter time. I like when I can have some one on one time with the kids individually. I think that’s important, but it can be hard to accomplish.

    Could this be their year?

Our own Philadelphia Soul have finished the season with the best record in the league (13-3) and are all ready for the playoffs, which for them begin this Saturday. I took Daughter 1 and Son 1 up to the team headquarters this past Sunday for a little meet and greet with the players and coaches and a tour of the facility. It was great of the Soul to arrange that for some of their season ticket holders. The catered dinner was pretty good too.

Well, I guess that’s all for now. I still have to go back and edit this to work properly on all of my various blogging outlets.

Crazy

April 27, 2008

Well this week has been a bit crazy, but we got through it. My wife had to go out of town for a few days and with five kids all involved in different activities (except the girls, they’ve been staying together for now) that meant a fair amount of running around for me. I had to get help from a few friends here and there and that definitely made things easier. So, thanks, Friends!

The boys’ baseball teams are doing well and the younger one’s Tball team has already inspired one essay to completion and I have another one started. Now, I’m no Rick Reilly (to me, the best sports essayist there is) but it is nice to be inspired, regardless. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write about my older son’s baseball team, because some of those kids get MAD.

This kid will make the team in a few years.
This kid will make the team in a few years.

I finally finished reading “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa” by E.B. Sledge, which is about as funny as it sounds, but I found it really interesting anyway. That book is being used as part of the basis for the HBO miniseries The Pacific, a companion piece to Band of Brothers.

So now we’re getting ready for another hectic week with more baseball, lacrosse and gymnastics AND I need another book. Maybe I should just get back to writing one.

quick update

January 21, 2008

jpchambers.com has been kind of wacky lately. I’m having trouble publishing updates to it. Anyway, my “people” are working on the problem and hopefully things are back to normal soon. I’ve been holding off on the blog entries because my site also hosts a blog and I can’t update that one! So as you can see, I’ve decided that things will just have to go on without the main site blog for the time being.

Things are going along pretty well lately. I’m doing a bit of freelance writing work that a good friend was so gracious as to send my way. It’s nothing any of you would be interested to read. It’s technical/business type stuff.

Those of you who are familiar with me know that I’m no big New England Patriots fan, so seeing them play in the SuperBowl is no big deal for me. However, in my basement I did find a relic from my days as a salesman . It’s a full case of plastic Patriots cups. They’re not the disposable kind, either, they’re nice! I’m going to try to get them listed on Ebay as soon as possible and try to sell them off in the next week or so. I’ll let you know how it goes.

reading: the Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

ok. now back to work.

sports, music and books

January 10, 2008

Hey everyone.

Is it already January 10? Man, the year is just FLYING by. So do I have anything to say? Of course I do. Just a few months ago, we had no kids taking gymnastics classes and now we have three kids taking gymnastics classes. How about that? I thought we were done with gymnastics after Son #1 stopped doing it. Now Son #2 and Daughters #2 and 3 are taking classes, although the girls’ class is mostly to help them become better cheerleaders, not gymnasts. Oh, and baseball season is just around the corner. You’d think all of this activity involving the kids would be a goldmine of funny stories for me to write for you guys, and it should be. Stay tuned.

Two friends of mine have released their new cds in the past few weeks. The new record by Ike is called Where to Begin and it is really good. It’s a little harder than anything John and his various band incarnations have done in the past. It surprised me, as I’ve been hearing most of these songs over the past year and I wasn’t expecting the cd to sound the way it does. Great work, guys. Andrea Glass has released Stood Under Stars and, again, wow! Andrea is a really good acoustic/country/Americana artist I met a few years ago when she was making recordings in her kitchen. Now she’s teamed up with some really outstanding musicians, travelled to Nashville to record and is currently in the middle of her UK tour. She’s accomplished a lot in such a short time and the music is fantastic. Give it a listen.

The new site design for JPChambers.com has received nothing but positive reviews so far. So if you have anything negative to say, get it in before I get too cocky! On the fun page, I’ve added a link to a nerd test. I tested sort of medium nerdy. Not as bad as I thought!

Finally, if you have heard me talk about Markus Zusak or read what I’ve written about his books, then you know how impressed I am with him and his work. The Book Thief may be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Here’s a link to an interview he did about the book.

I finally got something done!

December 17, 2007

Hey.
Long time, eh? I’m just relaxing a bit tonight. Listening to some music, answering some messages and, oh yeah, writing a blog post for the first time in weeks. I’ve spent the past few days finishing up a complete redesign of my website, which has had the same look for almost 3 years. I’m really happy with the way it turned out and I’m happy with the software I finally chose to build it with. That was a big decision for me. I was using Frontpage on my windows pc, but I wanted something different to use on my Mac. Finally found it and got the project off the ground. My blog is now integrated into my site, but I still will probably post at WordPress also, to reach a different audience. I’m just happy that I’ve finally been able to complete my move to a Mac workflow and eliminate my need for a windows pc. Good thing, too, as my pc is about 9 years old and takes a LONG time to do anything.

Sometime before the end of the year, I will post my thoughts on all (or most) of the books I’ve read this year. I read more than I thought. The list has 20+ books on it. Not bad, right? That’s about 2 per month. It will take me a while to write that up.

We are just about ready for the holidays here in the Chambers household. It’s funny. Every year we have at least one gift that we are really excited to give to someone. This year is no different. That’s the coolest thing, for me. I took my two youngest girls to a Christmas shop that is just down the road from us, but we’ve never been to before. They have unusual hours. It turns out that the “shop” is located in a huge barn next to an old farmhouse built in 1647. The property is just gorgeous. The shop is great. They must have a million little things in there. Mostly Christmas related, but lots of other stuff as well. Upstairs I found a big crate sitting on the floor. It was filled with old albums. 33s, 45s and 78s. Yes, 78s. I picked up a 78 rpm copy of the Davis Sisters “I forgot more than you’ll ever know”. Released in 1953. The disc is thick and heavy and I think it’s pretty darn cool. Anyway, that’s the kind of thing you can find in that Christmas shop. I’ll be going back.

decisions

November 22, 2007

Just when I’ve convinced myself that no publisher or agent will be interested in a collection of personal essays and memoirs from some unknown writer, and I decide to break up the collection and try to sell it in other ways, I just can’t let go. I’ve been considering writing for Associated Content and also looking into paid blogging. I know you’re thinking that I don’t even update my own blog often enough as it is, but being paid and under some deadline might be just the kick I need. The problem I have? Rights. I just don’t want to give up any rights to my work to a non-traditional publisher. I just don’t feel like I can trust them. I really love most of the stuff I’ve put up on my website and, although I realize much of it would need to be edited and rewritten to be truly publishable, I’m willing to do that. I’d just hate for those essays to be in the hands of some internet content producer and unavailable to use in my book. It may be time to take a fresh look at them all, including many I haven’t released yet, bundle them all up and ship them off to the real world. Nothing to lose, right? I just want it to be right. I want to make the best decision.

And I want to sign on with someone who will publish Young Adult Novel also.

See, there’s just no satisfying me, is there?

AND, happy Thanksgiving.

AND, I ordered Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle from Amazon because I couldn’t find it elsewhere and I also needed a few more dollars on my order to qualify for free shipping. What did I order initially? Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas in SURROUND SOUND! Whoo, Baby, I can’t wait for that package to arrive.

day late

October 26, 2007

Man, it’s so easy to continue not writing when you get into the habit of not writing. All of our fall sports stuff is over now and things are getting back to normal. Vacation is coming, but this one should be fun. Then Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. OK, I know I’m skipping a few weeks here and there, but it goes so fast. That’s one of the reasons that I begin to celebrate Christmas (my favorite time of year) on November 1. I don’t wait until the day after Thanksgiving like most people. To me, Thanksgiving is a holiday which falls during the 2 month Christmas season. The old Christmas song cds are ready to go. See? It’s not even Halloween yet and I’m looking right past it. Halloween is just a speed bump in the fast lane to Christmas.

So now that I’ve proclaimed the next two holidays to be completely irrelevant, what else should I write?

Well, The Book Thief is pretty good so far. I haven’t been able to just sit and read it uninterrupted, so I’m only about 1/3 through. A few pages here, a few more there. It definitely has a different style and feel to it. Overall I’m impressed with Markus Zusak, I have to say.

On the subject of cover songs, Dexter has commented on that post with a cover of an Amy Winehouse song, but I had never heard the song to begin with so it didn’t have quite the effect on me that it should have. However, if you want to hear a cool version of Led Zeppelin’s Since I’ve Been Loving You then check out what Corinne Bailey Rae does with it. Regular readers know how much I like Corinne to begin with and here she performs a classic song in her own style.

I’m feeling some guilt over not posting an October essay for JPChambers.com and here it is almost November and I’m not sure what to post for that, either. I haven’t written much new material the past few months, so maybe this blog entry will be the kickoff for some regular writing sessions. NaNoWriMo is next month (November, of course), but I think I’ll have to sit this one out. I’ll see what happens.

—————-
Now playing: Corinne Bailey Rae – Since I’ve Been Loving You
via FoxyTunes

Teaser payoff

October 3, 2007

Wow. Where to begin? Let me go read the teaser. I’ll be back.

Ok. I’m back. First up, extracurricular activities. We have one high schooler playing field hockey, one younger boy playing football and one younger girl cheerleading. That means we have a practice or game every day after school and on Saturday also. Sorry to say that the high school field hockey games get the short shrift due to timing of it all. So being busy every evening and during the weekends results in the days being full of running errands. Also, the youngest boy is doing gymnastics once a week. Almost forgot about that! I’m not complaining. It’s really a lot of fun, just hectic.

Next. Why does September feel like July? It’s because of the sun. It’s giving us way too much heat and I don’t like it. The weather man on the news calls the sunshine we experience “abundant”. I would call it “incessant”. Interesting how one little word change can alter the whole meaning of a sentence. All right, so I can just pretty much write off September as just another month of summer. Fine. What about October? It’s October right now and we’re anticipating temps in the mid 80’s this week. WHY? It’s highly irritating to get a sunburn while watching a football game. The universe is weird lately.

Here’s what I’ve been reading: Devilish by Maureen Johnson. Pretty good. So far, MJ’s books have been fairly consistent. I’m about halfway through Cecil Castellucci’s Queen of Cool and, well, I’m not really digging it very much. I can’t relate to any of the characters. Why, you say, would I expect to relate to any of the characters in a book written for teenage females? Well, I respond, there are teenage males in that book and I have been one of those before. Still can’t relate to, or even like, the characters. That is NOT a comment about Cecil’s writing ability, ’cause I like her. I’m just not digging this particular book. Next up for me is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Marcus, you may remember, wrote The Messenger, which is my favorite read of the year so far.

Someday I may tell you how the whole “John is a sports announcer” thing happened, but for now just know that it’s a lot of fun. Our teams play their home games at the high school field and they have an announcer to introduce the teams and say the results of each play and who was involved in it and the scores and all that stuff. I was asked initially to just announce the games for my son’s team (the youngest team) but midway through my first game, the league officials asked me to take over and work all of the games (there are three different levels, so three games) and I accepted the invitation. It’s been great. The crew I work with is really good and getting better, as am I. After last week’s games, the league told me that the job is mine for as long as I want it. If only it involved some sort of monetary exchange, which it doesn’t. I do get free food, however, so someone must have tipped them off to my weakness.

Well, this post has gone on long enough and I am kind of busy today (did I mention that?) so I’ll save the “love of Cracker Barrel restaurants” story for another time.

P.S. David Sedaris was in Wilmington, DE last night and I had to miss it! I told you the universe was messed up.

eavesdropping

September 12, 2007

ME: I can’t believe it’s September 12th already and I haven’t posted a blog entry since the end of August.

Voice Inside My Head: Yep. You sure are letting people down.

ME: Hey, c’mon now. I’m sure people will understand that I’ve been busy.

VOICE: Sure, sure. Busy. Procrastinating, whatever.

ME: I’ve got sports practices with the kids every night. Then there are the games every weekend. And have you forgotten that I am the stadium announcer for the home games, which takes up practically a whole Saturday?

VOICE: We do a pretty good job with that, don’t we?

ME: I think so.

VOICE: Still, the practices are after school. What do you do all day?

ME: All the stuff I can no longer do in the evenings! Are you new around here?

VOICE: Still. I’m just saying there should be a few minutes in there to keep up your blog. That’s all I’m saying.

ME: Well what about you? Have you come up with anything brilliant for chapter nine of Middle Grade Novel yet? Have you?

VOICE: been busy.

ME: Oh, of course. You’re busier than me? How’s that work?

VOICE: Hmmm. What’s that smell?

ME: What? I don’t smell anything.

VOICE: It’s coffee.

ME: I don’t smell it.

VOICE: You will after you walk into the kitchen and make some.

ME: Stellar idea. Good talk.

VOICE: Wait, wait a minute. Don’t you usually tell people what you’re reading or listening to?

ME: Yeah. Do you really think they’ll care that I’ve just finished reading Nailed by Patrick Jones and that I didn’t think it was all that great or that my iTunes Recently Played list consists of a bunch of various songs I’ve probably already mentioned?

VOICE: They might. At least it would be SOMETHING.

ME: All right, then. Maybe tomorrow.