Posts by William Kennedy

School of Great Books: Raising a Child One Book at a Time

IStock Books Flying from Hands

Prior to being a dad, I had this idea that when the time came, I might use some favorite books to mentor, guide and influence, hoping that, as they did for me, the books would act as salve for my son or daughter during tricksy patches growing up. It was partially a fun game: “Quick, top 5 books you’d recommend your kid read, at what age, and why.” But I do think there’s something behind the idea that a book, a song or really any form of art could provide an understanding “we get you, you’re not alone” to a young person that a parent can’t always do. continue reading >>

Teen Dreams

IStock Guitar

I played in a band in high school. I was the bassist and wrote a lot of lyrics. My best friend and I wrote all the songs. I wanted to be a singer, but could never get over myself long enough to pull-it-off. Like a lot of young and music-obsessed kids, we dreamed of making it big one day (at the time of course having no idea what “making it” would entail. I mean, how hard could it be to get your CD in a record shop?). Some kids have the football team, we had the band. The songs we wrote and the songs by the artists we loved were our swords and badges of honor in the daily melee of our teenage years.

Like a lot of garage bands, our songs were simple, big on `90s era indie/alternative influence and full of teen angst: we railed against conformity, complained of broken hearts and in general cut the figure of young and tortured Rimbauds. continue reading >>

A Pirate’s Life for Me

IStock Pirage

When I was a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. And when I say Indiana Jones I mean a swashbuckling adventurer/archaeologist fighting Nazis, wooing pretty ladies and discovering lost treasure. Before long I realized archaeologists spend most of their time dusting off old, nondescript rocks in big pits under the hot desert sun. No thanks. A rare few make a living as treasure hunters – on land or at sea. I just don’t think it’s the life for me. Regardless, the little boy in me thinks the story of lost treasure discovered off the coast of Florida is pretty cool. continue reading >>

Let’s Hear It For Beer!

IStock Beer

Eugene vies to become Oregon’s Beer Capital

Look around Eugene these days; we’re in a beer boom: Brewgene, Oregon. Ninkasi Brewing Company is a fast-growing regional microbrewery. Tasting rooms from other local breweries like Oakshire and Hop Valley are popping up every day. And local bottle shop/restaurant The Bier Stein recently expanded, becoming a shrine for the hoppy beverage: a landmark for beer tourists nationwide. All the while, more and more beer-related establishments are planned to open in the Whiteaker and downtown areas in the coming months.

If there’s an industry that fits this groovy college town perfectly, it’s beer—and specifically microbreweries. continue reading >>

Strong and Silent No Longer

IStock Dad's Day

Did you see the video clip of Patrick Stewart that was all over the internet recently? During a Q&A, a young woman commended the actor on his work for domestic violence charities, a subject close to Stewart given his upbringing in an abusive household. Stewart spoke so eloquently and movingly on the subject (granted the man would sound eloquent reading a McDonald’s menu) touching not only  on the trauma women and children suffer in these households, but the very real health issues that drive men to such inexcusably violent acts:  PTSD, depression and substance abuse to name a few. It all got me thinking about how very difficult it is for some men to ask for help, and how the myth of the “strong, silent father” still persists.

I recently lost my step-dad for very similar reasons. continue reading >>

Last Minute Guy Shopper: Mother’s Day

IStock Mom and Daughter

A few months ago I was out hearing my friend Mike’s band play live. A young woman in the crowd said to Mike: “My mom loves you guys. She said I needed to check you out.” After she walked away, Mike (who is also married with a young daughter) rolled his eyes and said to me, “Great. We’re big with moms.”

“Moms are sexy. We’re married to two of them,” I replied.

Mother’s Day is coming up.

Mother’s Day is an American invention—typical, given it’s largely become what I call a “Hallmark Holiday” to most people: or, in other words, an excuse to go out and spend money. Holidays honoring Moms have been around for a while; the ancient Greeks had “Cybele.” Ancient Romans had the festival of “Hilaria.” The American tradition began in 1908, officially adopted as a holiday in 1914. Founder Anna Jarvis was already disappointed in the commercialization of the day by the 1920s.

Commercialized or not, having a kid has taught me moms do deserve a day off. With many young children’s natural and normal predisposition for “mommy,” that’s easier said than done.  So it’s good we have one day a year to say thanks for all her hard work.

As previously stated in this blog, planning ahead for holidays is not my modus operandi. Here at the Literary Duck we’re ridiculously perfect for the procrastinating gift buyer. The publishing business is silly with options for women, and moms in particular. We have a running joke around here that [...]
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Focused: Learning about Attention Deficit Disorder as an Adult

ADD Relaxing

When it was first suggested to me I might exhibit ADD traits, my initial thought was: “No way, I’m not that guy.” I don’t fit the stereotype of ADD—crashing cars, lighting fires, generally impaired by impulses and addictions. I take naps! How could a hyperactive person be such a prodigious nap-taker?

I soon learned there’s a vast difference between ADD and ADHD (the trademark condition forming the basis of what many think when they think ADD/ADHD), and even within each condition there are many different ways one might fit into one category or another. Just because your body isn’t particularly hyper doesn’t mean your brain isn’t. After confirming with a counselor that I have and do show signs of ADD, I began to learn as much as I could. ADD isn’t really a disorder unless… well, whatever happens to you creates disorder. In other words, it’s not a problem unless it’s a problem; I hold down jobs, maintain relationships and have stayed out of rehab. In general, I’m doing ok for myself.

But looking back through my history and childhood I find definite signs that were missed—poor grades, a checkered college career, and problems with depression to name a few. At first it seems everyone is ADD: “who isn’t like that sometimes?” We’re all occasionally distracted, we all have organization issues now and then, or issues with focus and motivation. There are things we all wish we’d done differently. On the other hand, some cope with ADD by becoming hyper-motivated and focused, the classic type-A [...]
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Music of a Life: 33 1/3 Series: Music Obsessive for Music Obsessives

Music of Life

When I grow up I want to write in-depth, scholarly books about pop bands; barring that, I’d love to write something for the 33 1/3 series. If you aren’t familiar, 33 1/3 books are about one album and by one author; the slender volumes tending toward personal memoir, detailing why the music is so meaningful to the author and the effect it’s had on their life. Past subjects have ranged from DJ Shadow, The Beatles, The Replacements and MC5. 18 new volumes are expected in 2013. You can get a sneak peek of the upcoming selections and get to know some of the authors over on the series’ blog 333sound.com. But if your clickin’ finger is feeling lazy, stay put and I’ll outline a few of them right here for you:

Album: Hole Live Through This

Author: Anwyn Crawford

Why she chose the record: “Beyond personal significance, the fact that Live Through This is a rare example of feminist rock music. But the feminism it articulates is not affirmative or celebratory. It’s full of anger and shame; it revels in psychic and physical wounds. I think Live Through This is a good example of what Robin James, one of my favorite contemporary writers, has called ‘shadow feminism’. There’s a gothic quality to it: nothing is healed, nothing is overcome. Despite the title.” – Anwyn Crawford, www.333sound.com

Album: Serge Gainsbourge Histoire de Melody Nelson

Author: Darren Anderson

Why he chose the record: “When I was a teenager, my girlfriend at the time was really into [...]
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Adventures in Time and Space

Adventures in Time and Space

I grew up in rural Oregon, raised by parents who, while not exactly “hippies,” were interested in limiting our exposure to mainstream media. We had a TV (lord knows, my folks watched plenty of movies on my dad’s oversized VHS player—an early model, that thing must have weighed a ton.) But cable was out of the question, network TV a rarity besides sports or the news, and the majority of our viewing consisted of PBS shows; even those were poorly received on our TV antenna that was atop a telephone pole about 100 yards away from our front door. We frequently had to establish a sort of “tuning in the TV” bucket brigade; my sister, in front of the TV: “tell him to keep going;” me, shouting out the front door: “keep going, dad;” and my dad standing out in the cold, twisting the pole attached to the antenna, trying desperately to tune in—and not very well—Antiques Roadshow.

I don’t remember how I discovered Doctor Who. But I like to think it was because of the strange, synth-y theme music (arguably the greatest TV theme of all time.) At any rate, perhaps since PBS was the only place to see Doctor Who, or perhaps since the show appealed to my budding Anglo-philia, I was instantly hooked. Something about the foppish face-changing alien in an absurdly long scarf zipping around time and space in a blue police box with his female side-kick captured my young imagination—the Douglas Adams-meets-Monty Python-writing making up for the show’s zero-budget special [...]
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Christmas and the Literary Duck: Tips for last-minute guy shopping

Christmas and the Literary Duck: Tips for last-minute guy shopping

Men: we have to make everything a competition. I can’t just Christmas shop; I have to wait ‘til the last minute, give myself a time and dollar limit and rush around buying everything in one swoop, crossing the finish line—arms outstretched, exalting: “I rule!”

This works pretty well for me, mainly because I don’t over think what I’m doing; if I think someone is going to like it I pounce like a hunting lion (a female lion, granted, since male lions are usually napping.) And as is often the case, first instincts are usually the best.

The Duck Store is a pretty great place to work for a guy like me. And if you prefer to Christmas shop like I do, consider getting it all done with us. “Hold up,” you might be thinking, “Nobody on my list wants Duck football gear or textbooks.” To that I reply, “Naw, dawg. We have you covered.”

Out of any one of our many gift-centric departments, consider books: perfect gifts, especially for women. Give your mom, sister, girlfriend or wifeHow to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman or Tina Fey’s Bossypants and it’s like you’re saying “Here, have a little ‘me’ time.” It makes you seem like a swell fellow, and while she’s reading maybe you can catch the game.

But books aren’t just for women. Both Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy have new books out, perfect for dads, uncles and grandpas. Those [...]
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