Friday, October 28, 2005

Step Up and Get Fontified!!!

I got fontified and I think everyone should. Fontification changed my life. I'd share it with you, but being fontified is a private thing. It is between me and my computer. You can get fontified and have something special going between you and your computer, too!

Actually, it is possible to share fontification, just not on blogspot. Fontifier is a website that translates YOUR OWN HANDWRITING in a computer font. It is just slicker than shit.

The website link is in the title above. All that is required is to fill out a template with your rendition of each alphanumeric character and then scan it into the Fontifier site. That and $9.00 will immortalize your handwriting. And , possibly, improve it.

I am quite fond of my font. It has to be rendered at about 24 points to be readable. I don't know why, but there it is. Also, I find that bolding and italicizing make it look more like my own handwriting.

Some tips based on my experience. I believe my font is light because I used a blue pen. Try using a black pen to get a bolder look. Also, be sure to line up to the little markers on the template, otherwise your lines will look like a rollercoaster. Fortunately, they give you a chance to preview before making you pay and you can do it over if needed. The second time, I drew a very light line with a pencil and ruler across all the marks and wrote on the line. It worked well. Make your parentheses and brackets bigger than you think they should be or they will look anemic when you actually write. And if you accidently draw one or two letters a little off, waste the paper and reprint the template. Doing it over will be worth your time because seeing that one funky letter over and over every time you use the font will bug the heck out of you. Trust me on this one.

The reason I can't use it on blogspot is because there's no way for me to share the font's code with the blogspot program. Alas, your friends and loved ones won't see it either unless you get them to load the font onto their own computers. But it will make you happy, and think of the terrific letters you can now fake as handwritten!

Get fontified. It's fun.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Memento Mori

     Grief is a topic that I find it hard to write about. Death, as a concept, is not so difficult, but the pain of loss palpable in my own life after someone I care for dies is another thing altogether. Sadly, I have faced it twice in the last month and will face it again before too long.      
     I tried to write about this before and just could not. Getting the play on stage drained me emotionally, especially since it is all about death. The two deaths I am coping with could not be more different.
     My friend, Teri Selcoe, died at 78 after a brief, though intense, illness. She lived a rich life and left many beloved family members and close friends, not to mention the acquaintances and even strangers that she touched through her activism and dedication to the greater good. (Thanks, Cheryl, for that nice turn of phrase.)
     A shoulder injury bothered Teri quite a bit all summer and her efforts to treat it did not seem to be working. Finally, after extensive tests, doctors discovered that she had advanced, inoperable lung cancer that had metastasized into her bones. Her injury was actually cancer at work. Teri’s diagnosis came on August 16. She died on September 25. Those brief weeks were full of love from her family and friends; she had the death she wanted, on her own terms. If there is a good death, I think Teri achieved it.
     The second death I faced occurred on October 10. My nephew Steve killed himself in a tragic act of anger fueled by alcohol and accomplished with a conveniently loaded gun. Steve left behind three young children, a wife of ten years, parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends who are all bewildered and stunned.
     It is true that Steve had faced problems in his life, including some severe ones in the last two years. It seems he is now relieved of the burdens those problems caused him, but at what cost? His life problems have now multiplied by the numbered of people grieving for him. We all have to shoulder them in one way or another. Suicide may stem from desperation, but at heart it is a selfish act, cowardly and unworthy. Perhaps this is why Western religion has always put such a taboo on suicide. (Perhaps Eastern religions do, too, I just don’t know.)
     Nevertheless, I am grieving for Steve as much as for Teri. Neither is replaceable. Neither can be forgotten. Neither is accessible. I can’t ask Steve why he did it. I can’t ask Teri what she thought of my play. Everything that could be in our relationships already is and nothing more is possible between us. That is the heart of my grief. The denial of possibilities.
     I think about this a lot when I contemplate the future deaths of people I love deeply. How I will want to tell them something and won’t be able to, want to ask them something and can’t, want to touch them but they won’t be there. It makes me breathless in the abstract. What will it be like as a reality?
     This is why I avoided writing about Teri and Steve until now; I didn’t want to think about it. Thinking about my own death is easier because I can’t. Can’t see it, can’t imagine it. Anytime I think about being dead, I am actually “seeing” the aftermath, which means I would be alive. It’s a paradox or conundrum or something. It’s a mental moibus strip.
     It’s late. My baseball team lost the World Series flamboyantly tonight. I am feeling sad thinking about other friends and family already lost to death – Drem, Randy, Donna to name a few. I think I will close and put myself to bed with this last thought: Memento mori – Remember you must die.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Giraffe of Montana" & "The Painted Drum"

Authors and illustrators and books, oh my.

Literary events seem to be the stuff of my life these days. It doesn’t get any better than that! Besides the play, which I may have waxed eloquently enough about in the last few weeks, I have had two lovely author/illustrator get-togethers this week.

Last Friday, I attended a small private reception for William Bowman Piper, friend and children’s author extraordinaire. Bill’s book is Giraffe of Montana, a delightful read-along book for the elementary school set. (Well, let’s not kid ourselves … I read the book cover to cover and I didn’t have a child in my lap!) It is the engaging tale of an unlikely assortment of friends who have given up their natural habitats for - mostly – unnatural living arrangements in Montana. Besides Giraffe, there is also Casper the Crocodile, Alison the Alligator, Ella the Elephant, Dr. Oscar the Orangutan, and many, many more. King Cole and his queen, with more than a little help from their twin daughters Princess Isabel and Isabel, rule Montana with benign befuddlement.

If this all sounds a little silly, that is because it is. The kind of silliness that children love. Bill dreamed up these stories for his young step-daughter, Isabel (sound familiar?), who did as fine a job of editing them down to the essentials as any professional editor could have. By the time they were good enough to keep Isabel setting still on long car rides and in waiting rooms, they were too good to keep at home.

Things in Montana are not trouble-free; problems are plentiful. But it is a good-hearted place where the citizens work out their problems using ingenuity and friendship instead of bullying and meanness. Just the sort of place any youngster would love to visit for an evening. Sadly, my children are too grown up to be read to, and I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but I did buy another copy to send to my niece Leslie, who’s 6 and 9-year-old children will love it.

The fine stories are nicely complimented by just enough illustrations to set a child’s mind in motion and not so many that it takes away from the pleasant experience of enjoying a story while doing absolutely nothing except listening to it. The illustrator, Bill Megenhardt, seemed to be in harmony with the author and the illustrations compliment the book perfectly. They even have a twist: one small detail in each picture is incorrect and you are challenged to find it. I admit that I only found one for sure, but I heard that I could find the answers on their website, so I’m going looking for it. You can buy the book there, too, which I strongly recommend. It is located at

My other author encounter occurred tonight when I heard Louise Erdrich read from her new book The Painted Drum at the InPrint/Margaret Root Brown Reading Series tonight. I just love Louise Erdrich’s work. The first novel I read of hers, Love Medicine, just blew me away. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, because she won the National Book Award that year, too. She is from North Dakota, around Larimore I think she told me when we corresponded after that first book, and she writes alternately about the Native American experience and the European immigrant experience. I’ve read most of her books, although I missed a few during my sick years that I should catch up on. I thought The Beet Queen was the funniest one. There is one scene in it with a birthday cake gone bad that absolutely had my on the floor, laughing aloud.

After years of keeping up with her work, I felt so pleased to hear her read and get my stack of books signed. Many people had many books to be signed, and Louise was so gracious in doing it. Ann has visited her bookstore in Minneapolis and it is one of the things we plan to do together next time I visit the Twin Cities. I mentioned that to her, and she seemed surprised. I commented that I had been keeping track of her. After I said it, I realized that it might have sounded alarming to someone who is in the public eye. So this is a big reassurance, Louise, that I meant nothing sinister by my quip. I am NOT a stalker, just a devoted fan with an under-developed capacity for ad-libs!

So many books, so little time … I have reading to do!


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Playwright's Heaven

Watching my play in performance last weekend put me right into playwright’s heaven. The cast did a marvelous job. Many of my friends sent me comments that highlighted the excellence of the actors.

  • We really enjoyed the play last night. Thought it was very, very good and well cast. –Jane and Jim

  • The actors were so believable that I couldn't believe Maya jumped up for a curtain call. –Cheryl

  • And I thought the actors were excellent. –Janice

  • The actors seemed to "feel" their us your words and powerful emotions with such poignant beautiful realism. –Sarah

  • I didn’t realize that the Volunteers were played by the same actress until the curtain call! – Rita

It was gratifying to get kudos of my own, of course. I am not shy, so here they are!

  • We really enjoyed the play last night. – Jane and Jim

  • We all simply adored the play. We all wept (I had brought abox of tissues) and we all laughed. I am so glad you are my friend, and that we can be ourselves with each other, and I am gratified to know that there is a Mr. Mott lurking somewhere in my brain to take care of me whenI need him. – Cheryl

  • --just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your play. My college room-mate died last September of breast cancer, after at least 20 years of fighting it. Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to spend time with her before she died, but I have been thinking about her since then. She died a week before her daughter's wedding. I hope that the play goes on to win a many awards and that larger audiences have a chance to see it--it is truly wonderful. – Linda

  • Sorry I was so inarticulate after your wonderful play, but it was the most moving play I've seen. It deserves to be seen by a wide audience. I'll look forward to saying "I knew her when" after your name goes up in lights. Best of luck! – Geoff

  • Loved the play, Lane. Mr. Mott and the dance was a very creative device – and beautifully effective. You must feel very proud of the production. – Janice

  • I thought it was a wonderful production.... Thank you for sharing your talent with us. – Sarah

  • The play meant so much to me, I had to back and see it again. And my friend did, too. – Lexi

There were many other wonderful comments during the intermissions and after the performances. Strangers came up and hugged me, thanking me for addressing these issues. During the talkbacks, people commented on the realism and authenticity of the play and the deep friendship it portrays. I attended three of the six performances, so I got the opportunity to bask in this wonderful experience several times.

I also got to work out some of my tears. I always cry when I read the play. I cried when I wrote the play. I cried when I rewrote the play. I cried during the rehearsals I attended. However, by the time I saw the third full production, I was only dabbing my eyes – down to a two-tissue event! Maybe I am getting this experience under my belt.

It pleased me to hear the audience relate to the work as a play about friendship and reconciliation rather than just about breast caner. That is what I think it is about, too. During the talkbacks, some of the descriptive words people suggested for the play were passion, friendship, loyalty, trust, pain, caring, commitment, honesty, resolution, faith, and catharsis. A nice list.

Now my task is to find other places to send the play, to see if I can get it produced in other cities. Or get it published. I would really like to see this play have a long life. It seemed to give such a gift to the audience.  

Another thing I really liked is that men responded positively to it as well as women, young people as well as older people, and black people as well as white people. It just seemed to tap into a universal human experience.

I know this is self-congratulatory, but I think I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams in conveying the profound experience I had when I spent those three days with Drem in 1991. It makes me feel proud. It also makes me thankful for a terrific director and actors who could invest the roles with such vitality.

Blessed be!