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cmgI’m a contributing writer for a new music magazine called Country Music Goodness. Read my first review here:

Little Honey – Lucinda Williams – Lost Highway Records

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Portable Snack

New essay up at TNB.

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I first saw this on The Elegant Variation. Excruciatingly funny indeed.

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Two thousand eight

A sampling of this year’s to do list, replete with visual aids:

Wrap up plans for trip to
this spring.
Read more of these
than I do even now. Especially read more of Maggie O’Farrell
and Richard Russo.
But first, finish reading this
Do more of this
so I can finish the book that takes place here
and here
and here
Maybe even take some time off to visit the Coop for specific research.

Listen to more of this man
and his music.
Take Marly Youmans’ advice (see The Palace at 2 a.m.)
that I sit my butt in chair, write when dratted bare, write in vestments rare . . . write a page a day.

Keep up with Alexander Maksik
and his amazing stories, which you can read at Pont des Arts, and buy him a drink when we get here
or wherever he recommends.

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And then there were three

Not my favorite Genesis album by far, and not my favorite time in the Art Dept. We’re losing a valued member to the “corporate” parking world. Who’s next?

So long, Mr. P’body.

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It wasn’t pretty, but here’s my scorecard from my first disc golf tournament. After a shaky start on hole 14, by the end of the day I finished 18th out of 22 in my division — at least I didn’t finish last.

And what does this have to do with a Shoddy First Draft and writing? Well, the player’s pack program included a little story of mine I wrote exclusively for the tournament:

Mr. Bones Finds His Way
By Jim Simpson

When he walked among the living his name had been Weed, but he’d been dead for a long time now. He couldn’t remember his real name, just the nickname given to him as a child because he loved the outdoors and would play for hours in an overgrown field beside his house. He knew nothing of parents, brothers or sisters; didn’t even remember a dog. Being a skeleton had its good and bad points, a selective and spotty memory being one of the bad ones.

He did remember having money and a wife in ’29, then suddenly losing everything. After that he drifted around the country riding trains and finding work where he could. He did this for seven years, and then in the winter of ’36 came to this place — Rowell? Ruell? Roswell? — in the South. It was nice, but he’d hooked up with a bad crowd and they’d killed him. He couldn’t recall why, but the men buried him deep in the woods and no one had ever found him.

He’d lain in his subterranean bed for many boring years just twiddling his dwindling thumbs and slowly rotting. Without light, Time was shapeless. Eventually, it ceased to exist for him. That was one of the benefits of his skeleton-ness. Also, his senses were keener than in life and he could hear animals’ thoughts. Lately, though, he’d begun to hear voices. Human voices. They sounded happy, energetic.

He heard them tromping overhead, laughing, tossing things, walking, picking them up, an odd metallic ching!, and then the living would walk away. When it was quiet he began digging.

He crawled out, shook the soil from his bones and looked about. The moon cast a silvery light over trees, grass, mounds of wood chips. Though he had no nose, the night smelled wonderful. He strolled around the park, following a trail into and out of woods, up and down hills, and scattered about were metal baskets with dangling chains. Interesting.

Next to a sleek playground (no teeter-totters?) were two picnic tables. On the ground beneath one of them a bright yellow disc caught his eye, or more precisely the memory of his eye, since he no longer had eyes. He didn’t question these things, just accepted them. He’d always loved magic; saw Houdini once, so maybe believing in something made you receptive to it. Who knew? Worms had long since consumed his brain.

The disc felt good in his hands. He walked to the head of a trail, set himself and held the thing as he’d seen athletes do at the Olympics. It didn’t feel right, so he held it like a dinner plate, turned and whipped it out and away. The disc flew off into the moonlight, disappearing down the trail. He clapped his bony hands together, clack clack! What fun! he shouted, a silent puff of dust shooting from his jaws. He turned to celebrate with someone, anyone. Sadly, he was alone. He longed for the company of the happy living ones who also threw these things.

He spent the entire evening tossing and retrieving the marvelous yellow disc, laughing his silent, dusty laugh at the satisfying ching!

His nocturnal round of disc golf (somehow he knew that’s what this was called — again, the magic of his skeleton-ness) upset the animals. Squirrels said quiet Mr. Bones, sleeping here! Need sleep! Foraging tomorrow! Owls said don’t scare that mouse Mr. Bones, tread lightly. Snakes hissed, bite you if you scare that rat, hungry so hungry, swallow him whole.

Mr. Bones? thought Weed. I like that. He turned the disc over and placed his white thumb against the rim as he’d heard the living do, a “thumber” they’d said. It flew left, then swept right, bounced and took off down the fairway. He hit the chains on this one — a sign said No. 8 — in three throws. He jumped up, bones clattering, stick white arms raised, laughing hard to no one, soundlessly. He desperately wanted to share this moment with someone. He hung his head and if he wasn’t just a bunch of dried bones, he would have wept.

He slowly plucked the disc from the basket. He felt very tired now. He hadn’t had a night like this in, well, a long long time. He should get back, he thought. But where was his place? He didn’t recognize this section of the park. He just wanted to lie down, but he couldn’t find the trail. He stalked through the woods, brushing aside branches until a vine caught his foot and he fell in a clattering heap. He sat up and leaned back against a fallen tree. So. Here he was lost in the woods. Oh well, no matter. Things were different now.

A purple lizard skittered near him, but it said and thought nothing. A spider dangled from its web, wrapping a tiny moth in silk. In the moonlight he saw the loveliest little red mushrooms. He sat and gazed at them until the memory of his eyelids closed and he slept, the magic yellow disc clutched in his bony right hand.

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