Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


July Search Strings

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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Ah, the return of summer and people all over the country want to know one thing: why are there so many dragonflies in my yard? What does it mean? Is it an omen? What do they symbolize?

Relax, people. It’s summer. They’re bugs. Look at them. They’re kind of pretty. They aren’t here every day. Stop and notice them. Don’t search the web for them.

who caroline outkast roses girl -mars video �beyonce

I don’t know what this person was looking for, but I have a question about Caroline from the Outkast song Roses. I don’t care who the actress is who played her, which is all I can find out about her. I want to know who the real Caroline is. What’s the story behind that song, because that’s one bitter dude. He wants her to crash her car into a ditch, probably just because it rhymes with the word bitch. If given his wish, she’d probably crash into a semi hauling thousands of gallons of highly flammable gasoline and explode in a fiery flaming ball of toxic chemicals. It’s just that it’s so hard to find a rhyme for the word chemicals.

Why does he hate her so much? Is it just a case of unrequited love or did it turn sour? Does she have anything to do with Ms. Jackson? What’s the story? I want to see the Behind the Music on this song. At the very end of the video, they turn through pages of a yearbook and focus on the picture of one girl. Is she the real Caroline?

rice heating pad

I get so many hits from this phrase that I was going to write an entry about how to make your own rice heating pad. Then I looked online and there are tons of sites explaining just that. If that’s what people wanted, they would have stopped there instead of at my site talking about them. What’s attracting them to me?

i2workout work, i2workout

I never gave you an update. I love i2Workout. It works much better on my computer than it does when I burn myself a CD. I’ve hooked up the laptop to the treadmill so that I can see the workout as it is progressing. Sometimes my treadmill doesn’t hear the command and it doesn’t change the way it’s supposed to, but the voice command always tells me what it should be, so I can just change it myself on those rare occasions.

The guy who made the program refunded the money I paid for the software because he liked my review of it. That makes me feel a little guilty because I really just was talking about it because it was easy for me to use and I was just so happy to be able to make my own iFit workouts. Then again, I’m happy to have the software for free, so it’s a strange feeling of ambivalence.

blonde levi 501   Sorry. I still have no porn here. Keep looking. There’s a ton of it out there and you don’t even have to pay to see it, but you’ll find none of it here.


A Novel Idea

Filed under: Looking For Christ,Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

After converting all of my entries to WordPress, I noticed that I have only a couple of entries in the Fiction file. For all my talk of being a writer, I haven’t given you many examples of my fiction writing. If I hadn’t bothered with categories, I wouldn’t have noticed how slim my Fiction section is. I feel like a fraud.

The fact that I haven’t shared my fiction with you doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I write fiction at least three times a week and I have been working on a novel that I have been thinking about for quite awhile. I’ve tortured the closest people in my life (Mike, Stacey and Dan) with my preliminary chapters. Just because they love me, doesn’t mean they want to read my work. Fiction is such a fickle fancy that I can’t depend on impressing my intimates with my tastes.

The novel I’m working on right now is a science fiction piece about time travel. Ambigo Thomas is an elite medical professional called to be on a team of specialists sent back in time to find the truth about Jesus Christ. He finds himself as the sole atheist on the team, which is financed by the Catholic Church. He struggles to keep the team’s focus logical and studious in the dangerous and primitive society we call The Dawn of Christianity. The title of the story is, Looking for Christ.

Something in me wants to keep it a secret. I want to hide the chapters and the plot and even the title from the eyes of the world. I want to finish it before I let others see it. I want to hide the chapters in the desk drawer next to the finished copy of The Falstaff. After five years of stagnating in my desk, The Falstaff is reviled in my mind. I am ashamed at its clumsy writing. It was written before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket, which destroys the story line. Sure, I could place it in the early nineties when it was written, but that isn’t the only plot hole in it. No, it sat in the drawer too long and it will never be a good novel no matter how much I rework it.

Why am I tempted to subject Looking for Christ to the same fate? Fear. I’m scared that someone will steal my plot. I’m scared that someone will make fun of my writing. I’m scared that a typographical error will embarrass me. I’m scared that publishers won’t want my book if it has been on the Internet. I’m scared that I will never finish the book and that failure will be there for the world to see. I’m scared that I will need to change chapters and they will already be published online. I’m scared of so many things that I have four chapters waiting on my hard drive. Instead of posting them when they were done, I’ve started to let them stagnate.

To Hell with all of that. So what if someone steals my plot? I could write ten stories with this plot line and each of them would be different. So what if someone makes fun of my writing? At least I’m writing every day as opposed to most people. Every word I write makes me a better writer. So what if I make a typographical error? Guess what?! I’m going to make tons of them. I’ll do my best to edit it, but only fresh eyes can see mistakes like these. I’m offering these chapters up to hundreds of fresh eyes every day. So what if publishers don’t want my book because it’s already published on the Internet? The publishing world is changing and maybe I’m my own publisher. Maybe publishers will be more likely to notice me if I have a server-crashing website. So what if I never finish the book? I’m more likely to finish it if my throngs of eager readers keep asking me when Chapter Five is coming online. So what if I need to change things in the chapters. This is the Orwellian future that we have all worried about. Big Brother isn’t watching, but all of us Wilsons are changing the past every day on our weblogs.

As of today, NO MORE FEAR. I refuse to hide my fiction anymore and tomorrow morning I will have Chapter One online for all of you to read.


Looking For Christ: Chapter One

Filed under: Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Here is Chapter One:

Looking For Christ Audio: Chapter One Download

13 K MP3 file recorded at 64 kbps – 28 minutes 52 seconds

(Continue Reading…)

Scarcity Thinking

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 6:00 am

Scarcity thinking has driven me my whole life. I don’t know when it started, but I remember being young and worrying about not getting enough food. I think my first thoughts on scarcity were before Stacey was born, so that would be before I was five years old. I remember the first time I worried about not having enough. I was going to the Montessori school that morning and it was time for breakfast. My mom said to me, “Well, your dad ate all the cereal and milk last night, so we don’t have anything for breakfast.” I don’t know what she fed me for breakfast that morning, but I didn’t know that it was possible for someone to eat an entire box of cereal and gallon of milk while I slept.

Of course, my dad’s bingeing problems directly correlate to my bingeing problems. I learned how to binge a little bit from Sceverenia, but I learned the most detrimental eating habits from my father. His late night binges left me with the fear that there might not be food for me in the morning. His incredible eating speed, left me with the fear that I might not get enough food at dinner time because he might eat it all.

None of this is an accurate portrayal of reality. If the milk and cereal were decimated in the late-night binge, I’m sure there were plenty of bread and eggs for a good breakfast. If my dad had eaten all the food that was available for dinner, I’m sure Mom would have gladly given me a sandwich or a dessert if I were still hungry. I’m not talking about reality, however. I’m talking about perception. From a very young age, I have operated from the perception of scarcity.

This perception doesn’t stop with food. It has run through everything in my life. I act as if there is never enough time, fun, money or friends. I could be happily enjoying a Sunday brunch with my friends and I will think about how rare these times are. I’ll be thinking about setting up the next meeting because our days are numbered. For all I know everything is going to change and we won’t be friends anymore. I have to enjoy this moment while I can.

This can be very helpful. Carpe Diem – Seize the Day! The entire philosophy behind that phrase is the idea that we only have a limited number of days. All of it is true on a universal scale. There is a limited amount of everything on this planet: food, money, time and friends. On a grand scale, all of it is finite.

I don’t live on a grand scale. I am just one human being. No matter how poor I was, I always had twenty cents to afford a bowl of ramen noodles. I have never starved in my life because of scarcity. I have only starved because my grandma withheld food from me or I withheld food from myself. Both of those bouts of starvation were followed by father-like binges. No matter how busy I was, there was always time to zone out in front of the television. There was plenty of time for things that I didn’t particularly want to do. Lack of time was just an illusion.

Even my fears about putting my book online are based in scarcity. I’m scared that publishers won’t want my book if it has already been on the Internet, because I think there is only one way to publish a book. I’m scared that I’ll disenfranchise publishers because I think that there are only a limited number of publishers out there. It is true that there are only a finite number of science fiction book publishers, but I only need one to get this book in print form. Print form might not even be the way books are read in the future. For all I know, I AM my own publisher and in the future, this is how books will be read.

I’ve decided to shove it. Even though the finite nature of our planet is verifiable truth, I’ve decided to believe otherwise. There will always be enough for me. If I want something it will be there and I refuse to act as if it might not be there. I know hippies think about this all the time, but this is different. I’m not acting as if “The Universe” or some divine being will provide for me. I’m deciding that there must be plenty of everything out there for me, so I’m going to go out and find it. I’m not depending on voodoo to provide the bounty. I’m going out and getting it because I know it’s out there somewhere.

There will always be enough food. I will never starve. Just like in The Good Earth, I could go out and eat grass if I got hungry enough. Knowing that there is enough food for me really helps me to leave that piece of cake alone. I don’t need to eat it today because it will be there tomorrow. If it isn’t, there will be a different and potentially more delectable piece of cake in its place.

There will always be enough money. Even though things are slow and they’ve cut my hours, there will be enough money. I don’t know where it’s going to come from, but it is always there when we need it. I refuse to accept that I might be poor again. No matter what happens. We will take care of ourselves.

There will always be enough time. When I’m feeling like I don’t have enough time to have fun it’s because I don’t allow myself to play. Setting appointments for fun is just as important as setting appointments for work. Sure, the lawn needs to be mowed and the laundry needs to be done, but I need to play Dance Dance Revolution and Mike needs to get that Gold Medal on Project Gotham Racing. Both are important and there is enough time for play and work and family and for nothing if I just want to sit and do nothing.

There will always be enough friends. Dylan moved to Boston, but Richard just came back to town from California. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve been able to find friends at work and for play. If I wanted a jogging partner, I’m sure I could find one within a week. If I wanted a group of friends to play pinochle with, all I would need to do is ask a few questions and put up with a few old biddies. There have been times in my life when I felt lonely, but the minute I reached out to find someone, there was always a person there.

I’ve talked about Cognitive Dissonance before. I’ve lived in a place where I’ve believed two contradictory things at the same time. I still live there. This is the first time I’ve consciously decided to put myself in Cognitive Dissonance. I know that resources are finite. I know that there will always be enough resources for me. I believe both to be true and it causes me no pain to live with both ideas freely.


Welcome to WordPress

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 4:00 am

Here is the new blog. All the same entries are still here. Mike has expertly converted everything into WordPress and we worked on the style sheet last night. I have been looking at the screen and choosing the various categories (see them in the left column) for the last hour. I hope you like it. Ok, that’s a lie. I don’t care if you like it because I like it so damn much, but if you like it then that’s cool, too.


Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

“I have to admit that I haven’t had the courage to read your weblog.”


“Yes, it feels like I’m snooping into your life when I read it. I know you wouldn’t put it up there if you weren’t ok with people reading it, but it still feels like prying.”

I tried to tell her that it was perfectly ok to read my blog, but I could tell that it did little to ease her feelings. I didn’t know what else to say. I don’t really care if she reads it or not. She’s a great friend and she pretty much hears about all the things in my life without reading my blog. I don’t care, either way.

The idea of prying into someone’s life by reading their weblog is strange to me. I would think that people wouldn’t post things if they were uncomfortable with the world knowing about them. Then again, I’ve known people who have been upset when their spouses found their online journals, as if something like that is private.

It’s a strange feeling to read another person’s journal, but she’s right, it would be even stranger to read the journal of someone you know. To know what they truly think about shared events is a scary thing. None of my friends keep a blog, so I don’t know how it feels to be on the reading end of that sort of thing.

I love to read other people’s online journals. Sometimes, they entertain me far more than fiction. Real life is so messy and random in a way that fiction never is. It can be frustrating, too, because things drag out. Sometimes they never get resolved. Real life is funny that way or not-so-funny as the case may be.

All I can say is, go ahead and read to your heart’s content. You’re not snooping. Snooping is getting on my hard drive, hacking my password and reading my personal journals. Reading my blog is like having a one-sided conversation with me where I do all the talking. Even if you found me by accident, it’s ok. If you like what I have to say, please come back for more. If I didn’t want the world to know it, I wouldn’t write it here for the world to see.


Recycled Buildings

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

It used to be a Galaxy Diner. It was a short-lived restaurant chain here in the Salt Lake Valley. They littered the city with distinctive buildings and then abandoned them within a few years. One of them was torn down and replaced with a bagel shop. The shiny aluminum walls and red highlights were too much for the bagel shop in Murray. They bulldozed the building and started from scratch.

Not so in Bountiful. The red has faded and is need of painting, but the aluminum walls still reflect the light blinding all drivers who pass its way. The red letters proclaiming China Gourmet are two shades darker than the washed out red on the rest of the building. I ache for the soul of the building that was supposed to fulfill its destiny in Fifties Nostalgia instead of Oriental Gorging.

It used to be a Picadilly Fish and Chips. The Tudor-style building is an anomaly in the Sandy neighborhood. The Picadilly Fish and Chips in Sugarhouse was bulldozed last month in favor of big construction on that corner. We don’t know what will replace it, but the old sign said “Say No To Pancakes” before the bulldozer took it down. The building in Sandy still stands, though. Instead of greasy scallops and shrimp, it now houses a Subway sandwich. I don’t know which is worse, the bulldozing or the appropriation and transformation of the building for its new designs.

The Thai restaurant on State Street and 7800 South used to be a Dairy Queen. The Vietnamese Noodle House on State and 2300 South used to be a Taco Bell. The Mexican Restaurant on State and 5800 South used to be an IHOP. They are all distinctive buildings that proclaim their former selves beyond the paint and the new signs.

Part of my regret is the memory of good food. I’ve never eaten at the Mexican restaurant that used to be an IHOP. For the longest time, we didn’t have an IHOP in Utah after that one closed and no matter how good the enchiladas were, I’d still be mourning the International Passport Breakfast.

I think the real problem is that I feel like buildings have personalities. It’s a human tendency to anthropomorphize inanimate objects, but I’ve never met anyone else who felt sorry for old restaurant buildings. I look at the China Gourmet and I think, “Aww, I’m sorry you’re not a Fifties Diner. I’m sorry you aren’t what you were meant to be.” Unfulfilled wishes. That’s what those recycled buildings represent to me. They were meant to be something, whether it was a Fifties diner, a fish and chips joint, or a pancake house. Instead, they are something entirely different. They are productive places with good food, but they aren’t doing what they were meant to do. It just makes me feel a little sad.


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Girliest Entry EVAR!

1. Of everything in your wardrobe what do you feel the most comfortable wearing? Why?

Right now, we are having a hot summer, so I’m most comfortable wearing as little as possible. I got some cool skorts at Target in Vegas that look like mini-skirts, but have shorts underneath, so I can wear them to work and not have to be too hot. Plus, there’s no risk of the accidental undie flash.

2. How would you describe your style?

I look like a boring soccer mom, but I’m not a mom and I don’t watch soccer. I guess I would classify myself as Preppy, which is what I used to dress like in high school when I wasn’t going for the punker look or the Mod look. I stop just short of wearing a sweater around my shoulders and tied in a knot on my breasts.

3. How many pairs of shoes do you own and do you wear them all?

Too many. I haven’t counted, but I’m sure there are at least twenty pair in the closet and in the basket next to the door. Right now, I’m in sandal mode, so I’ve been wearing my fabulous sandals every day for weeks because of the heat. I’ll go back to clogs when fall comes around and to the boots when winter hits. They rotate and if they don’t get worn, they go to the DI.

4. Where do you buy most of your clothes?

They go back to whence they came. I also shop at Wal-Mart, Target, Shopko and K-Mart. I am finally thin enough to shop at the mall, but I’m still shrinking, so I am loathe to pay mall prices for clothes I’ll only be able to wear for a couple of months.

5. What was the last piece of clothing you bought?

The aforementioned skorts. Luckily because I love to say the word skort. Skort, Skort, SKORT!


News Fast

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

There’s a reason I don’t watch the news. I don’t want to hear about dead wives and lying husbands. It’s depressing and scary and feeds my paranoia. I don’t even want to hear about the weather. There’s nothing I can do about it. It will come whether I know it’s coming or not. All I can do is keep a jacket and umbrella in the trunk of my car. I just don’t want to hear about it.

Because of my news fast status, however, people love to tell me the news. I’m a gossip’s dream. I never know what’s going on in the city or the world, so when something big happens, people love to tell me the gory details.

Half the time, they get it wrong. “He used the alias ‘John Longfellow.’” “He stuffed her in the mattress.” “He bought the mattress before he called the police to report her missing.” A quick search online checks their facts, but it also breaks my fast. There’s a reason I don’t watch the news. I don’t want to hear about dead wives and lying husbands.

The entire city is abuzz with stories about Lori Hacking and her husband Mark. All I want to do is notice the blue summer sky and keep my mind free from cadaver dogs at the landfill. Everyone wants to recite the timeline. All I want to do is think about all the happy families that have no lies about university degrees between them. Everyone wants to tell me about insanity pleas and convenience store footage. All I want to do is hope for healing for the family and proper justice when the time comes.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t even want to hear about it. There’s nothing I can do about it. There are people dying all over the world right now and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I can’t hear every story about every death. All I can do is keep a tire iron and a can of mace in the trunk of my car. I just don’t want to hear about it.


Lagoon: Hall of Mirrors (Part 1 of 2)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I remember being lost. I was with my dad and he was lost too. At first, it seemed like he was in control, but the further we went, the more I realized that he didn’t know how to get us out. I think I was four years old and suddenly I was in charge of rescuing my dad and myself because we were lost.

When we started out, I was confused, but he was still in control. Every time I thought I found a way out, I ended up staring at my own face. My dad explained that he knew that there was a way out. He seemed like he knew what he was talking about, but then he couldn’t find the way out and he was touching the mirrors just as I was, trying to find the path. That was when I understood that I was in charge. I had to find the passageway because, once again, my dad was bullshitting me.

I refused to panic. My dad didn’t deal well with crying kids, so I kept my fear tucked in my gut. I tried to keep my eyes on the floor because that was the only thing that made sense to me. It was the only part of this hall of mirrors thing that seemed connected to reality, but it didn’t help me. We wandered. Sometimes I found the path. Sometimes he found the path. He was wandering away from me when I saw it. It was that monkey thing that was clapping. It had been clapping while I waited in line to get in and I wondered if it was the baby of the big monkey out front with the red eyes. If I could see the clapping monkey, then we must be close to getting out.

He had wandered off, so I had to retrace my steps back to him. I told him that I found the way out. I took his big hand and pulled him toward the clapping monkey. He touched the mirror, “See, it’s just a reflection. Now I think I found the way out back here.” He tried to head backward, but I insisted that we were close to being free. I tried to think about where the exit would be if this mirror was reflecting the monkey and looked behind us. He had already started heading the wrong way again when I called to him. “Dad, I found it.” The exit was hidden around a slim mirrored corridor and I could see the feet of the big monkey and the guy who took our tickets when we came in.

My dad didn’t come when I called him. I considered for a moment that I should go back and get him, but the fear of being lost again after finally finding my way was too intense. I ran out of the hall of mirrors, finally allowing the tears to flow. My mom was waiting for the two of us out there and asked where Dad was, but I couldn’t tell her. All the terror of being the only one able to get us out of there had been released and I couldn’t tell her what happened. I considered going back in to save him, but the man who took our tickets wouldn’t let me back in. We just had to wait until he found his own way out.

I had calmed down and stopped crying by the time that my dad finally found his way out. My mom was livid, “See, I told you she wasn’t old enough for this. She came out crying.” My dad looked at me and I could tell that he knew. He knew that I had found the way out when he didn’t. He knew that he should have listened to me. He knew that he shouldn’t have let me get separated from him. He knew that HE was the reason that I was so upset, not the ride. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Maybe next year she’ll like it.”

Read Part 2


Lagoon: Hall of Mirrors (Part 2 of 2)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Read Part 1

Years later, Mike and I were at Lagoon and I tried to reminisce with him, “Remember that hall of mirrors thing that they used to have here where the Jet Star II is now?” He looked at me with a blank face. I tried to jog his memory. “You know, the summer before they put up the Jet Star II, they had a huge slide thing that you had to climb and climb and climb. You would carry these rug things and once I got stuck at a spot. A kid said that I got stuck because I was fat.”

Mike’s eyes opened, “I remember the big slide. You had to carry your carpet up with you.” I was onto something I knew I would be able to get him to remember it, “Well, the year before they put up the huge slide thing, they had a hall of mirrors thing. It had a big monkey out front and there was a skeleton playing piano. I thought it was going to be a haunted house like the Terroride, but it wasn’t. It was kind of like the Fun House, but not so fun.” He looked at me like I was insane. “No, the big slide was always there until they put up the Jet Star II.”

No matter how well I described the ride, Mike couldn’t remember it. I began to think that I had imagined it and the story that vilified my dad in my mind. I asked my mom about it, “I remember a hall of mirrors thing at Lagoon, but Mike doesn’t remember it. Do you?” I knew that she had been there. She thought that I had been too young for the ride, when in reality, it was my dad who was too immature. She drew a blank. I tried to prompt her memory with the location of the ride and the fact that it was replaced by a huge slide, which was replaced by the Jet Star II. None of it helped, “You just remember more than I do about some things.”

All of this fermented in my mind for a few years. Mike didn’t remember it. Mom didn’t remember it. I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask my dad about it. I just let it lie dormant and hoped that I would find someone who remembered this ride.

We were going through Mom’s old photographs, dividing them among Stacey, my mom and me. “Oh my God, Mom! Look at this!” I held up the picture for her to see. It was a picture of Mom in front of the hall of mirrors at Lagoon. It wasn’t a professional picture. It wasn’t a beautiful picture, but it was proof. “What is it?” I was truly surprised that she didn’t recognize it, “Mom! It’s that hall of mirrors thing that they used to have at Lagoon where the Jet Star II is now.”

The Hall of Mirrors at Lagoon 1973

There it all was. It was blurry, but the big monkey was there. You couldn’t see that his eyes were red, but they burned brightly in my imagination. The clapping monkey was actually a cymbal playing monkey toy. It was the kind that were popular in the seventies before Monkey Shines came out. You can’t see it in the picture, but it was behind the guy who took the tickets.

The skeleton band was behind huge monkey. I didn’t remember the rest of the band; I had only remembered the skeleton playing the piano. His bony fingers weren’t even touching the keys. I didn’t understand how the music worked if his fingers didn’t even touch the keys. There was a whole skeleton band that I had forgotten, leaving only a piano player in my memory.

I felt comfort in having proof. In my hand was proof that I hadn’t made it up in my mind. My mom looked at the picture, “You just remember more than I do about some things.”


Eastern Standard Tribe

Filed under: Books & Short Stories,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Eastern Standard Tribe at Amazon.comI just finished Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow. Very fun sci-fi. I love all the new ideas he has about how things are going to be in the future. I want the comm, the TunePay system and the Sony cars. I want the future all right now.

We meet Art on the rooftop of an insane asylum, trying to decide whether it’s more important to be happy or smart. Pencil up his nose, he contemplates the events that lead up to his current condition and whether he should give himself a home-brew lobotomy. Instead of answering the question, Art takes us on a global tour of futuristic London, Boston, and Toronto, with a strangely karmic, “I’ll take both, please” ending.

One of the cooler things about this book is that you can read it for free. You can download it in a wide variety of forms and read it on your computer, print it up or read it on your Palm. I strongly recommend that you buy the book so you can fold down the pages and underline your favorite quotes. Here are mine:

Engineers are all basically high-functioning autistics who have no idea how normal people do stuff. – Cory Doctorow, Eastern Standard Tribe, 2004

I see this every day. Fortunately, my engineers work in the heavy duty big stuff instead of pepper grinders and car gear shifts. Normal people don’t deal with the work of my engineers.

You can’t fuck a crazy girl sane. – Cory Doctorow, Eastern Standard Tribe, 2004

Same goes for crazy boys, by the way. Half the time women who fall for “The Rebel” are trying to, you know. It doesn’t work.

Check out this book. It’s totally cool science fiction and Cory is one of those people who isn’t afraid of the changing world out there. In fact, he may be one of the instrumental people out there changing the world. He’s definitely not coming from scarcity thinking.


Looking For Christ: Chapter Two

Filed under: Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Read Chapter Two here:

Looking For Christ Audio: Chapter Two Download

15 K MP3 file recorded at 64 kbps – 32 minutes 11 seconds

(Continue Reading…)


DDR Search

Filed under: Reviews,Video Games — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Yes, I know it’s strange, but I was reading a DDR Forum on the Internet. Ok, it’s not so strange considering how obsessed I am. One of the members was talking about a recent trip to Las Vegas. Here is an excerpt from his entry:

Just came back from Vegas and about to go to Los Angeles. While in Vegas, i tried to play on as many ddr machines as I can.

Here’s the list of where i’ve played

Stratosphere – Extreme NY NY – Megamix (bootleg vr. of Extreme) and USA(upgraded to Max 2) Luxor – Extreme Gameworks – Extreme Circus Circus – Extreme ( the most ddr machine i’ve ever seen in one place, that was cool)

He had gone to My Vegas and played DDR on every machine he could find there. I was feeling jealous and desperately wanted to go to Vegas just to play DDR on as many machines as I could.

Mike convinced me that it might be better to just look for DDR machines in Salt Lake and play them here rather than driving seven and a half hours to go to a different city to play. Friday night, we went to Hollywood Connection in West Valley. They have two machines: DDR 3rd Mix (but it really had the songs for lots of mixes) and a Pump It Up machine (but it was broken). It would have been a great night of playing, but the one machine that worked was surrounded by at least twelve kids. No room for me.

Mike took me back to Hollywood Connection on Saturday afternoon and the place was completely different. The DDR machine was abandoned and I was able to play twenty dollars worth of tokens on the thing. We were there for about two hours and only twice did anyone else want a turn. I gave it up graciously (frankly because I was getting tired).

Sunday, Mike and I went to The Gateway. After lunch, he let me play for about a half hour on a DDR 3rd Mix machine at the arcade. It was a dollar a play (as opposed to 75 cents at HC), but I still had fun. I didn’t have to fight any kids to play there either. I guess Friday night is the big night for DDR among the adolescent sect.

I just checked out DDR Freak Machine Locations and I only have two machines out of eleven under my belt. Who knew that there were so many in my area? I can just feel Mike cringing at the idea of taking me to so many arcades. Please, can we go? Please, please?!


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Wow! Who let Barbara Walters pick the questions?

1) What animal best represents you?

I think a koala bear is the animal that I feel the most affinity with. They are so cute and cuddly, but if you try to hug them, they’ll rip you to ribbons with their sharp claws.

2) What color best represents you?

I like green the best. Lime green, Kelly green, Olive green, Avocado green, Flourescent green: it doesn’t matter as long as there is a little bit of yellow and a little bit of blue.

3) What season best represents you?

I like all of the seasons and I really can’t choose a favorite. I think that I’m like Spring because I’m bouncy and full of life and color. I think that I’m like Summer because I’m fiery and hot headed sometimes. I think that I’m like Fall because I’m full of the bounty of the harvest and the start of school. I think I’m like Winter because I have so much greatness hidden within me. I am one with the seasons: all of them.

4) What emotion best represents you?

I only have two emotions: manic and angry. You choose.

5) What flower/tree/plant best represents you?

I think that I would love to be like a palm tree. There have been so many times when a hurricane was coming to Florida or Hawaii and I’ve seen the palm trees on television blown nearly sideways with the winds. The next day they are upright and ready for the day. Sure, they are missing a few palms, but they are still there and still alive. That’s how I want to be. I want to be a palm tree.


Conversion Problems

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I think that I have painstakingly fixed all the small problems that I was having with the conversion from our home-brew blog software over to WordPress. I write all of these entries in Word before I post them on the blog software, which isn’t a problem now, but when we used our old system, a lot of the old junk from Word was still there. It was causing problems, but I have systematically removed it all.

Now, please help me. If you see anything weird in my entries, will you please tell me? I know that everything from now on should be ok, but the older entries might have slipped past me. The fonts might be a little screwy. That’s ok, but if you see weird things with lots of strange punctuation then please email me. I’m no e. e. cummings. I don’t write strange poems with lots of parenthesis and carets.

Man, all my writing inspiration has been stripped out of me. I have spent all day just fixing these entries and it has killed all my writing instincts. I feel like I have nothing to say after deleting all the junk that Word put into my documents. Do I blame Microsoft for putting the junk there or myself for using Microsoft products?

This entry is written on MS Word. I guess you just can’t teach me.


Looking For Christ: Chapter Three

Filed under: Fiction,Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 11:59 am

Here is Chapter Three…

(Continue Reading…)


Just Write and Write

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Unedited Entry from my Personal Journal 08-16-04 3:31 pm:

I feel like I haven’t written enough lately. The truth of the matter is, I haven’t been writing here and I haven’t been writing my book very much and I haven’t been writing on the blog very much. I don’t particularly feel empty. I feel tired, so I have been doing the bare minimum to keep me afloat. Of course, we are starting another week and I have another chapter due for the book and I have some blog entries that need to be written and I am just cracking my morning pages at 3:30 in the afternoon. What is the matter with me?

We went camping last weekend, and I thought that the quiet would give me a lot of free time to read and write. All I did was read the new book that I got from the library. I haven’t done anything else. I read while I exercised at the gym at lunch, but I haven’t done anything else. This is the first real time I’ve cracked the keyboard since the weekend ended. Sure, I’ve been leaving messages on the DDR message boards, but I haven’t really been writing in earnest anywhere. I have a blog entry due tomorrow. I missed Sunday. All I did for today was post a chapter for the book, but I need to get cracking on the book or I won’t have anything to post in a couple of weeks.

I must admit that I like posting chapters once a week because that is a day of the week that I don’t have to worry about writing for the blog. I like to write fiction sometimes and this is a way for me to be published. It’s one less day each week that I have to write personal stuff. What am I hiding from? Hell, I’m even hiding from myself. We are over halfway into the month and I’ve written less than four pages. I must be hiding from something. What is it?

I have been playing a lot of DDR lately. It isn’t the kind of exercise that is really conducive to thinking. I end up with tons of songs in my head, but I don’t end up with a lot of ideas of what to write. I didn’t really get any ideas when I was riding the bike today either because I read the whole time. I must admit that running is really good for thinking about writing. I don’t know if I need to get back to running or learn how to meditate a different way. I just don’t know what’s going on. I guess I’ll just do the exercise that is the most fun and worry about writing at a different time.

Of course, when I’ve had a ton o f time to write, I’ve caught myself just surfing the Internet or reading online comics. Sometimes I get good ideas of what to write while reading the Internet, but most of the time, it’s just escapism. I’ve gotten more ideas for writing while I’m doing my morning pages than from things on the Internet. Sure, they can be springboards, but the best way to think is to actually sit down and think.

I don’t know what I’m hiding from. I’ve been doing really well on eating healthy lately. I ate poorly on the campout, but I decided that I wasn’t going to follow the program and I was going to let myself enjoy it and not feel guilty afterward. Now, I’m going to follow the program strictly for the rest of the week to make up for it. I plan on eating the minimum and exercising really well all week to make up for the weekend. I know it would have been better if I had kept track of everything so that I could know exactly how much I needed to purge, but I’ll just do the best that I can this week and see what happens at the scale. Then I’ll go back to eating five flex points a day, but for now, they are being saved to make up for camping. I don’t feel guilty, but I want to see progress at the scale, so I’m willing to work hard this week.

Camping was simply wonderful. Mike and I want to go camping again soon, but we haven’t decided where to go. Setting up the tent and the bedding was easy and fun. I really liked setting up the tent, even though we had to do it in the dark. I enjoyed it a lot. I thought I would be more bugged by not showering than I was, but it wasn’t that bad. It did make the shower when we got home feel that much better. Mike made the best breakfast for Mom, Reed and me on Sunday morning. It’s amazing how well he can cook on a little outdoor stove. He really seemed to like to camp, despite all his stories about his Boy Scout experiences. I loved it and I want to go again this weekend and take Sid with us. Of course, we have so many things to do that didn’t get done on the weekend. We did all the laundry, though, so that was the important thing. We got a lot done, actually, when we got home. We completely unpacked.

I would like to find a packing list for camping so that we take everything that we need to. We forgot paper towels and soap this last time. Plus, it would have been nice to have a fire poker. We ended up using the marshmallow prongs to poke the fire and they aren’t quite strong enough to handle that big job. I would like to have a perfect little checklist that I could go through because I think that would make getting ready for camping a lot more fun and easy. It was the getting ready that was hard. Once we were there, it was fun and relaxing. It got a little hot, but I didn’t mind that. I just took a nap in the shade and I felt a lot better.

I had no idea how fun camping could be. My only experience with it was through the eyes of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes comics. His dad took him camping and he hated it. That was all I knew. Kids hate camping. From what I saw, the kids loved camping. I just really liked it. I would have liked to have a little more time. I would have like to sight see less because there really wasn’t anything to see at Lava Hot Springs and I would have liked to just sit at the campsite and read some more. Maybe I would have even liked to write something down. As it was, I didn’t write a word. I’m ok with that, but I think that I would have liked a little more down time and a little less shopping. I had to do so much shopping before the trip that I was feeling shopped out. I ended up getting a little sick from all the sun when we were walking around the town.

I’m feeling all this pressure because I have a blog entry to write for tomorrow and I have no idea. I don’t even know what I want to write about. I don’t even want to write. Sure, this feels good, but there’s no pressure here. I don’t have to edit it or worry about spelling or grammar or hurt feelings. I can just write and write and not worry about anything. I can just keep writing until the end of the page shows up and not a word before or more. I can just write everything that I’m worried about and everything that is just randomly passing through my mind without thought or care. I don’t need to worry about what is going to happen if someone I know reads this entry because it’s hidden in a file deep on my hard drive. That’s how writing was for me a year ago. I could just write and write without worry. Now, I’m worried about hurting feelings and looking stupid. Maybe I’ll just go back to writing how I used to write. Maybe I’ll just post this entry completely unedited on the blog for tomorrow. I don’t know. We’ll see…


William F. Claire Is Alive and Well!

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Sun 8/15/2004 6:49 PM

Sent via the form at laura.moncur.org

Yes, he is alive. He is a remarkably good person and an extraordinary friend. He is kind. He is compassionate.

He has written many, many poems. Some of them are the best I have ever read (and I have an MFA in Poetry, so I have read at least a few really good poems). Once, he wrote a poem for me and read it on NPR.

I would be happy to put you in touch with him if you like and if it is okay with him.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Peace, Tobie

Sun 8/15/2004 8:53 PM

Sent via the form at laura.moncur.org

I can give you a five sentence bio of a five thousand word one depending upon your patience. But you must know that there are other worlds than the internet or web sites. No one ever asked me, by the way, if they could use that quote, which was originally a poem in the Nation Magazine, NYC, although it has been widely anthologized, and was just translated into Japanese. I’m off to the horse races tomorrow; then golf on Tuesday so I’ll sign off for now. Peace and all good things to you and ours. Bill

Tue 8/17/2004 8:38 AM

Sent via the form at laura.moncur.org

I didn’t go to the races yesterday but would have bet on anything close to Laura, a woman of exquisite taste. And oh, yes, amazon.com does have a new book of mine (though the world of old books is a million times more interesting (and amazon.com doesn’t have a clue). It’s listed simply as Poems: A Collection, by William Claire. Forget the F. If you buy one, you will not be disappointed. Besides having my undying devotion, you will get some astonishing freebies that are priceless. By the way, you seem like a wonderful writer yourself. William

Tue 8/17/2004 2:46 PM

Mr. Claire,

Thank you so much for responding to my entry. You’re right. There is a world outside of the Internet and web sites. I find that it is slowly replacing the library for me. Someday in the future, I feel that if it’s not on the Internet, it won’t exist.

You and Tobie stumbled upon my personal online journal (weblog or blog, for short), but Mike and I run a Quotations website (http://www.quotationspage.com/). It is the oldest quotations website on the Internet, which means that we put it up in 1994, which is young in the publishing world, but old as the hills on the Internet. We started it as an educational site and it has survived all the commercial sites. We have a page for each author and we would love a brief paragraph biography to put on your page. It’s the closest thing to a fan site that you have.

Regarding permission to quote: we usually leave the quotes up unless the author or the copyright holder complains. If you wish to be off the list, that is fine with us and we will remove you from our site. Just drop us a line and we’ll change it however you like. Additionally, if there are other quotations from your work that you would like to see on our site, we’d be happy to put them up.

You should really consider setting up a web page for yourself. It’s something that could be done very simply using one of the free sites like LiveJournal.com. I think you would be surprised at the response that you would receive from fans and the illiterate alike.

There are so many times when we get email for people trying to contact Andy Rooney or some other person that we’ve quoted. If you got a higher ranking than us on the Google search, then you would get that email instead of us. It’s always fun to receive fan mail, don’t you think?

I’m so glad you’re alive and well. You should really look into setting up an online journal. It’s so invigorating to publish your work every day to an awaiting public. It makes writing so much more interactive.

Hope to hear from you soon! Laura Moncur



Filed under: Reviews,Video Games — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I am obsessed with Dance Dance Revolution. I played for two hours this morning and I just want to go home and play some more. I want Stacey to bring back my game. She borrowed it, but I want it and my Mad Catz pad back. I think I’m going to trick out my Mad Catz pad so that it’s extra spongy like my Ignition pad. If I trick it out with foam as thick as my Ignition pad, then I could use them together and play double songs easily without falling off the Ignition pad.

Maybe I should just buy myself another Ignition pad. It might even be cheaper than working with my Mad Catz pad. That one doesn’t work with StepMania anyway and I would like one that works with both. Of course, convincing Mike that I need yet another pad after all of this is pushing it.

Maybe I’ll just wait until Ultra Mix 2 comes out. I’m sure I’ll be able to buy it in a bundle with another dance pad and get them for cheaper that way. Maybe I should get a metal pad and just go all the way to the true gaming experience. The only problem is where am I going to put a huge metal dance pad in my little house? I don’t need that. I don’t need another pad. I don’t even need Stacey to give me back my Xbox game. I just need to let myself play it as much as I want.

That has always been the problem. I have enough toys; I just don’t let myself play with them. I feel like I need to be doing something useful, so I end up wasting my time instead of enjoying it. Instead of doing something useful, I mope around the house. Instead of doing something fun, I scold myself by thinking that I should be working somehow. The truth is: I don’t need to work all the time. Sometimes I need to play.

I played for two hours this morning, so I guess that’s enough. Tomorrow I will play some more. I don’t need to buy anything. I don’t need to do anything but play with the toys that I already have.


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

1. If your family was a television family, who would they be? Name family and/or television show.

Man, there isn’t anything on television that comes even close to what our family is like. If there was, I think it would have to be on HBO.

2. If you and your friends were a television show, what show would best describe i.e. personalities and/or day-to-day relations?

I like to imagine that Stacey, Dan, Mike and I are like “Friends.” I know it’s not true and there is no one-to-one correlation between us, but I like to imagine that it’s true.

3. What television show would best represent your life?

“Friends” is the closest thing to my life, except the people come from more normal families than I do. Chandler’s history is the closest to mine, I think. Of course, I would end up being a strange cross between Phoebe and Monica.

Sometimes I wonder if my life has been in imitation of “Friends.” Rather than having my own adventures, I’ve just appropriated theirs. That’s just too sad to think about.

4. What theme song would run for a television about you? May be one used by a show already or something different.

I think I would appropriate the Barney Miller theme song. It doesn’t have any words and it’s kind of jazzy. It’s old enough that it’s familiar, yet untraceable. Rather than try to find a new one, I’d use that.

On the other hand, maybe I’d choose “I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead” by Weird Al Yankovic. That one describes my personality a little better.

5. Who would you have play yourself? Friends and family?

Didn’t we just do this with the movies? Yeah, I think we did. Of course, I don’t think Janeane Garofalo would be willing to do TV, so maybe I should rethink the available actresses.


Conversations with William Claire

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

From: William F. Claire Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2004 8:28 AM To: Laura Moncur Subject: Re: with no F.


There are some sobering thoughts in your email about the future of the internet that I’ll have to think about; I’ve printed them out to think about them. Generally speaking, I’ve discovered that the more unsifted information people have, the more dangerous situations develop…like intelligence from the Pentagon(where I once worked) to people who think they know it all and act on that preposterous assumption.

The Quotations website you set up sounds remarkable…and truly pioneering on the internet. You should be more famous that google.

Four or five years ago everybody you met seemed to ask “do you have a website?” but no one seems to ask anymore. Of course, I could be dead wrong about this, and will take your very helpful suggestions and check it out. If I thought I could sell 10 copies of my recent book, I’d give it a try. Apparently Oprah doesn’t interview poets. At least she hasn’t called. Sigh.

I’d be honored to give you a para bio.Would I do that on here, or on your quotations site.

Thank you for your time and patience with me.

Bill Claire

From: Laura Moncur Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2004 12:02 PM To: William F. Claire Subject: Re: with no F.


You can just email your biography to me and Mike will put it in the database.

You’re right, the Internet was a fad a few years ago. When the bottom fell out of the Dot Com Industry, it seems like everyone got scared of it (financially speaking). The Internet is not a fad anymore, but it will change publishing as we know it. Cory Doctorow (http://www.craphound.com/fic/listing.html) is a sci-fi writer who has put all of his works online for anyone to download for free. He has found that making his books available online has only increased sales. The same is true for the music industry (although they don’t want to admit it). I suspect that copyright law is going to change drastically or even become obsolete. I don’t know what this future is going to look like, but I’m excited to be a part of it.

I must admit that I have had a hard time enjoying poetry. I can read it, but I don’t find that it touches me as much as it should. Sometimes I feel like the only one not laughing at the joke, as if I’ve missed the punch line somehow. Other times I feel that if I could just solve the riddle, then the poetry would evoke the emotions that it should. I guess I end up feeling stupid because I don’t have the same emotional response as other people say they do. I’d rather read a Calculus book. At least I know that I’ll eventually conquer what’s making me feel stupid. So many times, I still don’t feel emotionally connected even when the poem is explained to me.

Poetry coupled with music speaks more to me somehow. There have been times when I have read the lyrics to a song and not really felt anything and then actually heard the song with the lyrics and have become bonded with the song in a strange way that I can’t explain. Maybe it’s because music has such a guttural response. The beat and rhythm evoke primitive reactions in me that I cannot explain.

Then again, there is always Jazz. It is music and beat and I know that I’m supposed to love it. It’s the cultural thing to do. Jazz is supposed to be the American epitome of music and most of the time I just want to puncture my ear drums when it’s playing. I’m not talking about Frank Sinatra and Billie Holliday. I’m not talking about the Blues and Early Jazz. I’m talking about Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I’m talking about the fifteen-minute songs that go nowhere. There is no emotional response from me except the primal scream of, “Someone turn that shit off right now!” I know I’m supposed to love it. I know the educated and elite enjoy this music and I should follow suit. I have tried to cultivate a taste for it, but I’ve fallen short every time.

Maybe that’s why Oprah hasn’t called. Maybe Poetry is the Jazz of the Literary World. We all know we are supposed to love it, but we don’t really get it and end up feeling stupid. Of course, Oprah’s audience is… Ok, I’ll admit. I have no idea what her demographic is. It just seems that her shows are geared toward women who have nothing better to do with their time than watch television. I know she’s trying to raise the bar and getting them to read some books, but honestly, I think that poetry might be a little high brow for them.

You said that if a website would sell 10 books, you would give it a try. I don’t know how much you get for each book, but Mike’s royalties are only about 25 cents per book. That’s only $2.50 by my calculations. Setting up a basic Live Journal account is free (http://www.livejournal.com/). There are problems with sites like this because you don’t have complete control over the data (your writing), so if you want to get it all off and put it on your own web server, it’s a pain in the butt. Additionally, you don’t control (or profit from) the advertisement that shows up on your site. Of course, the benefits are that you don’t have to pay for bandwidth and programming is very simple. There are tons of sites out there that provide publishing for free (or nearly so). Mike and I have two servers and he does all the programming to keep things alive, secure and running well. You could go that route, but Live Journal is free and easy to use. I figure if 14 year old girls with no training can update and alter their Live Journal sites, it must be easy to use. I’ve never used them and quite frankly, Live Journal has a reputation of being a place for 14 year old girls to pour out their hearts. There is probably a better place for you that’s a lot more respected. Yeah, now that I think of it, Salon.com is much more respected and they have a blog site (http://www.salon.com/blogs/). After checking out their site, it looks like they give you 30 days free and if you like it, it’s $40 a year after that.

I don’t know what’s best for you. You don’t seem to be a technophobe, so setting up your own web server might be within your reach with some training. The fact of the matter is that we are writers and mucking up our minds with programming loses that momentum for writing. When I transferred over to WordPress, my head was so full of worries about my entries transferring correctly that I’m still a little muddled as far as writing is concerned. All I wanted was an easy way to publish my work every day. If that’s what you want, then Live Journal is probably good enough for you. Spend thirty minutes a day writing to your public where everyone can see it. It’s a lot like radio, except everyone in the world who has a computer and can read English can pick up your signal. You don’t even need permission to broadcast, just the know-how.

This month alone, I had readers from the U.S. (13,998 hits), Taiwan (65), Australia (64), Canada (50), the U.K. (48), the Netherlands (32), Argentina (20), Singapore (16), Mexico (14), France (12), Brazil (9), South Africa (8), Austria (7), Russian Federation (7), Sweden (7), Thailand (7), U.S. Military (7) (apparently, I haven’t been blocked. Maybe if I talk about politics more, they’ll block me, who knows), Belgium (6), Hungary (6), Cayman Islands (6), New Zealand (6), Poland (6), Denmark (5), Japan (5), and Germany (4). That’s just so far this month. I have no idea what those 65 people in Taiwan found of interest on my site, but there they are, reading me avidly. Heck, half the time, I’m talking about video games I like to play. If I can get this readership, a famous poet like you with all of your life experience to share should bring tons of readers from all over the world. By the way, I don’t know if Live Journal will provide you with your stats like I have. I have no idea how they work. Mike uses a program called Webalizer (http://www.mrunix.net/webalizer/) to analyze the hits to our sites.

Man, I just read over this email and it’s too bloody long. I’m sorry for talking your ear off. It doesn’t matter to me if you get a website or not. Now that I have your email address, I could just forward any fan mail that comes our way to you. I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that people publish their writing for a lot of reasons. Some people just want other people to read their work. They want to be heard. If that’s the case for you, there are a million people on the Internet just waiting for you to put your fingers to the keyboard. Other people want to earn a lot of money from publishing their work. Ironically, it’s looking like making yourself known in the computer world also gets you closer to that goal. Only the future will tell on that one.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Laura Moncur.


The Changing Nature of Art

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

From: William F. Claire Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 8:49 AM To: Laura Moncur Subject: Re: with no F.


Here is a short bio, although when I checked your list of people being quoted I didn’t note yours truly. Anyway, here goes.

A Brief Bio of William Claire. Born Northampton, Ma. graduate of Deerfield Academy, Columbia University, and Georgetown University. After military (Stars and Stripes in Asia) began career in public and private service in Washington, where simultaneously he became founding editor and publisher of Voyages; a literary magazine, winner of five national awards, as well as a National Endowment for Arts award. A poet and essayist, he has been a Yaddo and MacDowell fellow, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant winner for residency in Bellagio, Italy.

His prose has appeared in well over 50 major publications ranging from The American Scholar and Antioch Review to the The Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times. His poetry has been recently published currently available only from amazon.com, titled Poems: A Collection.

He founded a city-wide festival in honor of Georges Simenon at the Kennedy Center, the National Press Club and other venues in DC. He coordinated six evenings at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and recorded poems for the Library of Congress archives.

He lives in Lewes, Delaware, and Naples, Florida and owns an antiquarian art and book business.

I think thats enough…I kept out a lot of what makes me different from other poets, i.e. my DC career at rather unusually high levels as lobbyist (after working at both the executive and legislative branches) for different groups and becoming a CEO of a consulting firm but I think the emphasis should be on my literary work. I didn’t mention the titles of my other books but they can be found on out of print sites (Barnes &Noble, ABE, etc.)

I was fascinated with your email, and appreciated its frankness. It’s absolutely Ok to feel the way you do, and there is no need to feel that spending a thousand more hours with Miles Davis will make you feel like a better person. Much of his music was drug-induced and jazz improvisation is a world apart. I don’t have a good musical ear and never played an instrument, or had good art instruction at any level. (I did coordinate a series of evenings at the Smithsonian on the relationship of art and poetry that was a sellout…so one can always learn.) I do love jazz vocalists, particularly the early Sarahh Vaughan and was devastated recently when one favorite, who knew more songs than any other singer, Suzannah McCorkle, jumped off a building in Manhattan…three weeks before another of her CD’s was about to be released.

Speaking of suicides, its tough not to think of poetry and know that in our lifetimes Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, Delmore Schwartz and many others have done themselves in one way or another. So it’s hard to generalize about it without going off the deep end yourself. Or get too deep into it in a Freudian/Jungian sense. It should be like Emily Dickenson’s observation that when you read it should be like your head’s flying off, or something close to that.

No art (including classic music, painting, dance) has been the same since the early 1900’s when James Joyce was writing, Picasso was doing his cubes, Stravinsky was going a-tonal, classical ballet was being blown off the stage by new movements, etc…talk about the world going topsy-turvy! And then the killing started.

I did try to summarize a million tears of woe, death and destruction that shattered Europe and of course, countless thousands of Americans in Flanders Fields and Normandy, etc. in a short poem titled:

A Brief European History

Music I hear is from The Banquet Years,/ The days, my friend, we thought would never end. The grand illusions; Western-front wounds to mend.

All those mournful, melancholy songs; No one listened to Berthold Brecht,Piaff the poor, And off they went marching,.marching as to war.

Enough. William

From: Laura Moncur Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 9:34 AM To: William F. Claire Subject: RE: with no F.


I look at art from the early 20th Century from a technical point of view. Photography forever changed painting. Audio recordings forever changed music. Film forever changed dance and theater. Storytelling, however, was changed long ago: firstly with the invention of written language and later with the invention of the printing press. I feel like we are sitting on the crest of the third wave of change for storytelling. I just don’t know what it’s going to look like when it crashes on the shore.

To me, it seems like all art is trying to express what it’s like to be human. We are all trying to communicate what it feels like to be in our individual bodies. For example, with photography and painting, the artist is trying to say, “This person. This home. This stranger. They make me happy. They make me lonely. They make me scared.” Sometimes it comes through and the art tells the world universally everything that we were trying to say. Sometimes it falls on deaf ears and no one listens to us. Sometimes what we are trying to say is completely lost, but the essence of emotion remains and people love our work anyway.

Then again, sometimes I think art is a business like any other. Andy Warhol perfected it with painting. I don’t think he wanted to tell us about his emotions. I think he wanted to be famous and rich. There’s nothing wrong with famous and rich, it’s just a different flavor than the desperate attempt to communicate. Art as business needs to pander to the most number of people possible.

Sometimes I feel surrounded by Business Art. I must admit, it panders to me 90% of the time. I can enjoy a good Joss Stone album almost as much as Billie Holliday. Something about that makes me feel guilty, even though I know that Business Art is specially formulated to please me as a consumer. It’s like the fast food at McDonald’s. For the last fifty years, McDonald’s has been perfecting their hamburgers to please the human palate. Yet, I still feel guilty when a Big Mac tastes so much better to me than fresh veggies and milk. Drug induced or not, Miles Davis and John Coltrane have inspired hundreds of musicians. I feel like I should like them as much as a Big Mac, even though they crunch uncomfortably in my mouth.

Thanks for Listening, Laura


Looking For Christ: Chapter Four

Filed under: Fiction,Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Here is Chapter Four…

(Continue Reading…)


The Fall of The Wall Street Journal

Filed under: Art and Photography,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Wall Street JournalSometimes it all smacks me in the head like a sledgehammer. Friday night, Mike and I were walking to the Farmer’s Market in Sugarhouse and it hit me. The vision of it was so striking that I couldn’t speak. Mike was talking, but I didn’t hear him. There they were, piled up and forgotten by Lifestyles 2000. There was a pile of unread and yellowing Wall Street Journals, forgotten and ignored.

I immediately stopped walking. I handed Mike my purse while I fished out my camera. I needed a picture of it. Mike panicked, imagining the brawny and the buff inhabitants of the gym protesting at his wife turned paparazzi. When he saw me bend down to the ground, he quieted. I wasn’t pointing the camera at the exercising minions. I was taking a picture of garbage.

Not just any garbage, mind you. This was weeks’ worth of a newspaper subscription that was never read. The hope and inspiration of the open market was yellowing and untouched in front of the local gym. The vision of it said it all to me.

I remember. I remember when the Dot Com industry was skyrocketing. We placed our bets and hoped the big slot machine back east would pay off. We watched CNN religiously and checked the market on the Internet until 3pm every day. We thought we were investing, but we were gambling. That’s what the stock market is: gambling. Anyone who tells you any differently is lying, even if it’s The Wall Street Journal.

I was only twenty-five years old. Vegas and Wendover held no power over me, but Wall Street struck a core in my bones. I was investing in America and just like our great country, my investments would pay off. Gambling can look like investing if you’re young or a little stupid and I fell for it. I fell right off the cliff for it.

When the Dot Bomb happened, we not only lost our investments, Mike’s income was severely changed for the worse. I worshipped at the great altar of the Computer Industry and I found that my offerings were never eaten. They just rotted and attracted flies and maggots.

A funny thing happened when I stopped worshipping The Wall Street Journal. Things picked up for us. Mike found other avenues for revenue. Web advertising started to pick up again. I started publishing my writing every day without a thought about how much money it would make me. I could be silent no more. It didn’t matter to me whether it was profitable. I had sacrificed to the God of Profitable only to find myself selling my house and using the funds to pay off the IRS. I was finished with Profitable and all I wanted was to tell the world that I survived.

The minute I stopped hoarding my writing, my writing flowed far easier than it had for years. Sure, I’ve had days when I was tired. Sure, there are times when I feel empty. Sure, there are times when I shun the keyboard and the notebook for the video game and sci-fi. On the whole, however, I have been far more productive over this last year than I have in my entire life. I owe it all to abandoning The Wall Street Journal.

Seeing those papers on the sidewalk, yellowed and forgotten by their owner said it all to me. Come here! See the spectacle! See The Fall of The Wall Street Journal! Follow me and enjoy the bliss that I have encountered for the last year! That’s why I had to stop. That’s why I had to pull out my camera like a proud mother or starving paparazzi. I had to share the vision with you.


Thinking of Anais Nin

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

From: Laura Moncur Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 10:26 AM To: William F. Claire Subject: Anais Nin


Hello. I hope your weekend was relaxing and mildly eventful. Mike and I took a drive up the mountains to see a campground. Our church group is having a group camping near Timpanogos Cave, so we wanted to check it out before Labor Day rolls around. After the dog went into near convulsions at the herd of chipmunks, we decided that he gets to stay at the kennel while we camp. The camping book said flush toilets, but all we saw were chemical toilets. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I don’t have to dig a hole.

I originally found you because of the poem you wrote called, “Thinking of Anais Nin.” I was wondering if you ever knew her. What were you thinking about when you wrote it? My education was completely devoid of any mention of Anais Nin. I don’t know if the Eighties was too soon after her acclaim to get her into our curriculum or if her life was too risqué for the conservative Utah teachers. Either way, I know her only through the quotes that I have gathered.

Hope to hear from you soon,


From: William F. Claire Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 11:59 AM To: Laura Moncur Subject: Re: Anais Nin

Thanks for the camping report. What kind of dog?

Yes.I knew Anais Nin quite well.She was an original advisory editor* of my magazine, Voyages, and I have written about her at some length in a book of people who knew her. While I was much younger, I even knew her before she came such a cult figure.

I wrote the poem while in a meeting in DC during one of the coldest winters in history when I saw an actual gull outside the window…a sea tern even tho’ DC is three hours from the water. People thought I was taking notes at the meeting, which was going on without end. I wanted to create a world away from the reality and impersonality of the meeting. And it all began thinking about Anais.

Thanks for asking.


*She was my most active advisor, never asked for a thing, contributed much, and always with generosity, taste and deference.

From: Laura Moncur Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 12:15 PM To: William F. Claire Subject: RE: Anais Nin


We have a mutt that is a mix between a shepherd and some sort of husky. He’s only 50 pounds or so, though, which makes him substantially smaller than his heritage. I swear he was barking at the chipmunks because he was scared of them. Maybe he just felt outnumbered. Luckily, he likes the kennel. It’s out in the country. Ok, the suburbs. The owners know him by sight and he gets to run around in their large dog area with all the friendly dogs. It’s Doggie Vacation for him. If he hated the kennel, I’d find a different place for him.

The idea of writing while the rest of the world works in mind-numbing boredom is something that I do every day. My job is to answer phones and type letters. When the phones are silent and the letters are typed, they expect me to look busy. Writing is the best way to do it. Of course, I end up feeling guilty writing while I’m at work, even though they’ve given me permission to do it.

I remember reading an introduction by Isaac Asimov that insisted that he had never written his novels during “work” time. I can’t remember where I read that, but it has hung in my mind vividly. I wonder if that will be an issue for me. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I write when I’m at work. Hmmm…


From: William F. Claire Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 8:13 AM To: Laura Moncur Subject: Re: Anais Nin


My basset hound could have handled those chipmunks.

On the writing front, seriously, you do have to block out time that is yours alone to accumulate a serious body of work. But if good thoughts come at work by all means jot them down. The same goes for dreams, whatever. Guilt is like fear, and who said “I’ll show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Best. Bill

From: Laura Moncur Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:41 AM To: William F. Claire Subject: Fear, Anger and Guilt


Quotes I can handle:

I will show you fear in a handful of dust. – T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, 1922

Knowing the meaning of the quotes; that’s a more difficult task. The carefully tossed handful of dust can blind an adversary. Maybe that’s why poetry is hard for me. I always want to argue with it.

I’ve always thought of guilt as anger directed at myself. In essence, I guess I’m angry that I don’t reserve time to write during my free time. Even when I do, I’ve found it hard to write at home. I allow myself to get distracted by the most inane things. When I’m at work, I don’t worry about the dishes in the sink or the bathroom tile. I just need to learn how to write at home as diligently as I write at work.

Sid would have been scared of your basset hound, too. Never mind the fact that my dog probably outweighs him by half.

Thanks for listening, Laura

100,000 Hits

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 4:33 pm

As of midnight last night, Pick Me! had 102,376 hits. It was my goal to have 100,000 hits by the time my blog was one year old. It looks like I made it with a month to spare. I’m totally stoked!


New Plan for Weight Watchers

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

This week, Weight Watchers is starting a new plan. They did this to us last year at this time. Just when I thought that everything was settled and the summer lull in traffic was progressing nicely, guaranteeing me a good seat every Saturday morning, they introduce a new plan and the place is standing room only again. Do they mix things up just to boost attendance? After attending for the last three years, I’m starting to wonder.

This new plan really doesn’t affect me. I can stay the course and keep counting my Points, just like I’ve done since I started. Now, you have a choice, though. If you don’t like to write down every tiny piece of food that goes into your mouth, they have a different plan that you can try.

It’s called The Core Plan and you can eat until you’re satisfied from a list of core foods. Anything that you eat that is not on the Core Food list has to be monitored and you can only eat 35 points worth of foods that aren’t on that list. There is a wide variety of food on that list from all of the food groups. I just think that I would get a little sick of couscous and bulgur after awhile.

The scariest thing for me about the Core Plan is the “eat until you’re satisfied” stipulation. I think that any binge eaters who try to follow this plan will need to learn very quickly how to judge this level or they will gain on this plan. I haven’t tried it yet and I’m really reluctant to. I just haven’t been able to judge my hunger levels well enough to trust myself on this plan.

My instructor said that we needed to decide what freedom means to us. If you judge freedom by being to eat anything you want as long as you meticulously keep track of every bite that goes in your mouth, you should go on the Flex Plan. If you judge freedom by not having to keep track of things as long as you eat from a restricted list of foods, then you should go on the Core Plan.

I’m sticking with Flex. I’ve lost over 50 pounds on this plan and I’m not going to muck it up by trying something new. Of course, for all of those people who hate to write things down, this new plan might be a Godsend to them. Have fun with your plain fat-free yogurt and brown rice.


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

1. If you were an alien visiting Earth where would you come from?

It’s much easier for me to imagine myself as an alien visiting a planet that’s NOT Earth for some reason. If I were an alien, I think that I would like to come from a system in the Pleiades, maybe Electra or Maia.

2. How would you get here and how long would it take?

I would be beamed directly here through a matter transport machine. To me, it would feel instantaneous.

3. What would you do or say when you got here?

I would take the form of a human being, so I would just set up shop, get a job and observe the humans in their normal habitat.

4. What would be your best judgment about Earth and what would be your worst judgment about Earth?

Earth is a beautiful planet inhabited by industrious mammals called humans. They work really hard to move around green bits of paper. My worst judgment would be that they tend to view each other as different when really they all look the same to me.

5. What would you look like?

In my natural state, I would be a pure energy being, able to take the form of whatever I wish. While visiting, however, I would be in human form. In fact, for all you know, I am an alien right now.


Train Cars

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I don’t know why people think graffiti is so bad. It seems like graffiti is just a call for help. It’s very rare when kids tag something that is pretty or well-run. Even when they do, the people in charge of the pretty thing have it cleaned or repainted. The only graffiti that sticks around stays on things that were ugly to begin with.

Wednesday, when I was driving to work, I passed a long train that was stopped on the tracks. One car had a tremendous graffiti on its side that read, “Pier.” It looked like a huge billboard and it made me think how stupid train companies are. They should sell advertising on the sides of their cars just like buses. I cannot count the times that I have been trapped on a road, just watching the train go by and hoping for the end. That is an advertising opportunity for them that they are just giving away to the graffiti artists.

All the train cars were rusty and in desperate need of painting. The cars with graffiti actually looked better than the cars without. Why is Union Pacific allowing their train cars to fall into such a state of disrepair? How can it be that the graffiti is the prettiest thing on their cars? Sure, the cars are serviceable and function the way that they were intended, but if Union Pacific started selling advertising on the sides of their cars, the graffiti would disappear and they would get extra income. How can it be that they haven’t noticed this potential?

It’s not like the world needs more advertising. Everything everywhere has advertising. We even have vehicles that drive along the highways just to be mobile billboards. They clog our traffic and fill our minds with logos and catch phrases. It’s not like there is a dearth of advertising in the world, but in a world where I can’t turn my head without someone telling me about their new home development or car line, I was surprised when I saw the huge word “Pier” without a phone number to call or a website to access. What does it mean? It means that Union Pacific is dropping the ball, big time.

Advertisement is everywhere. It’s on our clothing. It’s on billboards. It’s on buses. It’s on this website. It’s on television. It’s on the radio. It’s on the sides of buildings. It’s damn near impossible to spend a day without some form of advertising creeping into our lives. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate advertising. I love it. I want to see it on the sides of train cars. I want to see it on the back walls of the warehouses that follow the track of our light rail system. In fact, I’d rather see advertising than rusted out train cars and graffiti. It tends to be prettier.


Thinner Than Thou

Filed under: Books & Short Stories,Health and Fitness,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Buy ItThey were playing poker in their tent. I felt like I should be playing with them, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get interested in the game. Instead, I read the book I brought along.

“I hate this future.”

Stacey and Dan looked at me with confused faces.

“I don’t like the future that this book has set up. It’s too depressing.”

They were still confused, so I tried explaining more.

“In this book, being thin is like a religion. It’s against the law to be fat.”

“That’s not a diet book?” I don’t remember who asked me.

“No. It’s sci-fi and I hate this future.”

“We thought you were reading a diet book or maybe a non-fiction book about the diet industry.”

It was then that I realized that I was already living in the future that I hated. I was already working toward a goal that I despised. We talked about the insurance industry and the inevitable future of taxation on the overweight (whether they call it premiums or not, it’s still taxation). We talked about the concept of beauty that has become so attached to the concept of physical fitness. The conversation got heated. I felt guilty for interrupting their game of poker.

Last weekend, I found myself halfway through the book, desperate to finish it. I didn’t really care how it ended. I just wanted all the characters in the book to quit suffering. There wasn’t a happy life in the mix. Every person in this book was miserable and I just wanted the pain to end.

Mike suggested that I just stop reading it, but I couldn’t. I had to find out if they escaped. I had to find out if they rescued their sister. I had find out if they brought down the evil empire. Worse than Darth Vader, Reverend Earl had to be taken out. I couldn’t have stopped reading this book in the middle any more than I could have stopped breathing.

I don’t know if this is a recommendation or not. It was a good book with good writing and a good ending, but it wasn’t enjoyable. It wasn’t light reading. It brought up many issues for me and for a brief moment, I considered abandoning all exercise and healthy eating habits. It was a difficult book for me to read.

This is a book about an unhealthy obsession with physical appearance. It has nothing to do with healthy eating. It has nothing to do with the joy of physical exertion. It has nothing to with loving your body, no matter how it looks. This book is about altering the physical form at all costs. Take the pills. Starve. Exercise to exertion. Eat until you are gorged. Do whatever it takes to get the body that is “beautiful.” It’s sheer hell and I’ve been there.

Right now, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. I exercise regularly doing activities that I enjoy. I eat nutritious and delicious food. I enjoy treats with moderation. I have finally learned to control my bingeing. I didn’t get here with the attitude that I should do whatever it takes to get that beautiful body. I got here because I wanted to be healthy. I was sick of being sick. The doctor told me that there was nothing the matter with my digestive system. It was sick because I was eating poorly. I needed to learn how to be healthy. Learning how to be healthy has gotten me to where I am today.

That’s why this book was so scary to me. When I was at the point in my life that I was willing to do anything to get a fit body, I ended up making myself worse. The minute I stopped focusing on appearance and started concentrating on health, I started to get better. That exact thing happened to one of the characters in this book, but it was so subtle that I don’t think the author intended it to be the message of the book. I really don’t know what I think about this book. I’m just glad I finished reading it so I can get my head out of that sci-fi future.


Looking For Christ: Chapter Five

Filed under: Fiction,Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Here is Chapter Five…

(Continue Reading…)

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