Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's This Blog For, Anyway?


On occasion I have been chided by readers for quoting the writings of others more often than publishing (here in this blog) my own thoughts and ideas. Well... if that is so then it is because the subjects being described in those written works by others are what have dropped in to dwell within my mind at the precise time that I sit and tap away at the keyboard. My personal thoughts and ideas (rarely presented here) can be found on the pages of other websites. Or in my private files. This blog is not a diary. it is a venue for jotting down my tittles -- instantaneous bits and pieces of random mental images, sometimes seeming perhaps profound and at other times being merely a routine recounting of what I am doing at any given moment.

Does that make any sense?

I hope so.

. . .

Banned Books Week:
Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 25 -- October 2, 2010


Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

. . .

Tea Parties

Rolling Stone describes a Tea Party rally in a four part article written by Matt Taibbi. Makes me wonder what all the media fuss is about. If it wasn't for such desperate-for-readers rabble-rousing news reportage, this foolish low-brow phenomenon would not even exist.

In my opinion.

In a short excerpt from the article the writer questions a man and his motorized-scooter-chair (medicare provided) riding wife -- a vocal team of tea-baggers protesting government welfare --

"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"

"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."

"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"

"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much."

Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them.

It's an interesting and eye-opening article, not necessarily regarding those trivial ragtag tea-parties themselves, but as a snapshot of the reality-show mentality of the news reporting (and reader acceptance) in today's world.

. . .

I have been looking back to earlier times at some of the novels I have enjoyed reading... and several come to mind. Re-reading seems more pleasurable to me these days than struggling through some of the newer ones... written by modern-day overly-enlightened, non-sexist, properly-programmed, socially-constrained, and perpetually-publishable authors.

Re-reading oldies such as . . .

The John Steinbeck books, for example: The Grapes Of Wrath, Tortilla Flat, Of Mice And Men, and the all rest of his classic works. And Kurt Vonnegut's weird and wacky stuff. Even From Here To Eternity by James Jones, which I read the first time from cover to cover in the late 1950s as I lounged around in the Casual Barracks at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis while awaiting departure to my new assignment at Homestead AFB in Florida. There's a reason such things are labeled Oldies But Goodies.

. . .

Reading is so much more enjoyable than writing...

And that's the truth.


__________


"Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."
--Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apropos Of Very Little


__________

(Note: apropos: adj. of an appropriate or pertinent nature)

__________


The Greatest Comic Strip Of All Time




Created by
Al Capp




Imagine if you can a 13-year-old boy living in a Protestant-Christian Indiana farming town in the (generally ignorant, unenlightened, and sexually stupid) year of 1952.

Imagine the effect that a scantily dressed hill-girl in a Chicago Sun Times comic strip might have on that perpetually confused mush-brained adolescent.

Daisy Mae


Imagine that.

. . .

Supposedly religious Americans actually do not know much about their professed religious affiliation.

A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

This does not surprise me because I discovered that fact for myself from conversations with friends and acquaintances throughout my lifetime. It seems that the more one learns (and thinks seriously) about any organized religion the more skeptical the person becomes.

Imagine that.

. . .

Using my imagination has always been easy for me. In fact, if I were to reveal some of my imaginings my mailing address would probably include the name of a mental institution. So, it is perplexing to find that I have never had one of my Science Fiction stories published.

Several years ago, Shawna McCarthy, the then editor of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, included in a hand-written rejection slip her opinion that my writing is much better and more imaginative than the general run of slush pile submissions -- but that my stories are too far out and too foreign to the tastes of the magazine's readership.

Something like that . . .

Ms McCarthy preferred tried-and-true and easily understood stories. And the magazine, under her editorship, suffered for it.

In my opinion.

Imagine that.

__________


“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
--Albert Einstein

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Da Bears Beat The Packers Last Night


According to a news story football player George Blanda died yesterday at age 83.



I remember George Blanda when he played for the Chicago Bears with the great Johnny Lujack back in the early 1950s when I was a sub-teen and "da Bears" used St. Joe College for their training camp in my old hometown of Rensselaer, IN where I saw many of their scrimmages and some of their exhibition games back then.

. . .

The Science Fiction contest for writers that I have mentioned a couple times earlier is drawing closer. The opening date is October 1, 2010. Take a gander at the contest rules on the website if you are a Science Fiction writer. In case you missed it, the URL is:

http://www.williamledbetter.com/contest.htm

Good luck.

. . .

While researching Odysseus I discovered: After turning Homer’s epic poem The Iliad into the 2004 film Troy, Warner Brothers and Brad Pitt are teaming with George Miller to adapt the Greek poet’s other masterwork, The Odyssey. Their intention is to transfer the tale to a futuristic setting in outer space.

In Homer’s The Odyssey, the story picks up where The Iliad leaves off, telling the adventures of Odysseus on his way home from the Battle of Troy, although the movie version will obviously be somewhat different. The movie is scheduled for a 2012 release, and is in pre-production at Warner Brothers studios.

Odysseus


I wonder if this film is still scheduled for release in 2012? Haven't heard anything about it lately. And I don't feel like going to the trouble of looking it up on the web.

Time will tell.

. . .

Eating Dannon Yogurt has convinced me that their Light & Fit product is the best I've ever tasted, and since their prices are always moderate to low I have become a repeat purchaser, consuming approximately one cup per day, often favoring the Peach flavor, although I also enjoy the taste of their Blueberry and Key Lime flavors.

Aw heck! I like all the flavors.

Additionally, the Dannon folks often run promotions, such as winning prizes for periodic contests by entering a code from the underside of Light & Fit covers.

Right now the promotion is Dannon's pledge to contribute ten-cents to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. for each such code entered at their Charity website. and I have been entering my codes (always one, sometimes two) each day.


(Click image for larger view)

The above is not a commercial for Dannon but merely an informative factoid for your edification.

. . .

From the King James Bible -- Ecclesiastes 1:2

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Such stark and deliberate wisdom. All is vanity. Three words that effectively negate all other words written in the book. Three words that say it all (to they who have ears to hear) about the purpose and meaning of human life.

Think about it.

__________


"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death!"
--Earl Wilson

Monday, September 27, 2010

Suggestions And Random Info


As I read the efforts of new writers who submit manuscripts for critique to various Help-For-Writers websites, I find one basic flaw in most of them. And if I were to offer a suggestion to those whose submissions are constantly being rejected, it would be this: Your manuscript lacks one key element that would make it acceptable to an editor -- conflict. Without it, one reads only a textual description of the setting and the characters, and a bit of mild dialogue.

Without a compelling problem for one of the characters to overcome, there is no story.

Of course my suggestion is aimed at those writers who are submitting commercially conventional stories, crafted tales aimed at the masses of modern readers seeking entertainment, not those deeply profound literary works of art. While I enjoy reading some of them, I know nothing of creating that most worthy type of intellectual tale.

Besides, I am merely offering a reader's suggestion on how to get a story accepted by a publisher. I am certainly not qualified to teach someone how to write.

. . .


Of Interest To Struggling New Writers

The Public Query Slushpile is a blog wherein you can read actual queries written by writers with manuscripts to sell, writers who welcome suggestions on how to improve submitted queries and make them more attractive to an agent.

And you can submit your own query, as well.

. . .

Yesterday I saw another coyote skulking near the wall of a neighbor's house. I snapped one picture before it disappeared into the thicker brush but it was in deep shade and so the picture does not show its light-brown coloring.

(Click picture for a larger view)

One of these day's I'll get a good, solid close-up of ol' Wile E. Coyote

. . .

Over at A.Word.A.Day Anu Garg amazed me (as Anu often does) by proposing the following:

In Saudi Arabia a woman in public has to be covered head to toe or risk arrest. In India it's socially acceptable if a woman's torso and legs are clad. In the US it's tolerable as long as her top and bottom are not exposed. And in Europe anything (or nothing) is fair game. Which one of these configurations is correct? Who decides? Well, here is an idea: Why not let a woman decide for herself? The same goes for books. Instead of banning certain books, why not let a reader decide what books he wants to read, and what books to buy or borrow?

Now, are not those last four sentences the most common-sense declarations (in the form of questions) you've ever read? Well, maybe not the most common-sense, but right up there with the top common-sense ideas. Anu Garg writes so clearly and so persuasively that after reading many of Anu's easily understood and well-expressed thoughts I (unbelievably) found myself actually changing my mind regarding some issues. And convincing me to change my mind is not an easy thing for anyone to do.

If you are interested in improving your mind with a minimum of effort and time expenditure, I would heartily recommend that you subscribe to Anu Garg's AWAD (A Word A Day) not only to add a new word to your vocabulary each day but also to glean from the daily email some truly valuable information.

__________

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Poem Titled GAS


Since I have nothing of importance to enter into this space today I decided to copy and paste a poem written by Charles Bukowski that I just read this morning over at The Writer's Almanac -- which is probably illegal but nobody is going to howl about it, and even if they do all I have to do is delete it from the day's blog entry. For some reason I really liked this poem. Don't know why...

Gas
by Charles Bukowski

my grandmother had a serious gas
problem.
we only saw her on Sunday.
she'd sit down to dinner
and she'd have gas.
she was very heavy,
80 years old.
wore this large glass brooch,
that's what you noticed most
in addition to the gas.
she'd let it go just as food was being served.
she'd let it go loud in bursts
spaced about a minute apart.
she'd let it go
4 or 5 times
as we reached for the potatoes
poured the gravy
cut into the meat.

nobody ever said anything;
especially me.
I was 6 years old.
only my grandmother spoke.
after 4 or 5 blasts
she would say in an offhand way,
"I will bury you all!"

I didn't much like that:
first farting
then saying that.

it happened every Sunday.
she was my father's mother.
every Sunday it was death and gas
and mashed potatoes and gravy
and that big glass brooch.

those Sunday dinners would
always end with apple pie and
ice cream
and a big argument
about something or other,
my grandmother finally running out the door
and taking the red train back to
Pasadena
the place stinking for an hour
and my father walking about
fanning a newspaper in the air and
saying, "it's all that damned sauerkraut
she eats!"


Gas by Charles Bukowski,
from The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain.
Copyright © Harper Collins, 2004.

Charles Bukowski

__________

Now I am off to work on my latest short-story...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Another Day Without A Blog Entry

No entry today. I am busy writing a short-story.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happening Of The Day


Well . . .

Good morning.

The Washington Post reported that Eddie Fisher has died, and in the article is embedded a YouTube video of Fisher singing Oh My Papa.


Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds


I can remember how outraged Grandma Morris was when Eddie Fisher divorced Debbie Reynolds to marry Elizabeth Taylor. Grandma vowed to never listen to Eddie Fisher sing again and to never watch an Elizabeth Taylor movie. And as far as I know, she kept that promise.

. . .

A friend of mine who lives in Indiana sent me an email message: Dr. Calvin Rickson, a scientist from Indiana University, has invented a bra that keeps women's breasts from jiggling and prevents the nipples from pushing through the fabric when cold weather sets in. At a news conference, after announcing the invention, a large group of men took Dr. Rickson outside and kicked the shit out of him.

Imagine that . . .

. . .

More later today if I can make myself wake up -- and if I feel like adding to this short entry.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Summer Is Over . . .




The autumnal equinox, where the sun is directly above the equator and the length of day and night are nearly equal. The autumnal equinox occurred early this morning at 3:09 UTC, Coordinated Universal Time. But here in America, the equinox occurred last night, at 11:09 on the East Coast.

. . .




. . .

Michael Faraday had almost no formal schooling, but he taught himself by reading books about chemistry and physics while he worked as a bookbinder's errand boy. Way to go Michael!

Michael Faraday

(Inventor of the electric motor, etc.)

. . .

There are some disturbing thoughts rattling around in my mind. Although I have come to no conclusion as to whether or not these thoughts have any validity, the fact remains that they (at least seemingly) do exist and (seemingly) should be addressed. Below is a vague hint regarding those thoughts.

There are two ancient questions that have never been satisfactorily answered. They are: Why am I here? and Why is there something rather than nothing?

There is no way (that I know of) to prove that you are here. There is no way (that I know of) to prove that there is something rather than nothing.

One may believe that previously observed specific actions prove those two hypotheses -- but believing something does not make it so.

Divided Minds, Specious Souls is a short article written by David Weisman in SEEDmagazine in which he writes:

An 18th-century scientist believed a substance called caloric made hot materials hot and flowed into colder materials to make them warmer. It seemed to be true, but subsequent investigation showed mechanical vibration equates to heat. Science is littered with similarly discredited theories; the soul is one of them.

...the way things seem isn’t always how they are.

It seems (at times) to me that: There is no such thing as reality. Our biological brains create an illusion which we, due to our monumental vanity, assume to be reality.

Good Grief! One could go mad dwelling on such ideas.

Right?

__________

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blank, Blank, Blankety Blank


I have nothing on the tip of my mind to write about at this time. If some tempting thought occurs to me later, I'll edit this posting and insert or append it. But don't count on it.

__________

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Seeds Of Organized Religion


The Mormons


Joseph Smith (1805-1844)

Founder, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints


A PBS Biography web page states:

Early one morning in the spring of 1820, Joseph went to a secluded woods to ask God which church he should join. According to his account, while praying Joseph was visited by two personages who identified themselves as God the Father and Jesus Christ.

In 1823, Joseph Smith said he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who told him of an ancient record containing God's dealings with the former inhabitants of the American continent. In 1827, Joseph retrieved this record, inscribed on thin golden plates, and shortly afterward began translating its words by the gift of God.

The resulting manuscript, the Book of Mormon, was published in March 1830. On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became its first president.

He was a controversial figure in American history--beloved of his followers and hated by his detractors. Joseph was persecuted much of his adult life and was killed along with his brother Hyrum by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844.

* * * * * * * * * *

My Opinion

The entire divine revelation is no more than a wholly fictional invention of an immature and possibly defective mind.

But even so, it raises another question: How can so many supposedly intelligent thinking people be persuaded to accept and believe such juvenile twaddle as is promulgated by The Mormons? One imaginative boy at age 14, obsessed with religion, fabricates a fanciful tale -- and it apparently is swallowed whole in the year 1820 by some of the citizens of 19th century Manchester, New York.

Three years later Smith proclaims that an angel (named Moroni) revealed to him a fantastic history of never-before recorded events regarding both Man and God -- and again it was accepted and believed by the gullible and innocently credulous seekers of meaning and purpose in life, some of whom (without a doubt) being motivated more by profit-seeking greed than by pious naivete.

And now, after the first decade of the twenty-first century, millions of people continue to swear by and live by the unsubstantiated precepts of this ridiculous religion.

It's almost as unbelievable and laughable as the notion that the simple Bogey-Man parables and child-rearing lessons (commanding obedience to authority) -- quoted by simple, ancient shepherds and goat herders wandering in the desert -- were direct commandments from Almighty God Jehovah. So...

What Should We Make Of This?


. . .

A relevant poem goes here
but I haven't written it yet.

. . .

__________

Monday, September 20, 2010

So Begins Another Weel


HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jelly Roll Morton

. . .

Yesterday morning I walked South on Conestoga Avenue with my new Sony ICD-PX820 digital audio recorder which I had purchased from Amazon.com. I bought it so I won't forget, and thereby lose the many tidbits of description, similes & metaphors, and characterizations that occasionally occur to me while I am out and about in the world -- such important reports as: stopping at Circle-K to buy my Mega-Millions ticket and my PowerBall ticket, and while there I bought three pop-tarts and a Pepsi Max. Ate one pop-tart on the way home, cherry filled, and drank the Pepsi. Kept the other two Pop-tarts (one blueberry, and the other cinnamon & brown sugar) for later.

How's that for portion control?

Hey . . . this recorder really works. It's small, easy to carry, and easy to operate. The recorded messages are stored as .mp3 files, and can be dragged and dropped into my computer for permanent storage.

It's great.

. . .

The New Criterion article Morals & the servile mind by Kenneth Minogue is sub-titled: On the diminishing moral life of our democratic age.

Kenneth Minogue is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics.

Here are some of the article's high points:

The first clarifying step must be to recognize that democracy in the abstract misleads us.

Living in a democracy . . . becomes a different thing in each generation. Something that benefits us in one generation may no longer be a benefit in the next.

My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them.

Our rulers are theoretically our representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up.

The statesmen of eras past have been replaced by a set of barely competent social workers eager to take over the risks of our everyday life.

That's enough of the copy and paste since I would hate being accused of ignoring or violating copyright.

Note: This article has been excerpted from The Servile Mind, by Kenneth Minogue (Encounter Books, August 2010).

But the article is certainly thought-provoking, and I recommend it to the intelligent and discerning reader who enjoys having his (or her) inner thought-cache provoked.

Additionally, the ideas expressed in the article might stimulate ideas of your own on the subject, ideas you might wish to incorporate in an essay or an article to be submitted for publication.

. . . .

When JoAnn returned from her vacation she brought everyone a gift. Mine was a new book titled Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. And it is funny. I understand that a new TV series based on that book is scheduled to start up in a week or so, with William Shatner as My Dad. How can that not be funny?

But how, on broadcast TV, will they get around all the book's profanity? -- without ruining the curmudgeon-like flavor of the My Dad character?

We'll see.

. . .

A shameful factoid --

In the United States, household bleach is the number one cause of accidental poisonings, with more than 50,000 cases (including eight deaths) reported to poison control centers in a single year.

(Yes, the above has been saved in my 'Story Ideas" folder)

. . .

According to AWAD:

The longest word in the English language is:

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
(NOO-muh-noh-UL-truh-MY-kruh-SKOP-ik-SIL -i-koh-vol-KAY-no-KOH-nee-O-sis)
noun
A lung disease caused by inhaling fine particles of silica.

A shorter word, an exact synonym, is silicosis.

. . .

By the way, I caught the typo in the title before publishing this blog entry, but then (for my own reasons) I decided to ignore it. I wonder if 'Weel' is a valid English word. Maybe I'll look it up to find out. Or maybe I won't.

__________


You will find relief from vain fancies if you do every act in life as though it were your last.
--Marcus Aurelius, philosopher, writer, Roman emperor (121-180)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Don't Much Feel Like Blogging . . .


While seated in front of my computer monitor, my peripheral vision caught a flurry of motion outside my window. When I looked in that direction I saw a large Roadrunner landing on a branch of the tree in front of me. That's the second time that I've seen a roadrunner in a tree. As I reached for my camera, the big bird launched itself into the air and flew up to a higher branch. Taking a picture through window glass is tricky, and the sun was above and behind the subject of the photo, so I was sure the picture would not be a good one. But I snapped several shots anyway. And I was right... the pictures were pretty bad. Below is the result.

Roadrunner in tree






. . .

Recently a reader asked me why I write if I feel that I have no purpose in life. After thinking about that question for a time, I'm still unsure as to what a sense of purpose has to do with the impetus to write. The question seems to be a non sequitur.

Why do I write?

I don't know.

__________


A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy." "Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. "They're packed with nutrients."

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story:
Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Writing, Writers, And Critics


I have been freely offering my honest opinions about their latest stories and poems to any and all writers who ask me for them. But lately I've been wondering if this is such a good idea. After all... who am I to give advice? What the hell do I know about story writing? Or creating poems? Perhaps the suggestions I give to potential authors and poets are completely wrong. Maybe I am doing terrible harm to budding geniuses.

What qualifies me to be a critic?

Here is some advice from a famous fellow:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
--Theodore Roosevelt.


Right now, at this very instant, I am considering a sudden stop to all of my supposed suggestions for story-writing improvement. For all I know, there might be some slyly clever and knowledgeable scholarly soul out there who, after craftily submitting a work of fiction for my evaluation (as a joke) sits boozing it up with a clutch of his literate friends -- and they all laugh and laugh and laugh at my pedestrian comments regarding his latest effort.

The endeavor known as creative writing is too serious to be taken lightly.

. . .

Yesterday I accompanied Mike to the local public library and while he completed his business inside I browsed the For Sale shelves in the lobby; I bought two books: The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver and Wet Work by Christopher Buckley. The were hard cover and in excellent condition, and they cost only $3 each. Didn't even have to go inside to pay for them. There was a small slotted box attached to the shelf with a sign that read: Drop Payment Here.

How about that?

. . .

One line I read in a fiction-story excerpt from a Work In Progress on a Writer's blog: "You need something else to compare it too?” caused me to stop reading, and that damnable inner-editor of mine said to myself: "Should that not be 'compare it to' instead of 'compare it too' -- and I replied to myself, "Oh, it's probably just a typo..."

. . .

Poetry fascinates me, but I am so damned ignorant of its many facets. Some of the older works, the rhyming rhythms of lesser-known poets who wrote of down-home country folks always makes me sigh (in a sickeningly nostalgic way) and murmur (No... mutter) "Now, that's poetry." But much of modern poetry seems, to me, to be nothing more than prose with arbitrary line breaks to signal that it is to be labeled a poem.

I must admit, though, that I like to occasionally try my hand at my own style of modern poetry, trying always to use imagery to illustrate nostalgic but emotionally charged recollections that spring up from some private place in my memory. In doing this I tend to use too many words, to attempt a detailed description more amenable to straight prose than to any form of poetry. And the poems suffer for it.

After receiving helpful criticism from those who are well-versed (pun absolutely intended) in the (formless?) forms of modern poetry I try to pare down my stuff and make it conform to the suggested scholarly formless-forms, but in the process the poem at hand seems to cease being my work and instead becomes the product of the times.

Something like that.

Perhaps I should do what I have done at times in the past: merely write my poems (and my stories) the way I want to write them, then publish them on my website and just not worry and fret with perpetually petulant pursed lips (grin) as to whether or not they are read by anyone else but me... after all, what is accomplished by being a successful highly-read poet, or even a well-known author of prose? A slight heightening of personal vanity? After I am dead and vanity is vanished it will certainly not matter (to me) if my writings continue to be read by the phantom (non-existent, to me) wraiths of the still living.

Right?

. . .


Raggedy Red Wild Flowers Growing Alongside The Road

(Click for larger view)


An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, Can I also sit like you and do nothing? The eagle answered: Sure, why not. So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.


Friday, September 17, 2010

When Is A Title Not A Title?

The MailOnline featured the picture below on Friday September 17 and I thought it was interesting enough to copy and insert here, along with the appropriate link, of course.

C.A.T. spells cat
(Image Credit to: Bruce Adams)

. . .


Who Is Christine O'Donnell?



Christine O'Donnell (born August 27, 1969) is an American politician who is the Republican Party nominee in Delaware's 2010 United States Senate special election, which will be held on November 2, 2010.

Christine O'Donnell is an unmarried conservative Christian known for her vocal opposition to abortion, pornography, extramarital sex, and masturbation.

Christine O'Donnell has said the first thing she wants to do when elected is to vote to repeal the health care legislation enacted by Congress in 2010.

. . .

Some Rabbi wrote: Religion is a compilation of humanity's yearning to find meaning and purpose. God is not found in the doctrine of religion. Rather, religion is an institution that seeks to find God.

Yearning to find meaning and purpose? Why? Why does there have to be meaning? Or purpose?

Why is it so difficult for a human being to accept that humanity is not special. Is not meaningful? Has no purpose?

It's so obvious.

. . .


"Why had I become a writer in the first place?
Because I wasn't fit for society;
I didn't fit into the system."
--Brian Aldiss

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The View From My Window

Outside the wide window behind my computer monitor I watched a small fat woodpecker hop-step sideways on the rocky soil along the base of the faux-adobe adjoining wall, its rounded head and long sharp beak jerking back and forth, eyes blinking rapidly as it searched for insects huddled precariously within the furrows of rough-painted stucco. I could have told it that there were a lot more bugs in the bark of a tree located about ten feet to the south but I refrained from doing so as to not inordinately provoke Eva, the pugnacious prancing puppy who watches over me so carefully, and always frowns upon my talking to animals other than herself.

A sudden furtive movement in the dark entrance of a two-inch-wide hole in the rough black bark at the bottom of the bole of the aforementioned tree caught my attention and I immediately recalled the rattlesnake we had found a couple weeks ago as it lurked in silence on the front lawn, not more than fifty feet from this same tree. I am sure I was once told that careless woodpeckers are a staple in the diet of Arizona rattlers.

My fears were unfounded, though, as the head that slowly emerged from the hole was not a serpent's head but instead was that of a large desert rat. It seemingly took no notice of the hopping bird and nosed about the bases of some of the medium-sized rocks, sniffing I supposed for the concealed presence of a scorpion, tarantula, or some similar sources of rat sustenance. Desert rats, unlike snakes, probably do not prey upon live, fat, sharp-beaked woodpeckers.

Woodpeckers. Ha!

I remember when I was one of four little brats listening to their father sing one of his favorite funny songs:

"A woodpecker pecked on the schoolhouse door,
He pecked and he pecked till is pecker got sore ."

Then Dad would throw back his head and just laugh and laugh. And we, the quartet of raggedy little know-nothings, would always laugh hilariously along with him.

It's funny, isn't it, the meaningless little scraps of song one remembers from childhood?

. . .

Posting this photo because I like it . . . that's all

(Click the pic for a larger view)


Some people hear voices.
Some see invisible people.
Others have no imagination whatsoever.
--Unknown

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Some Days Are Worse Than Others


Earlier I watched a movie titled Gran Torino which was produced and directed (and starred in) by Clint Eastwood. All I can say is, "That's my kind of movie."

In the story the young boy asks Eastwood (who is an aging Korean War veteran), "What's it like to kill a man?" The elderly hardcase says, "You don't want to know."

And in the past I have heard that same statement issue forth from the lips of soldiers of various wars, from veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the soldiers who came back from service in the Vietnam Conflict.

I cannot say from personal experience what it's like to kill a man.

But I have a vivid imagination.

Imagine this -- Imagine being 70 years old and each day of your life you are forced by an unforgiving conscience to recall a series of wrongs (seemingly minor at the time they were committed) that you have perpetrated on others over those many long years, and now in your mind you re-live each moment, seeing the tears form in the corners of your loved one's eyes and then slowly roll down her cheek, and you see, in detailed closeup, the quivering of her lower lip as she holds back the hurt your thoughtless words and cruel actions have caused her.

And remember along with that the many other similar evils you have done to other family members, friends, and acquaintances -- all in the name of heedless vanity, in the pursuit of serving self.

Then you might get a glimpse into the terrible pain a killer must feel to remember, again and again throughout a lifetime, having committed the most horrendous sin of having taken away the life of another human being.

Just imagine.

. . .


This is not a day for me to be blogging.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh Well . . .


On TVs Good Morning Tucson the lovely lady anchors made mention of the fellow called Jaws who is known in the area for winning almost every eating contest he enters. This time he consumed 47 burritos filled with beans, cheese, and Greek Chili... but I can't remember the time it took for him to do that. Good Grief! At my age, I can no longer eat even one of those tasty but terribly spicy treats.

. . .

Every morning the first thing I do after my computer boots up is to visit Rensselaer Adventures to see how my old hometown is faring, and to find out what's new in Northwest Indiana. Today there were several photos taken last Saturday of the Little Cousin Jasper parade. To my horror, I discovered that there had been no horses in this year's parade. What's this world coming to? As far back as I can remember there were always horses in every parade in 'Renssel-tucky' -- ridden by avid horsemen : Lee Kiger, Whitey Williams, the Mingear boys, and the Jasper County Sheriff's Posse.

Oh well . . .

And, by the way, the Little Cousin Jasper Festival was named in honor of a poem by James Whitcomb Riley (a famous Indiana poet) which goes something like this...


LITTLE COUSIN JASPER

Little Cousin Jasper, he
Don't live in this town, like me, --
He lives 'way to Rensselaer,
An' ist comes to visit here.

He says 'at our court-house square
Ain't nigh big as thcirn is there!
He says their town's big as four
Er five towns like this, an' morer.

He says ef his folks moved here
He'd cry to leave Rensselaer
'Cause they's prairie there, an' lakes,
An' wile-ducks an' rattlesnakes!

Yes, little Jasper's Pa
Shoots most things you ever saw.
Wunst he shot a deer, one day,
'At swummed off an' got away.

Little Cousin Jasper went
An' camped out wunst in a tent
Wiv his Pa, an' belt his gun
While he kilt a turrapun.

An' when his Ma heerd o' that,
An' more things his Pa's bin at,
She savs, "Yes, he'll git shot
Fore he's man-grown, like as not!"

An' they's mussrats there, an' minks,
An' di-dippers, an' chee-winks,
Yes, 'n' cal'mus-root you chew
All up an' 't 'on't pizen you!

An', in town's a flag-pole there
Highest one 'at's anywhere
In this world! rite in the street
Where the big mass-meetin's meet.

Yes, 'n' Jasper he says they
Got a brass band there, an' play
On it, an' march up an' down
An' all over round the town!

Wisht our town ain't like it is!
Wisht it's ist as big as his!
Wisht 'at his folks they'd move here,
An' we'd move to Rensselaer.


James Whitcomb Riley
October 7, 1849 -- July 22, 1916

. . .



That's all I have today...
More'n enough... for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Language, Spies, Gelato, etc.


Language changes over time. It evolves, as they say. Words and phrases that were once easily understood by all citizens of a nation eventually lose their meanings as new generations of book readers and playgoers arise with their own newly-coined words and terms. We all know this, of course -- for surely The Works of William Shakespeare would be more widely read (not pretended to be read) than they actually are if all readers were able to understand that hopelessly archaic language.

Over at The Writer's Almanac yesterday I read that H.L. Mencken once wrote a translation of The Declaration of Independence using the vernacular of plain, ordinary folks.

Here is the actual Declaration's first paragraph:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

And here is Mencken's translation:

"When things get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody."

See what I mean?

. . .

According to all the local pundits, Arizona Roadrunners are never found up in trees. But Mike saw one on a tree branch alongside the road a few evenings ago. Here is a picture that I took of it.

Roadrunner Hiding In A Tree


. . .

According to The Atlantic --
When Stalin's men sought agents for the most depraved and most criminal tasks, they found them not among brutes of the underworld, but among sensitive and cultivated people in the highest levels of intellectual society -- poets and psychiatrists who became conspirators and spies.

And that makes perfect sense to me. It is the 'sensitive' and 'cultivated' individuals who are intelligent enough (and egotistical enough) to become effective conspirators and spies. The 'brutes of the underworld' are too busy 'taking from the rich' and satisfying their personal desires.

The best conspirators will be found manipulating global policy by pulling the strings attached to top elected government officials.

. . .

Tim recommended a new Gelato place, Cafe Italiano, and Sunday we motored on over there to try it out. I had the Mamma Mia flavor, and it was awesome. Click here for info regarding Cafe Italiano and super-delicious Mamma Mia gelato.


You do not need a parachute to skydive . . .
you only need a parachute to skydive twice.
--Unknown

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nothing Much Today, Again


Yesterday afternoon I watched an old black & white movie filmed in 1939 (year of my birth) on TCM titled Young Mister Lincoln, with Abraham Lincoln played by Henry Fonda. There is no doubt that the humorous antics of Mister Lincoln and the melodramatic incidents portraying simple backwoods goodness were exaggerated. But the veracity and historical accuracy amount to little in such a tale... what counts is entertainment, and the satisfaction of the audience.

Henry Fonda as young Abraham Lincoln


Here is a YouTube video -- scenes from the movie.

Below is a link to another short YouTube video, a much shorter but more poignant one exemplifying the fine job Henry Fonda did in his role of Young Mister Lincoln. It is pretty much my favorite scenes from the movie.

Here is the link:


. . .

This morning there are things on my mind that preclude blog-entry writing. One of these things is trying to interpret some comments I received regarding a poem I wrote recently and submitted for critique to a variety of places. Another is difficulty I am having in... oh, well, that's not important enough to worry about.

More another day, perhaps.

Thank you for reading...


"I'll give you the whole secret of short-story writing. Here it is. Rule I: Write stories that please yourself. There is no Rule II."
--William Sidney Porter (O. Henry)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday, September 11 (9/11) 2010


9/11


A Week Later . . .



9/11

Nine Years Later . . .



What can one person do to help? Check out . . .


Volunteer. Serve others.
__________

. . .

I encountered the word polleny in a poem with the somewhat mysterious title -- San Francisco Remembered by Philip Schultz, and not recognizing the word, I tried looking it up but found no mention of it (even when using Google) except as the title of a picture on Flickr -- the photo was of a pink flower with a liberal dusting of golden pollen within its petals. The flower's interior was 'polleny' -- or so I am guessing.

Polleny

. . .

Late yesterday evening as we were returning from our walk with Eva we saw a coyote foraging for roadkill on the street in front of the house. The sun was just going down behind the mountains behind us but there was enough light to get a quick shot before the coyote scooted off into the desert scrub.

(Click the pic for a larger view)

. . .

In Moneygolf Slate asks, "Will new statistics unlock the secrets of golf?" This article is probably only of interest to serious golfers, but it describes ShotLink and presents much, much more regarding the game of golf.

Take a look, golfers.

. . .


I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on it...so I said "Implants?"
--Unknown

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not Much Happening Today, Yet...


As Eva and I strolled around the swimming pool to check out the bright Arizona sunshine and the comfortable, dry warmth, we saw a couple of new things...

The cactus outside the back door is flowering




A small songbird of some sort


. . .

Last night, just a few minutes before I fell asleep, a stray thought interrupted my reverie, It was: "That's not fair!' is such a childish exclamation."

Might want to use that thought in a short essay (or a short story) someday.

. . .


Education In America Today

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Call it Zombies 101 The University of Baltimore is offering a new class on the undead. The course is being taught by Arnold Blumberg, the author of a book on zombie movies, ''Zombiemania,'' and the curator of Geppi's Entertainment Museum, which focuses on American pop culture.

Students taking English 333 will watch 16 classic zombie films and read zombie comics. As an alternative to a final research paper they may write scripts or draw storyboards for their ideal zombie flicks.

The university isn't the first to have a class on the undead. Columbia College in Chicago has offered a course on Zombies in popular media for years, and at Simpson College in Iowa students spent the spring semester writing a book on ''The History of the Great Zombie War.''

. . .

Well, as the title indicated, not much is happening here today.


I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
--Unknown

Thursday, September 9, 2010

No Time For Titles


While walking along a county road I happened to see upon the pavement a freshly-flattened furry-figure, the gray and wetly-crimson remains of recent road-kill.

Whether through intuition, sudden inspiration, or possibly some mental association from past observances, I immediately tore my attention from the unfortunate former creature and turned my vision upward. Sure enough the death of one thing had signaled for nature's meticulous undertaker to hasten to the scene; one life ends so another can continue.

Patiently waiting for me to move on . . .


Still waiting . . .


Becoming a bit restless . . .


Deciding, "Oh to Hell with it; I'll be back . . .


. . .


Addiction

After smoking cigarettes for almost thirty years, and having attained a three-packs-per-day habit, at the age of 45, I quit (cold-turkey.) That was at twelve o'clock noon, April 12, 1985, twenty-five years ago. And I have never smoked tobacco (or anything else) since that day. It was, I believe, the hardest thing I have ever done.

Now is the age of enlightenment as to the deadly effects of tobacco smoking. Many have set aside the noxious habit. People have wised up to the dangers in the insidious products of the greed-inspired, demonic, evil merchandisers of death -- the big tobacco companies.

So, I was dumbfounded after reading the following:

GN Development & Management, LLC wants to help maintain a smoke free environment by offering options for smokers to "smoke" nicotine without the fire, flame, tobacco, tar, carbon monoxide, ash, smell, and the variety of chemicals found in traditional tobacco cigarettes.

They intend to manufacture and market a socially-acceptable nicotine delivery system.

Here is one of their advertising photos


Is this an example of the"hard" sell?



Another advertising photo



Sex In Merchandising aside, how can any rational thinking person imagine this or any other delivery process as being an acceptable manner of absorbing or injecting nicotine into the body?

According to Wikipedia -- In low concentrations (an average cigarette yields about 1 mg of absorbed nicotine), the substance acts as a stimulant in mammals and is the main factor responsible for the dependence-forming properties of tobacco smoking.

According to the American Heart Association, nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break, while the pharmacological and behavioral characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

And further . . .

As nicotine enters the body, it is distributed quickly through the bloodstream and can cross the blood-brain barrier. On average it takes about seven seconds for the substance to reach the brain when inhaled. The half life of nicotine in the body is around two hours.

And . . .

By binding to ganglion type nicotinic receptors in the adrenal medulla nicotine increases flow of adrenaline (epinephrine), a stimulating hormone and neurotransmitter. By binding to the receptors, it causes cell depolarization and an influx of calcium through voltage-gated calcium channels. Calcium triggers the exocytosis of chromaffin granules and thus the release of epinephrine (and norepinephrine) into the bloodstream. The release of epinephrine (adrenaline) causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, as well as higher blood glucose levels.

Also . . .

Nicotine has very powerful effects on arteries throughout the body. Nicotine is a stimulant, it raises blood pressure, and is a vasoconstrictor, making it harder for the heart to pump through the constricted arteries. It causes the body to release its stores of fat and cholesterol into the blood. It has been speculated that nicotine increases the risk of blood clots by increasing plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, though this has not been proven.


The American Heart Association reports:

Nicotine is an addictive drug. It causes changes in the brain that make people want to use it more and more. In addition, addictive drugs cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The good feelings that result when an addictive drug is present -- and the bad feelings when it's absent -- make breaking any addiction very difficult. Nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break.

How long, I wonder, will it take these GreenNicotine producers to begin injecting chemical enhancers to heighten the pleasurable effects of their products?

Beware is the operative word.

And that's all I have to say about that.


Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit;
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
--Unknown