"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding watercolor, metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fresh coffee and new blends

We're always looking for new, better coffee, knowing that there is still much to be discovered in flavor and taste. So it is with this blog. I keep finding new blends, new flavors I hope enrich its taste.

I've added some of those to the right sidebar, under Coffee Cups.

They're links to other sites I consider robust offerings for thought and pleasure. I hope you'll sample them soon.

To perk your interest, consider:
  • The Algonquin Roundtable at the hotel in New York City is the kind of place every artist and community needs  to survive. It was my pleasure to stay in the hotel a few years ago, thanks to the Dart Foundation meeting. The Hotel just oozes thought and creativity.
  • If you want to write, or do write, you just have to read Bradbury, especially his little book, "Zen and the art of Writing."
  • My favorite writer and book are Joseph Conrad and Heart of Darkness. This Polish writer learned English and became a master of prose and storytelling, in haunting tales of the sea and humanity.
  • The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma I have a long, happy history with, dating from the Oklahoma City bombing. It's dedicated to helping journalists cover traumatic news in an ethical and sensitive way to protect the victims, and the journalists. I have met terrific thinkers, movers and journalists thanks to these people. This is a rich site.
  • Shelby Foote wrote prolifically about the Civil War. A true Southern gentleman made his fame in the Ken Burns series on The War. Note: He wrote all his books in longhand, with a fountain pen. He said it gave him time to consider each word. My wife Susan has a signed letter from him, written with the same fountain pen in elegant penmanship. It hangs on the wall with a photograph of one of her Confederate ancestors.
  • My favorite living writer is John McPhee, whose non-fiction resounds with detail and style. He also teaches at Princeton.
  • Natalie Goldberg does what I want to do, live in Taos and teach writing there. Her books on writing are very influential and good. I steal a lot of her ideas, especially from Writing Down the Bones.
  • Ron Ranson is a one-eyed English marvel who I was privileged to study watercolor with a while back in a week long workshop in Taos. He is famous for Watercolor Fast and Loose, a book and style. Most of his paintings are completed with just three brushes. Yes, I bought one of his paintings, and his famous Hake brush.
  • TED is a site full of ideas and creativity. Often humorous, always provoking. 
  • The Waurika News-Democrat, my old newspaper, where I got my real education, and passion for community journalism.
  • Eudora Welty has such grace and power and poetry in her prose. You should read One Writer's Beginnings.
  • Walt Whitman--of course.


  1. Great ideas and links. I love John McPhee's writing also. "Basin and Range" and "Uncommon Carriers" are great books.

  2. Yes they are...I have a signed copy of Uncommon Carriers. Basin and range is great...I really like Rising from the Plains.

  3. Dad,

    I tried to read my middle-namesake Conrad and found him a bit awkward and ungainly. Nothing as bad as say James Fenimore Cooper but Conrad is not near as powerful in descriptive powers as Hemingway or Thoreau and certainly not as in touch with the human pathos as Norman McLean or Wallace Stegner (whom you failed to mention and happened to introduce me to) If you want to know about the west, read Stegner. Just Read Stegner.

    Love ya,


  4. Kids get to be such know-it-alls ; )

    Vance, Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim...nothing ungainly there

    I'd agree on pathos in Stegner. I do read him. but if I want to know about the sea and the jungle of life, I read Conrad.

  5. Terry,

    I feel I'm in class. And it feels good. Thanks for sharing your ideas -- I've already zipped over to buy Welty's and Bradbury's books on writing -- I pray it will be good medicine.

    I do love Eudora Welty's stories. A copy of her collected stories sits by my bed on my nightstand. And just the other day, my son Kyle suggested I read Bradbury. So here it goes.