Friday, July 16, 2010

Coughing Up Hairballs

Drummers at the State Fair
Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—charles mariano, sacramento

i approached the morning
to do it different
than yesterday

boring routines
drag it out
kick it in the teeth

under a bent
overhead fan
surrounded by mountains
of useless, scribbled notes,
buried in it

i’m like the cat-lady
a hundred scraggly cats,
spilling out
every cranny

with me,
it’s piles and piles
of paper cats
eyeballing, screeching,
stifling every inch,
to be fed,
at the very least,
change the box

as usual,
pressed for time
coughing up hairballs,

as i write


Thanks, cm, for the poem, and thanks, Michelle, for today's photos—including one of Charlene Ungstad reading at the new Beatnik Studios series that premiered last Wednesday, hosted by Genelle Chaconas. Also today, Pat Pashby sends us a Seed of the Week: Consulting the Oracle poem. Pat says, Here is a double cinquain pertaining to Tarot cards. One of my friends attempted to teach me how to read them and this is the result! (Thanks, Pat, for the LittleNip, too.) And Mitz Sackman continues to work on her Urban Solace cycle, using Medusa's SOWs each week. The first two are based on last week's Restless Heart Syndrome, the third is about Consulting the Oracle.

Meanwhile, Monika Rose sends us this announcement of a workshop in Mokelumne Hill that focuses on the technical aspects of Print-on-Demand and desktop publishing:

Be Your Own Publisher: August Workshop in Mokelumne Hill

Sat.-Sun (8/28-29): Be Your Own Publisher workshop with Tom Johnson ( or at the Mokelumne Hill Library in Mokelumne Hill. Not for computer beginners, this is a fast-moving workshop, covering a semester's worth of instruction in a day or day-and-a-half, so we must request a certain level of computing skills. We assume you are comfortable connecting to a wireless network, with using a word process program and knowing how to set margins, select fonts, have used headers and footers, inserted and formatted page numbers and, ideally, have inserted some graphic images into your document. You should know something about downloading and installing computer programs from the Internet and be familiar with uploading and downloading files. Finally, we hope you know how to save a file in different formats, especially PDF. $135 tuition (before 8/1) includes continental breakfast and lunch; $175 tuition after Aug. 1; reg at Limited to 15 participants. Info (and hotel reservations): Antoinette May (workshop coordinator) at or 209-286-1320. Workshop questions:

Tom Johnson leads this weekend workshop highlighting basic computer programs and techniques readily available to help you publish your novel, memoir, poetry, dissertation, cookbook. Photo collections, enhanced with your text, can be published, as well. Learn how to use the computer applications you already have to prepare and publish your manuscripts. Learn how free, on-line web applications can guide you though the formatting of your work so it will look good in print. Learn how those formatted pages, created with easily available word processing templates and including graphics, can be saved and uploaded to web-based, print-on-demand companies. Those pages become chapters that easily become hardcover or paperback books—or an e-book—available directly from your author-publisher's page and also listed on Amazon. You set the prices and the author's royalty, which is considerably more than traditional publishing house royalties. You will leave the workshop with rich introduction to the vocabulary and tools of Print-on-Demand publishing, a familiarity with using those tools, a detailed checklist of the self-publishing process and direct references to software and vendors to take your publishing skills to the next level. Lagniappe: Learn how to project the statistical probability that your title will be a best-seller on The New York Times list. (Well, no guarantees, but it's fun.)

Workshop attendees are asked to bring the following:
•••A 3-4 page example of a manuscript that includes
•••A chapter title
•••One or two sub-headings within the chapter
•••One or two images inserted in the text
•••If you can bring a laptop with WiFi capability, that's great. If not, don't worry because we often will be asking you to work in two-person teams anyway.

Presenter Tom Johnson's 35-year career in journalism has taken him from the classroom to the newsroom and back. He began using computers to tease meaning out of data while a Ph.D. candidate in the early '70s, studying the impact of technology on urban spaces. By the early '80s he was writing about dedicated word processing systems (think $13,000 in 1978 dollars) and covering the early stages of personal computing in Silicon Valley for TIME and Popular Science. He worked for Time Magazine in El Salvador in the mid-'80s, was the start-up editor of MacWeek, and a deputy editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His areas of interest are analytic journalism, dynamic simulation models of publishing systems, complexity theory, the application of Geographic Information Systems in journalism and the impact of the digital revolution on journalism and journalism education. He is the founder and co-director of the Institute for Analytic Journalism, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Manzanita Editor Monika Rose writes: This self-publishing weekend workshop will be a fantastic one. If interested, please contact Tom, as the 15 slots are filling fast. I have attended Tom's prior workshops in the Mother Lode and will be attending this one again as a refresher course. Every time you take the workshop, there is even more information and cutting edge techniques presented. The materials you will receive, the ongoing support and contact with Tom, and the instruction on self-publishing, the industry and process, is well worth the fee. Sign up by August 1 to take advantage of the $135 tuition—after Aug. 1, it goes up to $175. We are lucky to have Tom out here from Santa Fe, New Mexico, sharing his expertise in the business.


—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento

unlocked chambers
mystic prophets
past present and future—
Tarot reveals it all
symbols hidden tucked into cards
shuffle cut spread explore psyches
or not!


Banquet of Life
—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

Every time he walked down the city streets
People paraded by him in all their many colors and types
Serious businessmen, withdrawn women, street people
People in suits, jeans, short skirts, long dresses
And girls, lots of girls
A banquet of delectable vision
Beautiful women, gorgeous girls
He no sooner began to fantasize striking up a conversation with one
When another even more interesting appeared
Life in the city was a banquet


Decisions, Decisions
—Mitz Sackman

The alarm rang, another workday
She groaned getting out of her cozy nest of blankets
Another day another decision, before coffee
In the kitchen she could smell her coffee brewing
Thank god for automation
She flung open her closet and the smaller Imelda closet
Forty-eight pairs of shoes, surely something just right for today
Her mother had always told her to start with the accessory
She began rummaging through the shoes
Examining and discarding, finally the red pumps, perfect
From her closet she pulled the navy pantsuit and red scarf, voilà
If only her bagels would toast themselves
Life would be perfect


A Visit
—Mitz Sackman

She stood there hesitant on the street for a moment
She had to admit to herself she felt foolish
She had never expected to find herself here
Looking for an answer like this
But she had to know
She just had to
Was he cheating on her
She steeled herself climbing the stairs
Surely it was better to know than to worry
She entered the reader’s room
She lay money on the table
The woman cast the cards
Told her not to be concerned, that all was well
She went home found a bouquet of roses
What did it all mean, she wondered


Today's LittleNip:

Poetry is the alchemy which teaches us to convert ordinary materials into gold.

—Anaïs Nin



Charlene Ungstad
Beatnik Studios, Sacramento
July, 2010
Photo by Michelle Kunert