While working through one of my art books yesterday morning I stumbled upon the word: “Calligram.” Turns out a Calligram “is a poem, phrase, or word in which the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged in a way that creates a visual image” (Definition courtesy of Wikipedia).

Here's a classic example of the Calligram form from Calligrammes by the French author Guillaume Apollinaire. Similar to "Concrete Poetry", Calligrams utilize more typographic elements in their presentation than visual structure to present their meaning to the reader.

Tron Legacy Blu-ray - DVD Release Date

Photo By Robin Parker

Yesterday I found out that Tron and Tron Legacy will be coming to Blu-ray and DVD on April 5th, 2011 and that with it will be the teaser trailer for the third part in the series. The source of information came from's forums found here.

And here's the link to more info on the Tron 3 trailer to be included with the DVD/Blu-ray release:

'Tron: Legacy' DVD To Include A Teaser For 'Tron 3'

What Contributes to the Upright Bass’s Sound?

In chatting with a friend who plays bass he brought up the dilemma that many bass players face. How can I get an upright bass sound out of my electric bass?

Before I get into my findings the blunt answer is that the only way to get a true upright bass sound is by playing an upright bass. I know that sounds stupid to state, but some people believe that you can get a real Les Paul tone from a Variax, or a real tube sounding amp from an effects pedal, and it’s not true.

So why the pursuit? Because often when doing a gig it’s not necessary for that pure sound and instead can be replaced with an improvised version.

My friend said that he had heard from one of his friends that the way to get an upright bass sound on an electric bass was by adding a little distortion on the amp side, which would increase the string noise that can be heard on an upright bass. I thought that was interesting approach to the dilemma and suggested that maybe putting the electric bass through a guitar overdrive pedal might be another step in that direction with pedal beefing up that tonal range on a bass and getting a little closer to that sound.

But the question still lingered in my mind: What makes an upright bass sound like an upright bass? I’m guitar player/luthier by trade so even though I can play bass, as well as build and repair them; it’s not my main instrument. Then it dawned on me that scale length probably played a larger role in the equation than amps or effects did. When you consider that one of the contributing factors between Gibson guitars and Fender guitars is three quarters of an inch, it makes since that scale length would be contributing factor to the question.

So what’s scale length difference between an electric bass and an upright bass?

About four to six inches, which is quite a lot.

The next question: Does anybody make a 40” scale length electric bass?

The answer: Yes, Knuckle Guitar Works does. It’s called the Quake. It’s not quite 40”, it comes in at 39.55” to be exact, but that’s pretty close. And while it still doesn’t sound exactly like an upright bass, it’s a hellava lot closer to it than the 36” standard.


Dharna - Starve for a Cause

Original Photo By Thomas in’t VeldI subscribe to’s “Word of the Day” newsletter, because it’s the laziest way I know to increase my vocabulary. To be honest, many days I just throw’em in the trash and figure I’ll work on my vocab the next day, but every now and then, a word catches my eye and with a click, my curiosity is satisfied. Yesterday’s word was “Dharna”, not to be confused with “Dharma”, an “essential quality or character, as of the cosmos or one's own nature,” or the “Dharma Initiative”, the Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications from the television show “Lost.”

Per “Dharna” refers to “the practice of exacting justice or compliance with a just demand by sitting and fasting at the doorstep of an offender until death or until the demand is granted.”


Can you imagine this practice being taken out of its context and utilized for relatively trivial pursuits?

  • Girl dumps boy. Boy sits outside of house starving until girl agrees to get back together. Restraining order issued. Boy starves 300 yards from house where neighbors have no idea what he’s protesting.
  • Clubber denied access to Studio 54. Freezes to death the following day.
  • Man laid off from work, squats in front of previous workplace. Arrested for loitering. Starves or dies due to paperwork not being filed with HR fast enough resume his previous position.

These are all worst case scenarios, but I can’t help but think how different the world would be if people were actually able to sacrifice their body to the full extent for what they believed in, or wanted, or desired. Obviously I think after a few hours of Dharna outside a girl’s house the boy would come to the realization that there are other fish in the sea. And the clubber who then waits through the day while the club is closed and no one is around will realize that there are other clubs to enjoy himself. Despite the fact that when he got in he would probably just collapse anyway from malnutrition.

Out of my three silly scenarios, I imagine that the unemployed worker has probably the best reason for committing Dharna; although, I think it would be more productive to have a laptop and cell phone handy to search for jobs while the man starves outside his previous place of work. While the reason for being laid off may call for Dharna, the whole company could go under as well and then you’d be exacting revenge on nothing. And even though jobs are tough to find and even more difficult to obtain now in America, there are still jobs available, and many don’t require starvation for candidacy.

Take Care,


Kris Madden


Photo By Antony PranataAll my life I have wondered how normal people end up in head-collisions. With double-yellow lines, reflectors, and various other road markings I found it hard to believe that two people experienced drivers would ram right into one another. Up until yesterday, I fervently believed that drivers under the influence were the only people of committing this act due to their lack of perception.

It was foggy, but you could still see fifty to a hundred yards front of you (Similar to the picture on the right). On the street where my near-death took place, it’s a long stretch of straight pavement with each way having two lanes. It’s a relatively busy street with businesses and residentials on either side, and when I was driving around 7:00 AM yesterday, traffic was pretty light.


Out of the fog I see two headlights in my lane. I have momentary amnesia and wonder, ‘Does the road curve there? I don’t think there’s a turning lane there.’ I realize there isn’t when I see the beige Ford sedan carelessly driving toward me in my lane. I look over to see I’ve been boxed in on the right by two cars and small pickup truck. I lay on the horn of my Honda Civic which reaches decibel levels just slightly higher than a bicycle horn. Meeeeeheeheheehee!

The car begins to swerve from side to side and I think, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die in a head on collision at seven in the morning on the way to work on a Monday.’ The car flips on it’s left blinker, which means it’s going to plough into the three cars beside me, and then I’m going to crash into the back of her car. ‘Okay, I’m not going to die, I’m just going to be in a car accident. Probably go to the hospital, but at least I’ll have the day off from work.’ Then the car screeches back onto its side of the street, into the lane that it should have been in the entire time. My neck swivels to peer into the window to discover the identity of the person who almost killed me.

No, it was not an intoxicated teenager, or a beer-bellied drunk wearing sunglasses. It was a little old lady. Literally, a little, old, lady. She was peering over the steering wheel, which explained why she could see the divide. She was cracked and wrinkled with obviously poor eyesight. And I thought, ‘Wow, I was almost killed by a little old lady in a head on collision. I never thought that would be the way I’d go.’

What I learned yesterday was that people who choose to drive in the fog that have poor eyesight, and struggle to see over their steering wheel, are just as dangerous as drunk drivers.

Still alive,


Kris Madden

Bibliomania, Hoarding and the Collyer Brothers

Photo By Michael SummerYesterday in my pursuit to find out more information on compulsive hoarding, I stumbled upon the term: “Bibliomania.”

My wife jokingly asked if I suffered from Bibliomania since I have several bookcases overstuffed with books. I clarified that I would be a Bibliomaniac if those books had no value to me and I collected them to the point where they lost any value to me as well. In contrast, I’m always rearranging and shifting my books around to different places in the house depending on my current project. So I have a shelf by the couch, which has, let me count… 25 books that I’m currently reading. I’ve found it extremely difficult to read one book at a time so I read several simultaneously. This becomes an issue when I travel because I take several books with me and usually finish them along the way.

My wife informed me about the term “hoarding” coming from a pair of New York brothers that died in their collection of stuff. She said they’re known as the Collyer Brothers. After going on a research-binge to find out all the details on the Brothers Collyer I came across this humorous and informative video, which I share below.

Take care,


Kris Madden

Headaches and Prevention

I suffer from the occasional headache and migraine and yesterday happened to be one of those occasions. I learned that what I had yesterday is considered a TTH, or Tension Type Headache, which is different from a migraine because it occurs bilaterally (both sides of the face).

  • I tried shielding my eyes from bright light and resting—no good.
  • I tried meditating and relaxation techniques—no good.
  • I tried two pills of ibuprofen—no good.
  • I tried not wearing my glasses and staying away from digital screens—no good.
  • I also tried standing on my head for several minutes at a time, thinking that a rush of blood to the head and then back out again might flush out whatever it was that was causing the pain. But again—no good.

Then while looking up information on headaches I found that the most common cause of TTH, other than stress, is dehydration. So I filled up my water bottle and chugged 32oz of high quality H2O, and within minutes I could the pain begin to dissipate and a few minutes later and it was completely gone. While I might have given credit to the ibuprofen for the relief, the relief didn’t come until several hours after I had taken the ibuprofen, in contrast to few minutes that relief followed after gulping down a bottle of water.

Consider this a lesson learned that I will be drinking much more water in the future.

On a side-note I also found out that getting too much sleep can cause headaches as well as getting too little sleep. This may account for reason why I tend to have my headaches on Saturday and Monday, because those are the days that I sleep in more, and conversely sleep less when the week starts.

Take care,


Kris Madden

What I Learned Yesterday-

When my brother and sister and I were all in our teens, the family dinner table became a very quiet time with one another. It wasn't an overnight switch from jovial joking to dead silence but every night we spoke a little less and finished our meals a little quicker. Our main objective: to return to our other semi-social lives outside of the family unit as soon as possible. At one point, my dad, out of desperation more than design, instructed us to go around the table and say one thing we had learned that day.

We each tried, "Nothing, I didn't learn anything" to no avail, and once one us answered then we made sure that everyone had to provide an answer. If one of us had to endure the torture of racking our brains to find some family-friendly life-lesson then everyone was going to have to suffer through it as well. Eventually though, our dissent and aggression passed and when silence set in at the table someone would interject "Okay, I learned today..." and then carry on.

Yesterday by happenstance I came upon a website called "Today, I Learned..." and the author's posts were short, sweet little tidbits of info in reference to programming, web design, and other miscellanea. The coding portions were way over my head but I loved the concept.

And as it has been plain to see I have been struggling for some time now on what I could offer on a daily basis to my readers that would have consistency and some educational merit. So I've decided to invite all my readers to pull up a chair at my family's virtual dinner table, so to speak, and partake in the discussion of daily learning. It has become my very late “New Year’s Resolution” of sorts; to consistently post every day this year, or rather for the rest of this year, "what I learned yesterday..." because more than likely I will be writing the post in the evening and then posting it the following morning. I know that some micro-bloggers have the ability to update their readers on a consistent minute-to-minute basis; unfortunately I am not one of those people.

So to conclude this is what I learned yesterday:

After having problems with my Mac and its spotlight indexing in 10.6.6, I learned how to force it to re-index through the terminal app from the above mentioned website, using the following commands:

sudo mdutil -i off /

sudo mdutil -E /

sudo mdutil -i on /

But that didn’t work. What I had to do was make all my main folders under the hard drive private, which prevents Spotlight from even working at all. Then restart my Macbook and remove one folder at a time from the privacy section and let Spotlight index just that folder. Rinse and Repeat. The order I went in was “Applications”, “Developer”, “System”, “Library”, and lastly “Users”. At the end Spotlight was fixed and that MDS process stopped skyrocketing to 99.9 % CPU usage. Problem solved.

My Presentation at the Arnold Bennett Society Conference in England

Last June, I was invited to speak at the Arnold Bennett Society Conference in Stoke-on-Trent, England. I gave a 20 min. presentation on the state of Arnold Bennett's work in America and what can be done to improve its current condition. I also spoke about public domain works that are published digitally and the business side of ebooks for major publishers like Barnes and Noble.


Good Advice From Jonathan Franzen

It was December 2004 and I had decided I was going to be a writer. My birthday was coming up, and I had recently begun work on a collection of short stories for publication that would fail on all accounts shortly in the future. I was 18, it was my third semester at college and I was going out with this girl that would become my wife just two years later. The world was my oyster and I was overly arrogant and self-assured about everything I did. I was so sure I would be the youngest writer to win the Nobel Prize and an Oscar for a screenplay, and a Grammy for my soundtrack, and so on in the common tradition of twentysomething’s delusions of grandeur.

So picture this wide, blue-eyed, boy getting his chance to shake hands with a real writer, the same kind of person he wants to be some day. He’s so excited to see a real writer in the flesh, someone who’s won awards, and more specifically someone who had won the National Book Award. Of all places, the writer was coming to Fresno, and his name was Jonathan Franzen. The boy was ecstatic to get a glimpse of what his life might be like someday.

The boy and his girlfriend arrived early to get good seats. The boy clutched a brand new copy of The Corrections in his hands, the spine still stiff, the pages only skimmed.

Franzen came out and read one of his New Yorker pieces, which the boy enjoyed and knew this was someone he should listen to. After the reading, there was a Q and A with audience and throughout the Q and A, the boy went back and forth deciding whether or not he trusted Franzen’s opinions about being a writer.

At one point, Franzen spoke about how he hardly read anymore because he could usually anticipate the book’s plot-turns and storyline. At the time, the boy in the audience had read very little. He wondered if becoming a writer meant losing the motivation to read novels, books, poetry, etc. At another point, someone asked if he’d ever be interested in working on a graphic novel adaptation of his book, and whether he had any interest in the medium. Franzen responded saying that he had no interest in graphic novels and saw them as a passing fad with little substance. The boy was crushed. Had all those years spent reading comics, and Alan Moore, and Frank Miller been for naught? Were they trash?

At the end of the Q and A, the boy walked over to book signing line still deciding what to make of Jonathan Franzen. Was this what all serious writers became? Did they all lose interest reading new books? Did they all think comics were a passing fad? If he chose to be a writer, was this his fate? He wouldn’t find answers to those questions that night and certainly not before he came face to face with Jonathan Franzen. And when it was the boy’s turn to have his book signed he was so excited that all those questions that had been spinning around his mind fluttered away and he was overcome with that overflowing optimism, best shown in the picture from the University’s coverage of the event.

The boy blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “I’m going to be a writer. Do you have any advice for me?”

Franzen looked up and saw the boy’s earnestness and paused for a moment, considering his reply and said, “Don’t do it; once you become a writer you’ll have to write for the rest of your life, and you might be better off doing something else like becoming a doctor or a lawyer, or something. But if you do become a writer then I wish you the best of luck.” The boy perplexed, still mentally digesting everything, requested Franzen, “Could you write that down for me?”

Franzen chuckled, “The whole thing?”

“Yeah,” The boy laughed.

(Flash from camera to the left)

He paused, “How ‘bout…” Franzen speaking and writing simultaneously now: “Don’t. do. It. And, Good. Luck. Frowny face. Smiley face.”

“Thanks,” The boy said and shook the author’s hand, still not knowing what to make of the entire experience.

It’s been six years since then and like a zen koan, those words have echoed in the back of my mind. It wasn’t until after I had finished writing my first book that I began to understand a little of what Franzen’s advice to me meant. Don’t bother looking for the book; it doesn’t exist outside my office bookshelf. It was your typical first-novel that took six months and ran a little over a 150 pages. I pitched the book to every literary agent and publisher with an email address I could find, and every small press as well. And of the hundreds I pitched the novel to, 42 asked to see the first few pages, after which, all 42 said they were not interested.

I had spent six months of my life, and who knows how many hours, creating something that bore no financial-fruit whatsoever. And those delusions of grandeur faded with the book’s monumental failure. It wasn’t too long after receiving the last rejection for the book that I realized what it meant to me to be a writer. And I answered that question that all young writers ask themselves at one point or another, “How do you know if you’re a writer?”

My answer: “You know you’re a writer, when you spend half a year working every day on a book that’s rejected by every publisher on this earth, and after all that rejection, you can’t wait to start writing your next book, your next short story, or whatever. That’s when you’re a writer.”

And so despite all the circumstantial evidence that pointed to that fact that I was a lousy writer, it didn’t matter, I was going to write anyway. And I think that’s what Franzen was talking about too. Once you become a writer, it’s something you’ll be compelled to do for the rest of your life, whether you’re good at it or not. Franzen knows this because he’s a writer, and whether he likes it or not, he’ll be writing for the rest of his life, even if his later work isn’t successful or even published. It doesn’t make a difference to him.

For a long time when I reflected on Franzen’s words, all I could hear was him saying, “DON'T’ DO IT. You’re wasting your life kid.” But now that I’m a writer, I hear his “atta-boy” encouragement, “I wish you the best of luck.”

And so I pass Franzen’s good advice onto other young writers and authors, “Don’t do it, but if you do, I wish you the best of luck.”

Truth About An Author Trailer #2

A failed project in my mind, the goal was to make a trailer embodying Arnold Bennett's work "The Truth About An Author". Published for fun in hopes that some may find it entertaining in its attempt, however hacked and bizarre it feels, to create something unique and make something old, new and cool again.

Here's the trailer for the book that is now available in the store section and on Amazon. Enjoy.

I'm Officially A Pirated Commodity!

For some authors, seeing their name in print is when they know they’ve made it. For actors, it’s seeing their name in lights on Broadway. For the band “Nirvana”, it was an accolade to have your song parodied by “Weird Al”. And for me, it’s having my book pirated in the torrent and rapidshare communities.

All the achievements previously mentioned have a common thread for the artist: People like your stuff enough advertise it. And it means something particularly special in my mind, as an artist you’ve made something worth sharing. And this was why I didn’t distribute the book through torrent and pirate sites, because I knew that if the book was worth its salt it would end up there eventually. It was released November 2, 2009 for download, and now almost three months shy of its release anniversary, Learn To Speed Read, has been made available to the pirate communities. My book is now worth being stolen (not really since it’s free to download and share but some users might not know that). And it feels great.

I’d like to send out a big “THANK YOU” to all the pirates and their communities for supporting and distributing my book.

On another note, more updates to follow this week. I’m back from a long trip and have stock piled a lot of material to post. So stay tuned, because the best is yet to come.



Kris Madden


PS: If you want to download the book from one of the sites I've come upon. Here are some links:

Wood Glue Gives New Life to Old Vinyl Records

After reading Use Wood Glue to Clean and Restore Old LPs, I just had to try it out on some of my unplayable records I've accumulated over time.

I started out with my Dad's old copy of Cream's Disraeli Gears, which I've cleaned thoroughly multiple times (with my special record cleaner recipe), repaired all the scratches manually by hand, and it still sounded pretty messy. I knew that even if this experiment didn't work out, it wouldn't have been that big of a loss.

The result was astounding. The record was playable for the first time in years, removing almost all noise generated from years of accumulating dust and debris in the record's crevices.

I moved on to something a little more treasured, which was the US Mono release of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow. While I've always loved the way "White Rabbit" sounds on this recording, at its peak on the record it is dissatisfying when shrouded in the static white noise cluttering the recording. After the wood glue treatment, it sounded perfect, beautiful, powerful, and all those other adjectives that express awesomeness.

I've started going through my Sinatra collection applying the glue in the evening and then peeling off the plasticized layer in the morning. It's the best record cleaning solution I've come across, for its thoroughness, time efficiency and cost efficiency. I highly recommend it to anyone out there looking to restore their LP collection. For more info on the process, watch the YouTube video with the Lifehacker post.

Find Free Books With Google

My previous post, “Why buy the milk, when you can get the milk for free?” looked at sites that are giving away content for free. This post looks at how to find books for free with Google using a simple search query.

Here it is:

intext:”[Title of Work]”+”[Author]” filetype:pdf

Like this:

I don’t know how long the link will be available after this is posted, but my guess is that plenty more will pop up, since that’s the nature of the internet-beast.

And when you need a textbook for a graduate class:

A little more digging, but anyone can find a pdf of the book in its entirety.

Why am I writing this?

To let modern day writers know that their work is being distributed around the internet in a million different ways, both known and unknown. I found myself in The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan Student Handbook, for the 09-10 school year. As a writer, I don't want to spend my days hunting down every last unpaid copy of my book, I'd rather be writing and reading, which is my book can be downloaded, shared, "pirated", transfered, read, etc. for free. But if you want something you can hold your hands, you got to buy a copy, which I think is pretty fair, and so do other popular authors, like Cory Doctorow and Seth Godin.

But everyone's different, so if you're a writer looking to find these circulating free copies of your work, this is one way to locate some of them.

And if you're out to find free stuff on the internet... well, you probably already know about this trick.



I do not endorse illegal activity. This post is meant for informational and educational purposes only to be used at your own discretion.

5 Reasons Why Rocks

It may be a little too early to call this one, but I think 750 Words is on to something great with their website. I’ve been using it for the past week, and the experience has been nothing but pure awesomeness (which was going to be the original phrase that Wednesday was holding, but it didn’t quite fit).


If you’ve ever read a “How to Write” book, chances are somewhere in there was something like this:

“If you want to be a writer, sit down at your computer and mash the keys until you have written 3 pages. Then tomorrow, rinse and repeat.”

You’re motivated and determined and this lasts a couple of days, two weeks max, before you trash the work, start over, give up all together, take a day to break, which becomes a year-long vacation, until you’re back to where you started. Sometimes writing becomes a chore, and it shows through, which only makes the editing process that more tedious and painful. So how do you make something that becomes a chore fun again?

Turn it into a game.

That’s one of the main reasons for the success behind Wii fitness, is that it takes the labor of working out and turns it into a video game. And that’s exactly what 750 Words has done, they’ve taken the labor and chore out of writing and made it fun again, and consistently.


For writing something down, you get 1 point. For writing 750 words, you get 2 points. But the key is consistency, because that’s how you unlock achievements like the first one I just got, the prized 3-days-in-a-row TURKEY. And I’m now heading toward the Penguin and learning about the various other status-creature achievements that can be obtained.

When you’re writing, this changes your whole mindset of what you’re working on. You stop worrying about whether or not, you should trash this section, because it doesn’t fit in with the rest of your book, or not counting a free write because it doesn’t contribute to the big project your working on, and on, and on. Instead, you sit down and write the 750 words, to put a big X in that empty square space at the top of your profile.

At the time of this writing, there are no bonus points, free vacation day passes, that give you points for not writing, which is great because the only way you can stay in the game is by consistently writing.


I was not aware of this feature before signing up, but to me, this is possibly one of the funnest parts of the website. At the end of your writing, there is a series of little graphs and charts that target what you’ve been writing about. Here’s some of mine:


Every month there’s a challenge to write everyday, all in row, without missing a single day. If you complete the challenge you unlock some awesome achievements, but if you fail, your name goes up on the Wall of Shame, to show everyone out there on the internet how much of a screw-up you are. I haven’t got the guts yet to sign up for April yet, but maybe in May. I think everyone likes being awarded for their hard-work, and awards for that daily, solitary, 3 page, writing routine rarely receives any… until now.


The clincher for bringing the whole thing together, is the user’s ability to customize their interface to their liking. Here are a list of the fonts you can currently use at 750 Words:

  • Arial
  • Courier New
  • Georgia
  • Meta
  • Obliqua
  • Palatino Linotype
  • Sharktooth
  • Tahoma
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet
  • Verdana

For me, I use Google Chrome to use the website. I’ve found that when working in FireFox and IE8 that there’s a pause, when the website saves my work. So I’ll be writing… (A few seconds pass)… and then the rest of the words type themselves out in sequence after. I haven’t had this problem in Chrome. This issue may be mine alone, but if you experience something similar try Chrome.

I leave the rest of the settings the same, but type in “Georgia” with the font size being 16. It has a nice look and feel to it, and is easy on the eyes as well.

So if you still haven’t checked it out, do so, it rocks.

Have You Heard The New Hendrix Album?

Is that title correct? Didn't Jimi die? Oh, it's probably one of those junk, exploit-the-dead, releases where all the tracks are poorly mastered and they get sloppy musicians to play on top of Hendrix. And Yes, these were some of my first thoughts as well, but on the contrary this collection of material is AWESOME! in every one of its tracks. Here's Why:
Read More

750 Words - Love The Idea, but I Can't Signup

What's 750 Words?

It's a website that gives you points for keeping up with your writing routine. You know, the one that you told yourself you were definitely going to keep up this time to finish your great American novel.Well, we know how that goes. Anyway, I love the idea behind this site, but signups are temporarily unavailable. Until they are, check out their FAQ and website.