Playing Out Live (Duke Rushmore)

Duke at the Brewery 2013
A friend and colleague of mine who went to our gig the other night took this picture of my band – Duke Rushmore — in the midst of playing The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want. The bongo player is a someone’s friend from the audience whom we invited to jam with us. It was a cool dance party that night. That’s me on the saxophone, singing some back up and getting ready to solo.

Peace (in the music)


Writer’s Knowledge Search Engine

writers knowledge base

I don’t know where I heard of this site, but the Writer’s Knowledge Base is  a modified search engine with links and resources specifically around the art of writing. I was playing around with it this morning and I liked how the filters are mostly set to find answers to queries about writing. You don’t get the world at your doorstep with every search. (The engine is created by the guy who created Hiveword, a software that helps with the writing of a novel. I haven’t used it but it looks like it might be helpful.)

The Writer’s Knowlege Base reminds me of some recent posts by Richard Byrne about how to create your own Google Search engine for your own needs by tweeking parameters and fields of search. I may tinker with that one of these days …

Peace (in the search),


Poems With Bud: The Glass House

I am writing poems this month over at Bud the Teacher’s site. Today, Bud put up an image of a glass house.

I stand inside with catcher’s mitt,

grabbing stones

thrown by all of those

looking in at me through the windows of this

house of glass.


I slowly recognize the shadow

of the one way in the back

of the crowd, stooping low,

as if searching for something

to grasp.


It’s me, myself,

I am now aiming high with a fury

I barely recognize before the shattering glass

rains down upon me like shards of


Here is the podcast of the poem:

Peace (in the poem),


The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Assignment: Mystery of the Ruins

I have two classes of students working hard on their own version of Choose Your Adventure format stories using the software, Twine, and they are really into it. Here is the assignment I gave them — I am trying to provide some basics for them even as I leave enough space for creativity. Since this is a pilot project (I’ve never done this particularly project with this particularly software, although I did something similar a few years ago), I am keeping an eye on how things progress and what changes I will need to make to the assignment when I do it again (later this year, with two other classes.)

Peace (in the sharing),

Poems with Bud: PhotoFinish

Bud Hunt is hosting poetry this month at his blog, using images to spark poetry. Come join us.

Here is my poem for today (Bud posted a photo of a runner, with a city as the backdrop):

I wish my feet moved as fast as my mind

’cause if it did,  I’d be in a marathon

every minute, every hour,

even in sleep where dreams exhale ideas

as I inhale the events of the day,

pushing through the ribbons of time,

with the finishing line still miles and miles ahead of me,

and me, still running, still always running,

the photo-finish always inches away.

And the podcast:

Peace (in the poems),


Image-inspired Poetry with Bud the Teacher

For the past few years, Bud Hunt (aka, Bud the Teacher) has been posting images throughout the month of April, asking us to be inspired to write poetry. I usually jump on board, if I can, and this month started with an image of a rock and roller on stage, so how could I resist?

Here’s what I came up with:

There, on the stage, marks the time –

there, amidst the noise and the lights –

he flies high, dancing amidst internal rhymes

along the edge of words of the poet’s lines

he’s stolen for this song; passion as musical crime.

I also try to podcast my poems, if I can.

That was from Day One. Day Two brought another image — that of folks looking for something on the waterfront.

Here’s what I wrote:

There’s always something there,

he’s thinking,

head down, eyes on the ground,

thoughts tumbling into the lips of ocean

as the tide pulls him in

with its restless chatter.

And the podcast:

I hope you can write some poetry this month, too. Come join us at Bud the Teacher, where Bud will post something new every day.

Peace (in the lines of the poems),

Choose Own Adventure Books: Likes and Dislikes

As some of you know, I am in the midst of trying something new. Two of my classes of students have spent a week reading Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and now will begin writing their own. I was amazed at how many books they were reading, and I did an informal survey to gather some numbers.

CYO Adventure Reading Survey

I also asked them about what they were liking and disliking about the books.


  • The reader makes decisions about the story
  • There are many different ways that the stories can end
  • It’s entertainment reading
  • You can always backtrack into the story and start over at another point
  • The reader is a partner with the writer
  • The reader is a character in the story


  • Too many story branches end in death
  • It’s easy to lose your place, particularly if you want to go back
  • The jumping around the book can be confusing
  • The novels are too short
  • Lots of exaggeration, unrealistic adventure
  • Not all the endings were equally creative
  • Not enough choice (!)

I’ll admit — that last one threw me, but I was the recorder of the discussion here.

Peace (in the endings),

Book Review: Moon Over Manifest

Now I get the fuss. I don’t know why I never got around to reading Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool when it came out. The book has been in our house, as my son read it and said he liked it. But after devouring and savoring Navigating Early, and knowing that I would have long gaps during state testing this week, I dug out my son’s Moon Over Manifest and brought it to school. It did not take long to get sucked up into the entwined narrative stories in the novel, something that Vanderpool did with such mastery in Navigating Early, too.

Here, the lively narrator — young Abilene Tucker — is sent by her father back to a town — Manifest, Kansas — as he goes off to work on a railroad. (There’s more to it than that, but I’ll let you read the book to find out more). Abilene works to find the connections that her father has to this small town, even as a local gypsy diviner tells the story of the town’s history and Abilene and two new friends try to uncover a past mystery of a German spy. Think of the story as a quilt, so that the narratives of the present and the past dance around each other, slowing weaving a tapestry of truths about the folks in the town of Manifest, and about Abilene’s life. That’s what Vanderpool does here and it’s a wonder to read and think about just how she pulls it off.

She does.

Moon Over Manifest also brings to life the idea of the idea of voice, as Abilene truly lives and breathes on these pages. It was one of those rare weeks where the large chunk of quiet time for state testing came in handy. In two days, I started and finished this book, and now Abilene and the town of Manifest remain firmly lodged in my head. That’s a good thing.

Peace (in the book),