Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Sudden Outcast

I went to my first book signing last night! Tom Franklin, the author of a new book titled Smonk, was there with his wife, Beth Ann Fennelly, who was also promoting her new book, Great With Child.

The gathering was held at a jewel of literary solidarity in Montgomery, Al called The Capitol Book and News. The owners write a weekly review column for the Pulitzer Prize winning paper The Montgomery Advertizer. I arrived early and got to talk to a few people. One of the people was a man by the name of Wayne Greenhaw. He is the 2006 recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished writer.

After a few minutes, I began to realize that pretty much 14 out of the fifteen people in the room had published books, were publishers, or were otherwise connected in big and important ways with the publishing industry.

I am an extrovert. I never, ever feel nervous in a room. I can enter a room full of strangers and leave 30 minutes later with phone numbers, email addresses, and names. But, this gathering was a whole different story. I felt like the youngest child sitting at the table with the adults when I knew I was supposed to be at the short table with the rest of the kids. I did, however, ask some questions during the Q&A session after the authors gave their talks. Everyone was nice and I learned a great deal by just listening to other people talk, ask questions, and give answers. It was one of the most daunting, exhilirating, and educational things I've ever been to and I can't wait to do it again!

Here's the link for their website:

You can request their free newsletter if you like. It would probably only be useful for local people, but here it is. They have actual, published authors signing books there every month and there are usually 5 or 6 more there for the talks and Q&A sessions. It's very cool!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How Do You Spell Addiction?

loser.jpgI’ve been thinking a lot lately about going to Oklahoma for a month or two and working with my father. He would pay me in cash which means I’d take home about $400 a week. Not a bad bit for doing manual labor.

The thing is I live in what would be a small Midwestern cow town were it not for the giant university sitting on their grounds. Indiana University comes with 30 odd thousand students, plus professors, faculty, staff, and all of the miscellaneous companies that support such a population. So there are plenty of malls, restaurants, bars, and book stores, but very few other corporations. For the few decent places that employ here there’s that 30,000 pool of fresh faces with degrees (or soon to be degrees) in whatever specialized field a company would need.

Which means finding decent work is difficult. I am either under qualified or completely over qualified. Most of the jobs I could get right now would pay in the $10/hour range making my take home pay around $250-300/week.

Can you see how doing grunt work for my dad suddenly looks appealing?

I was very much considering it and had made up my mind to go when my folks told me they were heading out on vacation to Colorado and invited me along. I figured I’d take a free vacation and then spend a few weeks making some extra cash. With my severance checks still flowing in, an extra few hundred a week would pay off the credit card and make life much easier.

The only problem was that they were leaving this Friday which put me in a bit of a rush to get there, but without any obligations that didn’t seem like too much of a challenge.

Until I talked to my wife.

We had talked about me going out and working a few times, but the immediacy of the trip hit her hard. Plus, she said, we had planned a little birthday party this weekend and I just had to come to that.

loser11.jpgGiven the choice between a small party with friends and a free trip to Colorado I was leaning towards the mountains. But I had to play it cool and I tried to make it look like a hard choice.

Then I realized the book fair was the weekend after this one. Annually the Red Cross holds a weekend book fair. They have a huge warehouse full of books, and they are darn cheap. First night you pay a small cover and get major discounts. Next day it is free to get in and all books are half off. The next day it is five bucks for all the books you can stuff into a grocery bag. And then the next day you take what you want for free.

How could I pass up that. Well, maybe I could just send Amy with a list of books I’d like to have.

Ultimately, I decided not to go. Not because I’d miss my wife’s birthday party, nor that I’d not be able get my hands on some choice books, but because the season premier of Lost is next Wednesday. If I went to Colorado I might miss it, and that is simply unacceptable.

This is how low my life has sunk. I’ll give up stacks of cash and free vacations to not miss a television show.

Monday, September 25, 2006

If You've Got Time On Your Hands

It has been quiet around here. I’ll add a little to the mix.

One of the things that’s happened to me since being unemployed, is that I’ve become madly addicted to games. Well, more addicted to games.

I’m kind of an old school style gamer in that I don’t really play anything new. The last game console I purchased was the original Playstation (and let’s be honest, I only bought a couple of games for it, and rarely played those – too much hassle constantly hooking it up). But I’m totally into old Nintendo and Super Nintendo games. My wife nags me that I have played The Legend of Zelda too many times (but really, you can’t play too many times – impossible). I’m always months or years behind new PC games. I still play Age of Empires II for pete’s sake.

I’m also periodically addicted to online games, and one group I’ve recently lost my mind to is little escape games. One of the best is the Crimson Room, and its sequels. Essentially you play a guy who wakes up in a little room. With the click of the mouse you explore the room finding various items that you will use to escape the room.

It is deceptively simple, and quit complicated. It will also drive you absolutely made to try and figure out what the heck to do with a metal rod, a CD case, and a stinking battery. But it is too addicting to do anything but play (or cheat by Googling the game and then playing.)

So here you are, click here to play the game. Don’t forget to play the other rooms if you enjoyed this one.

ACPO Redux

Well, here's a good start for our ACPO book. Now, we need to split up the chapters. Here is the list. I'll follow-up with my suggestions on how to split up the work.

1. Introduction
2. about the author(s)
3. history
4. what it is
5. what it isnt
6. why make it a coalition?
7. isnt it illegal?
8. why pee outside (with sub chapters)
9. outdoor peeing courtesy
10. Finding God/connecting with nature
11. peeing an pop culture
12. solo/group peeing
13. ACPO techniques
14. sport and competitive peeing
15. urban and suburban peeing
16. peeing all over the world
17. the science of peeing
18. peeing in the modern age
19. the future of outdoor urination and ACPO
20. the ACPO legacy

I suggest the chapter be split up like this:

11. peeing an pop culture
15. urban and suburban peeing
16. peeing all over the world
18. peeing in the modern age

8. why pee outside
12. solo/group peeing
13. ACPO techniques

4. what it is
5. what it isnt
17. the science of peeing

1. Introduction
2. about the author(s)
10. Finding God/connecting with nature

3. history
7. isnt it illegal?
20. the ACPO legacy

6. why make it a coalition?
9. outdoor peeing courtesy
14. sport and competitive peeing
19. the future of outdoor urination and ACPO

What do y'all think? If you'd rather have other chapters, polease say so. We can split them up differently.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Old Becomes New

I updated my Runaway Swimmer Website. It now has a home page off of which my RS, The Tower Quail, Articles, and Blog pages link.

I replaced the link on here, but here it is if any of y'all want to take a look:

Rachel and I should have some sort of ACPO site ready before too long, too. We'll let y'all know how it comes along!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Willie Nelson Busted for Pot

254605~Willie-Nelson-PostersIt’s official, our drug policy must change. Willie Nelson, 73 year old troubadour, poet, and maker of music was arrested yesterday for drug possession. During a traffic stop in North Georgia, the State Trooper said he smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the tour bus.

Well, duh! It’s Willie Nelson’s bus. The guy is an avid pot smoker and the whole world knows it. But dude, he’s a legend, you’re supposed to give him a pass. I mean, what harm is Willie Nelson going to do? Play a bad song? Tell a bad joke?

During a search of the bus, the Trooper found 1 ½ pounds of marijuana and approximately 2/10ths of a pound of mushrooms.

Mushrooms? Willie, you’ve been a bad boy.

Willie and the band were issued citations and released .

For the full news story (though I pretty much covered it) click here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

For All You Lost Lovers

Apparently at the end of some Lost game it plays a "secret" video from the Hanso corporation. Look out for some interesting details about the famous number sequence, and some general background information on the Hanso corporation itself.

Way cool. October can't come fast enough for season 3.

Friday, September 15, 2006

an ode to iTunes

My mornings are usually a bit rushed. Depending on the day I’m dragging one or two boys out of their warm beds and trying to get them fed and dressed before shoving them into the world. Did I mention that I’m trying to do the same thing for myself?

At any rate once they are taken care of and placed in their respective locations for the day I’m off to Scripps for the next several hours. I know that Jamison once told me that leaving the computer on over night is one of the worst things you can do to a hard drive, still I have my reasons. In fact this reason is one of the simple pleasures I have learned to really enjoy.

The iTunes on my desktop has 3936 songs, in rotation over 13.2 days taking up 17GB of space. When I show up in the morning it’s a great joy, almost anticipation, to see where the shuffle has landed. My favorite times are when I walk into the middle of a powerful Dead jam from the first balcony, sometimes I stroll into a small Irish pub for a bit of harp or a bouncy reel. Other mornings I feel like I’ve caught a lively Texas road house jam with Lyle Lovett, SRV, Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson stopping for a breakfast after restful nights on the tour bus. Some mornings I’m reminded to count my blessings with a song from Rich Mullins, hymns from the Harding Univ. choir or any number of country crooners off a collection of classic country gospel albums. Composers like James Horner, Duke Ellington or Henry Mancini line up to audition their favorites while Andrea Bocelli and Charlotte Church share stores and theories of technique with Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday. In the corner of this musical transit station there are corners of country and bluegrass musicians who are looking for a cross over jam. Jerry Garcia and Bela Fleck pick out tunes with Dolly Parton taking vocals, Bush, Vassar and Monroe, trickle in between bass riffs from Rob Wasserman. Kelly Clarkson, KT Tunstall and Robinella take turns sitting on the knees of their predecessors, slowly spreading their wings. Discussing the power of modern amplification the Green Day, Led Zeppelin and Clash guys share hearty pints with Beethoven and Verdi. Glenn Miller and Jimi Hendrix sip coffee with Marty Robbins and grumbling members of the Marsalis family.

I know that I’m adding untold years to this computer by leaving in on during the week but I love to come in and slide into my cheap headphones to see what sort of sonic trick or treat I get. It should be noted that there are time when the stars have not aligned and there is something playing that causes me to sift through all that crap to find something that’s perfect to me. Sometimes after a hectic morning and a glance at my tasks for that day I’m not in the mood for a primal drum circle. Hearing a screeching guitar or soulful moaning about languishing relationships could make me go postal some mornings.

Still, with a few clicks of the “next” button I’m eventually transported to the perfect setting allowing my day to begin anew with my heart literally singing a new song.

Brewster's Not a Nerd, Are You

I am nerdier than 10% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I am nerdier than 46% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Contracts and Rejections

I got a contract for publication on my first book, Runaway Swimmer. Why did that last sentence not have an exclamation point at the end, you might ask? Check this place out:

They're an ebook publisher and completely legit. They pay 45% royalties and all that good stuff. But, they don't have a Google ranking to speak of, don't appear to be hooked up with Amazon, B&N, etc., and don't seem to have any good stats on sales and other marketing plans.

So, while it is encouraging to have a contract, I think I'll probably turn the tables and reject them.

This feels weird, but I also have to consider that I have two different agents reviewing two different books right now and a print publisher is reviewing Runaway Swimmer. So, there's still hope. There's always hope.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Unemployed Blues

My wife having gone off and gotten a job, no matter how temporary, has brought on feelings inside me I didn’t expect. When I was first laid off, Amy was also out of work and out of school. So it was just the two of us, all day in the house. We stared at each other and worried about what we were going to do.

All that time and worry often made us cranky and at each other. We didn’t really have big fights or anything, but there were lots of little annoyances and irritations that would put one of us in the study and the other in the living room.

I kept hoping that Amy would find a job before I did so that I would have a couple of weeks to lay around the house. A little mini vacation before I had to work if you will.

Now that she is at work everyday I feel depressed, lonely and very stressed out.

A good part of this, I believe is that while she was here I put a lot of my energy into making her feel better.

Amy is a natural born worrier. If there isn’t something real to worry about she’ll make it up. I spent much of my time consoling her, encouraging her and pushing her to do different thing to keep her mind off of stressful things. In doing so I gave myself little time to worry.

Now that she is gone, I have a lot more time to worry myself. It’s also a little bit lonely in a house all by myself all day. There is probably a little bit of small man feeling. Like as the man of the house I should be out making the money while she stays home. Her bringing in the paycheck may be bringing on inadequate feelings.

But hey I’m still pulling in a severance check every week so I’m making more money than she is and I’m not doing a stitch of work.

On the work front I do have an interview in about an hour. It is with a Knoxville company (shhh don’t tell Juliana or she’ll get too excited.) Honestly, I’m not all that sure about it. The ad was a little vague in exactly what the job entailed. Customer service with management possibilities it said. But it is a financial company and that makes me think telemarketing and I will not be moving to work for a telemarketing company.

It is worth an interview though.

So there is your random ‘how is Brewster doing’ update.


My Mechanical Servants

When it comes to cleaning house, I've got it pretty easy- and I'd venture to say your average American does too. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a huge, specialized sink that would wash all the dishes inside it at the push of a button? Just learn to put dirty dishes directly in the dishwasher, and there you have it. Then there's the amazing laundry-washing machine. All you really have to do yourself is fold and put away your clean, dry stuff. If you want to make things really easy, learn to put dirty clothes directly into separate, sorted laundry hampers; then they can go right into the machine, no sorting necessary!

I've learned a lot of this from FlyLady. She teaches anyone who cares to read about it how to streamline your life and F.L.Y.- finally love yourself. Learning to incorporate new habits into my daily routine has allowed me to keep things neat without even thinking about them, which is so much more important now that I've got both a two year old and a newborn baby to take care of! My house isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but every improvement (no matter how small) is a blessing to my family- that's a big FlyLady lesson.

So now my life has gotten even easier, with the purchase of a little red robot called Roomba. I love this thing. You charge the little guy up, push a button, and he vacuums your floors. And he vacuums them better than I would with a normal vacuum cleaner! Sure, I have to get stuff off the floor that could get sucked up, and I have to empty out the dust in the end. But that's stuff I had to do before; now it's all I have to do. Roomba goes over every part of my floor four times, even around and under chair legs and tables. And my favorite part- under beds! Dust bunnies beware. All this for about $100 if you bargain shop; about the price of a nice upright vac.

By the way, my house would be a wreck if it weren't for my most amazing helper- my husband. He does so much more than I could ask or expect. So you have to be pretty lucky (or better- blessed) to have it as easy as I do, because my Josh is one in a million.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

comedy goes spacey

Well it’s happening, the show is going high-tech. As some of you have noticed our latest Press release has been sent out and at the bottom of the page was a link to our MySpace page. I had another guy make the page and it’s going to be a work in progress but it could be interesting nonetheless.

We’re trying to step a few things up performance wise over the next little while so who knows what’s going to happen.

We did some walk around stuff at the Knoxville Children’s Hospital on Monday and it was a lot of fun. I recently bought 145 foam clown noses to give out during shows and at PR functions and they were a big hit at Children’s.
At anyrate I just wanted to post something that would knock that five pound bass out of the top slot and show off our new GFX, though some of you have already seen it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The BIG One

The photo above is not faked or perspective. I could practically fit my head in this fish's mouth. Jamison, Chuck, and I went fishing at my wife's, uncle's pond just outside of Montgomery on Saturday. It was a perfect day for it. About 15 minutes into fishing, I caught this monster. Then, I released it. Chuck and I got pics with our camera phones, so I figured I'd let this big fella live to fight another day.

My uncle-in-law told me later I should have saved him for my wall, but I couldn't do that. A pic is better to me anyway. All in all, it was a fun day. There were only 2 fish caught, unfortunately. I caught them both, but hoped all along for my buds to outdo me.

In other news: We had an awesome time eating together Friday night and cooking out at my pad Saturday night. Our guy time in the "Men's Lounge" was fun, too. We were sad to see Chuck leave again, but we understand what a blessing it is for him and his family to be where they are. One thing's for sure; next spring/summer, Rachel, the boys, and I definitely plan to go visit them in theiir new digs and take in the beach!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Everybody Needs the ACPO

If you love to urinate outside. If you love the American Coalition for Peeing Outside. If you want the Frapr map to gain tons of exposure. Then I have a task for you.

A little bit ago I wrote a little story about the ACPO and posted it to my blog and the Mondo Project. The idea was that the hundred odd folks who read my site and Mondo would read it, laugh and then join the map. It seems to have worked a little bit as the map has grown.

Well that was peanuts.

I have just submitted the story to four of the bigger social bookmarking sites. If you have no idea what that means you can read the wikipedia link there, or I’ll explain briefly. Basically these sites are read by thousands of folks everyday. What they are reading are links to news/culture/whatever stories written elsewhere and posted by members to the one site.

Essentially it is a one stop shopping approach to reading current web stories. Now the readers of these sites have the opportunity to vote for each story. The more positive votes a story gets the closer it gets to the front page of these sites. The closer to the front page the more people will read the story and vote for it.

It’s a democratic way to read the news.

Here’s where I need you. Tons of articles are submitted each day. Most of them get buried somewhere in the bottom. However, if I can get a few votes for my story then more folks will read it and then hopefully go to the Frapr map and place themselves on it.

Voting is super easy. You will have to sign up at these sites which takes like a minute and then vote for the article, which takes less time. It’s a slight hasstle so it is your choice, but could literally mean thousands of folks signing up.

The links are at the bottom. When you try to vote it will take you to some little sign up page. Just do it and in a minute you’ll be able to vote.

Many thanks.

The Digg Link




Job Fair

We went to the mall today because they were having a job fair. Now I have been to several job fairs as an employer looking for new hires, but never as someone looking for work. I have also not had to look for work in about five years. I was quite nervous before we left.

At all the job fairs I have attended there have been multiple (35-100) companies there. Often they have applications to fill out on site and I have even seen companies who will do immediate interviews.

The mall had about 10 companies. More than half of them were temporary employment agencies, some of which we’ve already been too. Some of the others were McDonalds, the Army, and some financial firm looking for suckers. There was anothe trucking company that looked interesting, and they guy talked my ear off, but he didn’t have any applications, or any information on what jobs they might have available.. He directed me to a website where I could apply. The other place was some sort of help for the elderly but the lady brushed me off and asked me to tell others about them. Tell others, why would I do that when she wouldn’t give me the time of day.

So it was an immediate and total failure.

Being in the mall we wondered around for a bit and saw a sign in a Dick’s Sporting goods looking for employees. Amy picked up and application and we wondered why a mall couldn’t even get the companies that are located inside them for their job fair.

Next door they are opening a Bed, Bath and Beyond so we decided to stop by their employment trailer and apply. Or rather, Amy did while I waited in the car.

She got it! To start off it is only a two week temporary thing to stock the store, but after that they’ll be hiring permanent workers and those who help stock are first in line. Amy should be a sure thing, but please keep it in your prayers.

Yeah! Go Amy!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another Novel, More Possibilities!


Thank you for your interest in Writers in the Sky Literary Agency."The Tower Quail" sounds very interesting and we would welcome the opportunity to consider it. Please read and review the submission guidelines posted on our web-site: and send me the first three chapters, a full synopsis, and a short bio about yourself. These can either be sent electronically to: (email) or through the postal service to: Writers in the Sky Literary Agency, P.O. Box 308, Clinton, IN 47842-0308.

As soon as I receive your materials I will see that they are placed into our initial review process. You should receive notification of our decision within six weeks.

Again, thank you for your interest in Writers in the Sky Literary Agency. Please contact me if you have any questions and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Arvana Edwards,
Associate AgentWriters in the Sky Literary Agency

Monday, September 04, 2006

Road Trip to New Orleans

img.jpg“Guess what, Sebadoh is playing New Orleans tonight and Birmingham tomorrow night.” My girlfriend at the time, Tara exclaimed.

“Oh man!” I replied, “but we can’t see them can we? What with the final dress rehearsal tonight and our first performance tomorrow. Well, I could maybe go tonight. I mean I’m not actually in the play, the set is totally finished, and my only other tasks are putting on your old age make-up and doing a few minor set changes. Someone else could probably pick that up for me.”

“If you’re going, then I’m going too. It’s not like I don’t know my lines or anything. I’ve got my little role down pat. They won’t even miss me. Do you think Stephen will be mad?”
“Yeah, but he’ll get over it. What can he do, fire you?”

And with that Tara and I were off to find a way to New Orleans. We had a few minor obstacles to tackle: We didn’t know exactly where or when the band was playing. Then there was a little business about not having a car. It’s a 300 odd mile journey from Montgomery to New Orleans and we had to be there within a few hours.
We decided to impose upon our friend, and fellow Sebadoh fan, Devon. Maybe he could get some info and a ride. He was duly excited by the news, but had no information and was also automobile-less.

This was all pre-internet, or at least pre-internet for myself and the university, mind you so we couldn’t do any fancy Googling to gather venue information and direction.
We decided to hunt down Michelle, a student originally from New Orleans hoping she might have a phone book, or at least friends she might obtain information from. She had nothing, but did add that everybody who is anybody plays Tipitinas when they play New Orleans.

In several hours we had managed to pick up an extra person, but had no transportation, no time or directions and only a vague possibility of a venue.
We found our other New Orleans native and drilled her for information. She was even more clueless than Michelle. She did however have a phone card (for there was no long distance plan on campus) and thusly dialed her friend who looked up the number for Tipitinas. Dialed again and confirmed the nights show.

Bingo, we had a venue. Some quickly jotted down directions and we were on our way.
Well on our way without a way to get there.

We leaned on our friend Green Day (thusly dubbed for his fandom of the band and our lack of knowledge towards his real name) who amazingly agreed to go though he had never heard of the band and would have to work the next day.
Wandering the streets of New Orleans after dark with only a vague idea of where you’re going is an interesting experience. From what I could tell it was a beautiful city filled with tree lined streets and a pulsating vibe even miles from any real scene.

A cabbie honked and hollered out his window to us in greeting. He yelled to us that he was a member of the church of Christ. An odd proclamation to make in the middle of the night down a busy city street, or so we thought until we realized that Green Day had a “The Churches of Christ Salute You” bumper sticker riding the tail of his car.
I remember very little about the actual show. We arrived late, and my inexperienced little body cringed as Tipitinas seemed more like a dive bar than a hip music club. Devon brought along a little mini office recorder and dubbed the show for his later listening pleasure.

We made it to Tipitina’s a little late. Sebadoh was already perfoming. We pushed our way up close as Devon got out his little mini-recorder and newsman style made announcements while he then proceeded to record the entire show.
Afterwards we hung out on the side of the venue, near a van that surely must be the bands for an hour or so hoping to see Lou Barlow and the rest of the boys. We dreamed of hitting it off and going someplace for coffee, waffles and good times.

When the band did come out and Tara managed to say something cheeky like “great show” while I stood in the back smiling like a fan boy too nervous to actually talk.
Green Day decided he was too exhausted to drive home and I volunteered to make the trip. Before conking out it was explained that the speedometer was broken and that I should let the RPMs be my guide.

Somehow I managed to make it back to Montgomery, though I didn’t know the way, and had to wake Devon up for directions back to school.
I finally hit the bed well into the day’s morning light. The director gave us a right ribbing for missing dress rehearsal and threatened to kick us out of the show, but in the end all was forgiven.

We didn’t see Mardi Gras, nor sample the excellent cuisine, nor take any the sights and sounds of the Big Easy. But we heard its call just the same, and took a mad dash trip through the wee hours and made it back with a great story to tell.
I hope the city will do the same for someone again, someday.

Rest In Peace Crocodile Hunter

Steve Irwin 1962 - 2006