Showing posts from 2013

The memories of Christmas past.... The Saturday Evening blog Post, edition#12

It is three days to Christmas and time to think about Christmas's past (and greatly embellish them.) So, today, for your reading pleasure, here are some highlights (and lowlights) from the last forty years of Hogenkamp family Christmas celebrations.

The year without a Santa Claus (circa 1978): I was ten or so, and I had a hankering for a BB gun you wouldn't believe--unless you are a ten year-old boy. I can still remember the make and model, a Crosman Model 760. I made sure to show my mother the exact gun I wanted at our local sporting goods store, and recollect that she said, 'We'll see,' a sure sign I wasn't getting it. And sure enough, when Christmas morning dawned there was no Crossman 760 under the tree--on the positive side, I did get a pair of Levi's corduroy pants in a mauve color. In protest, I refused to put clothes on, and spent the next three days in my long underwear. (Ok, ok, but I was ten--or twelve maybe, who can remember?)

Christmas in Aust…

#december in #vermont, a pictorial essay on the Thursday afternoon #MINI post

Welcome, #MINI fans. Due to the success (remember, success is a relative term) of my #november in #vermont post last month, I have decided to dedicate the 3rd #MINI of every month to a pictorial essay featuring #vermont scenes I have captured on my iPhone, so those of you who don't live in the #greenmountainstate can get a sense of what it is like the whole year round. (And, yes, there are lots of cows.) Just a quick plug before we get started: if you haven't read #theintern, the serialized novel I am writing on #wattpad, I am posting the links below. If you have, note that segment 3 is published and also posted below:

The Intern; Chapter 1, The Boy in Room 12

The Intern, Chapter 1, segment 2

The Intern, Chapter 1, segment 3

The ubiquitous red barn
#burdock (also ubiquitous)


Penguins are native to Vermont

A fern in winter

blackberries gone by

The best made plans.... Introducing serial fiction on The Saturday Evening Blog Post.

I had great blogging plans for today... I swear it. But then it started to snow.... and snow... and snow. I suspect you are guessing how weather disrupted my blogging plans--blogging being an indoor sport and all--but it did indeed. My son's flight from Boston was cancelled and I was dispatched to retrieve him, that's how. So, having accomplished my mission, and come back from a nice snowshoe in 18 inches of fresh powder, I am going to try something new. And that something new is serial fiction, but with a twist. Rather than finish the whole work and then publish it, one chapter at a time, I am posting each 3-4 page segment as I write it. The challenge presented is that the author (me) loses the significant power of revision. For example, when I wrote my first manuscript, I needed to re-write the first chapter three times to make it fit as the rest of the novel evolved. In my current predicament, I get one shot at it and one shot only. If I create a character I don't like…

All I want for #Christmas2013 The Thursday Afternoon #MINI Post, Edition #10

Yup, you guessed it, I've finally resorted to tricks, gimmickry and #trending #hashtags. (What did you expect: good content?) For this Thursday's #MINI I am posting my Christmas list. And while this might seem somewhat self-serving (ummm, it seems very self-serving...) please read it before you come to any rash judgements. (What's that? Already too late?) Let me preface by saying, having just redone the kitchen, my stocking will be empty this year, so I have been thinking about gifts the world needs--like for #MylieCyrus to move to Siberia. Ok, so that was cheap, but you get the point--and #Mylie deserved it. In no particular order:

#1 An end to #RealityTV as we know it. If I want reality, I will just open up my eyes in the morning and go about my day. When I sit down and watch TV (and #RealityTV has given new meaning to the term, #BoobTube) I want some damn good writing. And I don't think I am alone, hence the popularity of #BreakingBad #DowntonAbbey #TheWire #Gameof…

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone, a guest blog on the Saturday Evening blog Post.

Good evening Post fans. We have--yet another--treat for you; a guest blog written by my brother-in-law, Tim Sayles. But, before you read the post, be aware of three things about Tim. 1) If charisma were worth money, he would be in a higher tax bracket that Bill Gates. 2) He is the best natural born actor I know, which is the reason I always find myself in trouble whenever he's around. (Go ahead and click on the link I have provided to see his award-winning short film) 3) He brings the thunder. (Don't ask--you are better off not knowing... plausible deniability and all that.) Ok, here's Tim.
First, I want to thank Peter for asking me to share on his forum.Those that have been following his posts should know by now what I have known for years.He is a modern day Renaissance Man.His constant testing of his boundaries amaze and inspire me. I recently acted in a movie for a film festival.Our film was fortunate enough to win the Best Film Award.Also, I was lucky enough to win Be…

Publish or Perish: The Thursday Afternoon #MINI post, Edition #9

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about where I am in the publishing process right now (Ok, mostly from my mother, but still....) so I thought I would devote the #MINI to an update on my progress. Warning: I am feeling a strong desire for self-deprication, so if your stomach is a little queasy, you may want to skip to the end. (But please leave a comment anyway--good comments only, of course.)

> First things first, I do not have a book contract yet, but my ueber-agent, Liz Kracht, and I are working on it. Publishing is a slow business, and patience is not a virtue--it is a necessity. So I am practicing patience and humility (##gggrrrrr!) and Lord knows I need the practice.

>In the meantime, I am working on other projects and blogging. And I have to be honest; I started my blog because Liz 'suggested' that a blog might be a good way to build an audience, but I have found that I enjoy the process. Blogging--at least the way I do it--is quite a bit different th…

Three things for which I never expected to be thankful: The Thursday Afternoon #MINI post, #Thanksgiving edition, #8

Happy Thanksgiving all! I hope you are spending it with friends and family, and that you don't need to unbutton your pants before dessert--because that's bad form. For starters, (in our house, that would be the olive/pickle/cheeseball tray--my late mother-in-law's tradition--and we miss you Nanni!) let me say that I am #thankful for my family. I have been blessed, and there is nothing in this world more important to me. Having said that, let's get to the turkey of today's post: three things for which I never expected to be thankful.

Number 1: the broccoli and cheese casserole (borrowed from my sister-in-law, with whom we used to spend Thanksgiving before our kids got too big to travel). I am thankful not to be working today. Who works on Turkey day, you say?  I remember a Thanksgiving about twenty years ago, staring out at the grey and bleak Syracuse skyline from my call room in the top floor of the hospital, thinking about my loved ones back at home as I chased a…

Book Review: Olen Steinhauer's AN AMERICAN SPY; The Thursday Afternoon #MINI post; Edition #7

Good afternoon #MINI fans. I recently finished Olen Steinhauer's An American Spy, and I'm in the mood to write a book review, but don't worry, this is Thursday and the rules of the #MINI are etched in stone: short and without an excess of verbiage. (Actually, it's more of a guideline than a rule.)

The first spy I ever met was James Bond, and all the others I have met since have had to live in his shadow, because James Bond has no equal. That said, spying is a shadowy business and Bond is way too fond of the limelight to be a real spy. (But he has swag, mind you: #SWAG). So, the following generations of fictional spies went to the other extreme. John LeCarre's George Smiley was the perfect foil to Fleming's Bond: quiet and demure whereas Bond was brash; clever, not blunt; subduing his prey with intelligence and guile as opposed to gunplay. Countless other secret agents have been forged in the intervening decades, most splitting the gap between Smiley and Bond. …

The Saturday Evening blog Post presents: A Place in the World; GuestBlog by Thomas Cosgrove

Another first from The Saturday Evening blog Post: a guest blog. Our first guest blogger is my cousin, Thomas Cosgrove, who grew up down the street from me in Clinton, New York, a quaint little town tucked into the low foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Thomas and his family ran a dairy farm on the outskirts of town, The Spring Grove Farm, which is still in operation today. Whenever we ran out of milk, which, with a family of six, happened every night after dinner, my father and I would grab the silver milk pail and head down Fountain Street towards the farm. The first order of business was always to stop in at the farmhouse, where my father would always sit down and drink a Utica Club--our local beer, affectionately referred to as 'Uncle Charle'--with my Uncle Tom, while Thomas and I occupied ourselves at the kitchen table. Our favorite pastime was Stratego, possibly the best game ever invented--and still available, Christmas shoppers--although we also used to sketch, ai…

The Thursday Afternoon #MINI post: #Vermont in #November--an essay in pictures

Fall, Interrupted

Ten Shades of Grey



That's the #MINI for this week, hope you enjoyed it. Make sure you tune in on Sunday, as the Saturday Evening blog Post features the first in a series of guest blogs. Thanks for your support.

The Thursday Afternoon #MINI post: The number 1 most annoying cliche of all time--and why I hate it.

Something new on the #MINI (about time, you say?) Let's call it--A short essay on popular culture. Today's inaugural post will be about one of my favorite things to harp about: how much I cringe when I hear "It is what is is."

It is what it is. This cliche ranks highest on my cringe meter, with a straight 10/10. I could go on for hours about this one, but the rules of the #MINI post are clear: short and to the point. So, let's use an example of how this 'expression' might be used.

Man talking to glum-appearing friend: "What happened to you?"
Glum-looking friend--let's call him Dave--replies; "My wife left me because I slept with the cleaning lady, my brother won't speak to me because I stole money from my parents, and I lost my job because I was in a bad mood one day and told my boss to bugger off."
"I am sorry to hear that, Dave."
"It's okay. It is what it is."

See my point? Perhaps if Dave had made bet…

The Saturday Evening Post presents: One Night in Boston (unlike any other in 100 years.) #bostonstrong

When I look back on it--three days later--the St. Louis Cardinals never really had a chance. It wasn't one particular thing, like the pitching of John Lackey--good though he was--but a combination of factors, almost all the kind of intangible ones never to show up in a box score. The first sign was the national anthem, sung by the Drop Kick Murphy's wearing Red Sox uniforms and kilts. When they finished that and started singing "Shipping up to Boston," the crowd went ballistic, and I could smell history in the making--as well as hot dogs, missing the performance as I did waiting in line to spend twenty bucks on two Fenway franks. By the time I worked my way back to where my son was standing atop the #GreenMonsta, I was treated with the sight of Luis Tiant throwing the first pitch to Carlton Fisk. The last time those two played together it was Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, a game in which Fisk hit the most iconic home run in Fenway history--until Steven Drew hit h…

The Saturday Evening blog Post presents: My Name is Job.

The following story is true. No names have been changed, because there are no innocent to protect:

The wheels of the Otter-9, a plane that looked like a bathtub with wings, touched down in Worcester, and I breathed a sigh of relief that the vacation gone wrong was over. Little did I know that my comedy of errors was just getting started. Perhaps I should have been warned by missing three consecutive connections--but I am a hopeful spirit and paid no attention. I mean, I had broken my shoulder on the first day of a week long skiing vacation; things had to get better. Right? When my ride failed to materialize, I merely threw my skis and bags over my one good shoulder and hoofed it back to my dorm room on Mt. St. James--I later learned there was a bus--as the skies opened and spit a light drizzle over my head.

Two weeks later my shoulder stopped aching and I thought it might be time to get more active, so I grabbed my skates and headed up to the Hart Center for some late-night skating. …

the Thursday afternoon #MINI post: #travelinyourownbackyard #travelswithmydad

Remember the #MINI post is inspired by the #MINI--short, fast and fun to drive. (And let's not forget easy on the eye.) Today's #MINI combines two of my favorite features, #travelinyourownbackyard and #travelswithmydad.

I have a theory (which is mine.) My theory (which is mine) says that that you can not escape problems by running away. All solutions come from within. This theory (which is mine) has a corollary: when you are searching for places to go, look in your backyard, because you have surely overlooked something right under your nose. This was certainly the case in 1999 when my father and I were attending a week long medical conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The lectures finished early in the afternoon, giving the attendees plenty of time to have some fun--as long as that fun didn't involve driving very far. My father wasn't actually attending the conference--although he did go to several lectures out of interest--and spent the morning researching our afternoon …

The Saturday Evening blog Post presents: The Day We Stared Down at the Clouds

It was 1987 and I was in my second year as a Chemistry teacher (yes I was the original Walter White, just without the meth cooking) in Salzburg, Austria. Now, those lucky readers who have visited Salzburg know that it is a spectacular city, steeped in history and blessed with natural beauty. It does have an Achilles heel, however, and I discovered this fact in October of that year. A trough of low pressure built up, and grey clouds scudded in, supplanting the blue skies we had been enjoying--just in time to greet my friend Bill who was flying in to visit me. But I wasn't worried, this had happened before, and the sun had always returned in a few days to dry up the trails for us to hike upon.

But not this year. This year the clouds hung up on the mountains and stayed put, and the rain came and went as if it owned the city. Bill and I, however, were not deterred--at least not for a few days. We balled soccer with my friends from school, played poker with the boys, visited every Bier…

The Thursday Afternoon #MINI post: The Three Lessons I learned from #VinceGilligan. #breakingbad

It's true, I am one of those people, you know, the kind that started out bashing #breakingbad before ever watching a single episode. It's because I wanted to hate it. No father wants to see a meth dealer made into some kind of hero. Ultimately, however, my son talked me into watching a few episodes. I mean, your teenager wants to spend some time together, you do it, right?

It was not love at first sight between Walter White and I. But there was something there, something I couldn't deny. And the next thing you know, I am sitting next to my son every Sunday night, waiting for the next episode. Why? Because I learned a few things about storytelling from Vince Gilligan, and a writer can NEVER pass up the opportunity to learn from an accomplished storyteller like Vince.

Lesson #1. A protagonist doesn't have to be good, or moral, or sympathetic, or even likable; just memorable. #WW may have started out as sympathetic, but he breaks bad away from sympathy, and we learn in …

The Saturday Evening blog Post presents: The Long (and dangerous) Ride Home.

If you have read parts 1 and 2 of this narrative, you will know that our heroes--Bill, Chief and Peter--have finally ascended to the peak of the mountain range protecting the southern coast of Gran Canaria, and need only to ride down to the coastal road that circles the island and bike the 40 kms back to their haven in Las Palmas. If you haven't read parts 1 and 2, you don't realize that one of the Mopeds the Sons of Anarchy rented had died, and that the light was waning. (How did you go a whole week without that knowledge?) Let's cut back to the story, where it has finally dawned on us that we should have brought some water, as the only liquid we has consumed all day was hard cider--which was not very tasty to burp up, mind you. Who knew that one should take water with you when traveling in a desert? Oh sure, now they teach that kind of thing in school, but back then?

Anyway, we rode down to the coastal road and headed northeast towards Las Palmas as the equatorial son …

The Thursday Afternoon #Mini post: #evolvingfiction #ittakesavillagetowriteabook

Ok, something new on the #Mini post. Under the heavy influence of #breakingbad, I have been thinking about memorable characters recently, and how the classic molds for antagonists and protagonists have been smashed entirely. Think Walter White. So, sitting here on this sunny bench overlooking Pico Peak, I am giving a go to creating a memorable character, who is neither protagonist nor antagonist. But, please, give me some help. I have co-published this story on Readwave and WattPad under the tentative title of The Subverting of Dr. Molly Stryker. If you have a second, sign on, read the story as it evolves, and give me suggestions. Without further ado, The Subverting of Dr. Molly Stryker.

Molly would never be sure when she had grabbed the knife--during his last round of insults perhaps or maybe when he had gone into the dining room to make a quick call to his mistress--but there was no mistake about its feel, hard and reassuring in her sweaty palm, as she stood by the door to kiss him …

The Saturday Evening blogPost presents: The original Sons of Anarchy; Gran Canaria Part 2

The Canary Islands are a Spanish Archipelago about 100 kilometers west of Morocco. Why am I telling you this? Because it is there, in the northwest corner of Gran Canaria, that my travel companions, Bill and Chief--renamed el Hefe for the trip--and I found ourselves in May of 1988. If you read part 1 of this adventure, you will know that the vacation was a poorly thought out trip gone bad. Ok, poorly thought out is understating it; there was no thought involved. So, three days into our week, we find ourselves trapped in a tiny villa about a kilometer from the coast, on an arid, desert-like plain dotted with low-slung concrete buildings. The beach was out because we didn't have enough money to pay for one of the foxholes needed to get underneath the projectile-filled wind, and the nightclubs--in addition to being sketchy--were also too expensive.

As usual, however, el Hefe came to the rescue, by finding a book in the local library that alerted us to the fact we were only about thir…

The Saturday Evening blogPost: The off-the-beaten-path Travel Log, Gran Canaria

It was 1988 and I was teaching at an international school in Salzburg, Austria. It was late May, and school had just ended for the year, meaning that the traveling season for my fellow teachers and I was just beginning. My friends Bill and Chief and I had been planning to hike from the Italian/Austrian border, across the spine of the Austrian Alps, to the German/Austrian border, staying at Alpine Mountain Huts at night. I had been looking forward to the trip all year, but when it arrived the weather forecast was a deal breaker: cloudy, raining and cold. So, we improvised, and rode our bikes downtown and found a travel agent offering last minutes deals on trips that other people had already bought and paid for and then cancelled last minute.

A few hours later we were on board a plane for Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. To be honest, I had never even heard of the place, but it had been a dreary spring in Salzburg, and the travel agent had promised us sunshine (or that's how I translated h…