Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Vox clamantis in deserto

February 21, 2021

If you’re feeling the strain of a year spent sheltering in place, occasionally pulling on the mask(s) and nitrile gloves before carrying your 10-foot pole into the grocery store like Little John facing off with Robin Hood over the last sack of whole-wheat flour in Sherwood Forest, you’ll appreciate this week’s episode of Desert Oracle Radio, “Out of Our Holes.”

Ken Layne talks about the urge to join the coyotes on the night shift, the struggle to write in an age when the word has faded, and the joy of finally coming out of our holes to once again tell strange stories around the fire.

The sky’s the limit

January 22, 2021

And the skies are not cloudy all day? Where’s the fun in that?

My man Hal Walter hasn’t been writing a ton lately. But when he settles down to it, he does a job of work.

His latest can be found over at Substack, a platform that helps free-range weirdos like Hal and me crank out whatever for a small fee. But you needn’t reach for your wallet quite yet — you can have a look around without signing up for a newsletter subscription.

I’m not certain that email newsletters are the way to go. Not for me, anyway. Unlike Hal, I’m fairly comfortable with the WordPress platform, and I’m not really interested in trying to make money off this little one-ring circus of mine.

Anyway, does anyone really need another newsletter cluttering up the in-box? That’s pretty much all I get anymore, or so it seems. I have to scroll a long way down the in-box to find an email from an actual human being.

Hal’s Substack presence is very much a work in progress — at the moment, it’s a blog without the email newsletter. But while you’re waiting on the mail, you might pop round to see what he’s nailed to the wall.

 

‘What boots it,’ indeed

July 17, 2019

These boots are made for earning.

In the August 2019 issue of The Atlantic, Michael LaPointe muses at some length on “The Unbearable Smugness of Walking,” as performed by the literati.

Following his examination of two recent books arguing for “walking’s invigorating literary power” and capacity for resistance to “the desire of those in power that we should participate in growing the GDP … as well as the corporate desire that we should consume as much as possible and rest whenever we aren’t doing so,” LaPointe wonders whether, for the writer, walking to work is really nothing more than another day at the office, albeit a larger, airier one.

And he poses the question: “What would it mean, for once, simply to walk and say nothing about it?”

What it would mean, Michael old sock, is that you would not get paid.

“Ah, fill the Cup:—what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our Feet. …

Where’s my gold watch?

April 18, 2019

Bagged and tagged: the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650.

Yesterday I drew the May cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Today I wrapped a video for Adventure Cyclist.

And now, as El Rancho Pendejo seems to be remarkably free of bikes needing review, it seems I don’t have any paying work to do for a month, when the next BRAIN ’toon is due.

That ain’t a job. That’s a hobby.

Shit. I think I’m retired.

Back to work

May 19, 2018

The Bianchi Orso 105, intended for everything from “commuting to centuries, long distance touring to backroad bikepacking,” according to the company website.

Just as I was getting used to the idea of not having much to do, being a geezer whose increasingly feeble revenue stream depends on the depleted wells of bicycling and journalism, suddenly I have two bikes to review for Adventure Cyclist, and one of them posthaste, if you please, as another reviewer’s bike seems to have gone someplace without him.

REI’s Co-op ADV 1.1, a classic triple-ring tourer tarted up with hydraulic disc brakes.

The new arrivals are a Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1, a $1,299 tourer from REI, and a Bianchi Orso 105, a $2,100 “all-road” bike with its roots in the venerable Volpe line.

Some people snicker at the idea of buying a bike from REI, but I’ve reviewed a couple of Co-op’s Novara predecessors and felt they delivered solid value at a reasonable price. “The Novara Verita,” I wrote, “will take you everywhere but to the cleaners.” The Mazama adventure bike was likewise “light on the wallet” and fun to ride.

I have some time on Bianchis, too. When she was affiliated with the organization Sky Yaeger loaned me a Castro Valley for a spell, and I liked the Zurigo Disc enough to add it to the fleet, though it suffers from an alloy frame, carbon fork and disc brakes, a.k.a. the Three Horsepersons of the Apocalypse.

The Co-op will be first out of the chute, and boy, am I glad I have some kilometers under my bibs, because it weighed in at 34.7 pounds before I installed the pedals. Expect to see me paying frequent visits to that 26-tooth granny ring. I guess that’s why they call it “work.”

Speaking of adventure, T.E. Lawrence died on this day in 1935. Keep an eye peeled for all them derned kids on bicycles, hogging the road.

Well, well, well. …

May 27, 2016
"There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day."

“There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day.”

Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey and I were discussing anniversaries the other day, and I was reminded that I’ve been working in my chosen profession for nearly 39 years now; 40, if you count the time I spent as a copy boy at the Colorado Springs Sun back in 1974.

No wonder I fail to amuse myself now and then.

This week was one of those times. Mornings spent working the Giro at Live Update Guy. Back-to-back ship dates at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, which meant I had to crank out two “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns and two “Shop Talk” cartoons in two weeks. And two bike reviews ongoing for Adventure Cyclist. Thousands and thousands of words.

There are harder ways to earn your biscuits and beans — for example, maglia rosa Steven Kruijswijk went ass over teakettle into a snowbank coming off the Cima Coppi in today’s Giro stage — but nevertheless, now and then it feels very much like work.

Other things take a back seat. Cooking (lots of cold suppers lately). Chores (you should see the laundry pile). Cycling (I went for a 45-minute run yesterday because I was sick of bicycles).

And this blog, of course.

In “A Moveable Feast,” Ernest Hemingway wrote of a line he refused to cross:

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

I’m no Hemingway. I don’t write novels, or short stories; I don’t even do journalism anymore, not really. More of a rumormonger, actually.

But still, damn. I look in the bottom of the well lately and all I see are rusty pesos, a couple of dead silverfish, and … and. …

Say, is that the bullet that killed Vince Foster down there?