I think my big news for September is actually about October. I found out that there will be a Philadelphia Film Festival this year which has been great for my mood. Although it will be mostly virtual (and, actually, entirely virtual for us), it is nice having something to look forward to. They are doing some drive-in movie events, but since we don’t have a car, we’ll be sticking with the at home options.
We usually align the film festival with our Staycation which mainly involves a lot of going out to eat. This year, we’ll probably do some extra delivery and takeout, but, as I’ve mentioned before, we have no interest in going to restaurants during the pandemic.
The weather during September started getting more pleasant so we’ve been able to go out for some nice walks. Those usually involve some picture taking which seems like a good transition.
In September, I posted about a couple of our previous photo walks along with another couple of other photography related things:
- How I Fixed My Medium Format Dilemma
- Macro Photos of Cameras
- Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100
- Minolta X-700 with Formapan Action 400
As I mentioned above, we’ve been able to get out for some nice walks, and I shot 4 rolls during the month which are out for developing so I should be posting about them soon.
We also took a neighborhood walk with a friend of ours who is starting to get into photography. We went out one evening when the sun was starting to set. Since I wasn’t sure how long I would have good light, I brought my Olympus TG-5 digital camera for its flexibility. I was glad I did since it was starting to get fairly dark by the time we were done.
During the month, I also pulled all my film out of the cabinet I keep it in and did an inventory of what I had. I also tried to figure out when I bought each roll and actually started a spreadsheet to track them. I’m glad I did since I have more film (27 rolls) than I thought I had, and I realized some of the rolls were over a year old. Now I can make sure I use the older rolls first and not buy any more film until I know I really need it.
Drawing and Graphic Design
Early in the month, I dedicated myself to a lettering project. I first drew by hand and then imported and traced it in Procreate. I would like to also do a version in Adobe Illustrator. Although I’m not a total novice with Illustrator, I don’t quite have the skills yet to tackle what I want to do. I’m especially clumsy with the pen tools which are what I mostly need for a lettering project. That’s been on hold while I work my way through an Illustrator tutorial, Illustrator 2020 Essential Training.
I hope to post something about all this next month.
As I wrote in my 2019 Update and 2020 Goals post, I simplified my goals for this year and, basically, decided on two:
- More posts here on This Creative Midlife
- A refreshed and thoughtful approach to my short stories.
I continue to post here regularly with 6 September posts which adds up to 48 posts for the year. Last year, I posted only 20 times.
Last month, I had the most traffic yet with 377 visits. I surpassed that this month with 478 visits. Last September, I had 128. I haven’t done anything to promote this blog so I’m not sure why my site visits keep going up other than perhaps because I’ve been posting consistently.
Last month, I expressed some frustration about feeling stuck with some of the old stories I had been trying to revise. I solved that by putting that work aside and by working on a couple new ideas. For one of those ideas, I have so far only made some notes for, but I have a decent draft of the other story.
Last month, I also said I wanted to start trying to find homes for some of my stories, and I sent 4 submissions out in September.
In terms of being more thoughtful about my approach to short stories, I began reading The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction (Compact Eighth Edition). I actually had an older edition when I was in college and have since regretted not holding onto it. A lot of books were sacrificed when I first moved across the country.
Unfortunately, this book is rather pricey so I checked it out from out library. It would be nice having my own copy again, but I’m not going the spend over $100 for a new edition.
This text is not only a collection of famous short stories but also a collection of essays related to most of those stories providing insights into the creation of them.
Speaking of The Story and Its Writer…
The Story and Its Writer is arranged alphabetically by author, but it also lists the stories in chronological order, which is how I’m approaching my reading.
So far, I’ve read 4 of the stories, all of which I had read before, none of which I had read this century.
Based on my memory of prior readings, I was not surprised that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado didn’t do much for me. I certainly can appreciate their craft and their important historical impact, but they don’t particularly speak to me.
Based on my memory of prior readings, I was surprised how much I loved Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener. The last time I read it was in college so the story probably resonates more with me now that I’ve been working full time for a couple dozen years or more.
I also read a few contemporary stories that I liked: Susan Choi’s Flashlight, Nicole Krauss’ Switzerland, and Lorrie Moore’s Face Time, all from the New Yorker. I had recently read and loved Choi’s Trust Exercise so I was excited to read this new story. Several years ago, I had read Moore’s Birds of America and recall really liking it. The only work of hers I have read since was her novel, A Gate at the Stairs, which I wasn’t as enthusiastic about. I did, however, really like Face Time so I’m glad Moore is back on my radar. I need to revisit Birds of America and read more of her short stories.
Short Stories Read in 2020
So far in 2020, I’ve read 43 stories that I have enjoyed.
- The Swimmer, John Cheever (The New Yorker)
- Birdie, Lauren Groff (The Atlantic)
- The Aurelian, Vladimir Nabokov (The Atlantic)
- Things We Worried about When I was Ten, David Rabe (The New Yorker)
- Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts, Anthony Veasna So (The New Yorker)
- With the Beatles, Haruki Murakami (The New Yorker)
- A Simple Case, E.C. Osondu (The Atlantic)
- Kid Positive, Adam Levin (The New Yorker)
- Go Team, Samantha Hunt (The Atlantic)
- Night Swim, Anne Enright (The New Yorker)
- Out There, Kate Folk (The New Yorker)
- Edge of the World, Souvankham Thammavongsa (The Atlantic)
- The Other One, Tess Hadley (The New Yorker)
- Bedtime Story, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (The New Yorker)
- Likes, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (The New Yorker)
- The Burglar, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (The New Yorker)
- Demolition, Fiona McFarlane (The New Yorker)
- Pursuit as Happiness, Ernest Hemingway (New Yorker)
- Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- White Noise, Emma Cline (New Yorker)
- A Shinagawa Monkey, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- Grief, Scholastique Mukasonga (New Yorker)
- Eating Fish Alone, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- The Dreadful Mucamas, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- Reversible Story, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- Jack and Della, Marilynne Robinson (New Yorker)
- Heirlooms, Bryan Washington (New Yorker)
- The Lottery, Shirley Jackson (New Yorker)
- Hunting Knife, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- U.F.O. in Kushiro, Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
- The Cows, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- The Seals, Lydia Davis (Can’t and Won’t)
- You Are My Dear Friend, Madhuri Vijay (The New Yorker)
- Cicadia, David Gilbert (The New Yorker)
- The Sand Banks, 1861, David Wright Faladé (The New Yorker)
- Deep Cut, Andrew Martin (The Atlantic)
- Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Story and Its Writer)
- The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allen Poe (The Story and Its Writer)
- Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville (The Story and Its Writer)
- Flashlight, Susan Choi (The New Yorker)
- Switzerland, Nicole Krauss (The New Yorker)
- Face Time, Lorrie Moore (The New Yorker)
I continued my Thomas Pynchon re-read and finished Mason & Dixon in September. I may have enjoyed it more this time than the other couple times I read it, but I still have mixed feelings about it. Parts are wonderful, but other parts don’t seem to contribute much to the overall story and are a bit of a drag.
I also continued revisiting Shakespeare’s plays and read Titus Andronicus. Late last year, I read Taming of the Shrew and Richard III. I’m not reading in strict chronological order but am following a loose chronology.
Titus Andronicus is as crazy and violent as I remembered, but it is an exciting reading because of such. I followed up my reading of the play by watching Julie Taymor’s Titus which really captures the spirit of the play.
Finally, I read Chris Franz’s autobiography, Remain in Love. As a longtime Talking Heads fan, I was really interested when this came out. I was a little disappointed by it. Franz spends most of the book recalling anecdotes about the early years of the band, many of which are interesting but they don’t add up to much. I was mainly disappointed by his cursory review of the later years of the band and of the Tom Tom Club. He also seemed unnecessarily harsh toward David Byrne and barely mentions Jerry Harrison.
Books Read in 2020
So far in 2020, I have read 29 books:
- Fear of Flying, Erica Jong (Kindle book)
- Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement, Rich Karlgaard
- L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, David Lebovitz (Kindle book)
- The Complete Untitled Film Stills, Cindy Sherman (library book)
- The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin
- Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff (Kindle book)
- Drinking French: The Iconic Cocktails, Apéritifs, and Café Traditions of France, with 160 Recipes, David Lebovitz
- The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner (Kindle book)
- Trust Exercise, Susan Choi (Kindle book)
- The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better after 50, Jonathan Rauch
- Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
- A Gravity’s Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon’s Novel, Steven Weisenburger
- Weather, Jenny Offill (Kindle book)
- The Altering Eye: Photographs from the National Gallery of Art, Sarah Greenough, ed
- Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe, Brian Greene
- The Cactus League, Emily Nemens (Kindle book)
- The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel
- White Teeth, Zadie Smith
- Vineland, Thomas Pynchon
- The Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux (Kindle book)
- A Burning, Megha Majumdar (Kindle book)
- The Old Guard, Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández (Kindle graphic novel)
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne, Dave King
- Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis
- The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead (Kindle book)
- Sally Mann, A Thousand Crossings, Sarah Greenough and Sarah Kennel, eds.
- Mason and Dixon, Thomas Pynchon
- Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare
- Remain in Love, Chris Franz (Kindle book)
This Creative Midlife Posts in 2020
- 2019 Camera Inventory
- December 2019 Update
- 2019 Update and 2020 Goals
- Tracing Exercise in Procreate
- Midlife: A Philosophical Guide Review
- Some Lingering 2019 Photos
- January 2020 Update
- Half-Frame Fun
- Old Age as Defined in The Atlantic
- Black and White Photos with the Canon AE-1
- February 2020 Update
- Late Bloomers Review
- Self-Isolation Week One
- New and Old Lenses for the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Self-Isolation Week Two
- March 2020 Update
- Self-Isolation Week Three
- Spring Photos with the Olympus TG-5
- Self-Isolation Week Four
- Macro Watches
- Self-Isolation Week Five
- More Self-Isolation Macro Photos
- Self-Isolation Week Six
- April 2020 Update
- Looking Out Our Window
- Self-Isolation Week Eight
- Spring Photos with the Canon EOS Rebel 2000
- Last Normal Photos with the Olympus OM-1
- May 2020 Update
- Spring Flexaret Photos
- Two First Rolls
- June 2020 Update
- Some Favorite Photos from 2020 So Far
- Canon Rebel 2000 with Ferrania P30
- Finished the Procreate Project I Didn’t Think I Would Finish
- Minolta Hi-Matic 11 with Ilford XPS Super
- Minolta X-700 with Kodak Portra 400
- July 2020 Update
- Two Slightly Disappointing Rolls
- Trying My Hand at the Mason and Dixon Ampersand
- Minolta XE with Lomochrome Metropolis
- Second Half-Frame Roll
- August 2020 Update
- How I Fixed My Medium Format Dilemma
- Macro Photos of Cameras
- Reaching 6 Months of Self-Isolation
- Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100
- Minolta X-700 with Fomapan Action 400