Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today Is Merely Halloween . .

But tomorrow Is NaNoWriMo Day!

While busily writing my non-edited novel during the entire month of November, I do not intend to abandon this blog completely, but entries will be short, perhaps no more than a statement of how many words I've written the day before, or perhaps occasionally an excerpt copied from the work in progress (WIP) and pasted into the blog.

You have been warned.

. . .

Making up one's mind is the ability to select a single course of action from the jumble of contradictory perceived possibilities erupting and tumbling all around within the brain and then convincing one's self that this choice is the best of the lot.

Yes, I originated the preceding sentence.

And I (somewhat shakily) stand by it.

Gene Chambers

. . .

The NaNoWriMo team sent me an image of their logo.

What am I supposed to do with it?

. . .

Mind Altering Drugs

My few experiments (twice) with drugs (marijuana only) way back in the 1070s produced forgetfulness, a runny nose, and salt & sugar cravings, plus a solemn promise to myself that there would be no more such lapses of judgment. Thirty years later, I have kept that vow. So far.

A friend (we'll call him Bob) who persuaded me to take my initial try at smoking marijuana was at first perplexed that I exhibited no outwardly apparent effects. But then he said that it was because I was probably always high, meaning that my normal level of awareness was higher in its ambient happiness than the level of most normal people. And I think he might have been right about that.

. . .


The media, the TV and the Published Word (printed magazines and newspapers) as well as the Internet blogs are already preparing the viewers and readers for the next big scare -- the tenth anniversary of Nine-Eleven, which is one year away, September 11, 2011. Throughout the days of the next year there are sure to be the most lurid and frightening speculations depicting upcoming tragic horrors set to occur on that most momentous date in American history.

What's worse, all the speculative hype could very well instill in the minds of the many radical nuts a slew of nefarious ideas as how to concoct a workable plot and then to create just such a terrible occurrence in emulation of the destruction of the World Trade towers.

. . .

A long-time friend (and fellow Amateur Radio Operator) sent me a photo of his simple, compact, but extremely effective Ham station.

Radio Station N9BLK

To which I respond,
FB OM 73

(That's the Morse Code equivalent of . . .
"Fine Business, Old Man, Best Regards.")

. . .

Words For The Day

Misogyny is hatred (or contempt) of women or girls. Misogyny comes from Greek misogunia from misos (hatred) and -gyne (woman). It is parallel to misandry -- the hatred of men or boys.

Misogamy is hatred of marriage. From Greek miso- (hate) + -gamy (marriage).

Those two words are confusingly similar in sound but have a tremendous difference in meaning.


Writers who don’t know words are like doctors who don’t know anatomy.
--James Alan Gardner

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's To Come In November?

This National Novel Writing Month (November) competition has been burrowing beneath the surface of my mind, like the old cartoon of a impish demon on one shoulder and a comely angel on the other, each offering counsel as to whether or not I should see this troubling endeavor through to the end. Day by day my mental quandary builds. The basic problem seems to be: do I really want to do this thing? At its core -- "It's more trouble than it's worth," whispers the demon, and, "What do you have to lose?" cozens the angel.


Yesterday I was surprised to receive a large parcel from the UPS delivery man -- it contained a beautifully bound Eccolo Writing Journal, a bright white coffee mug decorated with the logo of the NaNoWriMo competition, an Noveling pen featuring the competition's name, a package of Tully's Italian Roast coffee, and a package of Pepperidge Farms Tahiti Coconut cookies. All this was accompanied by an elegant greeting card exhibiting a print of Field Of Poppies, Tuscany, by Charlie Waite. Inside the card, in truly gorgeous penmanship, was inscribed:

After all, they're only words.
One word follows the one before.
Enjoy November 2010.

And I found that I had no words immediately available to express my deeply heartfelt appreciation for such a thoughtful gift. All I could say, aloud, at that instant, and then again, (twice more) was "That guy..."

My son said, "Someone gives you such a fine, thoughtful gift and all you can say is, "that guy?"

And I am still, a day later, nearly speechless.

What words that time might bring I cannot tell --

...or what action.

Friday, October 29, 2010

R.I.P. Chuck Draves

I recently checked in to the blog of an old school classmate, Chuck Tilton and found that another of our High School classmates, Chuck Draves, had passed away last month. Both of these guys called "Chuck" were one grade ahead of me but I had one class with Chuck Draves. I can't remember even one time that I saw this truly handsome fellow without a big smile on his face. That's the truth.

Chuck Draves was a poet... and below is one of his poems wherein he reminisces about the early days back in our hometown of Rensselaer, Indiana.

School is really out:
All three buildings of the little campus
nothing more than rubble somewhere
in a brickyard heap. Here, a parking lot;
there, a mini-park, and right here, where
the high school used to be,
a library, nearly new, where only
a tuned-in few, closing their eyes and standing
stock-still, hear the hub-bub
of their long-gone selves.

I listen.
Goodbyes here are beside the point.

There, in that grade-school lot, I feel
Gus Critser jumping me, me,
one nine-year-old cussing machine
with a sour temper,
provoking Mrs. Giovanini’s wrath,
but holding my own
like a new pox on the whole fourth grade.
Yet, that year
my brain and I circled round
like angry schoolyard thugs
and found out we could still be friends,
along with Gus, who later learned
to kick a football to the moon
and tried out for the Bears.
Only the Christian Church, unchanged and
catycorner, where Don Wheat once preached
and somehow later led my marriage vows
in Oak Park, Illinois, anchors
the site for this odd parade.

There goes Bob Nesius
in his baby-blue ’53 Chevie with the
sweetest duals around,
and here’s Gordon Dean,
around fifth grade, telling me
his Johnnie Doitfaster joke, which
at least one of us only barely got.
Gordon’s mom taught us both
that year, and I told him he got
more ‘A’s because of that, and he
told me to study harder. And
here’s Ron Paulus, sixth grade, betting me
real dollars that an 8 oz. coke
has eight times more caffeine
than a cup of coffee. Gordon
still knows more and studies harder.
Ron worked as a NASA engineer
in its glory days. And Bob
built his love of “Indian” cultures
into expert know-how about
prehistoric Native Americans. Yet,
we’re all here, now, waiting
~growing in this little town~
for the recess bell to ring,

waiting for some new class to begin,
waiting for the future to go past, why not?


My first love was Jeannie Foster, though
I never told her so or even held her hand,
and I lusted from an even greater distance
for her awesome older sisters.
She arrived in the midst of Mr. Harry Smith’s
sixth-grade world history class and helped
me understand the uproar over Helen of Troy.
Now, here she is in Mrs. Hershman’s
sophomore English class,
sitting in front of me and stretching cat-like,
her long hair tumbling over my studious head, and
me murmuring to myself about needing
to concentrate on something other than her
gloriously emerging sweater. Pity the scholar.
Even Mrs. Hershman paused; Jean shook her head.
I saw her last with her professor husband
and couldn’t say hello. Hello.


Where do we go before we’ve gone away?
Does it even matter that Judy and I hit
Sarge and the chief of police in a
snowstorm on a one way bridge in a ’39
Chevie that Barney Hawkey sold to me
for $150 and a handshake in 1953? Sure.
We were going downhill and they were not.
Why say goodbye to any delicious moment?
It’s night. We’re right around the corner
from the high school, and we’re headed
to her home. Again. Sixteen has its moments.

You do the hokie pokie, and…
That’s what it’s all about.


The college looks about the same
Except for open space where the administration
building squatted, low and reddish,
back behind the fountain
near the two lane highway
out of town. My Aunt Elsie
took me to wade there
in the Middle Ages, back
when I was maybe seven
but already ancient
in the ways I look at life.

As for the building, it burned
and the flames reflected in the pool
like old recollections of despair.

The Bears held camp there
out of Chicago in those forties days
and the likes of Sid Luckman and Bulldog Turner
hulked along the sidewalks
of our little downtown
every August as long as
I could recall until after I returned
from Serving My Country,
mostly from an apartment
near the ocean in Virginia Beach,
but what the hell.
I pumped gas
and peddled cigars
to all-pro tackles in yellow Dodge
and later spent one summer
downing beers with Chuck Tilton
and two prize quarterbacks.
That same summer,
I studied logic in a class with two-dozen
and learned about classical music
from a young professor
finishing his dissertation and
adding to his grant money as a lark.
He went on to teach at Yale
and allowed that his students there
might never have seen a real field of
corn like the one across the highway
from the campus. Deprived, no doubt.

I watched Ike, the former Pres,
heading toward here on a
nearly deserted
State Street near Purdue –
in the early sixties that would be –
to honor Charlie Halleck
whose growing-up house was
down the street from me.
The house is still there
I see. Tilton’s dad drove
Ike and Charlie around town
in a new Buick convertible
from Felder’s Buick Chevrolet
on a corner by the courthouse.
Tilton now garages a convertible
as much like that one
as he could find; he drove that
prized old relic in from Kansas,
fueling it with prayer and pride.

These days, Halleck Center
on that shady campus
plays host to high school re-unions,
and every spring
embellished stories emerge fresh
like rows of corn and beans
sprouting from the same old seed.

Even what is ordinary
Dances in a jitterbug
of cherished notes.

ced 10/02

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Think I've Got The Grut...


Here are some videos about
Bill Gates (et al.)

. . .

When Eva came in and woke me up -- at 4:28 this morning -- I quickly discovered that my stomach was a bit upset, and it still is now at mid morning. And my sinuses are somewhat congested. And I think I have a slight fever. It's not too bad though, just a nagging irritation. It may be that I carelessly ate too much of the wrong stuff (milk chocolate covered pretzels, etc.) yesterday. Hope that's all it is.

. . .

What's Bugging You?

Bedbugs have already taken up residence at a number of New York City landmarks, including the Metropolitan Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and the Empire State Building.

. . .

A Matter of Life and Death

Much ado is made of the methods used for applying the death penalty. All are described at one time or another by one group or another as being cruel and unusual. It seems to me that a possibly painless and humane method of execution (and eventually, euthanasia) is to employ a medical doctor to anesthetize the subject and stop the heartbeat as is done in cardiac transplant surgery and then disconnect the brain stem and finally remove all the body's blood, keeping the subject anesthetized until irreversible death occurs.

Since I am keenly aware of the limitations of my natural intelligence and any acquired cognitive abilities, I am posting here the above theory in a hope that someone will inform me of what is incorrect about my theory.

. . .

Today I finally sent my votes for the best and second best stories and poems in the Writers Halloween Contest. This year's decision was a hard one, not my vote for first place because of course I voted for my own story, but choosing a second place story kept me rereading all of them for several days. I'm going to keep my reasons for my vote for the second place story to myself.

Yes, that's best.

Today's blog entry is short, but I hope to get to feeling better and can then add to this entry later today...


Writers are people who don't grow up to realize they can't be God.
--Fran Lebowitz

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sylvia Plath Was Born On This Date...

The temperature today in Tucson, AZ at 6 A.M. was 54 degrees (F.)

. . .

A lady named Beth commented regarding my little snack picture on yesterday's blog entry. I visited her blog and came to the conclusion that I might enjoy corresponding with her via email. But sadly, I could not find her email address published anywhere on her blog. My email address is posted on my blog's profile page, so if Beth is interested at all, I would hope she would get in touch with me.

. . .

Have you ever heard (herd?) of Two Cow Philosophy? Read all about it at:

. . .

There is so much on this Earth of ours that I do not understand, and probably never will.

Such as:

"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Once again, early this morning, I read those two lines written by Dylan Thomas. And once again I have failed to understand the nearly universal attraction of that so vain and arrogant, coarsely pugnacious command.

Why should one who has lived a full quota of years comprising a lifetime somehow deign to "rage" against the inevitable approach of a natural death? To live beyond one's allotted span of subjectively conceived instants of time is not only unnatural it is hellish punishment, whether the dying one is aware of it or not. Eternal life? To live forever? Only human vanity could spawn such a ridiculous notion.

(Just one opinion on the subject I'd welcome from Beth)

But, that's probably enough about that.

For now.

. . .

Pumpkins are curious objects

. . .

The temperature today in Tucson, AZ at 11:45 A.M. is 68 degrees (F.)


“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.”
--Milton Friedman

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Oxford Comma, etc.

Jeff Weintraub asks, "Why it is vitally necessary to prevent the extinction of the final serial comma?"

I always insert the final serial comma. As do most Americans. It just makes more sense to me.

Jeff Weintraub is a social & political theorist, political sociologist, and democratic socialist who currently teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. (Also an Affiliated Professor with the University of Haifa in Israel & an opponent of academic blacklists.) And, more importantly, he is a blogspot blogger, like me.

(ha ha)

. . .

"The Dead Sea Scrolls will soon be available online!"
screams an ecstatic Glen Beck in an exciting, seemingly portentous Fox News announcement.

To the TV screen I say, "So what?" What is the specific significance of that?"

Then comes a deluge of fatuous evangelical nonsense. So I switched over to CNN. For about five minutes; then I turned off the TV and went into the game room and climbed onto the stationary bike and worked out for a while.

I'm not a complete dummy.

. . .

A woman advertised in church that she was seeking a white, female, Christian, roommate and was then notified that she was breaking the law by putting this in a print ad -- this was broadcast on Fox News, on Kelly's Law, 10/25/2010 -- here is the link in case anyone reading this is even remotely interested.

. . .

Below is an outdoor Halloween decoration I observed and snapped during one of my late Autumn daily walks in East Tucson.

Happy Halloween

. . .

On my desk beside my computer monitor sits a small bowl of snacks, raisins, mixed nuts, and dried tropical fruits. Healthy? Who knows? Darned good tasting, though.

Mixed Nuts, Raisins, & Tropical Mix Dried Fruit

. . .

The Washington Post headline announces: The tea party warns of a New Elite. They're right.


Exactly who is this New Elite? Am I one of them, by some chance? I suppose I should mosey on over there and have me a look-see.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Feelin' Good This Mornin'

Had another bowl of those steel-cut oats made into instant frozen Healthy Eating brand oatmeal (flavored with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar) so now I am possibly more healthy than I was yesterday...

...or not.

. . .

The Harlequin Duck of which I've never heard before, is now a subject I have added to my knowledge base and who can say if I'll ever use this bit of trivia?

By the way, some of you might be acquainted with Harley Quinn a curious character in the Batman comics -- or not.

. . .

My recent selection from a list of Books To Read is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath which I am now reading in bed each night before falling to sleep. I'm nearly finished with it, and must say that I am not at all impressed, even though almost everything I've ever read about it glows with praise. Perhaps after having read the entire book and musing on it I will change my mind, but you should not hold your breath in anticipation of that.

Next to be read is The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman, which is now resting on the corner of my bedside table.

. . .

At The Writer's Almanac a couple days ago I read an amusing anecdote about the author Michael Crichton and thought I'd mention it here and provide a link in case some of the readers might like to see it.

. . .

Kurt Vonnegut in an address to the American Physical Society said, "I was perplexed as to what the usefulness of any of the arts might be, with the possible exception of interior decoration. The most positive notion I could come up with was what I call the canary-in-the-coal-mine theory of the arts. This theory argues that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super sensitive. They keel over like canaries in coal mines filled with poison gas, long before more robust types realize that any danger is there."


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Seems To Be A Slow Day

A few days ago I found that I had won three dollars by having the Powerball number (but with no others to go with it) and I used the money to buy three more tickets, thinking that it would be highly coincidental if one of those three brought me a multi-million dollar win, but, of course, it did not do so; after checking the numbers of last night's drawing I found that I had not even one number.

Oh well .

. . .

JoAnn flew off to the East coast this morning on business and will be gone for a week. Then, in a day or so Mike will fly away too, for three days, I think. So Eva and I will have to find a way to amuse ourselves in their absence.

. . .

This morning I tried out a new breakfast food, a frozen EATING RIGHT brand bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, flavored with cinnamon and brown sugar. Just four minutes on High in the microwave oven and it was ready to eat. It tasted okay, nothing special, but according to Dr. Oz steel-cut oats are the healthiest kind available. If I remember correctly, it was 200 calories.

. . .

The weather here in Tucson is cooling down. I have changed my daily three and a half mile fitness walk from mornings to late afternoons when the temperature rises from morning lows in the fifties to the seventies or eighties. (Fahrenheit of course.)

. . .

If I think of something else to report later today I'll add it to this short entry.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Writing A Nonsense Novel

As the first of November nears I find myself becoming agitated. Yes, I
have declared that I will participate by attempting to write a complete
novel of fifty to sixty thousand words within the allowed thirty day
period. Almost every day I think about it and wonder if I am up to the
task. I don't even know how to attend to the minor details, such as
whether or not I must post my daily output of words somewhere or (as I
now believe) if I am required only to send in the completed manuscript
at the end for verification.

One thing that keeps me interested is the thought that even if my novel
turns out to be a jumbled mass of unrelated words, I still might salvage
parts of it as revisable short stories. I'm pretty sure of one thing -- I do not want to share excerpts of what I write with anyone else while it is in its early stage. I am not a masochist.

Well . . . I have another week before the beginning. There is still time
for me to visit the NaNoWriMo website and try to absorb some of the
apparent enthusiasm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's It All About?

The short story I wrote for the Writers group's annual Halloween short story writing contest is finished and sent to the contest officials. Voting will begins now and ends on Halloween. There were more entries this year than usual, or so it seems to me. I don't expect to win the contest, and in fact I don't even much like my story.

Oh well . . .

. . .

My next project is to write a complete 60,000 word novel within the month of November. Yes, the NaNoWriMo -- the National Novel Writing Month. The aim of the exercise is to write a complete novel in one month without worrying about the novel's quality and focusing only on getting down a minimum number of words. If the author then wants to go ahead and revise or rewrite the novel with an aim to improve it and possibly make it salable to a print publisher, that's fine. But the idea is to write the novel and not get sidetracked by anything.

. . .

Mike called my attention early this morning to the low clouds toward the Santa Catalina mountains as seen from the swimming pool deck.

. . .

Some pictures need no prose description

(click the pic for a larger view)

. . .

A piece in Sparks For Thought begins:

We inhabit an enormous galaxy
consisting of at least 200 billion stars.

Since the dawn of time, for 14 billions years, it wanders the endless dark, its sparkling arms rotating around its luminous centre. Like a flying saucer it travels and travels with no destination set and with it so do we. But it’s not a lonely traveler. There are relatives everywhere, close and distant. Other galaxies traveling and trailing their destiny through our known dark sea. And anywhere we turn to look we discover even more of these relatives in this huge galactic family. The total number of galaxies in the cosmos is an unimaginable 100 billion.

Wow! Just think about that. The universe is so huge a human being cannot even conceive of such vastness. And our relatively puny world, The Earth, is so small, so insignificant...

Yet, here I sit tapping out words as if doing so counts for something.

Good Grief!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

. . . And The Scoundrel Christ

I have been reading about Philip Pullman, and what I've read so far is intriguing indeed. I intend to search the local Public Library for his most recent book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (2010), a retelling of the story of Jesus, which divides him into two separate figures: Jesus, a loving and radical preacher, and Christ, his smart and manipulative twin who twists his brother's message and establishes a power structure in order to ensure that Christianity survives.

Philip Pullman said: "I have always written what I wanted to write. I have never considered the audience for one second. Ever. It's none of their business what I write! Before publication, I am a despot."

Philip Pullman

On the Philip Pullman website Mr. Pullman writes --

As a passionate believer in the democracy of reading, I don't think it's the task of the author of a book to tell the reader what it means.

The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and the thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going to explain.

Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the “Once upon a time” business.

According to The Writer's Almanac --

His favorite stories as a kid were the cowboy and gangster shows on the radio, ghost stories, and also comics, especially Superman and Batman. He said, "I was sure that I was going to write stories myself when I grew up. It's important to put it like that: not 'I am a writer,' but rather 'I write stories.' If you put the emphasis on yourself rather than your work, you're in danger of thinking that you're the most important thing. But you're not. The story is what matters, and you're only the servant, and your job is to get it out on time and in good order."

Okay . . . back to work on my own writing, on my story for The Writers Halloween Short Story Writing Contest. Only one more day till deadline: Midnight Wednesday October 20, 2010.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Again, No Title . . .

I am still immersed in writing my horror-story for the Writers annual Halloween contest, and the deadline for entries is Wednesday the 20th. So again my blog must sadly suffer a paucity of intelligent observations and wit.

But be patient, dear reader, this too shall pass.

. . .

There exists an interesting article written by Johan Norberg titled: Don’t Give Him The Nobel -- he’s right-wing! The piece is subtitled: Swedish leftists are outraged that Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for literature, because he isn’t ‘one of us'

Mario Vargas Llosa

. . .

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?"

The operator says: "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?'."


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nothing This Weekend

I'm working on my short-story for the Writers Halloween Story Writing Contest. It's due October 20 so time is short. I'm almost finished writing it. Probably won't have time for much editing and revision, though.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Couple Of Facts

Today is the birthday of
Dwight David Eisenhower

It is also the birthday of
Bernice L. Chambers


Monday, October 11, 2010

On Authors And Poets

My Body Measurements this week are:
Height 67 inches Weight 165 pounds Waist 37 inches

. . .

Yesterday I noticed that the date was 10/10/10. Is that the first time that's happened for the last thousand years? Being proficient in neither deep-thinking nor mathematics, I'm not sure about it.

. . .

Today is Elmore Leonard’s 85th birthday.

"If it sounds like writing, rewrite it." --Elmore Leonard

. . .

Over at The Writer's Almanac I read a poem titled The Very Old, and it struck a chillingly familiar chord. "Who is Ted Kooser?" I asked myself, and Google answered:

Ted Kooser is a poet and essayist, a Presidential Professor of English at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He served as the U. S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006, and his book Delights & Shadows won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His writing is known for its clarity, precision and accessibility. He worked for many years in the life insurance business, retiring in 1999 as a vice president. He and his wife, Kathleen Rutledge, the retired editor of The Lincoln Journal Star, live on an acreage near the village of Garland, Nebraska. He has a son, Jeff and granddaughter, Margaret.

Ted Kooser

The Very Old
by Ted Kooser

The very old are forever
hurting themselves,

burning their fingers
on skillets, falling

loosely as trees
and breaking their hips

with muffled explosions of bone.
Down the block

they are wheeled in
out of our sight

for years at a time.
To make conversation,

the neighbors ask
if they are still alive.

Then, early one morning,
through our kitchen windows

we see them again,
first one and then another,

out in their gardens
on crutches and canes,

checking their gauges for rain.

More at: American Life In Poetry


Nepotism: Def. Putting on heirs.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Sunday is supposedly a day of rest... so that's what I'm gong to do; rest.

More tomorrow, maybe.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Couple of Other Things

Yesterday the U.S. Mail delivered to me a beautiful postcard sent by Mike and JoAnn from London, England. It's face displays a full color picture of Queen Elizabeth and her court at The State Opening Of Parliament. I am such a lucky (and deeply appreciative) fellow.

. . .

According to The Daily Dish

- your car's GPS unit has more computing power than the entire Apollo 11 mission.

- a blue whales heart is the size of a VW Beetle and that you could swim through some of its arteries.

- each ejaculation has more sperm than there are people in the united states.

Those, supposedly, are mind-blowing facts.

. . .

That's all for today. I have other things to get done...


"Failure has a thousand explanations. Success doesn't need one."

--Alec Guinness

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day By Day Grows The Mystery

At 8 A.M. Arizona Time the temperature is 61 degrees Fahrenheit under a clear blue sunny sky. The TV weather forecasters predict today's high here in Tucson during the late afternoon to be 87 degrees.

. . .

Recently while seated in front of my computer tap, tap, tapping away, I suddenly was startled by a separate tapping, a tapping overlapping my own, a periodic rapping on the glass of my window. Looking up from my monitor I saw, just to the left side of the screen, the upper body and head of a woodpecker on the widow ledge outside the glass, about five feet from where I sat.

My camera was sitting beside the monitor so I turned it on and quickly snapped a shot.

Noisy Visitor Outside My Window

Yes, life transpires, and actually flourishes, well beyond the vanity of the individual human animal's overly-valued sense of personal awareness. And it takes myriad under-valued forms.

But that's a story for another time.

. . .

I am working on the outline of a short story intended for submission to the Writers annual Halloween Story Writing Contest. I have what I believe to be good idea for an original story, and I especially like the surprise ending. But a couple of details are holding me back. Perhaps a satisfactory solution to this will present itself shortly, maybe during this morning's daily fitness walk. I'll be sure to have my portable digital recorder in my pocket.

. . .

Does anyone know why women wear those ridiculous, expensive, uncomfortable health-hazards known as high-heeled shoes? And don't give me that old excuse that doing so sculpts and flatters the shape of the leg, of the wearer's calf and ankle.

I don't buy it.

Observing the various women that populate the social talk and opinion TV shows--and even the news and commentary presentations--feature females wearing sparkling gold and silver spike-heeled shoes, while their legs are colorfully concealed by long-legged business-suit pants. The shape of the legs is not the main event.


So why do the lovely ladies continue this inexplicable insanity?

(One shakes one's head in male puzzlement)

Life in our civilized society certainly showcases copious conundrums.

It does indeed.


"I believe that kids as well as adults are entitled to books of no socially redeeming value."
--R.L. Stine

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Miscellany . . .

While walking along the desert sand and rocks of a narrow path through the scrub I spied on the ground a... well, I stared at it for at least ten seconds before my brain registered what my eyes were seemed so out of place on that path... it was a somewhat weathered and sun-faded ten dollar bill.. no kidding. As hard as it is to believe, I had actually found some money.

Since it was free, I decided to spend it foolishly, so when I got to Circle-K I bought five dollars worth of PowerBall tickets. Couldn't bring myself to blow the whole ten.

I'll post the result (if I win) after the drawing. Unless it's the grand prize of mega-millions, that is.

(I thought of taking a picture of the ten-spot but then opined that most readers know what a ten-dollar bill looks like)

But then, I wondered how many people can say, without looking, whose picture is on the ten-dollar bill.

Can you?

. . .

Last night Mike and JoAnn arrived back home from their vacation trip to London. And they came bearing gifts. I am now the proud owner of a box of GUYLIAN Finest Belgian Chocolate Sea Shells, a package of Marx & Spencer Orchard Mix (a delicious mix of soft and juicy dried fruit) and a box of Twinings Green Tea.

What a thoughtful couple of kids they are.

Thank you guys.
. . .

I finally managed to snap a picture of Eva doing her dream-time leg stretches while napping on the carpet. She cracks me up when she dreams. Sometimes, lying there on the carpet, her legs do tiny swimming motions, or running motions as if chasing some prey, and often she growls most menacingly deep down in her throat.

Eva stretching her legs and growling while asleep

. . .

I read an interesting and thought-provoking factoid this morning:

Amiri Baraka was the poet laureate of New Jersey during the September 11 attacks, and a year later, he read his poem "Somebody Blew Up America" at a poetry festival. In it, he suggested that Israel knew about the attack beforehand; the poem was labeled anti-Semitic and caused a huge controversy. The governor of New Jersey tried to fire Baraka, but discovered that it wasn't legally possible to fire a poet laureate. So the state passed a bill that dissolved the position, and since then, there has not been a poet laureate of New Jersey.

As I said, it's merely an interesting (and thought-provoking) factoid.

But I'll write nothing more about it... at this time.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Middle Of The Week

It rained here in East Tucson Monday afternoon and again yesterday afternoon, then last night it really stormed, dropping lots of water and some loudly clattering hail onto the roof. And the monsoon season is supposed to be over. Phoenix was hit by enough rain last night to cause a great deal of highway flooding. Today there are tornado warnings for the area just west of Flagstaff.

What's the world coming to, anyway?

Mike and JoAnn are supposed to be on their way home from London, probably flying over the Atlantic Ocean at this very moment, as I am typing this, at 7 A.M.

And . . .

The temperature here at this time of morning is a pleasant 67 degrees (F.) and the sun is shining onto the the Santa Catalina mountain peaks. According to the TV weather kitten, it's supposed to get up into the 80s later this afternoon, with only a thirty percent chance of rain.

It's about time for my morning walk.

More later . . .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Must A Title Be Appropriate To Content?

Mandatory Flu shots are being considered in a county in Utah. Fox News has been reporting on this for the last few days. As I see it, this is just another indicator of America's tendency toward socialism, to blindly allow the government to control all aspects of everyday life.

But I don't want to get myself all worked up about that. Not at this time, anyway. I have too many pressing projects in the works right now.

. . .

The AWAD word for today is cozen.

cozen (KUHZ-uhn)
verb tr.: To trick or deceive.

The origin of the word is not certain. It is perhaps from French cousiner, in the sense of one claiming to be a cousin to derive a benefit from the relationship. According to another theory, it is derived from obsolete Italian cozzonare, from Italian cozzone (horse trader), from Latin cocio (dealer). The word cousin is also slang for someone gullible.

. . .

Currently I am working on a short-story for the Halloween story-writing contest sponsored by Writers, the finished submission to be entered before the last week of this month.

And I am frantically preparing my rough outline for a complete novel I'll be writing as a part of the NaNoWriMo competition, to be started on November 1 and ending the last day of that month. At least 50,000 (unedited) words in a month. That's quite a challenge.

It is perfectly okay to write garbage
. . . as long as you edit brilliantly.
--C. J. Cherryh

. . .

Rensselaer Adventures reports some light frost for October 5 and the blog has some photos of this year's OctoberFest 2010 in my old hometown of Rensselaer, IN. There are probably few readers who will find that of interest, but that's okay. I do. The Ritz Theater sign in the pictures brings back memories of my early years in Rensselaer (1939 - 1980) even though the Ritz back then was located around the corner and down the block on Washington Street. What is now the Ritz was then the Palace Theater.

Times they are a'changin'.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
-Will Rogers


Monday, October 4, 2010

So Much To Do . . .

I will not be making a blog entry today.

Too many other projects vying for my attention.

Tomorrow . . . maybe.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo Month begins November 1.

Recently I read a piece in DesertLeaf (Catalina Foothills Community Living) print-magazine regarding NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which has for the last few years been a subject I vociferously ridiculed, believing that writing a novel in the mode of getting down vast quantities of words while eschewing all editing and completely ignoring quality is merely foolishness. I have always edited my words, phrases, and sentences as I write, trying to make sure I use the exactly-correct word, and never, never allowing myself to just tap-tap-tap away at the keyboard's keys.


But now, after reading that article, and after having considered all the arguments for participating, mostly from other Writers List members, I am thinking about trying it this coming November 1, when this year's event begins.

Why? (shrug) Desperation, perhaps.

After all, it was Ray Bradbury who said, "Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things you are doomed."

Is that true? Could be.

Who knows?

I am not looking forward to it. I still hate the idea. It seems to offer an excuse for failure. It seems to say, "Go ahead and create nonsense." But something is pushing me to give it a try. So, yesterday I registered at the NaNoWriMo site. I am now an official member of the group.

NaNoWriMo entrant

What will happen next?

Who knows?

Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, reportedly said,
"I try all things. I achieve what I can."

Try all things? Why not? Why the Hell not? Here's a chance to unthinkingly sprinkle my scenes and character dialogue with as many author intrusive 'ly' adjectives and adverbs as I please.

As Mickey Spillane (I, The Jury) said, "Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar."

So who am I to quarrel with wisdom such as that?

Finally, as an old Chinese proverb wisely points out --

"The man who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it"


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Like Dumping It All

Today I am in the grip of a nearly debilitating melancholy, probably created by excessively dwelling upon the responses from readers of yesterday's blog entry. My former feeling of inadequacy, my unsureness as to my ability to function as an imaginative and original writer of fiction has progressed from a vague feeling of doubt to increasing depths of despair. I can no longer blame a lack of perspicacity on the part of the readers of my stories, and must instead face the fact that I, not they, am the actual cause of this ongoing confusion. The meanings within my imaginative writing is not too esoteric, as I previously thought, but instead stem from the stories' not being properly presented, not being understandable enough.

In other words . . . I am a failure.

A failure (one who fails) has three alternatives, as I see it: to continue failing; to change to more conventional methods of communication and settle for the second-best results; or to simply abandon all futile future efforts in the field of fiction-writing.

Or, perhaps I might alter my thinking somewhat... if that be indeed possible.

I must look up the definition of quandary.

"Oh Good Grief!"

"Stop this foolishness."

"Just get on with it."


Friday, October 1, 2010

Meaning & Purpose of Life

The Professor returned his gaze from the clouds that darkened the afternoon sky, loudly cleared his throat, and then turned back to face the circle of eager young faces that stared at him.

One of the female students said, "Professor, I don't understand what your previous comments have to do with my question concerning the meaning and purpose of life. Your lesson seemed to be nothing more than a litany of instinctual and mechanical methods of finding suitable shelter from the elements, obtaining sufficient quantities of foodstuffs, and picking proper partners for procreation."

"Ah, yes, " the professor said, "the deeper meaning and the true purpose of life. Yes...

"First, my comely young seeker, allow me to congratulate you for your astute usage of poetic alliteration."

The young student pulled away from a classmate who was grinning at her and making snuffling noises as he blatantly eyed her shapely behind. "You are such a pig," she grunted and turned her attention back to the professor, who was saying:

"And also for your seemingly avid interest in the pursuit of arcane philosophical profundities, which sets you above the ignorant masses which aimlessly mill about within the social confines of the herd and remain content to wallow in the mud and mire of mediocrity."

"Thank you," she said, "but..."

The professor continued:

"Look around you. Keep your eyes and your mind opened at all times. The answers to most questions eventually become obvious to true seekers, and these answers usually lie within the scope of ordinary vision."

The student pivoted stiffly to her left, next to her right, then jerkily turned 180 degrees to search her surroundings. But all that she saw was a feces-covered piece of flat and nearly indigestible material loosened from one of those mysterious manifestations that occasionally appeared from nowhere to litter the landscape. Lowering her gaze to the nondescript object, she peered at it...

...and wondered if perhaps the professor might be getting a bit too old to effectively reveal the hidden secrets of the meanings and purposes of life to this newest enlightened generation of seekers-after-knowledge, of which she was, of course, the absolute pick of the litter.

A day and a night passed. Then another... and another.

One fine morning filled with birdsong and sunshine, the professor looked around and found that his students were no longer in attendance. He was alone for the present. He sighed, closed his eyes, and settled back to relax... and to wait. A new crop of seekers would soon arrive. In the meantime, it felt sooooo good to have nothing more to do but to just lie back and relax. After all...

That's what life is all about.