They Grow Up So Quickly

The 3288 Review, vol. 1 issue 1

It’s here. It has landed. The first issue of The 3288 Review is out and available for purchase. How do I feel about this? Hmm…let me think…

BOOYAH!!!

…or words to that effect.

I took a personal day on Friday so I would have a a full four-day weekend. Rolled into the Caffeinated Press offices around 11:00am, and right at the stroke of noon UPS arrived with five boxes full of magazines. 100 copies of the inaugural issue. They are beautiful! Three full months of hard work, long days, late nights, and learning the Ten Great Skills (page layout, InDesign, etc) and the Thousand Minor Skills (talking to people, avoiding Papyrus and Comic Sans, etc).

It has all paid off! Responses from the viewing public are enthusiastic and orders are starting to roll in. Close to half of the initial print run are already spoken for. With any luck we will need to place another order by the end of the week.

In the other parts of my life, the martial arts class has recently been ascendant. On August 11 I and my friend and classmate Rick loaded bags into a rented van and drove Master Lee and his wife and his visitors from Vietnam to see the Niagara Falls (Canadian side). It was a great trip! We heard several stories of what class was like back in The Day in Saigon. Rick reminisced about his trips to New York and back, when he would pull up to the falls and sleep for a couple of hours before continuing the drive.

I have never been to the Falls. They are amazing! Huge and powerful and the rumble starts in the feet and rises up through the viscera and makes everything seem just the slightest bit out of focus. At one point the walkway overlooks the edge of the falls and you can look straight down the cataract to the lower river. Here I felt a strong pull, like the falling water was calling to the 60% of me which is also water. After five minutes staring at falling water, everything else I looked at seemed to rise slightly.

It Gives a Lovely Light

Hello, my friends and foes. Wow, what a summer this has been. A series of semi-connected data points follow.

Caffeinated Press

The new office of Caffeinated Press feels like an office! I work the day job from there a couple of days a week, next to an open window serenaded by songbirds in Ken-O-Sha Park and traffic accidents at the intersection of Kalamazoo Ave and 32nd Street. The first issue of The 3288 Review is on track to hit the shelves by the end of the month. Half a dozen books creep ever-closer to production. We have several seminars on the calendar, centered on the getting published side of the writing process. Everyone is exhausted, but excited. Once we have a catalog we can register with the larger professional organizations and that will, we expect, open the flood-gates of submissions. I think I have read around 300,000 words of unpublished manuscripts and poetry over the past six months. 300,000 words in six months isn’t really all that much, but for me usually those words have other peoples’ eye-prints all over them. Thus I feel a certain responsibility to those words.

Martial Arts

Our annual Sifu Day celebration took place yesterday downtown. Loads and loads of food, an iron shirt demonstration, and half an hour of hamming it up with posed photos. We are blessed by the presence of some of Master Lee’s students from Saigon – the same people who showed Rick and I the sights in Vietnam this past October. In a couple of days Rick and I will travel with the whole lot of them on an overnight trip to Niagara Falls.

I am embarrassingly far behind in posting photos of the previous year or so of class events. Once the Caffeinated Press workload dies down I will spend a long weekend getting caught up.

Work

As of today I am off of the crazy project which kept me burning the midnight oil for most of July. All of the extra time I hoped to have during the hiatus from the iron shirt class was co-opted by the day job. Thus the upcoming burning the midnight oil for CafPress. On the positive side, I learned a lot more about advanced Backbone/Marionette programming techniques. This can only help me going forward, if I ever work on another Backbone project.

Life

Still making plans for upgrades to my house, now that I have paid off the mortgage. The bank account is rebuilding more slowly than expected because of the amount of cash I invest in CafPress. Ah, the life of the startup entrepreneur. Practically, all that means is that the work which would have happened in the autumn will now happen in spring 2016, and spring 2016 work will now happen in autumn 2016. Big expensive projects over long time spans, and I want it all to happen NOW.

The Farmer’s Market is at its peak. Almost everything in the world is in season right now. Two weeks ago I was in during the magic time when strawberries, blueberries and sweet cherries were all ripe. It’s difficult to gain weight on a vegetarian diet, but during times like these it is possible, and also delicious.

Random Stuff

I haven’t had a lot of time for entertainment and amusements this summer. Based on a conversation with Jack Ridl I picked up Mile Marker Zero, the story of The Scene in Key West just after Hemingway’s time there. A week ago I watched Paris at Midnight, Woody Allen’s beautiful exploration of wistfulness and acceptance and the literary scene in the Paris of the 1920s (which also involved Hemingway). There’s a meditation to be written on the confluence of these two experiences.

And now off to work on the magazine. These pages won’t write themselves.

Last Day of May, 2015

Sitting in the Lyon Street Cafe with a journal book, a notebook, a Chromebook, Esperanza Street, and Rudy Rucker‘s recently released Journals 1990-2014. The work book, apparently, covers a lot of ground.

June approaches, and with it a titanic pile of work. In the day job the current project will hit the “WE HAVE ONE MONTH LEFT” milestone tomorrow. In Master Lee’s class we have one week until the Festival of the Arts performance. Rick and I are fitting in private practice sessions whenever we can, to offset the time we spend teaching in class.

But the biggest news involves Caffeinated Press, and it comes in two parts. First, today is the last day for submission to Brewed Awakenings II, the house anthology of short stories. Tomorrow we start looking at all of the submissions and figuring out which ones will make it into the anthology. I don’t know the exact submission count, but I do know it is probably closer to 100 than it is to 50.

The second is The 3288 Review. Submissions are rolling in. At the same time we are working on the website (going live very soon!) and meeting frequently to hash out the final details of design, distribution, etc.

Oh yeah: June is when we set up our new office space on Kalamazoo Ave, just south of 28th Street.

In the spare moments left after all of this, I still have a house to maintain and numerous repairs and upgrades.

And at some point I will need sleep and/or food.

Hello, April!

Well, it’s been a quiet week here in Lake Wobegon Grand Rapids, near the shores of Lake Michigan. Spring has sprung with the crocuses running rampant in neighborhood lawns and our first, albeit brief, thunderstorm Thursday morning. Work has been quiet thanks to the one hand being out of synch with the other, though that will likely change very soon. Bench time is a precious commodity and not to be wasted on frivolous pursuits. We will shortly move into our new office space on the fourth floor of 99 Monroe Ave, overlooking, um, Z’s Bar and Restaurant.

Energy level in Master Lee’s classes is still high. The students are practicing hard, and we are giving them a lot to practice. We have two upcoming events – our annual demonstration at the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts on Saturday, June 6; and our Sifu Day celebration on August 8. We seem to have passed a tipping point of some kind and have a lot of students suddenly learning more advanced forms.

Caffeinated Press is going strong! We have at least three novels in the editing pipeline and many stories submitted for Brewed Awakenings II. The 3288 Review is approaching the edge of the precipice where it goes from being an idea to being A Thing. I have a stack of lit journals on my coffee table which is approaching two feet tall. We are homing in on the format we want, and from there on to the amount of content we can have for each issue. Then we need to figure out advertising, distribution, compensation, all that fun stuff.

All this is lead-up to our community introduction event at Schuler Books and Music this upcoming Monday, April 6, at 7:00pm. We hope to see a room-full of writers to whom we can offer our services as editors and publishers. Word on the street is that we will have something close to a full house. I am allowing myself to be cautiously optimistic. Regardless, We can expect a significant surge in submissions.

All of which is to say, Spring will be busy, and summer likely moreso. But all in a good way.

Early-Mid March Update 2015

The first taste of Spring is in the air. The thermometer on my car read “42” briefly yesterday afternoon in the parking lot outside of Pho Soc Trang. Of course the huge bowl of pho contained within my corporeal self could have been throwing off the reading.

Caffeinated Press has hit the ground running! Our first event at the UICA attracted at least 30 people to listen to authors read excerpts and publishers discuss their craft. Our pool of editorial talent continues to grow, and the spring melt is causing our trickle of submissions to grow to a small stream. In addition to book-length manuscripts we are accepting short form submissions for both the Autumn 2015 edition of Brewed Awakenings and the inaugural edition of the 3288 Review literary journal.

Master Lee’s school is still going strong. We just elevated one of our senior students to instructor status. It was well deserved. Congratulations, Tracy! Now the real work begins.

One of our students from Back In The Day, Han Lin, is in town this weekend. His contribution to the class, both as a martial artist and as a translator for some of the finer points of Master Lee’s instructions, cannot be overstated.

Over the past year we have had a few students return to class after long absences. Hearing them talk about how the class has changed, and how it has stayed the same, reinforces just how long I have been a student. Hearing them ask about other people who have themselves been absent for long periods of time. Seeing how much they remember of old, old lessons. Realizing how much the style has evolved under Master Lee. Being immersed in the system, it is sometimes difficult to get a sense for how influential it is on our lives, and hearing it from people who have left and returned is a valuable lesson.

As for reading, most of mine has been short stories by members of the local writing group. I have managed to get about 75% of the way through The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin. I really like it so far! Engaging, interesting, complex story; and the translation by Ken Liu displays a masterful level of precision – as should be expected from a writer like Liu.

As for my own writing, it has slowed considerably as I devote more time to Caffeinated Press. I am concentrating more on revising than writing. Two of my short stories have been through first reads, and two more are still out in the wild. The reader notes have been both encouraging and eye-opening. This is the first time, I think, that more than one or two people have read anything I have written which I intend to publish. The work never ends, but every step is rewarding.

That’s it for the moment. Work will send me to Chicago during the week of St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe I’ll get to see the river dyed green.

Festival 2008

Well, we finally got put on the schedule, so here it is:

We will be performing on Saturday, June 7, from 1:00pm to 2:00pm at the Adult Involvement Stage behind the County Building. The Adult Involvement Stage is the large terrace which overlooks Monroe Avenue and DeVos Place. Click here for a map.

If you have not seen our shows before, they area lot of fun. Photos from last year can be seen here.

Hope to see you there!

Practicing

One of our students, Anna, recently took several photos of one of our kung fu classes. She has posted them, along with others she has taken along the way, in a gallery at her DeviantArt page. She has also graciously allowed us to post some of her photos on Master Lee’s website. I will be putting those up as I have time and energy.

Class has been going well this year. We have more students than I have ever seen, with a steady influx of new people. The youngest is about seven, and the oldest in his early seventies. We are already signed up for the annual Festival of the Arts show, about which I have high hopes. The shows just seem to keep getting better and better, which is a tribute both to Master Lee and his students.

I love what I do.