Tag Archives: Busker

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

well drilling rig

 

 

The drive to Holbrook, Arizona was good! Included was a spectacular 24 hours in Camp Verde, Arizona with our youngest daughters 88 year old  grandmother. Slept along the banks of the Verde River. Up over into the high country to Holbrook, Arizona where I fell upon this fine machine in transit from California to destinations we can only imagine! This is the exact machine I’d imagined for chapter one of Hot Spring Honeymoon. It only took a 927 mile drive to find what I’d imagined…

 

 

 

 

Comedy as Balancing Act

??????????????????????

Comedy requires concision. As I’ve been building my story I’ve had to battle filling in enough narrative to make the mind’s eye see the scene while maintaining the pace of the story so as not to derail the momentum. It is a brutal dance of first building the chapter and then removing anything that does not propel the plot or is not funny… There is a degree of difficulty here that I would not have been capable of understanding had I not written two bigger novels.

HOT SPRING HONEYMOON

“Always use a high roller at a card game,” Fletcher said.

“Poker playing, men play cards all the time.”

“Mormon’s don’t…” Gage said.

“Give a Mormon half a chance,” Fletch said, “and they’ll be most hung-over rooster crowing at sunrise.”

“Enjoy a game twice as much,” Keefe said, “and be three times as ashamed.”

 

All About Bankrupt Heart

Bankrupt Heart

A Novel by Dana Smith 

Bankrupt Heart explores the journey a man begins under some duress when his life on one fateful day vanishes. But wait! This is only where the story begins.

Victoria, Ry’s long term life partner, a composer-pianist on tour in London is not only not coming back, but is immersed in an affair with a British tuba player! Finn who is Ryan Waters true best friend has just purchased a forty-three foot wooden sailboat, Jasmine and offers her to Ry as an escape from his now empty house on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Into the gale of Ry’s sorrow a boatyard of beatific people is discovered. Penniless souls for the most part; this tribe of sailors, drunks and artists transforms what appears initially as a march into the heart of darkness into a delicious redemption.

Ry Waters withered personage is soon pit against the towering humanity of Jackie Van Hart, watercolorist, yoga instructor and art teacher. Morty, his supercharged agent, vows to find him a new job at another radio station that Ry is not sure he even wants. Finn an avowed bachelor, meanwhile is falling in love with a woman who, like him, wanted nothing to do with relationships.

Pain and struggle’s antidote is plot twist, humor and surprise. Jackie, this gifted, intuitive, uninhibited woman with a knack for shattering convention and sparking the unexpected is the high octane catalyst for change. Then, as if too good to be true, her lover Lenny sails right back into Jackie’s life and even her world spins out of control.

There are intricate totems placed into this narrative that add valuable meaning.

Bankrupt Heart is paradoxically a joyous romp, a story of a man restoring a wooden sailboat while reviving his most authentic self, initially his world implodes into a hellacious mess but soon the main characters join Ry on the path to a wholehearted life.

Available as an ebook at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Or Contact Direct here to Purchase Print Version

 

Children at the Brink

I was running with the wind again. Headed north with Lacey riding shotgun. We had dinner in Ashland Saturday night. Sunday stopped in Eugene for breakfast. I’d been the producer of the street performing program at the Eugene Celebration for a bunch of years. Downtown Eugene has gone from bad to worse in the last few years.

After breakfast north to Portland and stopped to have a visit with one of my oldest friends. He’s holed up on the Northeast side just off Sandy. My friend likes to think outside the box, he prefers to live outside the box, and working from this scaffolding makes a curiosity, a kind of unbridled romp far from the familiar fields.

Evening shared more time with a husband, wife and their two teen daughters. On my way to see our youngest now at Seattle University it was like a taste of warm ups for what was about to come.

The progressive teen of the Pacific Northwest is a roving Burning Man Festival. They are playful souls. They bet with imagination. They read books, good reads.

They recycle. They eat good food. They like to juggle. They draw. They hook up and get tight with their sweethearts. They know that authenticity is the coin of the realm.

These are the souls we are handing our world off to. They are good loving people. They love the world they’ve been born into. The same as you and the same as me, and they want to do, to do whatever it takes, to turn the world around.

The obstructive class of status quo types that have the world by the throat… they will always want just one more bite of the apple, make one more close, one more deal, one more day before they let go.

My bet is with these feisty types up in this corner of the country. Come high tide, black ice, or snow storm they’re going to try to steer away from the catastrophe.

If you hadn’t noticed, Scientific America published a story this week. The article was unequivocal. Climate change is irreversible. The world is going to get much hotter. An extinction event could be baked into the cake.

We apparently can’t help ourselves. We can’t fix every problem. We can’t win every war. There are things beyond our reach. So, when was it we gave up and became fashionable not to try?

 

Click on the pic and go to Amazon to get the ebook for $1.00

Connect with me and I’ll sell you a print version for $15.

 

Eternity Ringing in my Ears

My 1967 Ford pickup truck was home. It took some practice to get the kinks out. Simplicity was the key. When I got the truck it had a V-8 and when I finished it had an inline 6 cylinder 240 cubic inch motor.

Matched weighted forged pistons, steel timing gears, special camshaft profile, roller rockers, balanced the rods, and tweaked the one barrel carburetor. I got 20 miles to the gallon. Smoothest engine I ever made.

Much of what I did to the motor comes standard now. I didn’t get roller lifters. Instead I opted for special hydraulic lifters matched to perform with the roller rockers. I might well have seen 22 miles per gallon with the roller lifters had I installed them.

Got rid of the points and added an electronic ignition system. I bought the rig in 1976. When I was done I donated the engine to a Ford Bronco restoration shop. The 240 was a prize.

 

I’d swapped out the 8 for the 6 and ran it around for a few months prior to rebuilding it. Ran fair enough, but I knew I could do better. I’d had the truck now for some years. It was about 1983. I had put about 300,000 miles on the rig touring as I had across the United States.

After jerking the engine and tearing her down, sending her out to the machine shop, ordering all the trick parts, getting her back and then painstakingly reassembling the engine back together I was ready to start the motor for her first try.

It was like an out of body experience. The motor purred. Gone were the rumbles and shakes. The motor had come to me speaking in broken English whereas now it was fluent, in fact perhaps mellifluous: to my ear Shakespearean.

I ran north to south. The Ford took me as far as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and as far south as Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja, California, Mexico. She’d taken me east to Key West three times, New York twice, and Boston once.

I’ve slept around as they say. Finest neighborhoods I could find, or sometimes not, sometimes I’d just sleep where I was, wherever that was, however that looked.

Never put much stock in wanting my rig to draw attention. Curtains sealed out any light my reading lamp might make. Once I was in back on my bunk nobody gave the rig a second thought. You want to be invisible.

On my way to 500,000 miles I’d put something like ten coast to coast tours on this old truck. I spent the better part of a decade living in her, half those years non-stop, twenty-four-seven-sixty-months-straight-during one stretch.

 

I went over Rabbit Ears Pass on my way to Durango, Colorado in 30 below zero one night; had to chain up for that one. Not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, but was a nominee.

Life was all about the show. I played dates town to town. Between dates was whatever I wanted it to be. I’d usually stock up the rig with food and then the real art was to know what dirt track to turn down.

If I had a few days I could write, read and workout. It wasn’t anything special. Many of my performing friends did much the same. It was good and still is.

Have a home now, but I still own a pickup truck, still get out on the road, and still pull off and take a dirt track now and then out fifty miles to nowhere pull over and spend a few days with eternity ringing in my ears.

 

Now Available at Amazon (click on the pic) for the handsome price of $1.00

Or, Contact Me for a Print Copy for $15

dana@danasmith.com

When Comedy Goes for Help

Make them laugh, make them laugh..

 

Today I’ll harvest sage wisdom from two comic minds. One is a silent clown, the second a gypsy magician.

The silent act has spent much of the past few decades doing cabaret inEuropewhen he wasn’t doing odd arena style opening work for major musical acts. The magician by contrast has played everything from children’s cartoon show feature, to authoring of the Klutz Book of Magic, from large venue stage shows to very intimate venues where he roves the crowd performing close up.

Having blended my life from all show business, on stage, full time, 300-500 shows per year, into part show business full time novelist, completing a novel about every 21 months, and presenting some 100-150 shows per year, my comic muscle remains in shape while the minds and imaginations of my two associates remain honed and their instinct for what is funny sharp.

Literary fiction is a realm with a different set of rules than the set that comes with a variety show stage act. There is an intersection, a place where they overlap, and one can inform the other. The secret is to know not just what to do (entertainer) but knowing something about how to do it (author.)

Still, in developing the outline to Hot Spring Honeymoon what I have is now a set of potentials. My friends are relentless imaginations. The silent clown is ever obsessed with any slight, least, moment he can exploit for his own mirth making purposes. He is granular, sees the world through a lens that is of its own kind.

The magician is different still. He is concerned with illusion, trickery, surprise and revelation. It isn’t what the performer sees from stage, but what his audience sees, and as an illusionist first and funny guy second, he understands the intermediation that good narrative demands.

Both know situations that are inherently funny offer a power that a singular funny line does not. They have a nose for circumstance, have strengthened their instincts to respond to opportunities.

I will go with a hundred ideas and return with a thousand. A few of these ideas will be worth their weight in fools gold. We write alone at a desk. We write what we know. Pieces of what we come to know have been generously donated to us. Sometimes it comes as a gift from the well seasoned comic minds of veteran showmen.

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

 

 

Big Bad Boats

 

Rocket Science a mini-monster from the Cook Islands.

This is 50 feet, water ballasted, twin ruddered, carbon fibered, wickedly fast boat with a 13 foot draft!!!!

I stepped aboard a monster Sunday. The beast tethered to a dock. Sixty-five feet of ocean going, purpose built, go anywhere, under any conditions sailboat.

The beast had been born inNew Zealandto an American couple. For eight years this water ballasted ballistic sailing vessel was both a means to an end and an end in itself.

The design was conceived with a lengthy and sleek hard dodger. The stick was massive, the spreaders gargantuan, staysail could be hanked on, and the jib roller furled. Temporary lower backstays were ready in the event the staysail was deployed.

Oversized winches were aft, a weight compromising windlass on the bow (looked more than adequate for the job while small enough not to interfere with the boats sailing characteristics.) And I have to mention the spinnaker pole stowed vertically against the leading edge of the mast.

A mere man and woman, two people handled the task of sailing this unrelenting powerhouse. Losing control of a boat this size, flogging a sail, jamming a line, getting a sail down, hoisting one up, furling an unfurled sail, or having the guts to unfurl the thing was akin to going into a war zone voluntarily.

At the center on the starboard side below a diesel heater had been installed. There was a huge generator, a larger still auxiliary diesel. Forward in the V berth a queen sized bed. The boats interior was not Spartan, but its purpose was the point. Navigation, cooking, electronics, the heads, showers, rear stateroom, the interior lighting, portlights were all what you would expect of this one of fiberglass Titan.

I was imagining the able bodied seamen I’d want with me should I’d found myself heading out the Gate on an ebb in a blow. I’d pick a couple of old coots the balance would come broad shouldered, under forty and be either crazy or have guts, preferably both!

In 2003 I was down inFt.Lauderdale. Wandering the docks I stumbled upon a brokerage that specialized in selling sailboats of this size. They were all beasts. You looked at one and said I could take that boat right now to Europe, that other up the Northwest passage, still another toAntarctica. There were a few tender looking boats mixed among the toughie’s, and then there was this one I was aboard yesterday.

It is something special to be aboard something that resembles what you would use to get you through your worst nightmare. It is something like how you would travel to somewhere over a rainbow intent upon arriving back from a dream you would be wise not to make.

Is that a merry-go-round or Secretariat…

Available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble as ebook for the grand total of $1.00

What are you waiting for? 

 

 

 

Really Loving You Now

Where gods and love soars, above the highest peaks

Into the breech of our life comes the sight of the other we might chance to love. It comes out of the blue. They enter the room and you look and it’s decided right then.

Not for all of us. Some of us sneak up on it. We go to school with them, work with them; see them out at the grocery store, dancing.

I was made to love. Comes right out of me, it is spontaneous, voluntary, willful. I’ve never hesitated. Might have been a hole in my game, if you call love a game, it is rather more like fateful choices we make or undo with our life.

I’m interested in the people who I call my friends that find it difficult not so much to love but difficult to form a lasting bond with the new partner. It is as if my heart came with an instruction manual and there hearts manual was indecipherable.

Some people are discouraged by how the nature of this love literally changes chemically over time. They are confused by the feelings that come with a lasting mature relationship. Loves onset is pyrotechnic… incendiary… passionate… where the long game is played upon a field of tender gauze.

Not only can hot new relationships become an end in themselves, they can be just what the doctor ordered for the long term relationship that you are trying to get over.

Expectations, patterns, habits, they become engrained in us and after a few death rattles as your life long love turns into something much less life long well you know, easy come easy go, soon you don’t even love, you simply visit it, tour its region, take a few memories, and like a holiday return home and back to your solitude.

Freedom is available to all of us. We are free to have or not have whatever we want. So we might invoke the courage in our souls to actually take the opportunity to create the love that our hearts whisper into our beings and encourage us to create

I hear the instructions, I know what to do. My heart has convinced me that I can love with all my heart across the whole of eternity. Fool that I am, I am convinced it’s true.

We can explore the mystery of life long commitment like an astronaut or mountain climber, and we can rise to this daring challenge by loving as if the whole of our happiness and fateful life depends upon it.

A fall can prove fatal and the courage to explore the magnificence of what we tease out our hearts can over a lifetime leave the world that much more saturated in the gleaming splendor of a choiceless freely given love that thrives in the garden of our brave souls.

It is why we begin with a casual date… nothing too fateful at first. Then, the gods laugh and sprinkle the magic fairy dust over us, and like that it begins anew, again and again….

BANKRUPT HEART

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble as an ebook for the handsome price of $1.00

 

 

 

The Nevada Single-Leaf Pinion Pine Nut as Plot

They are right there... those are those dark spots on the hills

The Nevada single-leaf pinion pine (pinus monophylla) produces a nut. If you’ve ever made pesto you will recall that most recipes call for the use of pine nuts. If you’ve ever gone to a grocery store to buy pine nuts you soon discover that they are expensive. Retail they sell for near thirty dollars a pound.

Pinion and juniper grow together. The trees back in the ‘50’s were considered a nuisance. They removed them by hooking a stout anchor chain between two dozers and then our barbaric forefathers cleared the land. The land was now more suited to grazing cattle. Ranchers somehow overlooked the fact that beef earned them peanuts compared to what a crop of pinion nuts could bring.

Now the Nevada single-leaf pinion nut is not just some run of the mill pine nut. It is in the opinion of those who are supposed to know regarded to be one of nature’s most delicious prizes. Nevada pinion nuts are nature’s highest achievement.

If those old cowboys are anything like me they probably sat on their saddles looking out over their herd watching the sunset and the whole time they didn’t realize that they were looking right at the biggest cash crop growing in the Great Basin of the American west.

Biologists put pencil to paper and the value of the pine nuts in Nevada are an estimated 100 million dollars per year. That’s not a gold mine that’s a renewable resource. The eye popping economic value of this crop is a revelation. Add the ecological, spiritual and cultural significance of this prized nut and the wealth of this harvest boggles the human mind.

Before we knew what the heck we had we’d already removed as much as 90% of the original old growth pinion forests. Some folk are thinking might be another kind of nut if we don’t get our heads on straight and put new trees back in where the old ones once grew.

What’s this have to do with the price of tea in China? Exactly what I thought you’d be thinking too. What it means is that there exists a spectacular means to help the people right in Nevada to become self sufficient, care for the land, provide a valuable product to the world, and earn a wage that can help support a worker, a family, a community, a state and ultimately the whole nation.

We built the Bonneville Dam and it is as if nobody gave it a second thought as to what might happen to the salmon. Until taxol was discovered to be of use fighting cancer the Pacific Yew tree was a garbage tree of minimal value and of limited practical uses.

My next novel is set in Nevada. It is a comedy. I’m learning about pine nuts. I’m finding out about geothermal water heated greenhouses, Basque sheepherding, turquoise mining and land speed world records. I’m busy trying to make things up (plotting the novel) and it turns out truth as always is stranger than fiction.

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble for the handsome price of $1.00 What are you waiting for

Crying at Weddings

Bachelor Setup...

I cry at weddings. I don’t need to know the couple. I just find the whole thing so romantic. My mind begins to wander and I become overwhelmed.

You know the sociologists are fretting over the differential emerging between various income groups and their likelihood that they will marry. More money is predictive of taking the nuptials.

I’ve also cried when I look at my bank account. I’ve been overwhelmed now and again in my life. You know the cupboard is bare.

So, like the whole magic as misdirection thing goes, where we divert our audience’s attention from one thing to this other thing we want them to see why the other thing we don’t want them to see we keep hidden. Now free to manipulate the thing that is out of our audience’s eyes we can take advantage of the thing not on everyone’s mind.

This situation seems to have flushed the desperado’s out from beneath their rocks.

Shock of shocks: people who don’t have any money and don’t have a job do not marry. They do tend to have sex (hey, it is something to do while waiting for a job) as this tendency seems to dominate no matter the marital status and these conjugal improvisations tend to produce pregnancies.

I think the deal is this. You want good outcomes you need good inputs. You need jobs. You need good jobs that come with good benefits. They should pay well. You take that well paid worker and put some money in his pocket send him out on a date and nature will take its course.

Isn’t it amazing how far and wide a truly huge financial crisis can reach? The numbers of unemployed, the wealth destroyed, the length of time it takes to recover, its like going to a wedding.

I’ve learned that I not only cry at weddings, but I seem to be prone to crying during a financial crisis too. I know I’m such the romantic.

 

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble for the handsome price of $1.00

What are you waiting for?