Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On Being Brown Shoes

"Did ya ever feel like the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?"
Lonesome George Goebel

I'm feeling very brown. And scuffed too. My heels are worn and my soles have worrisome thin spots.

The world of technology is dressed for the gala but I'm still searching for some new laces, not those flat, fat cloth ones, but the ones that are sleek, waxed and round. Even if I find them, however, I'm still brown shoes.

My Internet marketing advisor has almost given up on me. He keeps trying to pull me through the magic looking glass into the world of the future, a world, he insists, that is already here. I've looked into that mirror but all I can see is my own rapidly deteriorating face and strange words such as "monetize", "hyperlink", "twitter", "intranetworked corporate conversations" and "de-cloaking". Do you want that "HTML, ASCII or PDF?" Actually, I wanted fries.

Monday, a storm took down a nearby tree and I was without power for seven hours. My dependence on technology was abundantly clear. Can you blame me for being cautious about digging further into this hole? Lucky for you eager readers, the power is restored but my confidence that I can tame the technology beast and ride it to riches is not.

In 2007 I wrote and recorded a professionally produced music CD. Friends and family did the honorable thing and bought some. Some went so far as to say, "Hey, this is pretty good." Bless you. All the same, I have a storage room with 700 more. I started with 1,000. Now, when service technicians, repairmen, delivery goons, etc. show up at the house to do their thing, I give them a CD instead of a cash tip. They are polite but they aren't effusive.

I tried selling the music on the Internet, using all of the hyped "this is the future of music industry" methods but to no avail. I had imagined that honky-tonky/folky/rock-a-billy songs by a Type-A, aging, white guy from the Midwest would sell like Preparation H at Daytona Bike Week. After all, if Jimmy Dale Gilmore can make a living writing and singing this low-rent stuff, I figured that there was room for at least one more nasally troubadour.
Boy howdy-doody, was I mistaken.

(If you are thinking, "Hey, I should own some nasally and original Americana music by a guy who blogs," simply go to and carefully following the instructions on the "OnLine Store" page.) This has been a non-paid commercial announcement.

But wait, there's more.

In 2006 I wrote a book, Marriage Roulette, thinking that the American public was ready to hear--from a Type-A, aging, white guy from the Midwest--how to avoid marriages that end poorly, either in divorce, silent desperation or gun play. My only apparent credentials were to have experienced both types of marriages, one failed and one successful. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, marriage counselor, social worker, minister or self-ordained relationship expert from Marin County, California. Apparently, those are the only professionals who are suppose to write such books.

Instead, I was a concerned father and an experienced researcher who delved into the subject, I was also susceptible to the siren song of "You should write a book about it". The book has no psycho-babble because I'm not licensed to use it. It basically says, "Here are seven things that will make or break a relationship, try not to let the sex blind you to the other six." It's a very short book. Some of the handful of readers who bought the book have commented on its "common sense insights".

Word around the Internet was that publishing houses were so 20th century and that self-publishing was the new, new best way to go. Google word-search advertising would put my book in front of "millions of eyeballs" (that's a gruesome image, truth be told) and then several thousand of those eyeballs, apparently with heads, bodies and VISA cards attached, would flock to my title. What the flock? How come it didn't work? I can't 'splain it. Wish I could.

(If you are saying to yourself, "Hey now, I could use a primer on how to avoid another dirt bag," just visit and carefully follow the "Buy It Now" instructions to Amazon and throw one in the shopping cart.) This has been another non-paid commercial announcement.

With that experience in the rear-view mirror, I did what any slightly crazed person would do, I wrote another book. There's probably some medication that I should have been taking but the symptoms of madness are often confused with those of gastro-esophageal reflux.

This time, however, I was firm in my conviction to get an agent, who would find a publisher, who would secure Oprah and Dr. Phil appearances, which would secure my retirement and my place in the pantheon of successful writers. To date, I'm having problems with step one, finding an agent. The self-publishing promise is now playing faintly in the background as my Internet marketing advisor croons softly a tune of temptation. "No, no, I dassn't," I implore, but the flesh is weak, particularly that which is trapped inside my cranium.

The decision to self publish rests on the promise of technology, the same technology that has whopped me upside the head twice before; technology that is spiffy in its After Six tuxedo, chumming around with the likes of Mashable, Guy Kawasaki, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, BookSurge and Kindle. Here I am, a pair of brown shoes who actually uses words like "spiffy". I could hope that technology smiles on me, asks me to dance and turns me into patent leather opera slippers, but hope is not a strategy.


of the Day: That which hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

Making a "Comment" Tip-o-the-Day

There is only one "Comment Box" and it is at the end of the first page of posts. Instead of scrolling through all of them to get to it, click on the icon at the end of any post (on which you wish to comment) that shows how many comments have been made about that post, even if it is "zero". The comment box should magically appear. If it doesn't, simply call our "We Care About You So Much That We Could Just Pinch Your Cheeks Helpline" and a friendly foreigner with a bizarre and manufactured Nebraska accent will be happy to confuse you further. Our helpline number is unlisted.

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