Monday, November 16, 2009

Hemingway's Favorite CatHouse

Let's see a show of hands .... Has everyone read Hemingway? He's famous for a half dozen or so works plus short stories. Do you think THE OLD MAN & THE SEA was worthy of the Pulitzer Prize (1953) or the Nobel Prize (1954)? I count 'Papa' among my favorites, one notch below Steinbeck, so when I had the chance to visit his former home in Key West yesterday ... let's just say I was probably more stoked than I shoulda been. Thanks to Deb's pics, you can take a short tour.

 Here's Ernie's house. For all of its 'charm', & the hype that this was THE HOUSE, Hemingway didn't produce his best known work here. In fact, he was not a happy camper & was in the middle of a combative marital situation. The lame 'tour guide' (sloppy, I dress better when weeding the mulch beds) was less than enthusiastic & droned on about the marriage issue like a National Enquirer reporter. I abandoned the guide & went about my business apart from the group. Something smelled. I assumed it was the guide.

Hemingway had a separate writing annex. This is something all writers need. A separate building on one's property devoted entirely to writing, preferably overlooking a pool surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The dead animal heads mounted on the wall?  Wouldn't work for me - 'specially with their eyes staring accusingly at my desk.

I have a tough time believing that the typwriter in this picture is "THE" machine. Lame Tour Guide was doing his best to sell that bull... I mean bill of goods but get real. Hemingway lived in the Midwest, Paris, Canada, Spain, Cuba, yadda yadda yadda. There are probably at least 3 or 4 'museums' that have his original typewriter. On another note - That chair looks about as comfortable as an Iron Maiden. Maybe that explains his terse style. Mr. H was probably crampin' up & had to walk around every few minutes.

Had to include some pictures of Papa's bookcases. Naturally these are touted as being from his original collection. I suppose some of them could be, though there's no climate control so I wonder what the humidity does to these declared treasures. If you read about E.H. (beyond Wikipedia) you'll learn that the Cuban government actually confiscated his home in Cuba, including most of his personal belongings, several manuscripts, & a large "collection" of trophies and treasures. This occurred after his days in Key West, but before his final move to Idaho.

Guess I should attempt to sound writerly for a few sentences. (Clears throat) I prefer writing that's to the point as opposed to 'round about. Maybe that's why I like Hemingway. Most consider him a 'minimalist' - an easy conclusion to reach when taking into account his first employer's demands regarding the required (newspaper) writing style: "Use short sentences. Use short 1st paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."  Or maybe his style really was dictated by that comfy lookin' chair. Like short sentences? Read The Old Man & The Sea.

Now here's where my tour came off the tracks. I was diggin' most of the 'Whoa! The MAN lived here' until I walked into the master bedroom. Cat on the bed. Wanna freak me out? Let me see an animal of any kind on furniture - 'specially a bed. SKEEVED OUT! (My cat has NEVER been on the bed. EVER.) And that's when I figured out why the song THAT SMELL by Lynerd Skynerd kept blaring through my brain. Betcha I'm the first to incorporate Skynerd with Hemingway in the same paragraph of a blog post.

Seems Hemingway had a thing for cats. Six toed felines. There are currently 44 of 'em on the premises, & they have the run of the place, which, for me, explained that pungent smell of a giant litter box. Cheap box fans are strategically placed in all the rooms, adding to the visual charm, because, as Mr. Apparent Woman Hater Tour Guide explained, witchy wife #2 (or was it 3?) replaced all of the ceiling fans with chandeliers & therefore, the house was always hot, much to Papa's annoyance & discomfort. All  of these cats are supposedly descendants of the original Hemingway pets, but I didn't count their toes to verify that claim. Ivestigative reporting ain't my thing. Above is a pic of one of the outside "cat" houses. Shshsh ... it's supposed to look like the main house. It confuses the cats.

The kitty graveyard. This kinda takes pet devotion to a whole new level. As a construction guy, all I could think of was - How many yards of concrete has been poured over the course of 60+ years for this oddball burial ground? Think about it. "X" number of cats reproducing & kickin' the bucket over the course of 7 decades. Wonder if Stephen King was inspired by this when he wrote Pet Sematary? Notice the names & dates of the recently departed?

So overall, the visit to Hemingway's home was underwhelming while the smell of cat pee was, let me look up the antonym for that ... ah.... here it is .... ugh!!! Would I visit again? Maybe. If I had a respirator.

The Keys, in general, won't make the top 10 list of my favorite places visited, but, I picked up some cool stuff that might come in handy - some day. I'm thinkin' my next post will be about UGLY CHICKS. Key West is overrun with 'em.

Uh... What did you think I meant???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Procrastinate? Me?

Deb took this pic of a potential web consultant last weekend in Islamorada.
(Nice set o' legs!!!)

  I gotta get off my butt & get it done..... dreading it...  Can't procrastinate .... uh... much longer.....

Shoulda set it up before BAD LATITUDE came out .......definitely before RECKLESS ENDEAVOR hits the street.
(Yeah - That's me in the pic - reference leg comment above.)

Lots to do & bein' out of town ain't helpin'.....

Gotta stop day dreamin' & get this "stuff" done.....

Maybe I should stop hangin' out (Islamorada again)

Dunno if I wanna.

Home to St Augustine Friday night & then a quick trip to Key West Sunday....

Huh???  What???

Ya say I'd better get my priorities in order.?

(*sigh*) Okay, I'll try. Promise.

Where was I...... right.

Maybe run home to St Augustine Friday night & visit Key West Sunday.

Thanks for the pep talk y'all. Seriously, hafta get busy on that website..... right after .....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Motivated To Do It Again

Deb took this picture the day BAD LATITUDE was delivered. This was the first batch.

Funny I didn't think twice about reader reaction, even after these babies showed up. Never thought much about promotion or having to "talk the book up", or "create buzz" either. There were absolutely no goals or expectations with BL but that seems to have changed. With one under my belt & RECKLESS almost ready to go, reader acceptance somehow seems more important. Is that a good or bad thing?

Here's a copy & paste from FaceBook. I thought it was pretty cool.

Amy  ________  October 26 at 7:58pm

Trav started the book!! He stopped reading Harry Potter to start it and turns off the TV in his room, tells us to "keep quiet" so he can "be in the book" as he's reading. So cute. We're going to send it down after he's done and he's already started writing you a letter with questions. :) I also wanted to add that he never reads at home. He reads at school b/c he has to. So thank you for writing such an excellent story that captivates my kid more than the Disney channel ;) In a follow up comment Amy mentioned that Travis (after checking out pics on my FB pages) was surprised that my boat really is named Laffin' Gaff - same as Pop's boat in the book. Hah! Wish I had about half of "Pop's" money.

The kid in the picture is Travis (aka Trav). I've never met him, but I've known his mom since she was about sixteen. [She's a fan of author Harlan Coben, so she's got great taste in writers.] Time flies & I'm old. I asked permission to use her comment & the picture for my blog. (Amy bought the book on Amazon, so this isn't a polite response to receiving a gift. Had to add that clunky tidbit for the sake of credibility.) The bottom line, I think, is when something like this 'writing stuff' works out, &, for me it has (so far), & you get positive feedback from readers, you feel obligated to raise the bar. Expectations. Instant pressure. Now it matters. There are lots of ways to have a positive influence - getting kids to read is one of 'em. So maybe this writing gig is worthwhile after all. Maybe it's really more about the audience. Maybe this is why we write.

Now we'll have to see how the latest Rackham Adventure turns out as the kids travel the high seas aboard the 82 foot schooner RECKLESS ENDEAVOR - with old Calico Jack along for the ride. Not a big deal, 'cept the old pirate has been dead since 1720.

 Thanks Travis & Amy ....