Monthly Archives: August 2019

Show Don’t Tell by Mike Baron


I have three rules for the writer. Okay, I have a lot of rules for the writer. But I start with these three: 1. Your job is to entertain. 2. Show, don’t tell. 3. Be original. They’re all difficult to internalize, but some more than others. Rule number two has ramifications that go far beyond writing, and inform the way we live.

Once you internalize “show don’t tell,” you no longer call people names. That’s telling. And not calling people names suppresses all sorts of bad habits. Like bragging. We all want to impress others. When we were young, we would recite our accomplishments ad nauseum, especially after a few drinks. We all know people who only talk about themselves. We’ve all met people who think nothing of reciting their entire family history on a first meeting. Sometimes these histories reflect poorly. It doesn’t matter. The point of the encounter is for them to grab a little therapy by talking about themselves. They never say, “What do you do? What are your hobbies? What do you love?”

The secret to being a good friend is to be a good listener. A writer will absorb these tales of triump and woe and tuck them away for future reference. They’re personal and original, which brings us to rule number three.

In looking over this blog entry, I see that the whole thing is a violation of my second rule and I’m tempted to erase it.

Where I Get My Ideas by Mike Baron


People ask me where I get my ideas. I subscribe to an idea service. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it. Every week, they send me a list of ideas on the Dark Web. They guarantee that these ideas are just for me, and no one else. I had to fill out an exhaustive questionnaire and undergo a series of intense physical tests to qualify because some of these ideas are risible, and could trigger extreme reactions in some people. Madness. Depression. A stroke. Even the funny ones.

Some of the ideas are cryptic. There’s no appealing to the Idea Board for clarification. You get what you get and that’s all you get. A number of ideas come in the form of story titles. THESE ARE YOUR MONTHLY STORY TITLES is the header. Frankly, I could use some help with the following:

“Drunk Octopus Wants To Fight”

“Never Say Nebuchadnezzar Again”

“Oxy, Oxy, All In Free”

“Put Your Gear Away, Put Your Fear Away”

“Bicycles Hate Icicles”

“How To Get Peanut Butter Off The Roof Of Your Mouth”

If any of you have stories to go along with these titles, I would like to hear them. No not really. It’s like that guy who keeps telling me, “I have a great idea for a novel! I’ll tell you, you write it, and we’ll split the profits!”

Ideas come from everywhere. As soon as Adrian Berry published his book The Iron Sun: Crossing The Universe Through Black Holes, a hundred science fiction writers went to work. I used his research in Nexus. Some science fiction writers foresaw the rise of the internet, including Neal Stephenson, John Brunner and William Gibson. Others, like Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, followed the internet. All you have to do is read the newspaper. Wait. The newspaper is dying. It’s almost gone. All you have to do is cruise the internet.

More Music by Mike Baron


There’s more free music in Fort Collins then there is in my hometown Madison, Wisconsin, which is three times FC’s size. There’s something in the water here that breeds musicians, and we have been going out night after night to hear new bands.

At Odells, Dog City Disco stunned us with their dynamics. They’re a jam band in the wake of the Grateful Dead and Leftover Salmon, but there’s nothing fuzzy in their playing. Calling themselves psychedelic funk rock, the six-piece includes sax and trumpet as it marches through changes that whip your head around, with one foot in prog rock. Now, whenever we see a band that fails to grab us by the ears, we say, “They’re no Dog City Disco.”

Saw Crescent City Connection at Odells too. This six piece, also with trumpet and sax, effortlessly invokes the music of New Orleans as members walk through the audience like the Second Line at Mardi Gras. Can’t find their names, but the bass player is the leader and he puts a lot of body creole into every note.

Sugar Britches are everywhere this summer. The duo, consisting of guitarist Josh Long and guitarist/singer Brian Johanson sing original material. Long is a born showman who works the audience like an experienced carny. He also leads his own group, Josh and the Long Haul, mostly country, but one of these days Josh is just going to bust loose and form a rockabilly band, which every twitch in his body demands.

Larry and the Pourboys at the Maxline Brewery. Four huge guys who like Elvis, Van Halen, Tesla, Boston, Steve Vai, Satriani, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dokken, White Lion, and Zeppelin. They opened with “Hello There!” instantly winning the crowd, and grooved through some Neil Diamond, Rick Springfield, Wild Cherry, Def Leppard, but they write original material too, which is outstanding.

We’ve only seen The Burroughs once this summer, but we hope to correct that.