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In Chapter 15 of Ticket to Ride, Morgan finds himself in the town of Lagos, Portugal; frustrated in his search for beauty and truth:

“Once, I wandered around the entire diameter of the town trying to picture it when all that existed was the part of it contained within the old walls; very insular and very much counter to modern sprawl. The new architecture outside of the center was some bastardized, watered down, low-budget version of true workmanship.”

“You just shouldn’t f___ with perfection,” I said to a couple of tourists, snapping away with their camera, she, in a flowery summer dress and a floppy hat and he, in loose trousers, a sport shirt and loafers.

They looked startled, as if I’d woken them up.

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Illiteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice?
by Robert W. Sweet, Jr.
President and Co-Founder
The National Right to Read Foundation

Illiteracy in America is still growing at an alarming rate and that fact has not changed much since Rudolf Flesch wrote his best-selling expose of reading instruction in 1955. Illiteracy continues to be a critical problem, demanding enormous resources from local, state, and federal taxes, while arguments about how to teach children to read continue to rage within the education research community, on Capitol Hill, in business, and in the classroom.

The International Reading Association estimates that more than one thousand research papers are prepared each year on the subject of literacy, and that is very likely a low figure. For the past 50 years, America’s classrooms have been used by psychologists, sociologists, educationists, and politicians as a giant laboratory for unproven, untried theories of learning, resulting in a near collapse of public education. It is time we begin to move away from “what’s new” and move toward “what works.”

The grim statistics

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Big News? Ticket to Ride was requested by a combined total of 1200 readers from 2 book giveaway contests on Goodreads.com. I had a minor ego boost until I realized the catch on this one was that they all wanted it for free. Ouch.

It’s funny really. I’ll have to ask some of my writer friends what their experience has been, but it seems most everyone (my thanks of course go to all who have taken a risk on this new author and plunked down that $12.95) I talk to about Ticket to Ride is hoping to get it for free.

What is a starving writer to do? Keep starving right? Or maybe get a job at Goldman Sachs?

It’s only 2 months since the book came out and I’ve already become an anomaly, or, maybe I’ve always been one. I suppose I’m in good company. Moby Dick didn’t sell well until after Melville died (there he goes thinking he wrote Moby Dick again, right?). Maybe I should fake my death. Oops, I guess I just said that out loud. Pretend you didn’t read that. I’m really dead. There’s that light everyone is always talking about. Yeah, and there’s St. Peter. Or is it Paul? It might even be Mary. That would make KD Lang happy. Yup, it’s Mary. RIP Mr. Wikel.

Which book do you consider to be the best you’ve read in the past 6 months and why? The most thoughtful and insightful answer will win a free copy of Ticket to Ride. Post your comment below or email me at: ticket_to_ride54@yahoo.com.

My most recent favorite is to the left. I enjoyed immensely Michener’s exploration of the world of book publishing and, having read most of what he’s written, The Novel was yet another pleasant walk with an old friend who I’ve come to love.

To me, Michener is second to none in the genre of historical fiction. Because of his thorough historical erudition, I also believe most of Michener’s books should be required reading in high schools.

I’ve now been blogging for about a month and I have to say I’m not sure what sort of thing my visitors would like to see here. The number of  readers varies considerably from day to day. Some posts that I wouldn’t expect to get much attention are surprisingly popular, and others that I thought would be popular, aren’t.

I enjoy working on this little page a great deal and would like to keep some sort of dialogue going with you all so, if you wouldn’t mind, and if you have a minute, please post a comment. You can also email me at: ticket_to_ride54@yahoo.com.

If you’d like to hear more about Ticket to Ride, I’d be happy to dig into that. If there’s something in the book that perhaps isn’t clear, I’d love to clear it up. If you’d like to hear about the writing process or why I write, again I’d be happy to share my experiences with you. Whatever it is in the world of literature that’s on your mind, I’d like to hear it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Philip

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
- Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke, 1676

The following articles are about the people who inspired me to press on when I found the world ill-defined. While I idolized Hemingway and Kerouac, J.D. Salinger and Keri Hulme, Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost, the people in my Standing on the Shoulders of Giants series were, and are, the tangible, and the most immediate, examples I have of people living lives immersed in, and in pursuit of, their respective passions. I feel very fortunate, and am thankful for, the circumstances which caused our lives to intersect. It is from their shoulders that I could see what might be instead of just what was.

 

Jack backstage, (photo: wikel)

Jack Johnson, Sea-borne denizen

by philip scott wikel (originally published in Blue Edge Magazine)

If you take all the colors of all of the cultures whose borders touch the sea, then filter them through the hometown and surf-stoked sensibility of a lightly salted acoustic guitar, you’ll begin to gain an impression of the resplendent, sea-borne denizen that is Jack Johnson; surfer, film-maker, musician. His music might be labeled something like salty acoustic alchemy. From the subtle beat of steel-drum calypso on his song “Flake” to the childhood reveries of “Mud Football,” Jack pulls you into a seamless blending of eclectic sounds and experiences from his travels around the world, stirred, not shaken. He writes songs about living, loving, learning, and letting go; as he says, “You just go with the flow, you don’t stop.”

On September 13th at Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura, California Jack, along with Jackson Browne, the country-rock duo Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, and blues artist Keb’ Mo’ took to the stage in front of a capacity crowd of 3300 to support the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy and to raise funds for, and create awareness of, their efforts to preserve open space. “Venturans have demonstrated at the ballot box that we want our hillsides preserved,” says Brooke Ashworth, the Conservancy President, “the Conservancy provides a vehicle to implement this goal in a way that deals with property owners fairly and equitably.”

Phil Sedillos, a Chirikawa Apache, shared that he’s “proud of Ventura’s reaction to saving the hillside. It’s nice to see Jackson Browne come out here in support of this.” Next to him is Rosalyn Schuerman with “Dennis Kucinich for President” says “I just called my daughter to let her know I now know who Jack Johnson is.” And Rob Woods, an employee of Patagonia, chimes in with “We’re here showing our love for this place and that we don’t have to build. Check it out, we got the espresso to get us through the long day and some Ben and Jerry’s to wash it down. This is a cool scene.”

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Intro to an excerpt from Chapter 14 of Ticket to Ride

It’s now the spring of 1979 and Livy’s editor has sent her to San Diego to meet with a bunch of surfers for a trip to Cabo San Lucas. Livy has never gone surfing and knows next to nothing about the sport or it’s culture. While on this trip Livy falls in love with the sport and gives us a unique view of the surfing lifestyle and its devotees.

What I’ve tried to do here is to present the world of surfing as realistically and as truthfully as possible. Livy’s experience is informed by the exuberance of Jack London’s introduction to surfing at Waikiki in the early 20th century and is tempered by what I like to think of as Duke Kahanamoku’s vision of the ideal surfer and waterman. Duke was born just outside of Waikiki and, as part of the US Olympic swimming team, won gold in the 1912 and 1920 Olympics, and silver in 1924. He is considered the greatest of the godfathers of surfing and was responsible for introducing the sport to the US and Australia. His integrity and kindness made him a friend to many.

From Chapter 14, Ticket to Ride

In her journal Livy writes:

It’s amazing how quickly you come to know people on the road. The Aussies are three of the coolest people any of us have ever met. Even Rob has warmed to them. They have an uncanny ability to stay in the moment. All of them left their jobs before coming here and haven’t a worry about what lies ahead. They’re here for two months and reside within each minute of the day as if it were made for them. Next to them we, Americans and Britons, seem like worrisome old ladies.

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“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
- Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke, 1676

The following articles are about the people who inspired me to press on when I found the world ill-defined. While I idolized Hemingway and Kerouac, J.D. Salinger and Keri Hulme, Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost, the people in my Standing on the Shoulders of Giants series were, and are, the tangible, and the most immediate, examples I have of people living lives immersed in, and in pursuit of, their respective passions. I feel very fortunate, and am thankful for, the circumstances which caused our lives to intersect. It is from their shoulders that I could see what might be instead of just what was.

Kerby Brown NorthWest OZ

Local Hero
by philip scott wikel

(originally published in the VC Reporter)

He’s now one of the most sought after surf photographers in the world, but first things first…

When I first met Scott Aichner he was an awkward bodyboard rat just out of high school. We lived next door to each other in a duplex on Bath Lane in the Pierpont section of Ventura. My girlfriend and I would have him over for cups of tea on a regular basis and we’d talk about the ocean and surfing and other things. Scott had a girlfriend named Sandy from East Ventura and, with all that was going on his life at the time, he was trying to figure how to fit it all together.

That winter in 1990 Scott had some time off from his job as a bellman at the Ojai Valley Inn and I was on break from Ventura College. We decided to head down to Mexico to shop for Christmas presents for our friends and family. It was on that trip that I learned that this awkward kid was really a deeply spiritual character. I assumed the role of big brother as we talked of relationships and the logistics of balancing the professional with the personal and the prospect of living together with a woman you care for. I gave him what I could, which at the age of twenty-three, wasn’t a whole lot.

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“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
- Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke, 1676

How does this relate to Ticket to Ride? The following articles are about the people who inspired me to press on when I found the world ill-defined. While I idolized Hemingway and Kerouac, J.D. Salinger and Keri Hulme, Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost, the people in my next three articles were, and are, the tangible, and the most immediate, examples I have of people living lives immersed in, and in pursuit of, their respective passions. I feel very fortunate, and am thankful for, the circumstances which caused our lives to intersect. It is from their shoulders that I could see what might be instead of just what was.

Intro to “Happiness is the Warm Guns”

With it’s many quotes of, and allusions to, bands (including a cameo appearance by U2) and lyrics of the 70s, my novel, Ticket to Ride, is as much a celebration of music and musicians as it is a celebration of writers and writing. The Warm Guns are, to me, like the second coming (or third if you factor in Oasis) of the Beatles. Because of this, I feel they fit with the spirit of the book. Livy Tinsley, my female protagonist and devotee to Paul McCartney and the Beatles, would have loved these guys.

Happiness is the Warm Guns

by philip scott wikel (originally published in the Ojai Valley News)

Coming down from Ojai with a warm Santa Ana blowing at my back, I felt I was headed toward something good. In my mind I could hear the Beatles “Revolution” and as I pulled off Hwy. 33 at Main St. I found downtown Ventura flooded with the clean streetlight glow of an after-rain autumn evening and the friendly echoes of the Warm Guns streaming out from Zoey’s coffee loft.

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In the following excerpt (from Chapter 9 of Ticket to Ride), having earlier described Morgan Blake, my male protagonist, as something of a philosopher and intellectual, I wanted to show a completely different side of him; the side connected to the ocean and the natural world. It’s important to me that he have this connection because a “life of the mind,” as it’s known in intellectual circles, must be balanced with a connection to the natural world. Otherwise we are all mind and no heart.

After Chapter 9, Morgan slips into a solitary life of the mind and spends the rest of the book in search of his heart. I hope you will enjoy this bit and I welcome any commentary you might have.

The Ticket to Ride Giveaway question of the week is:

At what bus stop did Paul McCartney and John Lennon meet for band practice in the early days of the Beatles? The person with the winning answer (posted on my blog as a comment) will receive a free book.

[From Chapter 9 of Ticket to Ride]

By the time an approaching squall had moved as close as the outer reefs Morgan had caught several waves and then decided that it was best to go in before the storm hit. Beyond the outer reefs the ocean had become a choppy white froth. However, close to shore there was a lull in the, until now, consistent sets of waves. Morgan waited patiently, feeling warm, clean, and clear. Then came another set of waves. He paddled over the first two and caught the third, knowing it would be the best of the set. It rose about two feet overhead as he dropped in. He stalled at the bottom, shifting his weight to the rear of his surfboard, and slipped slowly into the curl. He then stepped slightly forward and found perfect trim on the bending face of the wave. It folded over his head as he crouched, and he could hear the internal echo, sounding like the gushing of the primordial soup. From the beach it looked as if he had disappeared, and for a moment, the ocean seemed to embrace him.

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