Fear of Jane Austen

Once in a while people will ask me -- perhaps at a cookout, perhaps at the checkout counter, perhaps while visiting my folks -- So, Jack, what have you written lately?

I'll tell them I put out a book on Cape history last year (Cape Cod Harvest - in a bookstore near you). I've done some newspaper articles recently. And that I write a blog on Cape Cod Today.

A blog? What's a blog? So, I give them the Encarta definition: "A blog is a frequently updated online journal intended for public viewing." 

So what types of things do you write about? Oh, this and that ... whatever ideas pop into my head ... my perspective on modern day 21st century life with a bit of humor thrown in to remove the sharp edges.

How do you come up with your ideas? The answer to this question is more difficult...

It's hard to say how I come up with the ideas. Many come to me while out driving the mail route along the streets of South Dennis (I'm a part-time mail carrier). Some come to me when I'm mowing the lawn. Some come to me while I'm changing the oil in my car, or on my way to the dump, or in the produce section of the grocery store, or filling up the car at the pump, or reading a book while listening to Dave Brubeck or Bill Evans or the Counting Crows or Cat Power. Some ideas have been ripening and fermenting in my cranium for months ... perhaps years. And some just pop into my head when confronted with a blank computer screen.

So, on this summer afternoon, as I take a little break from chores, I thought it might be a fun exercise to share how some of my recent blogs came about.

For instance, my last blog entitled "The 20-Letter Alphabet" had perhaps three or four ideas that became entwined into one blog entry. First, while on the mail route I see lots of names on envelopes all day long and some of the letters in those names seem unnecessary (I've always thought there were too many letters in the alphabet ... C and K are a prime example ... and silent K ... and silent G ... and that X is just a plain ridiculous letter). Second, my niece always had difficulty with my name and used to call me Uncle Gack, instead of Uncle Jack, with a strong G sound instead of a J. Third, with the poor job market and no success in landing a full time marketing job, I have of late been feeling "no longer necessary" (Oh, woe is me!). And fourth, while out on the mail route I see so-o-o-o-o many drivers out there talking on their cell phone and paying no attention to the other drivers and the pedestrians around them. So, it all blended into one blog about lessening our collective load, shortening the alphabet, and in the process changing my name to Gack ... regardless of whether or not I'm a necessary cog in the 21st century engine!

The blog, "Forecast: Hockey Puck Size Hail," came right from the weather forecast for that week in which every day included the chance of a thunderstorm. And I was intrigued when the weather forecaster was referring to hail in the size of pennies, dimes, and nickels ... while overseas the value of the US dollar was plummeting versus the Euro dollar!  

"Skullduggery," along with the blog "Crumpled Paper," came from pieces of stuff that I had started writing but had never finished ("Prokofiev and Cigarettes" was written very quickly at D-Y High open house night this past spring ... "Satie and Coffee" stemmed from my confusion over the three Gymnopedie pieces from Erik Satie's classic impressionistic work.)

The recent two-part Orwellian play "2009" was actually first written two years ago while out in Indiana during the summer of 2006. In fact, I made reference to it in my blog "On the Road - Part 3" dated July 20, 2006 when I wrote the following:

"Wednesday - Fort Wayne, Indiana. Morning. A little reading (CS Lewis) and a little writing (about a futuristic police state that controls its population through propaganda and misinformation - it's a love story)."

As for "The Case of the Green Monkey," what can I say, I'm a sucker for anything with a monkey in it! Actually this blog is a cornucopia of melding ideas ... for instance, the character G. Thomas Butterworth is a tip of the cap to my favorite English composer, George Butterworth ... the unhappy clown reference points to my terrible fear of clowns ... while the reference to the fictitious New England Chapter of the Jane Austen Society points to my equally terrible fear of Jane Austen!

Jack Sheedy

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