Post News or Pay The Wall

washington-post-the-wallMy status as the blogger who won’t pay for online newspapers got a fresh challenge today,  as The Washington Post announced they will be implementing a paywall in May.    The Seattle Times does not yet appear to have implemented it’s paywall–  the site indicates that it will become active  ‘sometime in March’.    The Seattle Times and The Washington Post are the two newspapers I read the most,  and this double whammy might (or might not)  be what finally brings me to break out a credit card.      Perhaps Frank Blethen will be surprised to learn that if I do take up a digital newspaper subscription it will be not to The Seattle Times,  but to The Los Angeles Times.     Their rate  ($1.99/week)  would be half of Seattle’s rate ($3.99/week).   While The Seattle Times would home deliver a Sunday paper,  in addition to unlimited digital access,   the fact is I don’t want a dead tree paper.   And frankly, the Los Angeles paper is a much better newspaper.

I am also toying with the idea of trying to just go cold turkey.    Rarely a day goes by that something I read in some newspaper doesn’t piss me off so much that I rant and rave to an extent that my distress is visible to my spouse,  who inevitably remarks that I should know by now that I’m not supposed to read the newspapers.   While waiting for The Seattle Times  paywall to go up I have been reading it more than ever– though I definitely plan to stop as soon as the paywall hits.   I suppose I could wait until the Post’s paywall goes up in May,  also waiting to see if  The Post will be smarter than either of my Times past (Seattle and New York)  which are way over-priced.    I’ve said before and am sure I’ll have occasion to say again that if they asked for twenty or even forty dollars per year I’d pay it without hesitation and consider it money well spent.    The biggest reason I’m considering the El Lay Times  is because they are charging only half as much.    Dare I hope that The Washington Post might introduce pricing more in line with what seems fair to me?

As a life long reader and supporter of written journalism,  I have to acknowledge that this past decade has in some ways been a wonderful one for readers of news,  as most newspapers have tried to have their print readers bear all of the costs of gathering and reporting the news,   while providing all or most of their content free on the web.    That this is not a viable business model has long been apparent.    It frustrates me almost unbearably that newspaper managements seem blindly committed to trying to charge a price beyond what most people will pay,   rather than offering a low price and trying to attract a much larger audience.    The fact is that if it were only twenty dollars a year,  I would gladly subscribe to all four of the newspapers mentioned above,   even though three of them are ‘out of town’  for me.    What really galls me is my strong suspicion that most newspapers will die and fold before ever coming to grips with the new economics of their business.

By Libdrone Posted in Alan

A Day Like Today

What can I write about being depressed?   Yesterday,  I slept about 12 hours.   Woke up and puttered around for a few hours,  then went back to bed and slept a second 12 hours.   I’ve heard that some people have dreams more interesting than their waking lives.   But I never remember my dreams and to me all that sleep is just a kind of lost time.    And even after sleeping 24 hours in the last 36,  I woke up feeling tired and am only barely keeping  my eyes open as I struggle to type this.      I watched the video above this afternoon.   I’m a huge fan of both Elton and Billy.   But honestly,  I’ve seen both of them give much better performances.   Especially the final track,  Piano Man seems to be in a bad key for Elton and he keeps singing falsetto and it sounds awful.   Then again,  when I’m in this sort of mood almost nothing is going to sound great.   Tomorrow evening,  about twenty-four hours from now,  I’m supposed to meet a new acquaintance for coffee.    And I find it hard to imagine having the energy to get dressed,  drive a short ways and do a coffee date.    It occurred to me today that in a way my bipolar disorder really parallels my spiritual faith.    As lousy as I feel today,  I know with great certainty that a day will soon come when I will be in an opposite frame of mind.   I’ll be cheerful and optimistic and energetic and these long dark tea times of the spirit will be forgotten. Just as,  even on the worst day,  I always remember that God loves me and will always put other precious people in my path to love and care for me.    Keeping that bit of perspective while waiting for the lethargy to pass  is about the best I can do on a day like today.

By Libdrone Posted in Alan

Crazy For Susan

an unassigned lifeIt had seemed like such a sensible idea.   I would be the mild-mannered book reviewer by day who led a secret, sexy life by night under an assumed name who wrote stories about his sexcapades in the dark.   I can’t really help but see parallels to ‘coming out’  as a gay person.  Growing up closeted,  one develops acute instincts and learns to make quick judgments about who can be trusted with what information.    Because even though you are sort of living two lives,  you are in fact always one person.   And where is the fun in keeping a secret if you don’t have anyone you trust enough to share it with? 

My wallet name has been kind of going crazy for the fiction of Susan Wells Bennett.     I have finally got around to putting up the long contemplated fan page  and published a review of her Brass Monkey Novels.    And I totally broke my ‘only buy one eBook a month’ pledge, picking up not only her new Just One Note this month but also her short anthology Desert Choir and buying her early novel Circle City Blues.    I had of course already read and reviewed Circle City Blues,  but it was one of only a few books that I bought and read in a Kobo eReader program.    Much as I wanted to,  I was never able to like the Kobo app as well as the Kindle app.    And after learning about linking,  I’ve kind of given up the fight and joined the legions of folks who read pretty much only in their Kindle app these days.

I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the world of long haul trucker “Mac” MacDougall  and was reminded all over again why I have been so very enamored of Mrs. Bennett’s fiction.   My pen name, meanwhile has been taking it a bit slower lately.   Mostly just seeing old friends,  rather than rushing hither and yon meeting lots of new people all the time.   And my pen name has not even Begun the task of meeting and greeting and creating a reader base for what he’s started writing.   I would be comforted by the idea that he’s turned _that_ task over to the experts at Libdrone Books.    Except that I remember that that’s me.    In a very different context I find myself remembering the title of the late Jean Harris’ memoir A Stranger In Two Worlds.    A belated Happy Monday and here’s hoping your new week is off to a great start.

Garnet Vendage Autumnal

Garnet is a color,  a deep and vivid shade of red.   It is also a gem stone,  though I’m honestly unsure if gem appears the same color as the color.   It seems to be such a strange thing to think about as autumn gives way to winter here in the Northwest.   Today was gray and rainy and very winter blah.     I did venture to the library where I picked up a copy of Brian D McLaren’s Why Did Jesus, Moses,  the Buddah and Mohammed Cross the Road?  I can’t remember the last time I checked out an actual paper book from the library.    It strikes me how very quickly I’ve become accustomed to having an eReader.

Vendage can mean simply a harvest of grapes.  Although a web site called  unwords  defines vendage as “The age, usually unknown, of over-processed food items found in common vending machines.”   Which it seems to me is just the sort of word to scare you off that package of vending machine doughnuts.   The word vendage is also associated with rat terriers (a breed of dog) although it remains unclear to me how this word association came about or what it is supposed to imply.   As my year of blogging every day finally seems to be drawing towards its close (or at least into its late autumnal days),  I find myself looking forward to next year,  when I am thinking I will only blog twice a week and hopefully draw more readers to fewer posts.

I had to block an 800 shareholder today.    It definitely knocked my share price down and I kind of hated to do it.   But if they take my eaves and don’t comment on the blog,   I’ve decided I really am better off without them.    I just really hate how angry it makes me (when people steal the eaves), and I know in my heart that what I need to do the most is just not get that angry.    I slipped up and let a second November day slip by without a post from me,  which I do feel a bit bad about.    On the other hand,  I really do know that I can only do what I can do.   I think there is little sense in beating myself up just because some goal proved to be beyond me.    And finally today,  my thanks to Bevan who suggested today’s words.


By Libdrone Posted in Alan

Bedlam Britain Boondoggle

Sometimes,  one song just seems to suggest another.    Which is how it is that I sit here listening to this very different and equally iconic Cat Stevens song and contemplating an election day where nearly everything was decided as I might have wished,  and more or less exactly as I voted.    Forgive me if I am not feeling some sort of elation that a majority of my fellow citizens mostly saw things my way this time.   Little about the dysfunctional political dynamic that has plagued the US federal government over the past years has been in any way addressed,   and I am hardly excited about more of the same government that seems less and less capable of handling the People’s business.      /sighs profoundly

One of the things I so much enjoy about most of my friends from Britain is that they never seem to want to talk about politics,  neither their own nor our American politics.     I can’t say I actually follow British politics,  although I certainly recall having been aware of Mrs. Thatcher and more recently Mr. Blair.    I’m afraid I can’t actually recall offhand who the current British prime minister is.    I have to admit that I really don’t know all that much about Great Britain.

It saddens me to think that within hours at most,  the government in Washington will resume work on the impending fiscal cliff,   which a number of folks have suggested we might actually be better off just jumping from.    Though that hardly seems an ideal maneuver,  particularly given that there will be no change in the balance of power when the next Congress commences in January.   Whatever bedlam and boondoggles they are going to legislate,  I fear we will see them sooner rather than later.   My thanks to Mika Douglas,  who suggested today’s words that I did not really use that well.

By Libdrone Posted in Alan

Little Pink Book

Then some days,  I learn something.    Yesterday I published a brief book review blog of Kate Matthews’  recently re-released cartoon collection  The Little Pink Book of (mostly) Cancer Cartoons.   I liked the book,  rather a lot in fact.   Though I have to confess that most of what I wrote was more by way of complaining that Amazon won’t pay me commissions on eBooks.   And I have believed for years now that that last statement was a fact.    But Ms. Matthews left a comment on that post that made me do just a bit further looking into it.    And while I was correct that eBooks can not be offered for sale in my Amazon hosted  “a-store”,   where for years I have been earning tiny commissions on the occasional sale of a print book I’ve reviewed.  it develops that I can link to products,  in copy on my web site (that is Not hosted by Amazon) and eBooks and anything else they sell  and they will pay commissions.   It was kind of a huge DOH moment for me.    (I will certainly be reviewing more eBooks,  just as soon as I wipe Homer Simpson’s expression off my face.)

The Little Pink Book,  while rather crudely drawn,  is both powerfully emotional and laugh-out-loud funny.   I am genuinely thrilled to learn that I can promote and sell this volume  (which will set readers back the tiny price of 99 cents should they choose to buy it) and receive a tiny little commission if anyone buys it from a link I have publicized.    I have to admit I’m genuinely embarrassed to have only discovered this rather simple distinction after many years of being a book reviewer and book seller,  and by a chance comment from a reviewed author.   To me it is almost a reminder that God works in mysterious ways,  His wonders to perform.

Part of me thinks the fair thing to do might be to go back and correct all of the posts I have made,  pissing and moaning about Amazon’s not paying commissions on eBooks  (when it turns out they just don’t let them be featured on a commission basis in their astores),  but honestly I haven’t the energy to track them all down.   And the fact is that any blog is continually evolving.    That the reality today is different than what I wrote about back whenever I have raised this issue in the past….well let’s just say I leave it to the reader to read as they will and hopefully this revelation to me will make it’s way throughout everyone’s reality.

By Libdrone Posted in Alan

Mercurial Stoic Nostalgia

I have to admit that on first thought I found it hard to contemplate a stoic nostalgia.   The very essence of stoicism,  soldiering on and refusing to show pain even when it hurts like hell seems to me almost the antithesis of a bright nostalgia,  taking real joy in remembering things as they used to be.    My thinking of course can be as mercurial as anyone’s.    And when I thought about it,   I have to acknowledge that masochists experience orgasmic joy in receiving pain.   Could a stoic nostalgia be a kind of masochist’s hymn?  Or perhaps one could recall with nostalgia a time when one’s stoicism enabled one to complete some challenge and achieve some success?   My thinking is perhaps too mercurial for me to quite tie down a coherent thought about these words.

I think I have today completed work on the next edition of Walking Down The Avenue.  Proof-reading inevitably will cause me to make corrections and changes,  but I am definitely getting on towards being ready to send the manuscript off to the copy editor and inching towards the time when I will be ready to release it.   If you are on Empire Avenue and have a blog,  I would love to provide you with a review copy.    Just let me know in a comment or by private message.   I will send you a 100% off coupon so you can get the book as soon as it is released and publish a review of the book on your blog.    It is still bright and sunny, though thankfully still cool and pleasant here in the Northwest.   But as I look at the evening sun growing dimmer I am reminded that the productive fall season is upon us an I am really looking forward to re-releasing the newest edition of the book.    Here’s hoping it’s a good weekend in your world,  and as always I urge you to leave me a comment with Just Three Words that I can make into a future blog post.      And finally today,  my thanks to Sia who suggested today’s words.


By Libdrone Posted in Alan

Weird Stubborn Ornery

I confess that the stained glass image  (which was previously displayed on the Ornery Bastard blog) was chosen for Laura.   I don’t honestly know if Anglicans go for stained glass,  but hope the thought will count for something.    I feel rather guilty.   Today I read another great post on Laura’s blog Lay Anglicana.   Yet felt that I simply could not comment.   I haven’t the faintest clue what church office the featured subject of this post is up for,  and to my knowledge I have never in my life been personally acquainted with an Etonian.   I am reminded again that the US and the UK are two very distinct nations more divided than anything by mostly sharing a common language.

I suppose that my persistent refusal to comment on posts I lack the cultural background to fully understand could be construed as ornery,  although I do not intend it that way of course.   I just don’t feel that I can speak intelligently about something I genuinely do not understand.    I do think that Laura is writing for a very particular audience and this is simply an example of how targeting your niche tends to exclude visitors who are not a part of your niche.   When I think about it,  I realize that my refusal to comment on Laura’s blog could also be construed as stubborn.   To an extent I suppose that stubborn and ornery are somewhat synonymous,  although somehow ornery  to me suggests an especially entrenched stubbornness that has gone on for years and years and singed if not burned scores and scores of innocent bystanders.

To be perfectly honest,  I think I have always been a bit weird.   I’ve always known that I am not and don’t want to be just like most people.    I recall an anecdote that Laura shared about a hippy who moved off to the woods and grew a beard.   When the popular crowd arrived and began emulating him en masse he moved back to town and shaved.    If it had been me,   I think I would have just moved farther away from those imitators.    The fact is I just kind of am and always have been a big bearded bear of a guy and if you find that weird or not to your taste,  go talk to somebody else.   I am who I am and it is not now nor has it ever been open for discussion.     My thanks to Harold Gardner  who suggested today’s words in a comment on Eccentric Independent Contrary.

Eccentric Independent Contrary

I don’t believe that I have ever eaten cassoulet.    I can’t say that the recipe much appeals to me,  though that big beautiful pork chop sticking out does look scrumptious and I suspect the sausage and fava beans in the bowl would be tasty.

I kind of believe that contrary is in my genes.   My late father would sometimes spend the first half of a party or gathering arguing passionately for one side of some controversial matter,  then half way through switch to arguing the exact opposite.   I suppose it could be that we just like to argue.   And certainly,  it is good to consider opposing views before making up your mind.   I try not be contrary,  but to always remember how important it is to consider at least two (and preferably more) sides to any contentious issue.

In my early twenties, after having lived away from home at college for a few years,   I got to a point where I felt the need to be independent.   That I chose to move from my native New Orleans to the Boston area was probably one of the worst decisions I ever made.   I did not like Boston.   Many of the people seemed extraordinarily rude,   and after the first few winter storms snow turned from a novelty into an enormous pain in the neck.   In Boston,  the weather was never considered a reasonable excuse for being late or being absent.   (When I moved to the Seattle area,  I woke up one morning and found two or three inches of snow on the ground.    I brushed it off my car and hastened to work.    I was delayed an hour or so,  by a bus that had spun out and completely blocked a roadway.   When I finally got to the office,   exactly one person was there.   He had come in only to turn away anyone so foolish as to try to go work when it was snowing in Seattle.)   I do think that everyone should try living on their own at least once,  to see how they like it.    I also think that life is a lot better when we live with people who love us.

Like my friend Peter Wright,  who suggested these three words,   I do consider myself something of an eccentric.   A one of a kind if you will.    I apologize that this post is so very tardy.   For days and days now I have just been unable to bring myself to sit down and write.    My thanks to Peter for today’s words and to each and every one of you who reads and comments on this post.


Hi,  Alan here.   But I’m not really here.   I am just not up to writing three clever paragraphs about three reader chosen words today,  and I am taking the day off.    I promise to be back tomorrow with a real post.   Got three words for me?    Leave me a comment after the beep and I’ll write about them just as soon as I can.   Thanks.   BEEP!

By Libdrone Posted in Alan