Today’s Comment of the Week: Halloween Lizards and the Accidental Listener

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Wonderful Listener Rose Red writes:

I thoroughly enjoyed [episode two of the Jacke Wilson Show], which I had to listen to because I knew the Beatles would be mentioned. I am listening to the Halloween one and I think I just wet myself laughing at your take on the geckos in space. “Do they not have feelings?”

Thank you! I’d like to think they do. And I know I have feelings, and your comment made me laugh and feel proud and…a little apologetic! I didn’t mean to cause an accident! Maybe some laundry postponement but that’s as far as I was hoping to go!

I hope things turned out okay. And of course I’m very tickled by the comment. Thank you, Rose Red!

You can listen to the Halloween episode by subscribing to iTunes, following this link to download the mp3, visiting this show page, or pressing this button:

Fun for everyone. Even our dark master Edgar (pictured above in a great drawing by KAL for Raven Beer) makes an appearance in a short story as heard through the filtering mind of Jacke Wilson Jr.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Top Ten Writers Laughing: The Very Best!

Okay, we already looked at numbers 10 through 6. Let’s take a look at the top five from our very popular Writers Laughing series. Away we go!

Number 5: Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving

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Number 4: Samuel Beckett

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Number 3: Flannery O’Connor

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Number 2: George Orwell (this was close – he was overtaken on the final day!)

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And the number 1 Writers Laughing are…

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir!

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Congratulations, winners! Now everyone, let’s all try to make laughter part of our day today. Come on! We can do it!

Note: Commentary and image credits are on the original links.

The Jacke Wilson Show – Subscribe on iTunes!

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One… one one… one one… It’s the Jacke Wilson Show!

And now you can subscribe on iTunes. Every episode, downloaded to um… the device of your choice… um, it streams to ah… HEY LOOK. IT WORKS ON IPODS. PHONES. IPADS. COMPUTERS. ALL STUFF LIKE THAT. WHATEVER YOU OWN AND USE.

Ahem. Some of us are not always up on, say, technology. But we try. We make do, as my mother said as she wiped my nose with a leaf after a cataclysmic sneeze disrupted my walk to kindergarten.

How do you partake in these glories? Just click this link. Or this graphic:

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And you will hear the lost scenes of Macbeth, the Fall OFF the House of Usher, the new Michael Jackson play (starring Bryan Cranston), lusty lizards, Tolstoy and his horse, Jacke Wilson Objects galore, philosophers galore, great books galore, morning thoughts, late-night thoughts, prehistoric fish, Tibetan rainbows… it’s a journey, people. We can take it together.

And I promise I won’t make myself laugh so much in the future! I’m getting more professional, episode by episode.

Enjoy!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE JACKE WILSON SHOW IN ITUNES.

Prefer to download directly? Or stream on your computer? You’re in luck! Here are the episodes:

Download the mp3 file: The Jacke Wilson Show 1.2 – Perception and the Mind

Or download The Jacke Wilson Show 1.1 – the Halloween Episode or listen to it here:

Virginia Woolf on How to Read a Book


Via Maria Popova’s Brainpickings (of course!), we get this amazing overview of Virginia Woolf’s amazing advice on how to read a book.

The whole post is worth reading, but here’s a taste:

To read a novel is a difficult and complex art. You must be capable not only of great fineness of perception, but of great boldness of imagination if you are going to make use of all that the novelist — the great artist — gives you.

Virginia made a cameo here on the Jacke blog once before, when she visited Stonehenge. Glad to have you back, Virginia!

Let’s try a little K.T. Tunstall for our onward and upward. With the legendary Daryl Hall. Can’t we all just go hang out there, at Daryl’s house?

Writers Laughing: The Top Ten!

What can I say about the Writers Laughing series? It’s hugely popular and it’s not hard to see why. We all love books, we all love authors, we all love seeing them in their unguarded moments. And laughter is a beautiful thing. I suppose I’ve posted about 30 or so of these. Time for a top ten!

Number 10 (tie): Gertrude Stein, Zora Neale Hurston, Carson McCullers

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Number 9: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

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Number 8: Seamus Heaney

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Number 7: Lorrie Moore

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Number 6: Alice Munro (with special guest Margaret Atwood)

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That’s it for now…bask in the happy mood and check back for the top 5!

Note: Commentary and image credits are at the original posts.

Small Press Shoutout: Owl and Zebra Press!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Longtime readers may recall the Small Press Shoutout series, in which I celebrated those independent, brainy, well-intentioned, focused, even more focusedadorable, craftsmanlike, inspiring, dazzling, successful, friendly, quirky, cutting-edge corporate governance-y small presses. Here’s a list, with links:  Continue reading

Today’s Comment of the Week: The Folder of Laundry!

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Wonderful Reader [or I guess Wonderful Listener] R listens to Episode 2 of The Jacke Wilson Show and writes:

I love your whole thing about philosophers and drug effects. I had to laugh as you explained some Conte-crazed college kid jumping on a table and making some life-changing announcement. It’s amazing how ideas can MOVE people. Also thoroughly enjoyed your two segments. Honestly, just the idea of some deep-sea fish spending it’s life in darkness, unrealized by humans, BLOWS MY MIND. And the “Sign” is great. The ending is tricky with these epiphany stories. I feel they go one of two ways: Either the sign is real and he is right, or the sign is fake and the story tries to drop the other sarcastic shoe just as the reader is getting her hopes up. But your ending was much more thoughtful than either of these, and honestly I stopped what I was doing (folding laundry!) just to listen. Jacke’s reaction to the insurance lady is just hysterical! I love it! Thank you for your work, always nice to meet a fellow thinker 😉

This is so much fun for me! I don’t know why I started a podcast, other than I enjoy listening to them myself and I thought it would be a good way to try to connect with other people. Maybe to entertain, maybe make some people think. Maybe throw some ideas out into the world and see if anyone is as crazy as me.

I have a noisy household and a full-time job, so I have to record these things at 4 in the morning. (Also known as “Writing Time.”) The oddest thing about the process is not having an audience. Well, writing is like that too, but recording a podcast is even stranger, at least for me.

After I released Episode 1, I got some wonderful feedback, including some very warm comments from some longtime friends of the Jacke blog. And now this! To think that someone stopped what they were doing to listen – well, readers, I hate to admit this, but it got a little dusty in Jacke’s world today. You have to remember how many years I spent basically writing for no audience other than a few friends and family. I’ve talked about this before; it’s not something I need to go into again, other than to say how THANKFUL I am for each and every listener, reader, commenter, emailer, and generally receptive human being.

The world is a little less lonely, the sense of community feels a little stronger today. Thank you!

You can listen to the Beatles, philosophers, prehistoric fish, and all the other epiphanies here:

Download the mp3 file: The Jacke Wilson Show 1.2 – Perception and the Mind

You can also download The Jacke Wilson Show 1.1 – the Halloween Episode or listen to it here:

PS: When I thought about the last time I gushed with appreciation over a reader’s comment, I thought to myself, “Well, it’s been about a year since I did that, so it’s probably okay to do it again.” Then I found the link and realized it was LAST MONTH. Stay with me, people! I’m not always so sentimental!

It’s The Jacke Wilson Show! Episode 2 – The Mind

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Here we go! Episode 2 of THE JACKE WILSON SHOW is up and running. This is a fun one: the Beatles, philosophers, prehistoric fish and Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. A few Tibetan rainbows for good measure. And lots more!

Download the mp3 file: The Jacke Wilson Show 1.2 – Perception and the Mind

Getting better, I hope! You can also download The Jacke Wilson Show 1.1 – the Halloween Episode or listen to it here:

Let me know what you think! Thank you for listening!

Show Notes:

It’s the JACKE WILSON SHOW!

Episode 2: The Mind. The Beatles, the clinical effects of Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche, philosophy and psych experiments at the University of Chicago, the rainbows of Tibet, holy spirits of all kinds, Tetris Zombies, and Jacke Wilson Object #20 (The Sign).

JACKE WILSON is the pen name of a writer whose books have been described as being “full of intrigue and expertly rendered deadpan comedy.” Born in Wisconsin, Jacke has since lived in Chicago, Bologna, Taiwan, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Mountain View, and New York City. Jacke now lives and works in the Washington D.C. area. Like his writings, the JACKE WILSON SHOW takes an affectionate look at the absurdities in literature, art, philosophy, great books, poetry, current events, hard news, politics, whatever passes for civilization these days, and the human condition (that dying animal). For more about Jacke and his books, visit Jacke at jackewilson.com.

Credits:

 

A Contest! Guess the Cover Art Themes and Win a Free Book

A contest! Let’s have a contest!

Wonderful Reader N asked this question about my book The Race:

Can I ask a quick question about the book cover? Was the design meant to suggestion a flag because it’s about elections? I am a little obsessed about book covers–maybe because my design sense is stunted from birth–and I’m curious where yours came from.

Great question! And yes! A flag is definitely one of the tropes. This is a story about America and its flailing democracy. But that’s not all! Here’s a reminder of the cover in all its glory…

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The flag is definitely a key – some versions had a capital building silhouette, some had a close-up of a smiling politician, and on and on and on. This is a former governor who’s now running for Congress, after all. Politics and flag waving. Speeches on the hustings. Apple pie. Kissing babies. Fourth of July. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But that’s not REALLY what the story’s about. Or rather, that’s not ALL it’s about.

There are two other elements of the story that are reflected in the cover. I’ll send a free copy of the book to whoever first guesses each of the themes.

For those who haven’t read the book, a set of clues from reviewer alinefromabook:

I found this book absolutely fascinating. There was no crime to investigate, no thrills, no action scenes, no romantic scenes just a compelling story that is a journey through what motivates a man to do what he does.

The story is told by a lawyer who is asked by a disgraced politician to help him organize his biography. Then the politician decides he wants to run for office again. He has no support from the media, no support from his party and especially no support from his family. Why? Because while serving as the governor of the state of Wisconsin he had an affair and disappeared for a few days to be with his mistress. Only in this story, his wife does not stand by her husband on stage or anywhere else and neither do his children. People turn away when he walks down the street. And yet he continues until the last moment to be optimistic that the voters will come through for him. Our storyteller is with the candidate through every step of his campaign because he has no manager and no staff.

I couldn’t help but feel that there is a lot of truth in the author’s portrayal of the candidate that confirms my personal opinion that some of them seem to live in a bit of a fantasy world. I also found the author’s writing style to be very approachable, like a friend relating a story. Bottom line, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to everyone. And since it’s a novella and doesn’t require a huge commitment of time, those of you that might not typically pick up a book in this genre should really give it a try. I hope to read more from Jacke Wilson in the near future.

Is that enough of a hint? Let’s see!

 

“Help! My Family Hates My Pen Name!” – The Result!

I’ve been running this blog for over a year (recently we ran through the best of the best and the worst of the worst) and I have to say this is one of the most fun things I’ve done. Let’s recap:

First, I posted a note from a Wonderful Reader who is struggling with a tough issue: her family does not like her pen name! In fact, it’s interfering with some of her familial relationships, and it might be affecting her writing:

I have a question. My pen name is my grandmother’s name. It took a long time and a lot of thought to chose that name, but now various members of the family (grandchildren and great-grandchildren of all things — she’s been dead for over 60 years and I never knew her) are offended that I’m publishing, even daring to blog in her name. Should I change to make them all happy? Should I write only “nice” things under that name? I’d love to know how you came to your name and what you think.

I posted my own response and opened the comments for additional feedback. And it was awesome! You guys had some empathetic, hilarious, and wise advice for our struggling Wonderful Reader.

Even after reading your comments, I generally felt pretty good about my response. I couldn’t compete with the many personal stories about choosing a pen name or dealing with family. But I think I got the important themes right. In short, my advice was to break down the decision into three options: keep it, drop it, or discuss it with your family so you all are on the same page about what you’re doing and why. The main point I wanted to make was that there are probably larger issues of self-esteem and control – issues that could be due to writing (or even life, really) and might arise no matter what pen name the reader is using. Does the reader feel like her family doesn’t respect her and the things that are important to her? That’s a larger issue that should be considered as part of the resolution.

There’s one thing that bothered me about this. I never really like those advice columnist that boil everything down to two things: 1) seek professional help, or 2) communicate better. Thank you, Captain Obvious! While that may be fine advice, even the BEST advice, it doesn’t really solve every problem. Not everyone wants to head to a professional to deal with each and every problem. (Some no doubt do want to and/or should – I’m not trying to say there aren’t serious problems people have!) And communicating better is often impossible. We deal with people all the time who don’t listen to us! That’s probably the reader’s problem in the first place! There are WHOLE SOCIETIES that are uncomfortable talking through issues. Do we really think the reader is going to solve her problems that way? Maybe. But it might not be practical.

I’m reminded of a story about Bill Murray when he was directing his first movie. He was asked to describe the kind of advice he gave to actors, and he said he tried to be practical. A Method Actor might come up to him and say, “I’m supposed to look like I’m in pain in this scene. What should I be thinking about? What do I need to know in order to get the sense of pain to come across in the scene?” And Bill Murray would shrug and roll his eyes, and then look at one of the crew and say, “Somebody go find a rock to put in this guy’s shoe.”

Practical advice! A few of you pointed out what I thought would be a great option. Not communication, not choosing between two bad options, but another way out. Here it is: Continue reading