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November 2023

Imagine My Surprise: My Muse Came Back

I’m not a Swiftie, but my daughters are minor-league Swifties, so Vicki and I went with them to see Eras in a large-screen theater with Dolby Atmos sound. Our seats shook for three hours, even during the ballads. My daughter provided closed captioning (this song is about this famous guy, this is the lyric you missed―actually, if I just leaned over, I could her better as she sang along than I could Taylor). The theme of the concert was Swift singing about the different eras of her life.

My songs, to date, have been love songs. I wasn’t sure I’d write any more, so I commissioned No More To Say. Then it happened.

Somewhere during hour two, I felt that familiar tap on the shoulder. I rushed to the lobby to scribble down lyrics and titles. This effort isn’t going to be like my others; these will be intensely personal, not headed for Itunes or Spotify (yes, Paul, you’ll have to listen to them as a podcast), and I think I’ll sing them myself, once my tunesmith is done setting them to music.

I wanted to use the line “You look like my next mistake,” but all three of my women vetoed it on the grounds that it is trademarked by Taylor Swift.

A tiny handful of you would be interested in hearing these new songs; drop me a note if you are in that number and you’ll get a link when the job is done.

I don’t know how long this round will last. My muse has moved into the spare bedroom, but she only brought a toothbrush and a change of clothes. She left her steed at home. She only comes downstairs when I am writing―and, thank heavens, only when I’m awake.

Odd Job Out

This is a list of my first adult jobs. Which one doesn’t belong?

Associated Press
United Press International
Bank of America
Oregon Journal
Computer Systems News
Information Week

Yes, that’s correct, Bank of America. I dealt with my BofA job two years ago, but will put it in some perspective.

I quit my job at UPI Hartford to go to San Francisco to write my book, Aspirin Therapy, and to follow my girlfriend who had moved there.

(Bureau Manager James V. Healion, who told me, “Your head and your heart can’t be in two different places,” nevertheless marked my personnel file “recommend not rehire” when I left to put my head where my heart was.)

Our apartment cost $450 a month (2887 Green St., Cow Hollow, San Francisco, near the Presidio.). Inflate that with the CPI and the rent today would be $2,000, but the actual rent for similar flats is $4,500.

I worked on the book for three months, paying my share of the rent out of my advance. That money ran out about when I finished. I needed a job. UPI San Francisco was full up, as was AP.

I swallowed hard and took a job in PR.

I was the Public Information Officer for Northern California branches and the computer and credit card departments. I had some wonderful experiences, including frequent lunches with the Chronicle’s Peter Greenberg at the rooftop Bankers’ Club in what was then BofA world headquarters, 555 California Street in San Francisco. I also enjoyed a trip to the American Bankers’ Association Technology Conference in New Orleans.

The PR department was on the 20th floor; my view of North Beach was so distracting I had to turn my desk around to face the door.

Things were going fine, and I got a big raise from $18k to $22k in early November. Two weeks later, my relationship ended and I quit to take a paycut at the Oregon Journal, which would have been a pay hike a month earlier.

This and That

Plastic Be Gone
An amazing device to clean plastic out of rivers before it gets to the ocean. From LinkedIn

Oscar Meyer Weinermobile Redux
This Man Drives A Burger To Work. From Semi-Rad

Quote of the Millennium
“War is a place where young people who don't know each other and don't hate each other, kill each other, based on decisions made by old people who know each other and hate each other, but don't kill each other... ” - Paul Valéry

Illegal, unethical, or just clever?

Gather around children and let me tell you a story of airline travel from the dim reaches of a half-century ago, when you could buy a Seven-Day Excursion Fare, flight attendants were sweet and kindly, security checks were non-existent, tickets were paper and usually came from travel agents, and baggage limits were only casually enforced. We’ll never see their like again.

To this day, I don’t know whether what Vicki and I did with nested tickets while we were courting was illegal, unethical or just clever.