Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life!

On Christmas morning, Tammy snuck a present onto my desk which turned out to be a mix CD with the following poem:

Merry Happy

I know your eyes in the morning
sun. Every streetlight reveals

the picture in reverse. I've been thinking
out loud again & again

& again & again. Feel the city
breaking. If I could touch your body

before this river becomes an ocean.
And fall on my face on somebody's

new mown-lawn. Come on baby
I'm tired of talking. Dancing at discos,

eating cheese on toast. Was it suddenly
I was lost in the lakes and the shapes

that your body makes? You've been
as constant as a Northern Star. The brightest

light that shines. Feeling your sweet
face, buckets of moonbeams

in my hands. That's where it's at.
I think there's something

you should know: Summer nights
and my radio. That's all we need, baby.

This poem (which rocks!) is actually a cento, which is a poem comprised of lines from the mix CD she made me. Here are the songs on the CD:

1. "Stayin' Alive," by Bee Gees
2. "Faith (Remastered 2006)," by George Michael
3. "A Little Less Conversation (JXL Radio Edit Remix)," by Junkie XL
4. "Merry Happy," by Kate Nash
5. "Pumpkin Soup," by Kate Nash
6. "How Deep Is Your Love," by The Bird and the Bee
7. "Again & Again," by The Bird and the Bee
8. "Lasso," by Phoenix
9. "Your Rocky Spine," by Great Lake Swimmers
10. "Freedom! '90 (Remastered 2006)," by George Michael
11. "Daydream," by The Lovin' Spoonful
12. "That's Where It's At," by Sam Cooke
13. "Nightswimming," by R.E.M.
14. "Right Down the Line," by Gerry Rafferty
15. "Summer Nights," by Van Halen
16. "Pretty Persuasion," by R.E.M.
17. "Let Go," by Frou Frou
18. "Buckets of Rain," by Wendy Bucklew
19. "Let's Do It Again," by The Staple Singers
20. "Little Ghost," by The White Stripes

An awesome mix! And while I was listening to this awesome mix (for like the 3rd time) on my way up to grab the boys in Ohio, I decided to write a response poem for Tammy's birthday, which is on December 29.

I can watch a sun set

You, I cannot judge. I know all the games you play,
because I play them too. You can tell by the way I use

my walk. The fear of getting caught, the recklessness
of water. Forever is a long, long time when you've lost

your way. Heaven knows I was just a young boy, and
the mountains said I could find you here. You said it,

and you wrote it down: You might overlook your heart
beating fast and knowing time will pass but hoping

that it lasts. Goddamn, I've been dreaming since I woke
up today. Don't you know I like the smile on your

fingertips, the way you move your hips, that cool way
you look at me? I'm the only one that sees you.

Leave your things behind, your confusion. You know the door
to my very soul. This is my way of telling you

this is stupid and perfect. I just want your kiss,
sweet love in the midnight. The moon is low tonight.


Since Christmas was last week, I figured now was the perfect time to unleash my Top 10 Christmas Movie/Special list. After all, we're all getting together tonight at my father-in-law's house to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve. We're a little late and a little on time.

Here's my Top 10:

10. Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. Sentimental favorite with awesome music.

9. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This is my favorite of the Rankin/Bass specials, but I love them all, whether it's The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, The Year Without a Santa Claus, or even the wacky Rudolph's Shiny New Year (a good one for tonight actually).

8. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. So many great scenes in this movie and quotes: "Don't throw me down, Clark."; "Merry Christmas! Shitter was full."; and my favorite "Squirrel!"

7. Miracle on 34th Street. This is one of the classics. A man who may or may not be Santa Claus. And it has Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Any Christmas special narrated by Boris Karloff has to be special, right? Well, this one is.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Everyone knows what a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree looks like, and Linus Van Pelt gives a great speech on what Christmas is all about. Plus, this is a Christmas special in which not one gift is given (though many are requested and desired) outside of a Merry Christmas.

4. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens wrote the essential Christmas story. How many versions of this story exist now? As far as movies go, I love nearly every version, including that cool 3D one that's in theaters now. If you haven't checked it out yet, the Mr. Magoo cartoon version is actually very exceptional.

3. A Christmas Story. Even after this movie played on our television for 24 straight hours, I still love this tale about Ralphie and his coveted Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle. From decoding radio commercials about Ovaltine to receiving major awards (aka, electric sex in the front window), nothing says Christmas like this movie...well, except I like these other two movies just a tad more.

2. Love Actually. Actually, most (maybe all) Christmas movie/special lists exclude this movie, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because it has an R rating. But if you're in the mood for an adult Christmas movie, this is a great one. Multiple plot lines, lots of love, and an ending that makes me tear up.

1. It's a Wonderful Life! The. Best. Movie. Ever. Made. Not only is this a wonderful Christmas movie; this is a wonderful story on how to live one's life. George Bailey always does the right thing, and even when times turn darkest, he thinks of the welfare of others above his own. And then, he gets the mind-sobering gift of seeing what the world would be like without him.

Two bonus Christmas movies: Die Hard and Gremlins.


Since it's New Year's Eve, here's my favorite New Year's Eve movie: When Harry Met Sally.


Great news: I'm going to be the Featured Poet over at The Academy of American Poets discussion forum in January. I'll be answering poetry-related questions on the following topics from 1-2 p.m. on Wednesdays there:

Week 1 (1/6): Writing
Week 2 (1/13): Revising
Week 3 (1/20): Publishing
Week 4 (1/27): Marketing & Other Topics

Check it out by going to the site on the dates above or post a question anytime during the month, and I'll pop in to answer it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bring on 2010!

Okay, it's that time of year many people (myself included) look back and forward to figure out what went right (or wrong) and what to change or attempt next. I'm going to look back in a future post on this blog, since there's still a week left for anything to happen. In this post, I'm going to look forward.

Here are some goals I'd like to accomplish in 2010:

  1. Write at least one poem every day of 2010. I already write more than 100 poems each year for the Poetic Asides blog, but I plan to write and share a poem a day on this blog.
  2. Get a collection of poems published. This goal may be very difficult to accomplish, and who knows? I may even go the self-publishing route if all else fails. But this is my big goal.
  3. Get back into the shape I was in around May. As some of you may know, May is when I was in the best shape I'd been since college. It's also when I lost consciousness, quit breathing, turned crayon blue, and nearly died--for unspecified reasons (the cardiologists thought it was my brain; the neurologists thought it was my heart). Much of the second half of 2009 has been a struggle for me as I've suffered a depression of sorts wondering "what if this" and "what if that," but the great thing about the New Year is that it gets me in the mood to move on and forget the past.
  4. Run a few road races. I wanted to do this in 2009 but only ended up running the Peachtree Road Race (10k on July 4th in the ATL). That was fun, and I want to have more fun running races in 2010.
  5. Improve the quality of Writer's Market and Poet's Market for the 2011 editions. This is always a goal. With a new database that's entering it's first full production cycle, I think this is possible. Plus, I think I've got some great articles assigned for the front of the books.
  6. Spend less time working. I often felt guilty if I was only working 50 hours a week in 2009 and often ended up working as much as 60 or 70 hours a week (and sometimes still feeling guilty when I put in those hours). That's not healthy, so 2010 will be spent trying to be more productive in less time.
  7. Create a website. I admit that I often know the best way to do things, but that I'm sometimes slow to adopt my own very good advice. I should've created a personal website years ago, but 2010 will work better than 2011, I guess.
  8. Write fiction. This (and not poetry) used to be my strong suit. I won cash prizes in college and would spend hours upon hours each day typing and outlining stories, figuring out characters, etc. I have several story ideas stuffed in the back of my current composition notebook that I use for my poetry. I need to write these stories down in 2010.
  9. Create a bookazine on getting published for Writer's Digest. This is an assignment and a goal. I'm pretty excited about putting it together and am sure it'll be the best bookazine on getting published ever released. More details as they come.
  10. Travel more. Tammy and I recently had to abort a trip to Tennessee to visit my mother and grandmother in Dandridge. We ended up in a pizza shop in historic Marietta, Georgia, where we read our horoscopes in a local paper. Tammy's said to look into more education in 2010; mine said to travel. Good idea.

Knowing me, I may add to this list later, but this seems like a good starting point.


I've been interviewed twice recently by these folks:

Interviews are always fun, whether I'm interviewing or being interviewed. Thanks to Didi and Paul!


Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Unmanly Music: A Countdown (of sorts)

Raise your hand if you like Lady Gaga! Well, I do. (My current faves are "Paparazzi" and "Just Dance".)

Tammy told me this weekend how much she loves that I'm not afraid to like unmanly music. She claims it's because I'm secure in my manhood. I'd agree with that assessment, and, of course, it helps that I'm bigger than most men. So, who's going to say anything if I like breaking it down to Queen's "I Want to Break Free."

Here's a Top 10 list (in no particular order) of unmanly music that I like:
  1. "Stayin' Alive" Bee Gees. Sure, the subject of this song may be a little edgy, but listen to their voices. It's like thinking Mike Tyson is this bulldog in the boxing ring, but then he opens his mouth and sounds completely ludicrous.
  2. "Dancing Queen" Abba. Dancing? Queen? How about this lyric, "You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only 17." Yeah, I don't think too many manly men are going to be caught in public dancing to this. But still, it's catchy.
  3. "Don't Feel Like Dancin'" Scissor Sisters. Actually, men seem to hide from songs with dancing in the title as if they're vampires and dancing songs are sunlight. Most manly men need at least a few brewskies in 'em before they can even think about the dance floor, but I can't help but dance whenever I hear this song.
  4. "Xanadu" Olivia Newton John & ELO. Let's face it. Boys are allowed to hang around skating rinks, but men better be there with their children. Actually, they ought to be dropping off their children and running off to watch football or work on their cars, mess around in the shop, mow their lawns, etc. Gosh, I love this song!
  5. "Careless Whisper" Wham! Straight men can't like Wham! or George Michael, right? It's some kind of algebra problem, right? Right? Well, I never was good at algebra, and I love this song. And for that matter, I love...
  6. "Faith" George Michael. "I gotta have faith, faith, faith--Baby!" Yeah, this song is so freaking catchy and not manly.
  7. "Hollaback Girl" Gwen Stefani. I like this song because I'm a sucker for a good beat, and "I ain't no hollaback girl." Is it me, or is this list getting less and less and less and less...
  8. "Summer Love" Justin Timberlake. Timberlake is like the modern day Bee Gees multiplied by the sum of Wham! and Olivia Newton John. I mean, he was in a band called Nsync, right? But yo, "I can't wait to fall in love with you; you can't wait to fall in love with me; this just can't be summer love."
  9. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Cyndi Lauper. Yeah, you don't hear this song often in the weight room (wedged between Metallica and AC/DC). Most men don't like songs with dancing in the title, but they loathe song titles that include girls.
  10. "Material Girl" Madonna. Another "girl" song, but darn it, I've always loved this song. And quick confession: I can still remember standing in the kitchen and singing along with Madonna as a boy and telling my mom that I was going to sing like Madonna when I got older. She, of course, told me I would not. And she was right.


I had a great weekend. Tammy and I got out to a Christmas festival in Duluth. This one booth sells some awesome brunswick stew. (If you've never had this stew before, then you're really missing out. I was until being introduced to it last December.) We also got over to a used bookstore and watched a lot of football (both college and NFL).

Speaking of which, my fantasy football team missed the playoffs in our keeper league for the first time ever. Oh well. I knew my streak of making the playoffs would have to end eventually.


Speaking of manly activities, I worked on my poetry quite a bit this weekend: writing, revising, and submitting.

I also started a new hashtag on Twitter: #poetweet

I'm going to start tweeting short poems on Twitter whenever the mood strikes and include the #poetweet hashtag. If you're into poetry, I encourage you to do the same.

Monday, November 30, 2009

2009 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Shelter

Since the server for and its blogs (including Poetic Asides) keeps crashing and wiping out all the Poetic Asides poems and comments, I thought I'd set up this temporary shelter for our poetry and poetic discussion until the storm passes. I'm pretty sure Blogger will hold up.

Today is the final day of the 2009 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, and the prompt asked for poems about something that will stick with you (or someone or something else). Memorable poems.

Here's the one I wrote for the day:

"The world will worry for you"

Forget speaking in code; forget
telling it slant; here is what happened:

I rose to answer the phone, and then,
lost consciousness. As I lay there,

my breathing grew labored before
stopping altogether. My skin turned

crayon blue; my eyes stayed open.
This is how I've always pictured

my Uncle James when he died alone
on his land in the middle of nowhere.

I still remember grandmother crying out,
"No, no, no," on Easter evening

when my grandfather called. I could
have been found this way, but

Tammy breathed in my mouth, spoke
to my unresponding face. She would not

quit even as I turned less and less
alive. Later that night, grandfather

told us how they found James laying
on his porch with his door open:

"He looked horrible. He looked like
he was in pain." And this is what I can

tell you: I did not feel any pain,
any worry, until I came back to life.


Feel free to add your own poems, comments, etc., below. And if you feel like subscribing to yet one more blog, I'd be honored if you subscribed to this one. Keep poeming!

10 Universal Lessons Learned From Parenting

(This post was written last night, but Charter's consistently inconsistent service kept cutting out on me. I was too tired to keep trying to post last night. Some time references may be in relation to last night, not this morning.)

So, I am at the end of my week-long Thanksgiving vacation as I know it (and I feel fine, though I wouldn't complain if I still had an extra day or two left). I went up and grabbed my two boys in Ohio and had them down here in Georgia all week. So, yes, for the first time since school started back up, our house was filled with 4 boys (5 if you count me).

As with our summer periods together as a full family unit, this week was fun, and it wore me out. Plus, I gathered some universal lessons of parenting that can be applied to everything from dating to business (even writing and publishing). Here they are:

  1. Take care of yourself. Before you can help others, you need to be in tip-top shape. So, remember to eat and sleep and give yourself at least a little relaxation time.
  2. Don't make promises unless you really (really really) know you can keep them. A broken promise, whether to a child or an adult, is often on the same level (or just a notch below) an outright lie. Don't make promises or commitments unless you absolutely know you can keep them. And if for some reason you can't, admit to it immediately and apologize sincerely.
  3. Give warnings when things are about to change. For my boys, I always give warnings, whether it's in regards to leaving the playground or getting out of the bathtub. What this does for children (and adults) is give them time to prepare for and accept change. In fact, there are even times when my boys are ready to leave before I am.
  4. Don't play favorites. I have four boys. They all want my attention most of the time; they all want different things; they all want to watch different shows on TV; they all want to be my favorite; they all want to be first; and so on. My job is to make sure that they all feel special without feeling that one of them is more special than all the others. Favoritism leads to resentment and hurt feelings. Avoid it at all costs.
  5. Lead by example. If I just tell my boys to brush their teeth, they're bound to just argue with me, throw fits, etc. But if I grab my toothbrush and say, "It's time to brush our teeth; daddy is brushing his teeth, too," then I almost always get them all brushing without complaint.
  6. Don't overcommit. Many optimists (myself included) have a hard time with this one, which ultimately circles back to not making promises you can't keep. I might want to do eight things tomorrow, but in reality, I only have time to do two or three. If I overcommit, I could end up stressing myself out while disappointing others. It's always best to underpromise and overdeliver.
  7. Say "no" and stick to it. Most people want to please other people, but we also need to draw lines in the sand. If it's before lunchtime, I'm not going to let my boys have candy. No matter how they whine, argue, fight, etc. It's not going to happen. I want my boys to be happy, but they're not getting candy before lunch. (This rule applicable to all relationships, not just the father-son variety.)
  8. Show your appreciation. When my boys follow the rules, I reward them with compliments (not candy or toys). When my boys are polite and say "thank you," "please," and "bless you," I reward them with praise. Sometimes, for no particular reason at all, I say, "I love you." All people want to feel appreciated. Always remember this.
  9. Be consistent. Look at my candy rule in #7. Look at how I always give warnings in #3. People (both children and adults) respond well to consistency. If they know what to expect, they can adapt easier.
  10. Challenge them. Baby Will is walking already (at 11 months). As a result, he falls. A lot. I try not to rush to him whenever he does, because I want to give him the opportunity to pick himself up and start walking again (which he often does). When the older boys ask me a question, I challenge them to give me an answer first. Sometimes, they're right; sometimes, they're not. But people like to feel challenged; and even better are those times when they rise to the challenge.


Holiday first: On Friday (day after Thanksgiving), Tammy, the boys, and I all went to one of those tree farms where you can cut down your own Christmas tree. It was a lot of fun and very easy. Tammy and I kept it a secret until we got to the place, and the boys thought it was super cool.


Recent update: On Saturday morning, I took Ben and Jonah back up to Ohio. Before I dropped them off at their house, we met up with my mom, my new sister-in-law, and both of my brothers at this awesome Dayton pizza chain called Marion's Pizza. I got to sleep around 11-ish and then woke up at 2:45 a.m., flying down I-75 back home to Georgia so that I could make it to the Foster make-up-Thanksgiving jamboree, which was a lot of fun.


Observation #1: Bumper stickers make people targets and are often ridiculous.

For instance, today (on the way back to Georgia), I read the following bumper sticker: KIDS THAT HUNT AND FISH DON'T STEAL AND DEAL. This is ludicrous and completely false. I know at least two people from Ohio who hunt and fish and still manage to find time to steal and deal drugs.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against people who hunt and fish, but this bumper sticker makes it sound like people who carry fishing poles and guns on their shoulders are somehow nobler than the rest of us lost souls (who apparently are out stealing and dealing).

Why couldn't the bumper sticker read "I LOVE HUNTING AND FISHING" or "MY FAMILY LOVES TO HUNT AND FISH"? That would seem a lot less insulting to my intelligence and more supportive of the enterprise of hunting and fishing. Ignorant bumper stickers only divide.


Observation #2: Week-long vacations pass way too fast.


Other random stuff:

  • The November PAD Chapbook Challenge is nearly finished for 2009 at my Poetic Asides blog. It's been a fun, though technologically challenging, month.
  • I wrote up some tips on using Twitter at my WD Community blog. Click here to check those out.
  • Tennessee opened a few more rest areas this month along I-75. May only be of importance to me, but so be it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The future of publishing is a tsunami

The water is drawing away from us as we watch a giant wave on the horizon. It looks small from a distance, but as it approaches we realize something major is on the verge of happening and that the way things used to be will be no more. This is how I feel about the future of publishing.

From the reports and news filing in externally to the conversations I've had internally, the publishing business is about to change rapidly and dramatically. And no, I'm not saying it will be the end of books or good writing. I'm not saying writers will be wiped off the face of the earth like dinosaurs and card catalogs. But things will change and soon.

Here are some predictions:
  1. Content delivery will change. We've already seen this as companies replace print catalogs with newsletters and e-mail blasts. Some magazines have already closed up shop in print to focus on their websites.
  2. Submission methods will change. Most editors already accept submissions via e-mail. More are moving toward online submissions forms. Eventually, writers won't have to worry about the price of postage going up every year (outside of the "old school" practice of mailing cards for holidays and birthdays).
  3. Roles will change. Editors are becoming marketers as much as quality assurance experts; agents are becoming editors as much as career consultants; writers are more and more being asked to build platforms and develop an audience before acceptance.
  4. Titles will change. Writers are turning into content providers. Publishing companies are turning into media companies. Magazines are turning into websites.
  5. Balance of power will change. I'm not sure how, who will be most affected, what the resulting landscape will be, but I do know the time is ripe for some companies/individuals to rise up while others slowly fade away or burn quickly across the publishing mesosphere.

Basically, everything will change.


If you're a writer who wants to take action, here are some recent posts I've made to my blog on the Writer's Digest Community site:

While there, you could also check out Jane Friedman's The Future of Publishing group. She's really got a better handle on the whole future of publishing than anyone I know.


I submitted six poems to RATTLE tonight. It's been a long time since I've made the time to submit my work, but I can only sit on poems with titles like "The Robots" and "Yes, Daddy is like a minivan" for so long.

Also, I've now made it through 10 days of the November PAD Chapbook Challenge at my Poetic Asides blog. I am very, very happy with the poems I've written so far and look forward to what I might create the rest of the month.

Here are the 10 prompts so far:

  1. Write a poem in which you (or something) enters something new.
  2. Write a poem in which you look at something from a different angle.
  3. Write a positive poem or a negative poem (Two for Tuesday prompt).
  4. Take phrase "Maybe (blank)," replace blank with word or phrase, make title of your poem, and write poem.
  5. Write a growth poem.
  6. Write a poem with (or about) someone (or something) covered.
  7. Pick a plant, make that title of your poem, and write poem.
  8. Take the phrase "Should (blank)," replace blank with word or phrase, make title of your poem, and write poem.
  9. Write a slippery poem.
  10. Write a love or anti-love poem (Two for Tuesday prompt).


Outside of an intermittent Internet connection today, I don't have much bothering me at the moment--unlike Baby Will, who now suddenly has four teeth in his mouth. Poor little guy!

Here's hoping things are super cool in your neck of the woods!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Five Things You Don't Need To Know About Me

Number 1: Will's first tooth has broken through on the top front side of his mouth.

Number 2: Will can now walk without holding onto anything, though he does still prefer using walls and chairs for support and balance.

Number 3: Reese's 6th birthday is Saturday. We're going to have a family get together at the park with Reese's favorite pizza: Little Ceasar's.

Number 4: My novel for NaNoWriMo is continuing to make great progress, though I'm still falling behind as far as word count each and every day. Oh well. I can't do everything in November, right?

Number 5: My poem, "Solving the World's Problems," is in OCHO #27. Plus, my mug is even one of the faces featured on the cover of the issue. Click here to check it out.

Bonus: I'm 5 for 5 on the November PAD Chapbook Challenge. With the poems I've been writing lately, I may even try getting a little Poetic Asides chapbook together of my own poetry. I need something to keep me busy in December, eh?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Best Man And His Kryptonite

My brother David married his long-time, special ladyfriend Laura (now known to the boys officially as "Aunt Laura") this past Sunday (11/1/09). I was the Best Man, which meant that I got to hold Laura's ring for David, pose for a ton of wedding pictures, and give a little toast to the happy couple.

I ended up not doing any toast research ahead of time. I've been to quite a few weddings and have heard my share of toasts (my favorite is still the one my brother Simon gave me after my first wedding that went along the lines of "May you have many happy days and even happier nights."). My toast was pretty easy going (like myself), and I even started to choke up and nearly tear up as I gave it. They've been together a long time now and just seem very comfortable with each other. Much happiness to them!


So, I've now been The Best Man twice, which makes me feel kind of like a super hero (especially if both marriages stick). So, as a super hero, I have to have some kind of kryptonite, right? Of course, I do. And I think I know what it is after all these years: Time sheets!

While I'm a salaried employee, I still have to complete time sheets for tax purposes. We're supposed to have them done by the Monday after each completed week, and I can't for the life of me ever get them done on time. I set reminders for myself in Outlook; I add it to my To-Do lists; and I even use Post-It notes. But I always seem to end up prioritizing other tasks over completing my time sheets.

If there are any supervillains lurking out there (and I'm sure there are), I've now made it public knowledge that the best way to weaken my superness is to sling time sheets at me. (Maybe I can get them done on time next week.)


The November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge is rumbling along over at my Poetic Asides blog. I love doing the challenges for two reasons:
  1. It's so cool to see everyone create poems based off one of my prompts.
  2. As a participant myself, I love having that motivation (err, peer pressure) to try and write something once a day throughout the month.


I've been Tweeting poems randomly over on Twitter. My handle is @robertleebrewer if you want to follow me. Here are a few of my poetic offerings:

Poem #1: I am a giant whale carried above the ocean by little birds.

Poem #2: I am a robot with a missing hand. Thanks for noticing.

Both poems are inspired by Twitter messages and corresponding graphics. But it is interesting to try and create a poem in less than 140 characters. And I think I prefer the term Poetweets for these 140 or less poetic offerings.


Quote of the day (maybe even week): Test before you change.

A programmer instructed this to me today. And he's right. And I wish all programs and changes were made after being tested. The world would be a much happier place for it.


I'm trying my hand at NaNoWriMo. I'm not officially registered or anything, but I'm quietly (or not so since I'm sharing my progress on this blog and other places) trying to put together more than 50,000 words during the month of November on my novel idea.

I am currently behind pace for 50,000, but the outline is coming together. And I can feel momentum building with each section I write. Here's hoping the momentum just continues to build.


Went trick-or-treating with Ben, Jonah, Baby Will and Tammy in Kettering, Ohio, on Halloween. There was a nearly full moon, leaves scattered across the sidewalks, candy pushers sitting on their front porches and the occasional really cool (really scary) decorated house. Much like a high school football coach, I pushed the boys to keep collecting candy even as their little legs felt rubbery. In the end, I think they were glad I did, because their bags were loaded with things sweet and sour and sugary.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Robert's whacked out 21st century media dream

True story: Last night, I had a dream that our writing community here at F+W Media was overtaken by a bunch of early 20-something slackers who had huge followings on social networks without any ambition to actually create products or useful services. They were also wearing Halloween masks, and I felt like I was watching myself on camera (was probably on some kind of reality television show called Hostile Takeover or something). Such can be life in a 21st Century dream when you work for a media company, I suppose.

Anyway, when I have an absurd dream like that, my mind usually ends up working the dream this way and that--searching for some kind of meaning or purpose for having the dream in the first place. I can only imagine that I had the dream for several reasons.

First, I think my head has been bombarded with social networking lately and trying to find a professional balance between interacting with my audience and creating valuable products and services. I've been reading articles that say things like, "Content is king," or, "Advertising is king," or even (yes, I really have read this article), "Context is king" (not content or advertising).

Second, I think there's the issue of uncertainty about the role of an editor (or content manager or specialist or whatever my title should be) in the 21st century. When I started interning at F&W Publishing (notice two key changes in the company's name) in 2000, editors just edited and assigned articles. Then, launched. Then, we started doing an e-mail newsletter. And eventually, blogging, social networking, etc. Editors still need to have those editing skillz to pay the billz, but so much more is required now than ever before.

Third, there are the Halloween masks. Obviously, Halloween is around the corner, but I think this had to do with the image not matching the identity. In this case, there were people who were great at getting people in the door, but those people would not find anything of value or substance once they stepped through. You need great marketing and promotion if you ever want to find new customers, but you also need a great product and/or service if you want to retain those new customers you do find.

So, here are the lessons from Robert's whacked out 21st century media dream:
  1. Nothing is king. Great content without effective marketing doesn't reach an optimum audience. Effective marketing without great content wastes and infuriates potential customers. And both need context to work effectively together.
  2. The definition of Editor has changed and will most likely continue to change. As a result, the definitions of writers, agents, and anyone else involved in producing content and/or services will continue to change. I hope everyone's holding on tight, because some are sure to be thrown off this coaster before all is said and done.
  3. Your identity has to match your image. This is an old rule, but it's one that everyone needs to remember with so many rules changing. Your identity has to match your image. If it's not, potential readers/customers don't know what to expect and/or they get upset when their expectations don't match reality. That's just how it works in real life and in the business world.


Speaking of 21st century media, etc., here's what I've been up to virtually recently:

And, of course, I've been doing random stuff at my Twitter and Facebook accounts. (Search on the #poettues hashtag on Twitter tomorrow if you want to discuss poetry bumper sticker ideas, for instance.)


I'm in Ohio for the week. My brother David is getting married on Sunday (day after Halloween) to his long-time special lady friend, Laura. I believe I may have mentioned before that I need to write some kind of Best Man speech. Yeah, that's still on my To-Do List. Know what I need to Google this week.

Tammy and Baby Will will be flying in from the ATL; my brother Simon, the stormchaser, will be in from OKC; and Ben & Jonah will be in attendance as well. Good times!


Speaking of Ben & Jonah, I had a great weekend with them. We went to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, drew pictures together, played games, read books, cleaned up, watched TV, and other father-son thing-a-ma-gigs. One of the great things about my Ohio trips is that I totally unplug on the weekends, which is actually going to make the start of the November PAD Chapbook Challenge interesting this weekend.


Besides that, I'm just wondering what everyone else is up to?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the wild things are not

Had a great weekend with Tammy and Baby Will while Reese was having a "daddy weekend." On Sunday, we walked at a park for about an hour, shopped at Goodwill, bought groceries, and watched Where the Wild Things Are, which got a thumbs up from all three of us (yes, Will was laughing through many parts of the movie). Oh yeah, we also watched my stormchaser brother's Tornado Road show on The Weather Channel as the Atlanta Falcons beat the Chicago Bears in a close one. Busy, fun day.

So why the bummer title above? I've come to realize lately that I am turning into a parent. I've always realized this and worked hard to be a good parent, but as the boys get older, I notice myself saying things like, "Slow down," and, "Watch out," and, "Don't jump in that puddle," and so on. Of course, as a boy (and I'm still a boy at times), I was the one to speed up and take chances, especially if puddles were involved.

One of the more challenging aspects of being a parent (I think) is tiptoeing the fine line between protecting and stifling your children. One part of me wants all the boys to be ambitious, take chances and risks, and follow their passions (just like me!). Another part wants all the boys to never get hurt. It's totally unrealistic, but there it is: the parenting dilemma.

As a runner, I often pushed my body to the limits. In high school, I actually made myself pass out during repeats a few times. Even as a student in college and as a working stiff in the corporate setting, I've pushed my body to its limits by pulling all-nighters and trying to fit 25 hours into 24-hour days. But I realize that as a parent, I'd worry myself to death if my boys passed out or hospitalized themselves (as I did earlier this year).

My brother Simon (the stormchaser, AKA "crazy uncle Simon" to the boys) follows his passion, stormchasing, to the extremes. He's been in a building that was hit by a tornado; he was trapped in a police station in Slidell, LA, during Hurricane Katrina; and he's done so much more. I'm so proud of him, but I'm always afraid that one day a storm will claim his life.

So, it is with being a parent. You want to see your children reach out and wrestle the world to the ground, but you don't want to see them ever get knocked down. But they have to; it's the only way they'll ever learn to pick themselves back up.


Other news: November brings with it the 2nd annual November Poem-A-Day (PAD) Chapbook Challenge. (Click here to learn more.)

Also, the Writer's Digest community is looking like a success so far. If you haven't yet, feel encouraged to join, friend me, and join some of the writing groups. It's free. (Click here to create an account.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When is enough too much?

Hmm...why do I ask myself questions? Because then I have to answer them.

I'm now involved on the new Writer's Digest community. Not sure if I'm allowed to officially announce the community, but I think you can sign up and friend me. Like most awesome social networks, it's free. But especially since it's tied to F+W, it's also time, which is and isn't (mostly isn't) free. When am I stretched too thin? Or, when is my involvement in one area sucking me away from somewhere else? These are great questions.

Whenever I get this way, I have to sit down and make a "to-do" list. I also have to re-evaluate my situation and my goals. If things are not synching up, I have to consider changes. Sometimes, changes can be simple (like only spend 15 minutes a day on Twitter or do 100 jumping jacks before lunchtime). Other times, changes can be complicated and scary (like when I felt the need to divorce my first wife). Changes may or may not fix the underlying problem I'm suffering, but I at least feel like I'm trying when I use my "to-do" list/goal-setting system.

And I'm not going to wait until tomorrow. Tonight (after this post actually), I'm going to get down to the business of making my "to-do" list and comparing against my goals, so that tomorrow morning I can hit the ground running.


Amanda Oaks posted a poem I wrote today for my weekly Wednesday Poetry Prompts post on Poetic Asides. She matched my poem with an awesome (and appropriate for the poem) image. You can view them at Amanda's Kind Over Matter blog by clicking here. (Thanks, Amanda!)


Parenting observation: One thing about kids (after more than 8 years raising 4 boys) is that you can start trying to get them to bed as early as YOU want, but they'll go to sleep whenever THEY darn well please.


General observation: The above parenting observation is true of so many other things. Just replace the x and y, and you'll get a new z.


I'm getting excited about my brother David's wedding on November 1. He's only 50 weeks younger than me, and we're close enough that he's selected me to be his best man. It should be a great event, because it'll be one of those rare (and ever getting rarer) times when all three of us Brewer brothers will be together at the same time. I'm always so proud of both my brothers, and they both make me laugh so much. (Ack! It's just dawned on me that I need to come up with some kind of speech for the reception. Double ack!)

Besides now worrying about giving a wedding speech, all is well at the Brewer homestead. Reese and Will are in bed; Tammy is relaxing in the living room with some hot chocolate; and I'm off to make my "to-do" list.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I'm not a good blogger, but you can be one

First off, thanks to Jane Friedman at her There Are No Rules blog for mentioning My Name Is Not Bob as one of her 15 Worthy Blogs I Just Discovered!

It's great to get any kind of recognition, so making a top-anything list at Jane's awesome blog is awesome. But I feel a bit like an impostor, because My Name Is Not Bob does not follow any of the common rules of blogging.

First off, I haven't posted anything in like a month. Maybe more. First rule of blogging is to post regularly. Not daily, but at least weekly. Even at my Poetic Asides blog, I have a weekly Wednesday Poetry Prompt that I NEVER miss (even the week when I was hospitalized).

Second, I'm too lazy with this blog to even see if it's actually been a month or more since I've posted. Lazy is not an attractive feature for any blog--unless the blog is called Lazy Blog for Lazy People (even then, your audience is so lazy that they'd never check out the blog).

Third, there's no central theme tying My Name Is Not Bob together. Going back to Poetic Asides, the central theme there is all things poetry. Poetry prompts, poetry workshops, poet interviews, poetic forms, and other poetry-related stuff. My Name Is Not Bob is not a specialized center of information, instead it's like a flea market or yard sale of random what-have-yous.

So, if you want to immediately have a better blog than My Name Is Not Bob, here's all you have to do:
  1. Post regularly. At least once a week.
  2. Work at it. Don't spend hours on each post, but be willing to check facts, link to other sources, and proofread before posting.
  3. Create a central focus or identity for your blog. Poetic Asides is for poetry; Jane's There Are No Rules blog is for writers trying to find success in publishing and other media. (Note: Having a blog with a clear identity that has readers can help you develop your platform, which can help you publish books, get speaking gigs, etc.)

Three easy steps you can take to have a great blog. If you don't have one yet, make one (it's free and only takes a few minutes). If you do have one, make sure you're following these rules that My Name Is Not Bob is so blatantly not.


Random good news: Poem accepted by OCHO recently. That's the second poem accepted by OCHO this year (for two separate issues), and both deal with my father. Maybe that father-son relationship will eventually develop into a chapbook.


This weekend: Tammy, Reese, Will and I are having a Hallo-weekend together. This means breaking out the Halloween decorations, telling scary stories, watching scary movies for kid scary movie night, drawing spooky pictures, getting out to the pumpkin farm, and more Halloween and autumn tomfoolery.

And tonight, Tammy will be interviewed by Joe Milford for his popular poetry interview series, The Joe Milford Poetry Show.


Random thought: I can NOT get the freaking Wonder Pets theme song out of my head. If you do not want to suffer the same fate, do NOT click on this link.

(Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, we're on our way...blah-blah-blah...and save the day; we're not too big, and we're not too tough, but when we work together, we've got the right stuff; gooooooooooooo Wonder Pets! Yay!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Brian Klems is pretty cool (and so is his blog)

Not much new around here. Still in Ohio for the week. Been working-working-working. Last night, I picked up the boys, and we did our usual Tuesday evening routine: McDonald's (because it has a playground and LegoRacers), library, park. Ben actually claims that going to the library is his favorite part of 2nd grade--even above art and gym class. Wow! I totally would not have answered that way at his age. Good for him.


So anyway, I'm getting ready to head over to my dad's (hour-long commute from the Cincy office--woo-hoo!), but I thought I'd post about Brian Klems and his very, very cool Life of Dad blog before leaving. Check it out at

Brian sits across the aisle from me here in the office. He's about my age and has two little girls. He also has a very good sense of humor (click here to read his 17 Rules Every Dad Must Know When Dressing His Daughter).

In addition to being a cool dad, Brian is also the online editor of and writes the free weekly newsletter for the site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Name Is Also Not Bill!

An anonymous contact related to must be reading this blog, because she knew I didn't go by Bob. Instead, she changed my name to Bill.

While not as common, this has happened to me before. Bill is short for William, not Robert. Why do people feel this urge to change other people's names?

Also, while we're on the subject of name-calling, my last name has been modified twice in the past week. One person addressed me as Robert Lee Butler; the other person addressed me as Robert Lee Brower.

For the record, it's Robert Lee Brewer.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Meet me in Dayton

I forgot just how much I despise commuting. I'm in the Ohio office and found a few packages waiting for me: the summer issue of Confrontation; an advance proof of Never-Ending Birds, by David Baker; and a copy of Robert Frost Speaking on Campus: Excerpts From His Talks, 1949-1962. Great stuff! (But still, that commute--ack!)


So, I successfully drove up to Ohio from Georgia. Took me two hours just to get out of the ATL, because of rush hour traffic and thunderstorms (Note: Atlanta + rush hour + thunderstorms = idling). I'm not a big fan of driving in the rain, but the storms finally let up around Knoxville.

A few observations:
  • Southbound I-75 through Lexington was cop crazy. More than four cars pulled over, and I counted another three cop cars patrolling. Need to watch myself through that area on Labor Day when I head back home.
  • Times is tough. I know my trip from Duluth to Dayton is more than 500 miles long, but I noticed five cars that were driving on the Interstate with one of those rinky-dink spare tires. Either people can't afford to get new tires, or they're waiting until the tires pop to replace them.
  • There's still nothing like seeing Cincinnati. I've always loved turning around the bend on northbound I-75 through Northern Kentucky to see the Cincinnati skyline. That, and crossing the Ohio River.


I write while I drive. It's just something I do, and I'm lucky I haven't been in an accident as a result of such foolish risk-taking. But some of my favorite poems came while driving. I also write song lyrics. My earliest "poetry" was actually song lyrics, and if I had the patience to learn guitar, I'd probably travel the country as a singer-songwriter.

Here's a song I wrote for Tammy on the way up to Ohio (sung in a kind of folksy way):


I don't wanna be the one you choose
just because you got the blues;
don't want to be the one that you take
just because your heart did break.

I wanna be the one you love
like a story book or heaven above
or some other dumb cliche--
what's so wrong with love anyway.
(O, anyway.)

Your hair's long, and I got none at all,
but I'm still waiting for you to call,
because there's something about your smile
that always makes my heart beat wild.

I wanna be the one you love
like a story book or heaven above
or some other dumb cliche--
what's so wrong with love anyway.
(O, anyway.)


Picked up the boys on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, my brother David and my mom swung by, and all five of us went out for some youth soccer.

Ben's team was first. They won 1-0. Ben spent half the game on the bench. He played the whole first quarter. Then, he sat the second quarter as part of the normal rotation. He started the third quarter, but took himself out when he needed to use the restroom. And then, he started the fourth quarter, but took himself out after getting hit pretty hard by the soccer ball. He had fun, so that's all that matters, I guess.

Jonah's team played next. He's on a six-year-old juggernaut team. They won 9-1, and that score is even misleading for how much Jonah's team dominated the other squad. And the funny thing is that Jonah's team was smaller. Jonah didn't score, but he was up where the action was and had a few assists. I'd be surprised if Jonah doesn't get his share of points by the season's end.

Later in the day, we went over to Uncle David's and played video games. We also learned that my brother Simon (the stormchaser) was going to be driving through town very late at night and hanging out in Ohio on Sunday.


So, Sunday morning we all met up Turtlecreek Reserve to play disc golf. David ended up winning--with Simon and me finishing tied in second. None of us have played much this year, so we were all very inconsistent (one great hole followed by one horrendous hole).

Then, I took the boys to get haircuts. (An unrelated aside: Ben and Jonah just recently started up 2nd grade and kindergarten respectively. Jonah likes riding home on the bus with Ben, and Ben's favorite part of 2nd grade is the library. He's really into reading those Goosebumps books.)

After the haircuts, we met up with Simon at my mom's and watched some of his Hurricane Bill-Nova Scotia footage. Cool stuff. We played a little baseball with the boys in the front yard until their mom came to collect them, and then, we talked politics and global warming with our stepdad. Good times.

Was up until 1 or so in the morning writing and reading Robert Bly's Leaping Poetry (University of Pittsburgh Press). Now, I'm here. Better get working. ;)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ohio, here I come!

Since I was able to bring Ben and Jonah down to Georgia for some long stretches during the summer, it's been a good long while since I've spent a week up in Ohio visiting them. Tomorrow morning, I'll begin my trek up I-75 and stay at my dad's until Labor Day. Of course, there's like 60-80% chance of thunderstorms the entire trip tomorrow. (And I completely and utterly and unequivocally loathe driving in the rain. One word: Hydroplane.)

I always love spending time with the boys, but it means I won't see Reese, Will and Tammy for 10 days. That's a long time, especially since I've gotten used to Tammy hanging around the house with Will and I while she's been looking for a new job.

News flash: Tammy got a job offer yesterday. Hooray!

We were seriously looking at alternative options for keeping ourselves afloat, including selling our books, our CDs, our DVDs, our blood, our Pez dispensers, our rubberbands, our alphabet magnets, etc. Maybe even living out of my Kia Spectra. Talk about a cramped lifestyle.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't that bad, but we are glad for the jobby-job. I think. It would still be super cool if we somehow won the lottery or had a very rich person decide to give us tons of money to hang around the house all day and watch Noggin with Will while he learns to crawl and walk and such. (Any very rich people out there?!?)


News flash #2: Tammy received her contributor copies of No Glass Allowed (verve bath press), her second chapbook (and first solo collection) of poetry, in the mail yesterday!!!!

(A lot of good stuff happened yesterday for the Brewer household, especially Tammy.)

So, about her chapbook: Amanda Oaks published the collection. The first run is limited to 50 copies--so talk about an Act Now offer. If you want to be a part of history and own a very rare first edition of Tammy Foster Brewer's first solo collection of poetry, you'd better act now, because copies are already flying off the shelves. Literally, I think more than half the print run is already accounted for.

You want a copy? You want to read more details? Then, click here, my friend.

Here's one of my favorite poems in the collection:

The Baptism of a Bicycle

I ask him about forgiveness.
He tells me of the rain
and how he needs to mow
the lawn. Where I live

there is a drought. Grass
breaks beneath each step
towards my mother's
mailbox. An empty
womb. An invisible

dog leaves footprints
on the sidewalk. When the cement
was wet, it was his father who
taught him how

to kiss. His childhood,
like the removal of foreskin.
A formality. To forgive

a flat tire. Sometimes legs
are not enough. To pedal
naked beside guilt until
the water's edge. Before,

it was a feeling
of swallowing buildings,
an attempt to drown
metal. Now, it is

a love affair with air
planes. And I am barefoot

on dry land. Forgiveness,
he says, but first
you have to wait
for the flood.


Btw, Amanda Oaks makes the best chapbooks over at verve bath press. She really puts a lot of time and effort into each book. For instance, she actually individually sewed a heart on to the front cover of each copy of No Glass Allowed. Amanda is cool like that.


My personal update for the last few days: A whole lot of working. I guess I've put in about 40 hours of database and coding work in the past 3 days. That's like more than 13 hours a day. That's like a lot. But the hope (the eternal hope) is that things will eventually slow down.

(Again, any very rich people out there?!? Or winning lottery tickets?!?)

Monday, August 24, 2009

From Dahlonega to Nova Scotia

Luckily, I did not have to travel the distance from Dahlonega, Georgia, to Nova Scotia, but my brother Simon, the storm chaser--also known as "Crazy Uncle Simon" to the boys--did have to drive from Norman, Oklahoma, to Topeka, Kansas, through Dayton, Ohio, across to New Jersey and then up to that Western Canadian town. His prize? Hurricane Bill.

Apparently, he was even interviewed live on the Weather Channel. But what else is new? I hope he had fun with that drive.


I'll get to Dahlonega eventually. (You don't just name-drop Dahlonega for no reason, you know.) But first, let me catch everyone up on my weekend with Tammy and Will (Reese was having a "Daddy" weekend).

On Saturday, I spent the morning working like some obsessed mathematician on those crazy XSLT style sheets. I've made it about a quarter of the way through them, and received confirmation just this morning (Monday) that I did them correctly. Go me! Not bad for an English Lit major. A little bit of Shakespeare, a whole lot of programming.

Tammy saved me from myself by getting us out of our apartment and over to her parents' house. We visited for a bit, and then all four of us ventured over to watch the Gwinnett Braves (or G-Braves as we call 'em down this way) play the Charlotte Knights in some AAA minor league baseball action.

Grandma Linda bought Will a little G-Braves shirt, Grandpa Ed bought us all dinner, and the G-Braves delivered us a win (3-2). The evening was perfect, and so was the atmosphere. I've been to a few different minor league games in different cities and at different levels, but they all share one thing in common: The minor leagues always rock the socks off the major leagues in how family friendly their games are. Sure, you don't know anyone on the roster (and if you did, you wouldn't know if they'll be there from one game to the next), but the games are just fun. From the mascot hijinx to the kid races around the bases, the minor league games just make the spectators feel more involved.


Anyway, we got home in time to watch Tammy's favorite Saturday night show on RTN: Midnight Monster Hop. This time around, it was the black & white version of Sweeney Todd.

I don't think there's a time or place that has been or ever will be spookier than late 19th/early 20th Century London, England. From fogs to top hats, it's just a spooky place.


Sunday was the day we drove up to Dahlonega, GA. Apparently, the first U.S. gold rush happened in the Dahlonega area in 1828. So yeah, them thar hills is filled with those touristy gem stone places where kids sift through big clumps of dirt for gold and diamonds and rubies, but they end up with a tiny piece of quartz or some little green stones.

Anyway, we didn't go to any of them thar places. Instead, we visited the downtown historic district, which is just beautiful. They even have a horse-drawn carriage that can clop-clop-clop you around the square if you're into that kind of thing.

Big surprise: Tammy and I found some great stuff in the chocolate store, and I even purchased a peanut butter milkshake, which I can usually only find in Ohio at UDF. (In Ohio at UDF, though, I usually order a peanut butter and marshmallow milkshake with chocolate milk. So rich. So good.) The drive thar and back was totally awesome.

As we drove the hilly and winding roads, we listened to the soundtrack for Night of the Living Dead, because that's how we roll.


Today? I got a bunch of stuff done, despite losing my Internet connection for a few hours in the middle of the day (Charter's been doing that a lot lately). Watched the Jets and Ravens play their Monday night preseason game. Had a caramel pudding cup for dessert.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ice cream & coffee

New addiction: XSLT style sheets

(I bet you thought I was going to say coffee and ice cream, huh?)

Yesterday, I wasn't sure if I'd even be able to handle them. Now, I feel super empowered.

I'm so glad I decided to bite the bullet and offer to do the programming for these particular pages on the website. One, these changes will get reflected sooner. Two, there will be a lot less back-and-forth and trying to describe what I want. Three, they'll be more accurate. Yay!


So, where does the ice cream and coffee enter the picture?

Tammy, Will and I got out to the Duluth square earlier tonight to listen to this percussion trio and the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra. The event, called Symphony on the Green, was free, and it was a nice break from the XSLT style sheet coding.

There's a lot of green space at the Duluth square, so we just spread out a blanket and listened to the music while Will played with his baby toys and tried standing up on his own. He was being very, very cute. And you can tell he's like his mommy and daddy, because he's a straight-up people watcher.

Anyway, at some point, Tammy decided to get us some coffee and this super awesome chocolate with chocolate chunks ice cream. OMG, it was great!


When we got back, I jumped back into my XSLT style sheets. And have been listening to rain and thunder all evening (luckily, it held off for the concert earlier tonight).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Meetings, programming & other nonsense

Whew! What a busy day! (Started around 7ish this morning and just ended a few minutes ago.)

I usually don't have more than two or three meetings scheduled during an entire week. And those meetings that are scheduled usually get canceled or postponed (often postponed multiple times--only to be eventually canceled). I came into today with three scheduled meetings, so I was expecting one or two to actually stick.

Actually, all three meetings happened in addition to a fourth meeting (that was scheduled like 30 minutes ahead of time). Wow! It's amazing how things happen in waves in publishing.


I submitted a chapbook a few weeks ago for the open submission period of a small press. Last night, I received confirmation that the editors decided to pass on the manuscript. Oh well.

I was actually feeling pretty good about that chapbook manuscript. So, I'll probably see if there are any tweaks I can make before submitting it out again.

Speaking of submissions, I really need to send out some individual poems, too.


I may be taking on some programming responsibilities soon. I mean, I've been formatting, templating, styling and configuring on the database for a while anyway (which is pretty much the same as programming). So, I don't think programming on the website will be too much different. It's totally cliche, but sometimes if you want something done (and done in a reasonable amount of time and somewhat right), you gotta do it yourself. The only possible hurdle is that I have no experience with these crazy XSLT style sheets, but I've got my fingers crossed that it's nothing I can't learn (eventually).


Fun daily routine: So one of my favorite daily rituals (during the school week) is to walk up to the bus stop with Tammy and Will to wait for Reese to get home from school. It's a nice excuse to get out of the house--if only for 20-30 minutes--to get a little Vitamin D and some fresh air. Yesterday, it even started sprinkling on us as we were walking back from the apartment, and there's nothing like the smell of summer rain.


It's official! The Cincinnati Bengals beat the New England Patriots! Okay, okay--so it was preseason. The score was 7-6 (kind of like a baseball game or something), and the big surprise is that Chad Ochocinco (formerly Chad Johnson) kicked the game-winning PAT. That's why he's on my fantasy football team.


Oh yeah. Here are my most recent posts at my Poetic Asides blog:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Working for the weekend?!?

We're into another week of working. I think it's Tuesday, because it's the second day that Reese has gone to and come back from school this week. You see, I'm a telecommuter, and I love it, but I can get a little confused on things like:
  • What day of the week is it?
  • What time of day is it?
  • When does work begin?
  • When does work end?

These were easier to answer questions when I was working in an office. Though I was much less productive, I knew that I couldn't get into the office any earlier than 7 a.m., and that I should leave by 9 p.m. (at the latest) if I wanted to get enough sleep to be ready for the next day. I never went into the office on Saturdays and Sundays, and I rarely worked on things at home. So, the boundaries were well-defined. In the office meant I was working; out of the office meant I was not working.

Now, the office is in my bedroom. So, I have trouble figuring out when to un-plug at times. Take Sunday night. I checked my e-mail before going to bed and saw that there was some database changes ready for my review. I sent an e-mail saying I'd check them first thing in the morning and then crawled into bed. But I couldn't sleep. After about 15 minutes or so, I got back out of bed and reviewed the database changes. Then, I went to sleep. At like 1:30 in the morning.

I'm not complaining. My employer gets more out of me; I don't have to waste time dealing with traffic; but it does get confusing at times.


Speaking of work, who wants to read some of my latest posts on my Poetic Asides blog?


Talked to Ben on the phone today about his and Jonah's first day of school today (Jonah almost never talks on the phone, and I don't blame him). Ben said that he had a great day and that he's already made lots of new friends. He's a people person. Then, him and Reese talked on the phone for like 10 minutes about their toys and what they're watching on television and stuff. As Reese put it, "We talked about 'boy' stuff."

Tammy got me out of the house today (thankfully) as we all traveled over to the library. Huge building. Not as many books as I expected. Reese and Tammy picked out four bed-time books that looked cute. Then, we all went to the park, where we had a picnic before playing on all the equipment. Fun, fun times.


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to review some new database changes. And maybe go to sleep.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What you can get for $3.13 (or why Sundays rock)

Had a great day today. Did that fantasy football draft thing-a-ma-bob (more on that below, and I promise that's not the only thing I'm going to talk about on this blog), went out to a park afterward with Tammy and the boys, and then hit the Book Nook, which is the local used bookstore of choice. Actually, Tammy calls it Book Nook 2 (and yes, I've been to THE Book Nook in the ATL, too, but BN2 is much closer).

Found some cool books at the Book Nook, but since all our shelves are full of books (as well as many boxes in our closets) I wasn't able to justify buying any. Plus, I was trying to only use the cash I had on me (instead of using plastic), and I only had six bucks left after buying drinks for everyone after we finished at the park (because GA + summer + outdoors = thirsty). So what could I possibly find for less than $6 at Book Nook?

For $3.13, I was able to purchase FIVE CDs (I don't have an iPod or iPhone or iWhatever yet, so I still use compact discs--and really, I love listening to albums as much as I love listening to individual songs):
  1. Depeche Mode Songs of Faith and Devotion
  2. Juliana Hatfield Only Everything
  3. Urge Overkill Saturation
  4. Luscious Jackson Electric Honey
  5. JJ72 JJ72

Before I purchased these discs I checked for scratches and scuffs and such, because they had to be damaged, right? I mean, these are some awesome bands. And then, it hits me: These were awesome bands--like 10 to 15 years ago. That's right, I had a moment today when I realized I'm getting older. Sigh.

But anyway, the JJ72 album is one I've always wanted to check out, and let me tell you, "This IS the best $0.49 CD I've ever purchased!" It's actually well worth $15, so I totally got a steal. Whether I'm getting older or not.


This morning, Will was standing up while leaning against a chair on his own. He can't lift himself up to that position, and he falls if he gets too excited and tries moving himself. But he's getting there. Also, he's been making sounds like "da-da" and "ma-ma" a lot recently.

We're getting into that dangerous territory where he'll soon go from being a baby to five-years-old-before-I-know-it. Happened with Benjamin and Jonah; it'll most likely happen again with Will. In fact, Ben and Jonah will somehow get into the double digits simultaneously. (Speaking of getting older. Ack!)


But I know everyone really wants to know how my fantasy football draft went down today, right? (If not, feel free to leave for this post, because I'm about to get all FFB geeky on this blog.)

I was very, very happy with my draft today. I explained in the previous post how I wasn't sure who I was going to draft. Well, this is who I drafted:

1st rd (#2 overall pick): RB-LeSean McCoy, Phi
1st rd (#8): RB-Shonn Greene, NYJ
1st rd (#9): RB-Jamal Lewis, Cle
2nd rd (#18): DB-Eric Weddle, SD
3rd rd (#28): WR-Steve Breaston, Ari
3rd rd (#29): RB-Glenn Coffee, SF
4th rd (#38): TE-Josh Carlson, Sea
5th rd (#48): DB-Eric Coleman, Atl
6th rd (#58): RB-Bernard Scott, Cin
7th rd (#68): WR-DeSean Jackson, Phi
8th rd (#78): LB-Stephen Cooper, SD
9th rd (#83): DL-Leonard Little, StL
10th rd (#88): DB-Ronde Barber, TB
11th rd (#93): RB-Danny Ware, NYG

My needs going into the draft were to select a DL, 2 DBs, and a LB (K optional, because I can always pick one up before the regular season starts). I filled all my needs wonderfully. Weddle was my top-rated DB, and I was able to grab Coleman and Barber (both who I like a lot) later in the draft. Since Julius Peppers and Trent Cole didn't make it to me in the 3rd round, I was able to wait until our later supplemental rounds to draft my 3rd-rated DL, Leonard Little (IF he stays healthy, he could easily be a Top 5 DL in our league). I picked up Cooper last year off waivers, and he was one of the best LBs in the league after serving a 4-game suspension at the beginning of the season. Those missed games made him disappear on most draft boards, which meant I was able to grab a great starter/back-up LB at the end of the draft.

Somehow, I was able to grab 5 of my Top 8 rated RBs in McCoy, Greene, Lewis, Coffee, and Scott. Jamal Lewis fills a short-term need in having a starting RB, but the other four are rookies with tremendous upside, especially McCoy and Greene.

I'm happy that I could take two young WRs (in successful pass-happy offensive systems) who had great seasons last year. Breaston was a good value, but taking Jackson with the 68th pick was a downright steal. I almost took him 4 rounds earlier, but I really, really (like really even) wanted the top young TE in the league, Josh Carlson. He'll make a great backup to Chris Cooley.

My last pick was Danny Ware. I had a few other players I considered taking with this pick, but ultimately decided on Ware because:

  1. I can't make any more moves until my pick-ups before the first game of the season, which means that I can't react to injuries that will occur between now and the regular season.
  2. Ware is very talented and third on the depth chart behind Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
  3. Brandon Jacobs is injury prone.
  4. Ahmad Bradshaw has had his share of injuries, too.

I'm not rooting for either to get injured, of course, but Ware had more potential value than any other player I was considering. That's called upside. If both Jacobs and Bradshaw stay healthy through preseason, I'll probably just cut Ware off my team since I do still need to pick up a kicker before the season begins.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Scaring myself (and others)

Just a normal morning. Had breakfast, got some stuff together for my fantasy football draft tomorrow (more on that below), and scared myself half to death. While I was holding Will and standing on Reese's bed doing the weather report (where we point at his huge wall map of the United States and make up the day's weather), I started feeling "weird"--kinda like my heart was moving too fast and kinda light-headed (though not with tunnel vision or stars). Kinda just uncomfortable. So I got off the bed, sat down in the living room recliner, and let Tammy know I was feeling "weird" (about the best way I know how to describe it).

[Backstory: On May 16, I was up in Ohio with Tammy and Will to go to my son Jonah's 6th birthday party. Instead, while I was at my brother's house, I ended up losing consciousness, quit breathing, and turned blue before Tammy saved my life (and my brain cells) by keeping it together enough to get me back breathing before the ambulance arrived. Spent 3 days in the hospital without figuring out what went wrong; did a bunch of follow-ups in Georgia with cardiologists and neurologists--again without figuring out what went wrong; and here we are.]

So now, I'm left wondering if this morning's "weird"-ness would've been an issue before May 16. Would've I have just felt a little uncomfortable and left it at that? Did I freak myself out too much? Am I like some volcano--just waiting for another episode?

As you can see, most of the recovery process from something like this is winning the mental battle.


I feel fine now. Listening to Elliott Smith and trying to figure out my draft strategy for our keeper league fantasy football draft tomorrow. (If you don't care for football or fantasy football, I recommend skipping to the next set of asterisks.)

Our fantasy league has a salary cap that is determined by how many points each player scores the previous season compared to other players at his position. Each team can carry up to 35 players; starting rosters are QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 RB/WR flex, TE, K, 2 DLs, 2 DBs, 2 LBs, 1 IDP flex.

Of course, most owners keep all their RBs with any value. For instance, the top five returning scorers available from last year are:

Jamal Lewis, Cle
Dominic Rhodes, Buf
Kevin Faulk, NE
Warrick Dunn, FA
Deuce McAllister, FA

Jamal was a surprise drop by a new owner, and he'll go in the first round. The other four are either free agents (who are near the end of their careers) or buried on their teams' depth charts.

So if you want RBs in this league, you have to go after the rookies. And with the 2nd overall selection in the draft, I'm not sure who to target:

Knowshon Moreno, Den
Donald Brown, Ind
Chris Wells, Ari
LeSean McCoy, Phi
Shonn Greene, NYJ
Glenn Coffee, SF

A few months ago, it seemed that the obvious answer would be: I'll take whoever is left between Moreno and Wells.

But Wells (who was dogged by injuries in college) sat out the first preseason game with an injury; Moreno (who has a lot of competition for the RB duties in Denver) left his game last night with an injury--and an MRI due today. So, the two solid headliners are now question marks.

Brown was taken in the first round and did great last night, but he's the back-up behind a good (and young) RB, which means he may not get many chances in the next couple years. McCoy and Greene (both who played great in their first preseason games) are backing up RBs who will be older than 30 (an important age for NFL RBs) starting this season. So both could be starters very soon. And Coffee (who also had a great first preseason showing) is backing up Frank Gore, who is very talented but has an injury history going all the way back to college.

So anyway, I've got decisions to make by noonish tomorrow. I'll probably share the results tomorrow afternoon.


If you skipped past the fantasy football stuff, you only did so to learn that I'm about to watch (in like 5 minutes or so) the Atlanta Falcons play the Detroit Lions in a preseason game. Sorry to have to you skip over football-related stuff just to learn that I'm about to watch football.

Afterwards, I'll probably watch Tiger finish up the third round of the PGA; he's currently in the lead, and I'm rooting for him to get one more major championship closer to overtaking Nicklaus as the greatest golfer ever (a title many have already given Tiger).

Friday, August 14, 2009

My name is not Bob... really isn't. Yet, I've been addressed as Bob by strangers since my youth. For some reason, many people (such as doctors, teachers, writers, etc.) see the name Robert, and their mouths translate it as "Bob." So yeah, first thing you should know about me is that my name is not Bob; it's Robert. Or Robert Lee Brewer. Or even Mr. Brewer if you want to be stiff and formal.

This is an introductory post, so I ought to tell you a little about me (though if you're reading this, you're probably already somewhat familiar with who I am).

Here are 10 quick facts about me:
  1. I live in Georgia with my wife (the poet Tammy Foster Brewer--formerly Trendle) and stepson (Reese) and youngest son (Will).
  2. My two oldest sons (Benjamin and Jonah) live in Ohio with my ex-wife, who (though we don't always see eye-to-eye) is a great co-parent.
  3. I regularly (2 weekends out of 4) visit my Ohio boys, which means I do a lot of driving.
  4. Some of my preferred activities are reading, writing, playing disc golf, running, managing my fantasy football team (I'm in a keeper dynasty league with a bunch of friends), hanging out with my boys and awesome wife, social networking, watching movies, listening to music, cooking, etc.
  5. My day job: I work for F+W Media, Inc., as the editor of Writer's Market, Poet's Market and My responsibilities include editing listings and articles; assigning articles; creating new content; blogging; social networking; writing copy for promotions; formatting, styling and configuring databases; writing e-newsletters; writing articles; speaking at events; leading webinars; developing new ideas; improving processes; and so much more. Needless to say, they keep me busy.
  6. I also write and publish poetry. You can Google my name and find quite a few published pieces online. You'll probably also run across my Poetic Asides blog (
  7. I hit my friends limit on Facebook. I didn't know there was a friends limit on Facebook until I hit it. So, I've now got a Fan Page in addition to my regular profile.
  8. I have a Twitter account at
  9. In a former life, I was a pretty quick runner. My favorite event in high school was the 800 meters. My best time was 1:57. As I've aged, I have gained an appreciation for longer distances. Would love to run a marathon someday.
  10. My specs: 6 feet tall, about 210 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes, size 12 shoes.

So anyway, that should do for an introduction. I plan for this blog to be all over the place in the future; so enjoy the focus while it lasts.