Category Archives: Friday Jones Publishing

Grammy Museum is a High Note in LA

Grammy_ColorSketchI can’t read music, but I do write about it. Professionally.

Which is why the Grammy Awards send me spinning. As the rock blogger for The DenveR Post and a longtime regular contributor of concert reviews to heyreverb.com the newspaper’s groovy and award-winning online music blog, I attend lots of concerts and tune in to music on a more than casual level.

This Sunday, January 26, the 56th Annual Grammy Awards will be staged in Los Angeles, one of the world’s musical centers.

But did you know there’s a Grammy Museum in Los Angeles? And that at the Grammy Museum, you can get a drum lesson from Ringo Starr?

Last October, while on assignment in Los Angeles, I had a free afternoon before jumping into a ten day multi-media project for a client based in the City of Angels. My client graciously put me up in The Hilton Checkers located in an elegant 1920s building in the Arts District, right next to the Los Angeles Central Public Library. Heavenly!

At the top of my list of cultural wishes was a visit to the Grammy Museum, so I headed directly to L.A. Live, the complex housing the museum. An enterprise of AEG Live, the media empire owned by Denver titan Phil Anschutz, the Grammy Museum entertained me for an entire afternoon.

As if establishing right away that the music world turns things upside down, the 30,000 square foot Grammy Museum begins on the fourth floor and winds downward toward the ground floor.

The Grammy Museum is not exclusively about the Grammys, but about music, in general.

Interactive music exhibits make the Grammy Museum educational and also irresistible for any music-lover. Knowing nobody knew me at the museum, I felt free to try my amateur hand at banging away at the trap set. In a recording booth, I laid down two wobbly vocal tracks to “Yellow Submarine.” I got down on guitars and tickled ivories of keyboards and took a taped drum lesson from Ringo Starr.

Exhibits also include musical timelines, genre descriptions and examples, bits of paper with lyrics scrawled, and other ephemera tracing the creative process of songwriting. When I visited, a collection of Michael Jackson’s glittery costumes were on display.

The Grammy Museum offers a peek into the technology of music-making, too. Exhibits track music-making machinery from the earliest days to the most current science of recording songs. I learned a lot experimenting with the mixing board, where visitors can play around and listen to various sounds.

A beautiful theatre hosts lectures. The day I visited, the Grammy Museum was preparing for a talk by opera star Placido Domingo.

The Grammy Museum celebrates all sorts of music and educates fans such as myself. I can’t help but believe the museum must serve as a source of inspiration for musicians.

In Los Angeles and in the world of music, the Grammy Museum is a high note. And the Grammy Museum’s gift shop rocks, too.

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Six early-season skiing truths and tips

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Laid-Back Skier & Dr. Downhill

By Colleen Smith and Dr. Joel Cooperman

1)   You will be psyched. Alpine skiing warms one up to winter. We skiers risk life, limb, and credit lines for many reasons: to experience the exhilarating rhythm of piloting ourselves on snow as if superhero snowmen, the challenge of choosing our line, the sense-stirring beauty of forests and purple mountains’ majesty.

Ski tip: Remember, everybody else is psyched, too, but a bit rusty on the snow. In the early season, you’ll face a mix of tentative skiers/riders and over-eager bombers, plus challenges particular to early-season skiing.

2)   Your feet will resent your ski boots.  No matter how comfortable your boots are, they’re ski boots: heavy, clunky implements designed to transfer force from your body to your ski. Your boots help you get your skis to hook up, and there’s joy in the sensation of ski equipment responding.  But technology does not equate with utter comfort.

Ski tip: Unless you have hardwood or marble floors, wear your ski boots around the house before hitting the slopes for the first time this season. Your feet won’t suffer so much shock when you buckle your boots at the base of the mountain for your personal opening day. And you can reacquaint yourself with a confident but awkward skier’s heel-toe stride.

3)   You will fatigue. You can swim or run or cycle, lift weights, practice yoga, or do Pilates, but nothing precisely prepares your body for skiing. Yes, you can build strength and stamina with cross-training, but you can’t totally get ready for your first days of skiing each season. Sport-specific machines such as Skier’s Edge mimic the motions of skiing, but nothing duplicates the physics of what’s happening in an uncontrolled environment, i.e. unpredictable and ever-changing surfaces of alpine terrain.

Skiing requires working with the mountain and with your equipment. You can target general muscle groups, but you can’t train for the specifics of undulations, mountain faces, and snow conditions. The combination of taxing altitude and the first runs of your season add up to tired legs and lungs and potentials for physical system failures.

Ski tip: Pace yourself. Take breaks. Remember to stop before you are too tired. When you’re ready to get off the mountain, download! Especially during the early season, the lower runs tend to be more sparsely covered and icy. Tired legs often translate into less control. Catwalks can clog up with skiers and riders feeling cooked quads, yet in a hurry to get off. Plus, downloading allows you to experience the mountain and the resort from a different perspective as you descend from a dangling chairlift or gondola.

4)   You likely will find crowded runs. Early in the ski season, less open terrain means more skiers per cubic foot on the runs.

Ski tip: Early starts can help you avoid skier congestion. Get up and get out and get after it. The early bird gets the corduroy. Or the freshie turns, as the case may be.

5)   You’ll deal with variable coverage. Just because a resort is open does not mean the entire resort is open. And runs you carved up at the end of the season may not feel the same due to sparse coverage. Undulations you never knew were part of the terrain will present themselves.

Many resorts have limited snow-making capabilities and usually apply that to mid-mountain and lower runs. Artificial snow tends to be wetter and can get icier.  Man-made snow heightens variability on runs.

Ski tip: If you know the mountain does not yet have primo coverage, ride your rock skis—old skis that can take some scrapes without breaking your heart.

6)   You will be sore. Skiing demands that you step into the laws of gravity. The sport requires strength, balance, flexibility, endurance. Any time of the year, but perhaps more so in the early season, you can catch an edge or cross your tips or hit an icy mountain face and do a face-plant or have a yard sale.

Ski tip: Be sure to stretch before and after skiing. Stock up on Epsom salts, analgesic balm, and your favorite over-the-counter painkillers for your ski bag. Spend some après ski time in the hot tub. And trust that with some mileage on the mountain, you’ll soon find your sturdy ski legs again.

Next up on Laid-Back Skier & Dr. Downhill:

Healthful snacks for your ski jacket pocket

Colleen Smith is the author of “Laid-Back Skier: As In Skiing, So In Life.”

Dr. Joel Cooperman practices sports medicine at the Denver Osteopathic Center.

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Pope Benedict XVI, palms, and Ash Wednesday

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Full Moon Over Los Angeles Palm

Photo by James Baca Photography

 
As a former communications officer for the Archdiocese of Denver, one of my duties included directing the production of an annual Catholic liturgical calendar. The calendar hinges on full moons, Spring Equinox, symbolic colors, and also plants—particularly palms.

Today, a collision of past occupations and current preoccupations occurs. My fresh post on my Examiner.com page, where I serve as Denver Flower and Garden Examiner, draws a circle encompassing a number of topics.

Why are palms so important in all of this?

This Mardis Gras, I recall the year I celebrated Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, which leads me to another article about a garden that a friend and I planted while doing Katrina relief work

 

The liturgical calendar serves as the framework for my first novel, “Glass Halo,” a Finalist for the Sante Fe Literary Prize.

Glass Halo by Friday Jones Publishing can  be found at these local retailers or  on Amazon.

 

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LAID-BACK SKIER: What’s in your ski jacket pocket?

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By Colleen Smith

Does any sport require as much gear as alpine skiing? I doubt it.
In addition to the basic mantra—“skis, boots, poles”—the checklist
includes countless essentials and incidentals, depending on how hardcore
or laid-back your skiing style.
Most of us don’t have the liberty of jetting off to the Southern
Hemisphere for summer skiing, so it’s been months since we’ve clicked
into our skis. (Or board.) And as ski season opens, creature comforts that
keep a day on the mountain from going downhill tend to slip our mind.
Jog your skier’s memory with this list:

Pass or lift ticket: You can get on the mountain without any of the items
below, but without your pass or lift ticket, you’re not skiing resort runs.

Goggles/sunglasses: I keep my goggles strapped to my helmet. Yes, I
wear a brain bucket, and you should, too. A helmet won’t save you if you
get T-boned by another skier or rider or slam into a tree trunk, but a helmet
protects your noggin. Plus, ski helmets are warm, if not cool.

Lip balm: Your lips lack oil glands, and alpine altitudes have no mercy
when the sun’s blazing. Winds further dry out your kisser. Lip balm with
SPF 15 or better is best. If you’re a ski bunny concerned about how
you’ll look in your on-mountain shots, opt for a product with sunblock,
moisturizer, and a flirty tint of color. Mwah!

Eye drops: I wear contact lenses when I ski, but even if you don’t, the
combination of high, dry air, cold wind, and blinding snow turns eyeballs to
ice cubes. Eye drops in tiny, single-use tubes fit easily into a pocket. Pick
an inside pocket so liquid stays warm from body heat. To avoid dry-eye,
use drops at lunch or when you take a break.

Cell phone: Stash it in a handy pocket so you can whip it out to connect
with other members of your party on the mountain, or to shoot a photo of
that stunning light on the fresh powder and the first tracks you just carved.

Whistle: I don’t ski the hardcore back-country, but, because I was a
Girl Scout, I keep a whistle in my pocket. Just in case. A whistle does not
weigh much. On a similar note, if you ski the back-country, don’t run the
risk of making risky runs sans avalanche beacons and a small, fold-up shovel.

Tissues: Skier’s nose, a medical condition that involves a runny schnozz,
comes along with the ride, but there’s little more disgusting than snotsicles.
I keep a supply of tissues in my right hip pocket, and I keep that pocket
unzipped so I can quickly access tissues rather than wiping my drippy
nose on my ski mittens or neck gaiter.

Lens-cleaning cloth: Don’t use tissues on your goggles. The best
ski jackets come equipped with a lens-cleaning cloth attached to an
elastic strap that stores in a pocket. If your jacket lacks this feature, add
a microfiber cloth to your jacket. Don’t wipe the insides of your goggles,
though, or you might ruin the lenses.

Money: Remember that a burger on the mountain can easily set you
back $10, so if you’re bringing cash, bring plenty.

Medicine: Once, I got a migraine while skiing, and had to download on
the gondola. Ever since, I keep an anti-migraine tablet or two in a pocket.
Medication won’t take up much room and might be worth its weight in gold
if you need on-mountain relief for achy muscles or other maladies.

Neck gaiter: An acupuncturist taught me Chinese medicine’s theory that
pathogens enter the body via the small of the back or the back of the neck.
When I ski, I’m much warmer with a neck gaiter protecting not only my
neck, but preventing me from taking it on the chin. Plus, neck gaiters can
function as headbands.

Hand-warmers, toe-warmers: Some dismiss these as for sissies only.
Not I. I live by the “start warm; stay warm” theory. I don’t wait until my
fingers go numb: I crack open hand-warmers from the get-go. I use toe-
warmers on super cold days because I don’t have boot heaters. That’s
another discussion.

Glove liners: I prefer silk ones because they’re warm, but super light
and not too bulky to stuff in a pocket. But be careful when handling your
skis if wearing only silk liners. Your skis’ edges can slice the silk.

Ski cinches: While you can get by without a Velcro bands to lash your
skis together, this strap takes up little space, weighs almost nothing, and
makes life much easier. As you shoulder your skis, they won’t separate
awkwardly.

Common sense: Granted, there’s no ski jacket pocket to hold common
sense, but when you’re on the mountain keep your wits about you. Know
the code; follow it. Ski safely; ski the whole season.

Colleen Smith—the author of “Laid-Back Skier: As In Skiing, So In Life”—skis Colorado and writes from Denver.

Interested in purchasing Laid-Back Skier?  Check out our previous blog post about local businesses who carry the book.  Not in Colorado?  No big deal!  Laid-Back Skier can be found on Amazon.

 

 

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Laid-Back Skier: A Gift Book About Life’s Ups & Downs

ImageLaid-Back Skier: As In Skiing, So In Life is a small gift book from a small publisher: Friday Jones Publishing. A valentine to beautiful books, Laid-Back Skier includes a skier’s journal and a skier’s packing list, in addition to 38 original color illustrations of ski bunnies and snowboarders, and artfully magnified snowflakes.

I wrote, art-directed and published Laid-Back Skier as a pure expression of my passion for both printed books and skiing. This book is a pleasure to hold and gives readers the pleasure of turning pages and reading an actual book, cover to cover. Laid-Back Skier is an antidote to the digital age—a lure away from your computer and back to the not-so-distanct past when books were more highly valued by more people. There is no Laid-Back Skier for e-readers, but the sensual quality of the book is part of the experience.

Printed in full-color on high-quality, environmentally responsible paper stock, Laid-Back Skier, an ideal gift for all occasions and ages, reminds readers of the joys of winter and the inevitable ups and downs.

If you’re interested in a charming gift, please consider Laid-Back Skier. I’m happy to fill orders directly if you contact me through fridayjones@me.com or order through Amazon.com or visit one of the stores listed below. My small gift book has lots of small-business retail partners, and you’re sure to enjoy these bricks-and-mortar stores.

Hearth Fire Books – Evergreen, CO

The Bookery Nook – Denver, CO

West Side Books – Denver, CO

Boulder Bookstore – Boulder, CO

Gallagher Books – Denver, CO

Broadway Book Mall – Denver, CO

32nd Avenue Books Toys & Gifts – Denver, CO

The Stationary Company – Denver, CO

Haley’s Heart – Denver, CO

Artemisia &Rue – Denver, CO

Cry Baby Ranch – Denver, CO

Shop Around the Corner – Denver Pavilions

Lionshead General Store – Vail, CO

Colorado Ski Museum – Vail, CO

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens – Alpine Treasures Gift Shop – Vail, CO

The Bookworm of Edwards – Edwards, CO

Sugarlicious – Denver, CO

Georgetown Gateway Visitor Center – Georgetown, CO

Cures ‘n Curiosities – Keystone, CO

Next Page Bookstore – Frisco, CO

The Bookies – Denver, CO

Hammond’s Candies – Denver, CO

Vail Cascade Village Market & Café – Vail, CO

Wishes Toy Store – Avon, CO

Swoozie’s – Denver, CO

Bonnie Brae Drugstore – Denver, CO

Quacker Gift Shop – Denver, CO

Lakewood Heritage Culture & The Arts – Lakewood, CO

Catamount Ski Area – Hillsdale, NY

Tattered Cover Bookstore – Denver, CO

Kids’ Cottage – Edwards, CO

Wild Bill’s Emporium – Vail, CO

Roxy – Vail, CO and Beaver Creek, CO

Breck Kidz – Breckenridge, CO

Djuna – Denver, CO

Blue Skies – Boulder, CO

Museum of Outdoor Arts – Englewood, CO

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Will Write For Music

“I got the music in me.” The year before I was born, Buddy Holly died when his plane crashed in a field not far from my family’s home.

Born and raised in Mason City, Iowa—portrayed as River City in Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man”—I always took note of music. My great-grandfather was an amateur Irish fiddler who played at wakes and weddings, in parlors and barns.

My childhood household had an eclectic soundtrack: Peter, Paul & Mary; Simon & Garfunkel; Petula Clark; Gene Autry, the Chipmunks. We listened to records and the radio. We sang in the car, my mother on lead vocals for “This Old Man” and “On Top of Old Smokey” and “Kumbaya.”

I started buying records while in elementary school, but even earlier, I was a pop music fan. My family’s lore includes a tale about the time when a little older than a toddler, I asked to stay in the car so I could listen to the end of “Georgie Girl” on the radio. My mother agreed, but warned me not to touch anything. Evidently, I put the car into gear, and my mom’s car rolled down our steep driveway, toward the street. Fortunately, my big brother Danny had left his big metal truck out, and the toy truck stopped the car from crashing into the street.

Each summer, Band Festival Day celebrated my small town’s big connection to the Music Man with parades of marching bands. The Presentation Sisters at my grade school emphasized musical education, too. They allowed us to sing songs of the times from Jesus Christ Superstar or John Denver. They taught us a long list of songs celebrating our Irish heritage. I sang in school choir and a small choir that sang at funerals in our parish. But even then, I felt more comfortable in the audience than performing on stage or from a choir loft in our church.

I never had music lessons and learned only the basics of reading music. I was a fan, and something of a fanatic, but I was on the receiving end of the musical spectrum. As a teenager, I started attending concerts. One of my first concert venues was the Surf Ballroom, the Clear Lake, Iowa, venue Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson played the night of their deadly plane crash.

I instinctively loved the music scene as well as the live music. I loved some musicians, too. I invested in the best stereo equipment I could afford, and played my music relentlessly. Just ask any of my college roommates.

My adulthood moved from vinyl records to 8-track tapes to cassettes to Walkmans to CDs to iPods to iTunes. I’ve kept music close along the way. Now a middle-aged adult, I find myself writing regularly about music. A longtime freelancer for newspapers and magazines, I’ve interviewed a number of musicians, published a number of features on musical festivals; in addition to several multiple choice musical quizzes.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band quiz

70s Rock quiz

The Eagles rock quiz

Sweet Strains of Outdoor Music Fests

Jackson Browne Red Rocks Date

As a member of The Denver Post’s heyreverb.com staff, I’ve covered dozens of concerts ranging from Jackson Browne to Maroon 5 to Denver Brass to Train to The Fray to Los Lobos to Trace Adkins to Sheryl Crow to Carrie Underwood.

• Here’s a link to my concert reviews on heyreverb.com

Reporting on rock and other genres is a sweet note. Some of the happiest times of my life have been at concerts where music transported me above and beyond the cares of my everyday life and into another realm of harmony and good vibrations, dancing or singing or just listening my cares away. I’ve always respected musicians as magicians, of sort, with instruments as their magical wands. Music continues to sustain me. As I’ve grown older, and as I’ve reported on music, I’ve learned a lot more about different genres: Classical, reggae, roots rock, Blues, and more. I still obsess about songs, playing tracks over and over until somehow I’ve absorbed every note, every lick, every lyric.

One of my goals in life was to learn to play the piano, but at this stage, I’m willing to admit it’s a goal I may never accomplish. I’ll settle, though, for playing out my musical interests on my computer keyboard: Will write for music.

Colleen Smith’s gift book “Laid-Back Skier” celebrates alpine skiing and life.

Colleen Smith’s first novel, “Glass Halo”— a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize — is available in hardcover or e-book.

To learn more:

• FridayJonesPublishing.com

• GlassHaloNovel.com

• Become a friend on Facebook, or follow FridayPublisher on Twitter.

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Novelists now expected to write two books per year—and then some.

Publishers now expect novelists to churn out not one novel per year, but two. And in between, some digital short stories or other ditties to keep the audience’s appetites whetted.

Last Sunday, the cover of The New York Times quoted best-selling author Lisa Cottoline: “…today the culture is a great big hungry maw, and you have to feed it.” The article’s headline: “In E-Book Era, Rule for Writers is Type Faster!”

Faster is the coin of the digital realm, yet writers ought to be judged more for quality than quantity, at least in my book. Words should be weighed, not measured, I read somewhere along the line.

Yet every writer and journalist I know is doing more in the digital age. The Internet keeps us connected, wired, and frantic. We’re not only making deadline, we’re blogging, Tweeting, Pinning. We’re chatting live and Linked In. We’re Google Plus and then some.

The culture moves fast. Furiously. As the Times article pointed out, “Television shows are rushed online only hours after they are originally broadcast, and some movies are offered on demand at home before they have left theaters. In this environment, publishers say producing one book a year and nothing else, is just not enough.”

My old process clearly will not work. I labored over my first novel, “Glass Halo,” for about 27 years. I’m finishing my second novel, “Only Wild Plums,” after beginning it in 1983, or thereabouts.

Could I write two novels in a year? I like to think I could do it now that I’ve written two novels and a gift book: “Laid-Back Skier.” I give myself the benefit of the doubt, but only if I did not also have my magazine and newspaper articles, my Examiner.com page, my art direction jobs, my ghostwriting and copywriting and assorted other writer duties.

Two books per year every year? I’m an idea junkie, but that sounds like a lot of material, even for a gear head like myself.

And the novelists are not off the hook from other writing. Publishers expect them to do more than ever. “Everybody’s doing a little more. It seems like we’re all running faster to stay in the same place,” said British thriller writer Lee Child, published by Delacorte Press, a branch of Random House.

“I almost feel sorry for authors these days with how much publishers are asking of them,” said Jennifer Enderlin, associate publisher of St. Martin’s Press.

The Times article by Julie Bosman also mentioned one of my favorite writers: J.D. Salinger. I’ve long admired Salinger’s literary and personal style as an off-stage writer.  His sort won’t do in the digital age:  “Publishers also believe that Salinger-like reclusiveness, which once created an aura of intrigue around an author, is not a viable option in the age of interconnectivity,” Bosman reported.

The publisher of HarperCollins’ William Morrow, Avon, and Voyager imprints, Liate Stehrow said, “Now it seems to make more sense to have your author out in the media consciousness as much as you can.”

As for my part, I post regularly on Friday Jones Publishing’s Facebook page. I Tweet. I maintain a number of Pinterest boards. I blog, as evidenced here. I publish regularly on my Examiner.com page. And I do my best to keep all the other plates spinning, too, as a novelist, author, journalist, copywriter, and any other job that crosses my desk.

It’s never been easy eeking out a living as a freelance writer, but I think it’s now harder than ever.

Excuse, me, I’ve got to get back to work now.

Wag your tale. Doubletime.

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