Friday, September 30, 2016

More Thoughts on Writing

The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.  - Mark Twain

I have been reading the draft of a friend's novel. I find it most interesting that his writing issues are so very different than mine. He struggles to find a voice his audience will hear or maybe it's a voice that will adhere. I, on the other hand, know my audience and write directly to them.

He sometimes overthinks his prose and uses the BIG word when the little one works better. Which is not to say I am an advocate of the Keep It Simple theory of writing. No, I'm a big word guy myself but there are times when it feels like showing off, which can really annoy the reader.

Another major difference we have is that my friend writes the story as it pours out of him. He doesn't know where it's going. I have dabbled with this ultra free form adventure writing but find I am more comfortable knowing the end of the story before I begin. 

Did you know J.K. Rowling wrote the final scene of the seventh and last Harry Potter book before she wrote word one of book one?

As I write this, a little voice reminded me that the end of my novel (Grey Angel) did not have a satisfactory resolution until I was a third of the way into it. So maybe my friend and I are not all that different after all.

Oh, and my apologies to regular readers. I know you have become accustomed to one post a week on Friday, but I just couldn't help myself last Monday. Sometimes you just have to say it outloud.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Personal Reaction to The Debate

I promised a few weeks back to not write about American politics again until after the November election. To be clear, this is not a post about any of the candidates. This is my personal experience of tonight's debate. First, I should say that I got up and left the television room at 9:42 PM EDT. I literally could take no more.

This realization came to me when I noticed I had not looked at the screen for over ten minutes. Just the voices of the candidates was an assault on my person. My psyche just was unable to continue with the sheer vanity and mendacity of the works being spew at us all. I could not longer face them or let them face me.

Assault is the only word I can find that fits my feelings. That a great or formerly great or going to be great again country finds itself glued to all forms of media to listen to those two shining examples of our best and brightest is sickening, depressing, bordering on existentially unforgivable.

I can vaguely hear the sounds of the debate from the other end of the house. Never thought I would be thankful for an ear infection. I'm not going back to hear another word, my soul won't take the abuse.

I'm going to do now, what my great friend Gary would recommended, I'm going to watch reruns of The Andy Griffith Show and try to figure out what Aunt Bea would do in this deplorable situation.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Playing the Cards You're Dealt

"We play the cards we're dealt."

"Just play the cards you're dealt."

"You can only play the cards you're dealt."

Interesting, yes I get the intent of the aphorism. No, not a metaphor, a simile or an analogy. Can you tell I've been immersed in editing the last few weeks?

Anyway, the meaning is simple. We get certain plusses and minuses in life and we make the best or the worst of them. Usually somewhere in between for most of us. But that's not how card games work. 

A single hand is not a lifetime, it's a moment, an opportunity, a chance. You play or not. Folding your hand is always an option. It isn't like life, you don't commit everything to a single deal of the cards, unless you choose to. 

In any card room or casino, these words are always spoken: 

"There's another hand just around the corner, 
you don't have to play this one."

That feels more like real life to me. We are presented with circumstances, sometimes of our own making, other times not. Free Will intervenes and allows us to play or pass. Yes, I know sometimes you feel like your choices are limited or non-existent, but so many of those situations are of our own making.

Most of the time, as adults, we have options. In this First World society, we have gobs and gobs of options. Sure, some things are fixed, even immutable but others not so much. Take your health for example. Can't change your DNA or not eat all those years of burgers and ice cream. But you can intervene now.

You may be holding a poor five card hand but the rules of this game allows you to discard and draw new cards. Your choice, play the hand you're dealt or step up and change the content of your hand and perhaps your life.

Voldemort Death Card image first found on Deviant Art

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Just Wrong

I've let this simmer for over two months now. I tried to let it go, I really did.

Back in July, The Secret Life of Pets was released. There was a two week blitz of commercials prior to the release date, gotta hype up those Ritalin kids. You might have missed this animated blockbuster. I mean the story was compelling.

Max is a spoiled terrier who enjoys a comfortable life in a New York building until his owner adopts Duke, a giant and unruly canine. During their walk outside, they encounter a group of serious alley cats and wind up in a truck that's bound for the pound. Luckily, a rebellious rabbit named Snowball swoops in to save the doggy duo from its captors. In exchange, Snowball demands that Max and Duke join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the human who've done them wrong.

I have nothing against "G" and "PG" movies, they have a viable audience, which I do not associate with ever. But to each munchkin, their parents, grandparents and guardians; I hope the experience was epic.

Here is my issue. One of the aforementioned commercials was of "Max" strutting his stuff to the Rolling Stones song: Sympathy for the Devil.

Where do I begin.

The Stones??? They really needed more royalties???

The Devil??? This is a animated film aimed at children???

Is nothing sacred? Is nothing holy?

Think I'm kidding, read the lyrics.

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long years
Stole many a man's soul and faith

And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank
Held a general's rank
When the Blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah

I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made

I shouted out,
"Who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all
It was you and me

Let me please introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what's confusing you
Is just the nature of my game

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause I'm in need of some restraint

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste, um yeah

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down

Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!

Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame

Friday, September 09, 2016

Some Thoughts on Writing

The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he's given the freedom to starve anywhere.  
- S. J. Perleman

I've be laboring on my most recent book for a solid three months now. I can see the light at the end of the editing tunnel and think this one will make it to the agent this fall. In addition to the book, I keep this blog alive, though on a now greatly reduced weekly basis and I write for a couple of websites that actually send me money for my words.

I like the mix of genres I have arranged for myself to ruminate and speculate on. Something about jumping between worlds, fictional and semi-real. It is my hope, plan, promise to return later this fall to my novel, which cries out for completion. Soon, my lovely Grey Angel, soon.

Friday, September 02, 2016


I stumbled upon a caricature the other day which got me thinking about well, caricatures. A few minutes of surfing the net got me these representations. Enjoy, there's nothing more to this than just some images that caught my eye.

- don't blame me for the gender imbalance, female caricatures are either cute, cartoonish or wildly sexist.