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STC day T-1: Did you see me on TV?

Instead of going to the MadCap Software booth to find out about whatever new product they’re announcing at the conference, I went with my brother to watch the Twins beat the snot out of the Tigers, 16–4. Since the Tigers pounded my Angels at the last game I went to at Angel Stadium, this win was especially sweet.

I also appeared on ESPN, which showed the game live on national television. We sat in the upper deck of the Metrodome behind home plate. Around the middle of the game, an ESPN cameraman emerged from the tunnel near our section. We all started waving. I soon myself staring into the lens of a video camera. I suppose I can tick off a few seconds of my 15 minutes of fame. It should also make filling out my expense report at work more interesting. 🙂 Read more »

STC day T-2: A tour of the city

The STC Conference doesn’t officially start until Monday, but I came a couple days early so I can visit my brother who lives in town. Read more »

Opening night jitters

Nervous? Of course! And I won’t even be on stage. Tuesday is opening night for the play I wrote for my daughter’s middle school. Read more »

Just grieve

What is the appropriate response to a tragedy like Virginia Tech? I tried to write a bit of punditry about how something like this could have been prevented, but I then felt uncomfortable about it. Don’t we have enough flapping jaws on cable news and talk radio who are using this tragedy to promote their causes, their lobbies, and their latest book? And, honestly, could something like this really have been stopped? Read more »

“And so it goes”

Kurt Vonnegut was the novelist who got me excited about being a writer. Until I read Vonnegut, all of literature I studied in school were from classical writers who were long since dead: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Melville, Dickens, and Hemingway. Then, in my AP English class in high school, we read Slaughterhouse-Five. The book astounded me. Here was serious fiction written in a contemporary genre (science fiction) with contemporary language (including a now overused word that starts with “f”) by an author who was still alive!

I became a huge Vonnegut fan. The first hardcover novel I ever bought for myself was his 1979 novel Jailbird. I would make frequent visits to my college bookstore to build my Vonnegut library: Mother Night, The Sirens of Titan, Welcome to the Monkey House, Breakfast of Champions, and Wampeters, Foma, and Grandfallons.

It wasn’t only Vonnegut’s writing that appealed to me. Vonnegut was an author I could relate to. He seemed like a typical middle-class person like I am, with a family and a job. He wrote about issues I cared about. Since he was a contemporary writer, I could always look forward to him writing something new and addressing what was happening in the world at the time. Other literary greats seemed like musty statues in a marble tiled hall, but Vonnegut brought writing to life. He made a literary career something achievable and worthwhile to me. If Kurt Vonnegut could become a great writer, there was hope for people like me.

Now, Kurt Vonnegut is a part of history, just as Chaucer and Melville. Unfortunately, some of his writing seems to have faded into history too. The horrors of Dresden that he depicted in Slaughterhouse-Five seem as ancient to my children as Chaucer’s pilgrimage to Canterbury. I hope that some other contemporary author could make writing as alive to my children as Kurt Vonnegut did for me, but a great author like him can never be replaced.

God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut. Auf weidersehen?