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Why should you be reading this?

Alex Lear: Learics

Why should you be reading this?

The title says it all. There's no one holding a gun to your head to read this blog, but I appreciate you doing so all the same. Through the advent of blogs I and other members of the crew of The Forecaster have the opportunity to type our minds about a variety of subjects as often as we'd like; far more often than we can in the print edition.

Some blogs have a mission: some to discuss politics, others home remedies. The gamut runs far. When I was asked what "Learics" was going to be about, I wasn't sure how exactly to define it. I suppose it's just a way for me to express anything that triggers my interest and that may, if you and I are both lucky, trigger yours as well.

My esteemed editor, Mo Mehlsak, suggested I frame my first blog as an introduction about who and what exactly I am. Maybe I should first explain the "Learics" name, although I suspect those of you who know me will know what it's about. Obviously my last name is Lear, and along with that I write musical lyrics when not writing newspaper stories, so voila: Learics.

I graduated from Colby College in 2001 and have since written full-time for three newspapers: The Lincoln County Weekly in Damariscotta, The Community Leader in Falmouth (now reincarnated in Portland as The Switch) and, of course, The Forecaster in Falmouth.

Despite working in Falmouth I still live in Damariscotta, and while the commute does cause me the occasional conniption (downtown Wiscasset traffic in July and the endless array of road construction projects), it's not all that bad. I live near the water in gorgeous (albeit small) downtown Damariscotta, and since I cover Bath and Topsham, that's about halfway between home and work. And being a musician armed with a 60-gigabyte iPod (60 gigs used to be a lot, anyway), I have a lot of music to listen to when driving to and fro.

I got into music during my junior year at Colby, and it's been extension of my interest in writing words accompanied by another artistic medium. I started drawing comic books at the age of five (in high school I came up with the term "illustory" to sound more sophisticated), and for a long time I seriously contemplated commercial art as a career. Writing words along with pictures has always been fun, and writing words accompanied by music is even more so.

Since 2000 I've written more than 50 songs, the first few of which I wrote before I knew how to play guitar. My guitar education came from a book aptly called How to Play Guitar (more affordable than Eric Clapton). I recorded two songs off-the-cuff in 2002, but it wasn't until the next year that I started recording with a the idea of a completed album in mind.

Among the first songs I recorded - at Bob Colwell's Root Cellar studio in Hallowell - was "Mayflower Hill," a bittersweet look at my years at Colby. When the college asked for CDs of that song to sell, I threw together a three-song compilation named for that song, along with two other original recordings, which I released in 2004.

Once I'd finished recording 14 songs - 12 of which I used for the album - I released Sandpapered Dreams in 2005. I promoted this in a variety of ways, such as gigs, radio appearances and TV shows such as the WCSH6's 207. I'll tell you, there's nothing more nerve-wracking than being told by a bunch of people that they're going to watch your live TV performance that night. Praying you don't screw up and hear about it the next morning. Getting cotton mouth when being interviewed by Rob Caldwell and Kathleen Shannon. Driving home and ultimately being relieved that you pulled it off.

My latest album, Memorywall, came out in 2007, and since then I've been recording songs as I write them. You can hear my music at www.alexlear.com (still under reconstruction), Amazon.com, iTunes, Napster and www.myspace.com/learicsinc .

I've used my journalistic experience in freelancing for Marvel Comics, interviewing luminaries in that field such as Spider-Man artist John Romita Sr. and X-Men writer Chris Claremont, as well as Roy Thomas, who wrote a ton of titles and also served as Stan Lee's right-hand man back in the day.

When not writing articles and songs, I enjoy walks on the beach and candlelight dinners, just like everybody else. Water-related activities (swimming, jetskiing, kayaking, showering) are also fun.

And yes, I do read more than newspapers and comic books. I enjoy biographies on musicians and historical figures; right now I'm reading The Kennedy Men by Laurence Leamer and A History of Britain by Simon Schama. I'm contemplating picking up Barnes & Nobles' series of classic books ($7.50 for a hardcover book? wow!), but I already have way too many collections of stuff consuming way too much space. I've had to take to living in the street.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough. Stay tuned for additional blogs about other subjects, and feel free to drop me a line or post a comment with your thoughts.

At least that way I know that someone's reading this!

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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