Son of Sonnet: Summer Nights

We’re in the waning days of summer—at least, of glorious summer vacation—and I wanted to commemorate these fading, waning days with some poetry.

Ergo, I commissioned Michael Gettinger—formerly The Artist Known as Son of Sonnet—to twenty-three-skidoo up some summertime poetry.  Of the two themes I requested, the second was “The Hazy Nostalgia of Late Summer” (the first was “Back to School”).

There’s something about intense humidity and sunlight at 9 PM that conjure up heady memories of better times.  Michael captured that beautifully in this poem.

With that, here is Michael Gettinger’s “Summer Nights”:

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Phone it in Friday XX: Miscellaneous Late July Update

By this time next Friday, I’ll be back at the grind, starting with some teacher meetings.  The public schools in my area have shifted to a semi-year-round schedule, so those unfortunates will start classes on Monday, 1 August 2022.  Yikes!  That means teachers in the public schools have already been back, which doesn’t seem right.  No one besides an administrator or grounds crew should be darkening the door of a schoolhouse in July.

Of course, heading back on 5 August 2022 seems pretty dang early in my book.  I notice that my school keeps inching up the return time for faculty a bit more each year.  I’m still a tad baffled as to why they want us to start back on a Friday.  Classes won’t resume until Wednesday, 17 August 2022, though, so I still have a little time before I really hit the ground running.

The news cycle remains slow, it seems—just more of the usual bad news.  As I am writing this post, I’ve spent nearly $400 in gasoline (petrol, for my British readers) this month in a car that gets around 32 miles per gallon.  Granted, I’ve been keeping the road hot with lessons and seeing my new lady friend, but, goodness, something has got to give.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Summer Camps 2022 Reviews

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I spent the first three weeks of summer break running camps:  two sessions of the popular Minecraft Camp, and one session of the far-less-popular Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp.  These camps make up a substantial portion of my summertime earnings, and so are an important revenue stream for yours portly during the otherwise lean summer months.

In this post, I’ll discuss each camp briefly, then break down the financials, and how I netted (after expenses, but before taxes) $1965.64 across roughly forty-eight working hours.

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Midweek TPP Update: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, #MAGAWeek2022, Etc.

Summer is rolling right along, sometimes at an alarming speed.  I’ve gotsta buckle down if I’m going to get all these projects finished.

This week I’m running Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, which I offered for the first time last summer.  Last year I had three campers—a small but talented group.  This year, I’m down to one diligent bassist.  I wasn’t even sure if he was going to show up, but his grandmother rolled up Monday morning and dutifully dropped him off, so we commenced a-rockin’.

Essentially, he’s getting twelve hours of private lessons from yours portly for about 22% of the normal cost (if I charged my half-hourly rate of $30 for twelve hours/twenty-four half-hours of lessons, I’d pull in $720; I’ll net $160 on this camp [that’s $200 total for the camp, less the 20% the school takes]).

Of course, we’re not playing bass for three hours straight each morning.  Where it’s just the two of us, we’ve worked out a schedule that seems to work pretty well:

  • Start with about thirty minutes of bass guitar—his bass “lesson” for the day.
  • Shift over to piano (his little fingers need a rest from pressing metal against a hard wooden fretboard) for about thirty minutes, working on chords and music theory.
  • Take a morning break, during which we talk about songwriting.
  • Work on songwriting (we’re currently wrapping up a tune called “The Story of Sam the Clam”) for about forty-five minutes.
  • Take a second, shorter break.
  • Review the songwriting session, then clean up and organize the Music Room for the day.

It’s pretty cool to have the flexibility to build the camp around what he wants to learn, while also working in some things that I know will be beneficial to him.

The other looming event of the year is #MAGAWeek2022, which will run from Tuesday, 5 July through Saturday, 9 July 2022.  For newcomers, #MAGAWeek2022 is when I celebrate the people, places, things, ideas, concepts, institutions, etc., that have, in their own way, Made America Great (Again).

During that week, all posts are behind the paywall over at my SubscribeStar page, but generous previews will be available here.  Fortunately, it’s just $1 to get access to everything for the week.

Finally, I’ve at least pulled up the manuscript for the first volume of Sunday Doodles, which I hope to publish via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service by the end of the summer.  The plan originally was to include the first fifty editions of Sunday Doodles, which are normally only available to $5 and up subscribers, as a handsome, black-and-white paperback.  Now, however, I’m thinking I might go even bigger, and include the first 100 editions of Sunday Doodles.  Talk about a nice coffee table book!

Speaking of, I am running late—for the first time in a long time!—on this past Sunday’s edition of Sunday Doodles.  Hopefully it will be live for subscribers by the time you read this post.

So, there you have it—some quick updates on yours portly.

Happy Wednesday!

—TPP

TBT: Summertime Schedule Begins

As of about 8 PM EST last Thursday, I’ve been living the Summer Break Lifestyle.  Other than camp and lessons, I’ve been enjoying a much more leisurely pace of living.

Summer is already filling up fast.  While the first week of Minecraft Camp is in the books, I have another session next week.  I’m attempting to run my Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for the second year, but as of the time of writing, it looks like I might just have one student, so that may get axed.

Nevertheless, it’s a good time to knock out some projects, especially when I wrap up camps.  I’m hoping to get back—finally!—to wrapping up the first volume of my Sunday Doodles book, which will go through the first fifty editions of the feature (over at my SubscribeStar page).  Indeed, I may do the first 100 editions, as I am currently at 144.  That will require more editing, but will make for a beefier book.

It’s also time to get cracking on some short stories.  I’ve been sitting on one story about a guy who eats an undercooked frozen pizza with bizarre consequences; now I need to write it!

With that, here is 8 June 2021’s “Summertime Schedule Begins“:

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Memorable Monday: Happy Labor Day [2021]!

Well, it’s another Labor Day here in the States, and I couldn’t be happier.  Last week was a slog, but a productive one—I managed to get caught up on all grading and even get a good bit of writing done, even though I was suffering from a gnarly head cold.  Hopefully by the time you read this I am on the mend.  I’ll have spent the weekend enjoying some rest and relaxation in Athens, Georgia, with my girlfriend and our dogs.

It being Labor Day, I’m going to observe the holiday in the spirit intended, and keep enjoying the rest.  That means some glorious reblogging today, looking back past Labor Day posts.

Labor Day has always been a pleasant holiday early in the academic year—the symbolic end of summer, and a chance to catch one’s breath before the mad dash to Thanksgiving.  It also seems to usher in the “spooky” season building up to Halloween.

As a child, we used to attend a massive Labor Day picnic my childhood church hosted every year at a campground in a rural portion of Aiken County.  I loved that picnic, especially the opportunity to explore the woods with a fried chicken leg in my hand.  It was a chance to play at being an adventurer, while still indulging in my beloved childhood obesity.

I’m not sure if there will be any picnicking today, but I can assure you I’ll be eating something decadent and unhealthy.  With that, here is “Memorable Monday IV: Happy Labor Day [2020]!“:

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Neverending Summer

Yesterday photog over at Orion’s Cold Fire wrote a piece, “The End of Summer,” in which he noted that 1 September marks a psychological shift in our perceptions of the seasons, and even though summer doesn’t officially end until later in the month—and the unofficial end is Labor Day—we tend to associate September broadly with the coming of autumn.

He also goes on to make a lot of important points about the return of political commentary, which historically wanes in the carefree summer months; the continued flight of the middle classes from lawless urban centers; and the general skepticism most Americans hold towards our institutions, which we can no longer trust.  They’re great points and worth considering, but I want to focus on summertime.

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TBT: Catching Up

It’s been a week for playing catch up after the long weekend of moving, and I’m driving to pick up Murphy today.  Since getting back to South Carolina Monday, it’s been a blur of teaching lessons, dog-proofing the house, and painting (I’ve finally stripped the old lady wallpaper and have put on a nice coat of a yellowish paint I picked up at Lowe’s from the discount rack for $9).  Thank goodness it’s summertime, so I have plenty of time in the mornings to take care of things around the house and run errands.

That’s what I will miss most about summer:  the work-life balance.  Teaching a few hours of music lessons two or three afternoons a week, with some Town Council work sprinkled in for good measure, has been glorious.  Instead of waking up at 6 AM and rushing through the same morning routine, I’m able to rise at a more stately 7:30 or 8 AM; take my coffee and breakfast; and leisurely settle into a morning of writing, gardening, cleaning, or the like.

I understand why people work so many years to retire:  not having to rush into work is amazing!  I’m blessed to have a gig where I can live like a retired person for two months out of the year.  That doesn’t mean I’ve just been sitting around the house in my underwear (uh, well, not too much); if anything, I’ve been even more productive, because I’m not constantly exhausted.

That said, I still have some catching up to do on this blog—and around the house!—and an old pup to pick up.  So with that, here’s 27 July 2020’s “Catching Up“:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Portly Politico Summer Reading List

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It’s that time of year again:  summer!  That means we’re due for The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2021!

After publishing the list a bit later than usual last year, I’ve decided that the list should be a midsummer event—just in time for Independence Day.

But, like Sunday Doodles—a perk for $5 a month subscribers—my philosophy is “better late than never!”  And with the Independence Day holiday approaching, it’s a great time to do some reading.

For new readers, my criteria is pretty straightforward.  To quote myself from the 2016 list:

The books listed here are among some of my favorites.  I’m not necessarily reading them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

Pretty vague, I know.  Additionally, I usually feature three books, plus an “Honorable Mention” that’s usually worth a read, too.

For those interested, here are the prior two installments:

With that, here’s The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2021:

1.) Thomas Harris, Hannibal (1999) – I recently wrote a review of the novel Silence of the Lambs, the second book in a series containing the charismatic, devilish cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  I very much enjoyed the novel, but having seen the film, I already knew many of the plot points.  That did not diminish the quality of the novel—Thomas Harris is an exquisitely descriptive writer—but it did take away some of the thrill.  The point of a good thriller is to be constantly in a state of suspense; when one already knows the major plot points, that sense of suspenseful uncertainty is diminished.

As such, I was quite excited to read Hannibal, the third installment in what might be called Harris’s “Hannibal Cycle.”  I did not know any of this story going in, beyond some whispers about the outcome of the magnet relationship between Dr. Lecter and FBI agent Clarice Starling.  The book takes place seven years after the events of Silence of the Lambs, with Dr. Lecter on the loose and living secretly as an academic in Florence, Italy.

Meanwhile, one of Dr. Lecter’s former victims, pig tycoon and sadist Mason Verger, has put a hefty bounty on Dr. Lecter’s head, and employs a ruthless team of Sardinian kidnappers—and a corrupt, disgraced Italian cop—to hunt down the fugitive.

Tossed into the mix is Clarice Starling, who finds herself increasingly disillusioned with the bureaucracy and careerism present in the upper echelons of the FBI and the Department of Justice.  Her mentor, Jack Crawford, is creeping towards retirement, and is no longer the robust agent he once was.  Meanwhile, a lecherous deputy attorney general—working hand-in-glove with Verger—sets about destroying Starling’s reputation at the Bureau, both to undermine her search for Dr. Lecter, and because she rebuffed his sexual advances.

Whereas Silence of the Lambs portrayed the FBI glowingly as a competent, professional organization with the means and tenacity to track down the slipperiest serial killers, Hannibal resonates much more with the modern reality of the FBI—a venal, corrupt organization that, rather than solving actual crimes, uses its power to oppress and harass law-abiding citizens.  The corruption on display, with highly-placed government officials attempting to advance their professional and political careers by working with wealthy scumbags, rings true.  In the eleven years between writing Silence and Hannibal, it appears Harris had a real change of heart.

Overall, I can highly recommend Hannibal.  Be warned that it is a long read, with 103 chapters and around 560 pages, but it’s rarely a slog and always a chilling pleasure.

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