The Only Inevitable Development is Change

It’s been a while since I posted here and it will be a while more. Between a regular agency gig, a busy horse-related season, and a recent serious injury, I am re-aligning priorities once again. That is why all you see right now is the blog.

There is a vision but until I figure out how to present it, I’m not risking any misrepresentation. That is why I deactivated my portfolios and About Me pages. I am hoping to have this worked out within a couple of weeks but truth be told–I’m starting to hate the Internet and social media. Lately, it gives this appearance of a playground game of telephone and the recycled messages just become more ridiculous with each pass. I don’t want to be entrenched in that game.

However, I also see the Internet as my savior from a career that was less than fulfilling or distinguished. It also put me in contact with great people and it is likely I will always feel conflicted. Settling that mindset is just not going to happen today.

That said–there are great new adventures ahead. I will get there once I quit being overwhelmed by the possibilities.

10 Ways To Die On The Oregon Trail

Now that I have your attention, I will first let you know that I remain the perpetual student. Lately, my learning includes, but is not limited to,

1. Western Dressage with my best friend, Destiny’s 3rd Chance. In fact, I may be dark this week, as we’re preparing for a show.

Yes, Chance. It's that time again.

Yes, Chance. It’s that time again.

2. Writing fiction as it has proven to be worth my time.

3. Being a trade journalist. I lost track of how many I have interviewed around the nation about their construction and affordable housing developments.

4. Paranormal investigation. Why yes, I am quite serious! I just attended two days of the Oregon Ghost Conference and  that will have it’s own blog article.

I share this for a good reason. In February, one manifestation of my interest in the more morbid parts of history came to being and with no announcement here because I’M TOO BUSY, DAMN IT. But with the Oregon Ghost Conference, the timing may not be better.

Growing up in Oregon, we received no shortage of Oregon Trail history in school. Most of this took the form of brave pioneers venturing west for opportunity with little mention of horrible death and Native American genocide. The trail itself is the nation’s longest graveyard and here, where I live, is likely littered with tribal corpses, thanks to white people and small pox.

Let’s not forget the Oregon Trail text game, though. Plugging in your friends’ names and having them all die of dysentery was great fun, you see.

Actually, that was inaccurate. Most migrants died of . . . No, Not telling. Read my article to find out.

Click. You know you want to.

Click. You know you want to.

NBA Announces Portland To Host 2018 All-Star Game

In what was considered a long-shot and hopeless bid for the 2018 All-Star break, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, Adam Silver, announced Portland as the host of that weekend’s events. This goes against previous concerns regarding hotel space and bad weather while setting a new standard for future NBA All-Star events.

“I admit this is unprecedented,” says Silver. “I mean, we haven’t even decided on a 2017 site yet. But with the Moda Center being the first NBA arena with a retracting roof, and that feature set to debut in the 2017-2018 season, there was no way the NBA could turn down this opportunity.”

The new retracting roof was announced by the Portland Trail Blazers organization on April 1, 2015. While it is well-known that professional basketball is normally an indoor game played through fall, winter, and Portland’s often rainy spring, the City of Roses likes to be a little different. Going far beyond putting a bird on it or adding more hotels to the Rose Quarter area, Portland decided to upgrade from unique to daring.

The winning factor--artist's rendition of the retractable roof, courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers

The winning factor–artist’s rendition of the retractable roof, courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers

“No NBA city has a retractable roof on its arena,” states Paul Allen, Portland Trail Blazers owner. “In fact, the other owners called to tell me it’s a stupid idea—the emails would have crashed my server if not for my professional background. I say to Hell with them—we got the 2018 All-Star Game and they didn’t!”

Portland lost a 2017 bid due to lawsuits surrounding a Hyatt Hotel that was to be built near the Rose Quarter. Hotel availability remains unchanged at this time, but Commissioner Silver seems unmoved by the problem.

“I am not going to let the hotel issue get in the way of this new All-Star experience,” says Silver. “I already reached out to the existing hotels, and they agreed to only book rooms to players, owners, spectators, and NBA leadership. ESPN and the rest of the media will be welcome to camp in one of Portland’s many inner-city parks.”

The expectation is that the 2018 All-Star game will be an authentic Northwest experience. “This will be our most rustic All-Star break yet!” exclaimed Silver. “No one is going to forget this weekend.”

Charlie Hales, mayor of Portland, sees this as a revenue-building opportunity for Portland: “Visitors never know how to use our parking meters, so our parking ticket revenue is going to go through the roof! Also, the All-Star game will create numerous temporary jobs in the city, giving Portlanders new opportunities beyond just working as baristas. I commend Paul Allen, his investors, and the Portland Trail Blazers for taking a substantial risk in adding a retractable roof. Weird is PROFITABLE, East Coast bitches!”

Job creation will continue after the All-Star Break, thanks to the featured roof. “The Moda Center will need at least one dozen new floor moppers to maintain safety as most of the NBA season is during our rainy season,” he explains. “That is 12 permanent jobs brought to the city of Portland!”

Roof renovations are being made through tax payer funds previously set aside for green bike lane paint and experimental road repairs using duck tape. The repairs are now delayed until 2020 in order to accommodate the new Moda Center feature.

Preparations also started so the Tom McCall Waterfront Park will be ready for media camping. Those accommodations will be managed through a special permit process, with extra arbitrary fees charged to Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. Fees start at $150 for a tent with a 10×10 footprint with extra charges imposed for additional square footage, flush toilets or makeshift showers.

“Portland has some of the most beautiful parks in the country,” states Silver. “They are normally day-use only areas so the media should feel very privileged that an exception is being made for them.”

Paul Allen is deep in planning this event and deleting hate email. He is confident that these developments will only open doors for the Rose Quarter and Portland: “I am enjoying this opportunity to put Portland and the Trail Blazers on the map in 2018. We are putting in other bids for opportunities that were previously unavailable to us before the retractable roof. A package is already being sent to the NCAA to host college water polo championships in 2021.”

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If you made it through this ‘article’ without giving yourself whiplash from shaking your head too hard, thank you—and Happy April Fools Day!

I admit that I have not been able to play a good online prank since the time I convinced my friends that my horse got knocked-up by a feral donkey jack. So instead, I now troll off of other April Fools pranks. My gratitude (and apologies) to the Portland Trail Blazers, my favorite team since 1977. :)

The Brutality of the Cut

I am not a talker. I converse for a reason and never to ‘just chat.’ My days are spent largely in solitude although my new gig requires interviewing CEOs and other industry leaders from all over the country. Again, there is purpose and I love it, but when I get to the last one for the week, I am relieved.

But I am a writer and if I can give you 10,000 words of description regarding my alternate Oregon where the pioneers never arrived, I will. Except there is this nice thing in contests known as a cap.

Round two of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge and my prompts arrive.

Round 2

Immediately, an idea surfaces which I hurriedly note into my iPhone app. I crash that night and wake up writing immediately. I take breaks for other work and basically spend several hours doing nothing but writing one thing or another.

Before I know it, I have over 3,000 words of material on this and I have not even introduced all the characters. For most, it is best to just go with it, but I’m writing for a contest.

And my cap this time is 2,000 words.

DAMN IT.

First, I panic. Then, I realized I have over 48 hours to fix this, so panic gives way to disappointment as my once brilliant idea must now be watered down. Finally, I accept it’s time to let some things go and soon enough, the word count slowly falls to manageable levels.

Twit 1

I was as excited as you can get, being that tired.

That last 674 word cut was the toughest. It read rough with every adjustment and letting go of other clever dialog and ideas was unpleasant.

There is no way this will be worth anything.

I have been awake since 6 AM and now, four hours later, it is an even 2,000 words and the funny part is–I still like it. In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I left room for a sequel. I’ll check the tense later and then, get it ready for submission.

Writing is easy. Editing is not.

My Midnight Surprise

Truthfully, this was more an early morning surprise. The chain of events started at midnight so technically, it is a Midnight Surprise.

You may have noticed a protected entry called Wrath of the Fire Mare. It is locked so I can receive feedback without sacrificing future publication rights. That 2,500 word short story is my first round entry in the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge.

As I often explain, I write fiction but rarely finish it. These days, I am working hard as a freelance journalist and copywriter, and since fiction has no guarantee of pay, it takes a big push to apply effort to it. I needed an incentive but also required a way to measure whether these projects were worth considering. NYC Midnight offered a solution in its competition by 1) Forcing me to write fiction and 2) Giving feedback on what I wrote.

(A cash prize for first place doesn’t hurt either. I am still a mercenary, after all.)

The powers that be place each writer in a heat and each heat receives a genre, subject, and character that must be woven together within the word count. For my first round, I received the following:

Topic

I like fairy tales. I know some woodworkers and really don’t like pollution. The result of my unique take was The Wrath of the Fire Mare.

My heart and my weakness.

My heart and my weakness.

Set among nomadic horsepeople, the story was inspired by my real-life experiences with my wonderful, and sometimes opinionated, equine companion, Chance. Being misanthropic early in our relationship, thanks to past abuse and neglect, Chance demands empathy and failing to give it can result in flying lessons. But I love her madly and she is my dream horse. All the work to get her there was worth it.

Thus, we created the sorted tale of a nomadic warrior and his shortcomings. As with all fairy tales, he suffers and yet, receives a happy ending once he realizes his terrible shortcomings. I posted the story on the feedback forum with mixed results.

That was unsurprising as I had to rush to finish it in time. An honorable mention at most–that was my expectation. I would get judge feedback later and maybe, I’ll find a place to publish the cleaner version of the Fire Mare. Unless I am a talentless hack, then I will just find other ways to take home cash for my horse and archery habits.

I was not paying attention to when the second round participants would be announced. It sneaked up on me and when a general email arrived, I visited the web page.

1 and 2

Look what’s here today! Awesome! Let’s just scroll right down to the honorable mentions, why don’t we . . . .

3 through 5

Third place? Out of 30? I have to do this again? This can’t be right! COOL!

I checked about 3,000 times today to see if NYC Midnight corrected this obviously egregious error. Nothing has changed and tomorrow, I get the genre, subject, and character for Round Two.

I’m flattered, I’m floored, and I have learned so much about myself. No, I can’t give you access to Fire Mare now, but I will make sure she is published–and share that link. For now, I prepare for the next writing marathon.