Saturday, December 19, 2009

"It feels more comfortable to think you know what you're doing,

or at least to get other people to think you know what you're doing.

"People know what they're doing in the same way that a little
guppy in a cove knows the ocean.

"You can't write a novel while you're thinking that you don't
know what you're doing. So you figure out a way to convince
yourself you know what you're doing. It's only natural.

"You eat a sandwich. What does your body do with it? If you don't
know, who does? Whose body is it?

"It's like walking in total darkness except for a little spotlight
that's illuminating the stone you're going to step on in a
stream just before you step on it.

"If you could stay in a dream long enough to get lucid, long
enough to begin to operate with some consciousness and choice,
still--where did the dream come from? You can interpret the
dream, but what led you to choose that specific way of
interpreting, out of all the ways? What led you to have
that dream, with those "symbols," those "ants", that "way
of flying"?

"Is it you arguing with me, or your mom and dad? Is your mom and
dad arguing with me, or with my mom and dad?

"What is wrong with saying you don't know what you're doing?
Even if you know what you're doing, the part that you know
compared with the part you don't know is about 1:50000, at

"It's good to know what you're doing, as long as you realize
you really don't.

"In every part of every thing there is a part that is unknown,
and unknowable. That is the most important part. How do I
know? How did you know right away that it's true? Knowing
something is different than knowing how you know. Knowing
is different than proving is different than having to prove.

"All of growing up is designed to sell you one idea:
You know what you're doing.

"The only way you can know something is to find out. There are
lots of things we know that don't matter. I'm only talking
about the things that are important to know that we don't
know and maybe never will. That's why they're here. What stories
are for. Words and stories are to say things that we can't
say. Saying something is not the same as knowing it. To know
is to own. To say is to see."

Ishii Ougourou, from WHAT (out of print)

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Can't get enough of James Wood's HOW FICTION WORKS.

I like a book on writing that makes me feel more free
about writing, that inspires me to write the way I want
to write, that names things that I do but didn't even know
there was a name for, that makes writing simpler & clearer
(by describing its complexity), that, mainly, reminds me
& invites me to enjoy myself writing.

Even when he is saying what has been said, Wood does it
with a freshness and vitality that make it seem as if it's
being said for the first time.

Some teasers, because I recommend the whole book:

On third person, the omniscient narrator, and "free indirect style":

"So-called omniscience is almost impossible.
As soon as someone tells a story about a character,
narrative seems to want to bend itself around that
character, to merge with that character, to take on
his or her way of thinking and speaking. An author's
omniscience soon becomes a kind of secret sharing;
this is called 'free indirect style,' a term writers
have lots of different nicknames for--'close third person,'
or 'going into character.'"

On the sentence: "Ted watched the orchestra through stupid tears":

"What is so useful about free indirect style is that . . .
a word like 'stupid' somehow belongs both to the author
and the character; we are not entirely sure who 'owns'
the word. Might 'stupid' reflect a slight asperity or
distance on the part of the author? Or does the word belong
wholly to the character, with the author, in a rush of sympathy,
having 'handed' it . . . to the tearful fellow?"

"Thanks to free indirect style, we see things
through the character's eyes and language but also
through the author's eyes and language. We inhabit
omniscience and partiality at once. A gap opens
between author and character, and the bridge--which is
free indirect style itself--between them simultaneously
closes that gap and draws attention to its distance.

"There is a final refinement in free indirect style . . .
when the gap between an author's voice and a character's
voice seems to collapse altogether; when a character's voice
does indeed seem rebelliously to have taken over the narration

'The town was small, worse than a village, and in it lived almost
none but old people, who died so rarely it was even annoying.'

"What an amazing opening! It is the first sentence of Chekhov's
story 'Rothschild's Fiddle.' The next sentences are:

'And in the hospital and jail there was very little demand for coffins.
In short, business was bad.'

"The rest of the paragraph introduces us to an extremely mean coffin-
maker, and we realize that the story has opened in the middle of free
indirect style. We are in the midst of the coffin-maker's mind,
for whom longevity is an economic nuisance.

"Chekhov begins his use of (free indirect style) before
his character has even been identified.

"Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that the story
is written from a point of view closer to a village chorus
than to one man. The village chorus sees life pretty much
as brutally as the coffin-maker would . . . , but continues
to see this world after the coffin-maker has died."


I love that he sets up the coffin-maker as the indirect narrator, then
goes, on the other hand, maybe it's the village chorus!

But don't we have to nail this down??!!

No. As long as it's consistent, and if it's not consistent, as long
as it's consistently inconsistent. In other words, whatever you can
get away with. Every accepted narrative technique was once an innovation
that set off howls of protest from the conventional mob. I'm not much
of a technical experimenter myself in writing, but it is liberating
to know that whatever quirks I might introduce into my writing, I am
quite free to do it, as long as I know what I'm doing, which I can only
know by going ahead and learning how to do it, right.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

J.D. Salinger: "Holden Caulfield is unactable."

Mr. Salinger writes to a producer:

R. D. 2
Windsor, Vt.
July 19, 1957

Dear Mr. Herbert,

I'll try to tell you what my attitude is to the stage and screen rights of The Catcher in the Rye. I've sung this tune quite a few times, so if my heart doesn't seem to be in it, try to be tolerant....Firstly, it is possible that one day the rights will be sold. Since there's an ever-looming possibility that I won't die rich, I toy very seriously with the idea of leaving the unsold rights to my wife and daughter as a kind of insurance policy. It pleasures me no end, though, I might quickly add, to know that I won't have to see the results of the transaction. I keep saying this and nobody seems to agree, but The Catcher in the Rye is a very novelistic novel. There are readymade "scenes" - only a fool would deny that - but, for me, the weight of the book is in the narrator's voice, the non-stop peculiarities of it, his personal, extremely discriminating attitude to his reader-listener, his asides about gasoline rainbows in street puddles, his philosophy or way of looking at cowhide suitcases and empty toothpaste cartons - in a word, his thoughts. He can't legitimately be separated from his own first-person technique. True, if the separation is forcibly made, there is enough material left over for something called an Exciting (or maybe just Interesting) Evening in the Theater. But I find that idea if not odious, at least odious enough to keep me from selling the rights. There are many of his thoughts, of course, that could be labored into dialogue - or into some sort of stream-of-consciousness loud-speaker device - but labored is exactly the right word. What he thinks and does so naturally in his solitude in the novel, on the stage could at best only be pseudo-simulated, if there is such a word (and I hope not). Not to mention, God help us all, the immeasurably risky business of using actors. Have you ever seen a child actress sitting crosslegged on a bed and looking right? I'm sure not. And Holden Caulfield himself, in my undoubtedly super-biassed opinion, is essentially unactable. A Sensitive, Intelligent, Talented Young Actor in a Reversible Coat wouldn't nearly be enough. It would take someone with X to bring it off, and no very young man even if he has X quite knows what to do with it. And, I might add, I don't think any director can tell him.

I'll stop there. I'm afraid I can only tell you, to end with, that I feel very firm about all this, if you haven't already guessed.

Thank you, though, for your friendly and highly readable letter. My mail from producers has mostly been hell.


(Signed, 'J. D. Salinger')

J. D. Salinger
The original letter is for sale for $54,000 here:

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm swearing off opinions today.

I'm not going to have any opinions today.
Yesterday I had an opinion that opinions might be the problem.
So today I'm going to have an adventure in opinionlessness.
I'll let you know how it goes, although, depending,
that may not include any opinions about it.

Tomorrow (the day after the above):
It did not go well, in my opinion.
In fact, I had 172 more opinions than I had the day before.
Back to the drawing board

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Quiet City"

I like this movie genre of "mumblecore," as it's derogatorily
called. Young people in their 20s hang around and talk, is the
basic gist, and don't do much, like work, or get worked
up about much of anything.

I saw "Hannah Takes the Stairs" earlier, which I was taken
some by, but "Quiet City" got to me more, because it seems
to be even purer in its vision of these folks, or this
generation. Hannah was more hectic and games-playing.

The people who populate this genre remind me some of both
hippies and slackers, but they are really neither, and I'm
focusing on Quiet City now. They aren't hippies (of which I
was sort of one) because they don't drug & booze it up much,
and because they make hippies look ambitious and aggressive.

They aren't slackers because what I know of slackers is that
they're more sloppy and drug-angled, and even they have an
aggression that just ain't there with the people in Quiet City.

Why I like them is that their response, or answer, to the
prevailing violent, fearful, greedy and insane world
as it is today, hits me as totally authentic, yet with an
innate gentleness that is itself a kind of passive ambition
of the heart.

The two lead actors are gentle, passive (but conscious and connected
and honest), without worldly ambition, interested in one another,
playful, agreeable, not quick to be upset by upsetting things.
My God, it's like I'm describing monks of some sort, and, you
know, I think I might be.

The main thing is, their response to modern reality is authentic.
The guy at one point, in a conversation with the girl about
relationships and how difficult they are, says something like,
"I don't want my feelings to affect other people," meaning that
he doesn't want to hurt anybody, but also he doesn't want to be
responsible for how somebody else feels.

They talk about where they are in the evolution of their
ability to relate, to be with another person, and see how
their being young has so much to do with how they feel and
relate. I NEVER thought about such things when I was 20.

I don't feel like I'm capturing what I like about this
movie, the way they're so passive, so at the mercy of
events and coincidences (the way they met in the train
station) and yet how they become involved seems so true
about love, or about caring, which is the point of life
to me. Are they empty wisps, or have they achieved,
or bumbled into, an enlightenment that's so fitting of
this time, yet transcendent because they don't care
enough to take action to change anything? They have
some figment of that spiritual quality about being in
the world but not of the world.

The one part where friction and upset entered was at
an art gallery where this one kid has an aggression that
seems to stand for the world at large--aggression in words,
a fake playfulness that masks meanness, a pokey-jokey
small-scale cruelty that underscores the main characters'
gentleness and lovingness. The artist whose show it is
at the gallery says to him finally but gently, something
like, "Did I tell you to be rude to my friends?"

I did get impatient at first when I saw that wow really
"nothing" was going to happen in this movie, but then I
started feeling a wavelength that was good and true and
peaceful watching them, listening to them, and I thought,
what is going on here? And I saw mainly that their loveliness
was authentic, their lack of ambition a spiritual quality
as much as disengagement from the violent madness of the
world, as well as an honorable response to it.

You may see this movie and go, "What the hell is he
talking about?" or "Yeah, I see," but in any case I
liked it, and I like it more the more I think about it.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How Fiction Works.

"The chapters of this book have a way of collapsing
into one another, because each is motivated
by the same aesthetic:

when I talk about free indirect style
I am really talking about point of view,

and when I am talking about point of view
I am really talking about the perception of detail,

and when I am talking about detail
I am really talking about character,

and when I am talking about character
I am really talking about the real,
which is at the bottom of my inquiries."

--James Wood How Fiction Works

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Poetry, Silence, Noise.

"Poetry today has lost its relationship with silence.

The word is searching and hunting for something to convey.

But the real poet starts in possession of the object,
and goes in search of the words, and not vice versa.

Today the poet's words go to all words. It can combine
with many things, attract many things to itself,
seem more than it really is.

In fact the word seems to be sent out to catch other words.

And so it comes about that the writer today presents
far more than he actually possesses himself.

His person is less than what he writes;
he is not identical with his work.

And he therefore tends to undergo frequent crises
on account of this discrepancy.

It is even demanded of poetry today that it
should represent the world of noise; that noise
should be audible in poetry as it is everywhere else.

It is imagined that the noise could be overcome
by forcing it into verse.

But it is not possible to overcome the noise
of the external world with the noise of poetry,
for the noise of poetry starts competing
with the noise of the external world, and the
two noises rattle along beside each other.

Noise can be overcome only by something
that is utterly different.

Orpheus did not overcome the underworld
by becoming as dark as the underworld
but by the wholly different
bright sound of his song."

-Max Picard, The World of Silence

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Friday, November 27, 2009

"Silence is the Holy Wilderness."

from Max Picard's wonderful book

"It seems sometimes as though it might come to a fight
between silence and noise; as if silence were secretly
preparing for an invasion."

"The child cannot place by another word
the word it has brought with difficulty
out of the silence; it cannot put a pronoun
in place of a noun. For each word is there
as it were for the first time, and what is there
for the first time, what is quite new, naturally
has no wish to be replaced by something else."

"Silence is like one of the organs of the human face."

"A child never speaks of itself as 'I', but it
always says its name: 'Andrew wants ... '
The child would think it were disappearing
if it were to replace its own name by a pronoun--
its own name that has just come out of the silence
with the word and is there as it were for the first
time ever."

"Silence listens to itself when the mouth is speaking."

"Words no longer arise from silence today
but from other words, from the noise of other words."

"Man today is without sleep because he is without
silence. In sleep a man returns with the silence
that is in him back into the great silence of the
universe. But man lacks the silence today which
used to lead him back into the great silence
of the universe. Sleep today is only a tiredness
caused by noise, a reaction to the noise. It has
ceased to be a world of its own."

"Perhaps silence is not dead, but merely sleeping,

(Reminder: Invite more silence into my life.)

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World.

This is a wonderful woman and painter I had never known
of before watching a documentary on her on Sundance.
I recommend it with all my heart if you have a chance to see
it & if you have any connection to art & matters of the spirit.

I think I like the woman more than her paintings (which
are grid works mainly, simple, geometric, but with a
hand-made child-like touch). Watching the documentary
led me to allow her paintings to tune into me because
they were made by her & because of the way she
talks about them & how they come to be & what they
mean to her. (I actually applied her ideas on horizontal
planes while I was suffering in a dentist's chair the
other day. It allowed me to meditate the discomfort away,
distribute it along the mental plane through my tooth!)

She is often painting as she talks & answers the filmmaker's
questions. She speaks in the most simple way, sometimes with
an almost awkward childlikeness, but the content is so
surprising & radical, extreme. She speaks such a personal truth,
but it is true for me, too, when I listen from my purest
spiritual & artistic aspiration. I fear that some things
she says, in print, will seem arrogant. But in the documentary,
listening to this simple old woman in all her gentle halting
humility, I let in what she says in a way I never would if
she were aggressive in any way.

There's no real way I can convey the quietly powerful impact
of the documentary, but it was one of those introductions to
an important person I will long remember. She gives me courage
to follow my path. Here are some of the things she said:

"I don't believe in influence, unless it's you, yourself,
following your own track."

"I have never painted a grid that had squares,
because a square is sort of harsh & aggressive,
but a rectangle is more relaxed. The square is like
some people that you meet, the over confident & aggressive.
The rectangle is softer, more agreeable."

"The underside of the leaf,
cool in shadow,
sublimely unemphatic,
smiling of innocence.
The frailest stems
quiver in light,
bend and break in silence.
This poem, like the paintings,
is not really about nature.
It is not what is seen.
It is what is known forever in the mind."

"It doesn't matter where I work,
New York, New Mexico, anyplace, it's all the same.
The environment doesn't have any impact on my work,
because I don't paint nature, or this life, I mean,
on earth. (laughs)
It took me 20 years to paint what I wanted.
I didn't like the paintings.
They weren't what I wanted.
I didn't show em, I didn't sell em, for 20 years.
I had to work at something else, you know.
But finally I got the grid, and it was what I wanted.
Completely abstract, absolutely no hint
of any cause in this world."

"There's two parts of the mind.
The intellect--the servant of ego.
It does all the conquering, and all that sort of thing. (laughs)
The intellect is a struggle with facts.
The scientists, they discover a fact, and then
they discover another fact, that's related.
They make a deduction from all these facts.
Well, in my opinion, that is just guesswork,
and so completely inaccurate.
You're certainly never gonna find out the truth about life, (laughs)
guessing about facts.
I gave up facts entirely,
in order to have an empty mind.
For inspiration to come into, if your mind is full of garbage,
if an inspiration came,
you wouldn't recognize it anyway.
So you have to practice a quiet, empty mind.
I gave up the intellectual entirely.
I had a hard time giving up evolution (laughs)
and the atomic theory (laughs),
but I managed it. So, I don't believe in either one.
And I never have any ideas,
I'm very careful not to have any ideas
because they're inaccurate."

"You have to paint by inspiration.
For something new, you have to have inspiration.
Somebody's got to sit down & really want it.
That's all you have to do.
You don't have to make any effort.
Just not change your mind or anything.
I think that everybody should know what they want,
because life is built on it.
Say that you wanted to fly.
You sat down and you just really wanted to fly.
See, that's what the Wright brothers did.
It gradually came into their mind to make an airplane.
What came into their mind, that's inspiration.
I think that the aim of people is wrong,
and education, all this about ambition,
striving forward.
You know, I believe in sitting around waiting for inspiration.
I think that all aggressive behavior is wrong.
You go out and attack things,
like an army attacking.
I think aggression has to be given up entirely.
All this hard fast life, go go go, drive.
I'm absolutely convinced that with a soft attitude,
that you receive more.
The red is not dark enough
so I'm just going to darken it."

"You can see that I'm a pretty speedy painter.
You have to be in this climate. It's a very dry climate."

"It's very hard to quiet your mind.
You have to go slower and slower,
and then stop.
Then your mind is at rest.
And then you have to not try hard.
The best is when I was looking for the truth.
I found out the best way is just look around,
you don't see anything (laughs).
You have to be in the mood for the truth.
It's a happy state of mind,
very small happiness.
You stay alert.
You don't see anything,
but you don't have to,
you just stay alert and then it comes into your mind,
what to do.
You say, 'What can I do?'
and then you wait.
And sometimes you have to wait a long time
for an answer, and for an inspiration.
One time I went five months without,
I had to wait five months for an inspiration.
I almost died off (laughs).
You can tell people who live by inspiration.
They say, "I'll have to sleep on it,"
some kind of decision.
When you go to sleep, your intellect goes to sleep,
and your mind is clear."

"You look at the sky and it's perfect,
and then you look further and it's beautiful.
You enter into it and all that.
Beauty illustrates happiness.
The wind in the grass,
you know how happy the grass looks.
And the shining waves following each other.
The blue sky is a different kind of happiness,
the dark night another.
There are an infinite number of kinds of happiness.
All illustrated by beauty.
When you look around, you see it on all sides."

"I can see humility, delicate and white.
It is satisfying, just by itself.
And trust, absolute trust, a gift, a precious gift.
I would rather think of humility
than anything else.
Humility, the beautiful daughter.
She cannot do either right or wrong,
She does not do anything.
All of her ways are empty.
Infinitely light and delicate,
she treads an even path.
Sweet, smiling, uninterrupted, free."

"I've read all the spiritual stuff.
I have my own.
It's just an everyday experience."

I have to stop. I could write the whole thing down.

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The Verbs of Richard Ford.

Reading Richard Ford's novel A Piece of My Heart.
I've been awakened by his verbs, in different ways,
sometimes just for their uniqueness, sometimes for what
they're doing in the whole sentence.
Here's a sample:

"He let the truck idle, watching the door as if he were waiting for the woman and the girl to come boiling out like bloodhounds."

The wildcat "gurgled at a sinew and pawed it with his front feet, stretching it backward until it snapped."

"The rooster perched on a low branch and studied the raccoons curiously, as if he couldn't understand anything about them."

"The little girl looked up when she heard the screen slap...."

"She bridged her neck..." (During sex--meaning she bent her head back and caused her neck to arch up bridge-like.)

"A.M. or P.M.?" she yelled, but the words got slammed in the door."

"She retired to her elbows."

"He graveled his chin in the pillow and tried to figure that out."

"'I'm tired of talking,'" she said, watching her hand tour around in his trousers as if it were after something that wouldn't keep still."

"Up the Sierras the rain was pulling apart, opening gaps to daylight."

"The car reached the end of the road, turned back into the desert, and the music floated away."

"...He could hear the ducks squabbling and conniving a hundred yards farther in the deep water."

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Off ramp

Today people
are on the freeway even when
theyre standing still even when
theyre doing nothing even when
theyre sleeping

Get off
right here

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

When you see a lanky little pony running

alongside his great mother across the canyon, flying
shadows, lifting dust, drumming hooves, manes
whipping in the sun, you know everything
that your knowing will never know
in this world or any other,
and always only wonder, that your blood, brain,
skin, flesh, forearms, neckbones, toes,
ears, feet, nostrils, muscles,
hair, heart & lungs millions of years old
and running still, will ever understand.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Does My Soul Have a Surprised Face? (in progress)

Does My Soul Have a Surprised Face?

If it doesn't, then OK.
But if it does, what if
it's different than my face?
What if it's completely unfamiliar
& I look in a mirror & am surprised?

If your mind is messed up in the morning,
say something out loud.
Mine was, so I did.
I was surprised at how much more together I sounded
in my voice than I felt in my mind.
I was reading something where
I thought my name would be mentioned,
& it wasn't, & I felt angry,
or my name did.
I didn't want to be angry, too,
so I said, "That's all right"
out loud & went, "Wow"
at how much more assured, calm & wise
I sounded in my voice than I felt
in my mind.

If it has one,
a lot of people might
want the face they have to be
the face of their soul.
A lot might not.
I won't be happy forever
if I don't care for the face of my soul
unless I got used to it or forgot it
or came to like it.
The thing about forever is,
you can't be certain the way
you think or feel about something
will be big enough & strong enough
to fill that long of a period of time,

At any time, you could say
"That's all right"
& be surprised at the face
of your words, of your voice.

Does my soul have a voice?
If so

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Thursday, October 29, 2009


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Dreams with Sharp Teeth" (Documentary on Harlan Ellison).

I'm not recommending this, although if you have any interest
in the guy or in outsized writer-personalities in general, you'll
likely get a kick out of it. I'm not a fan of him or his over-the-top
writing, but the film does humanize him, unexpectedly for me. I'd
looked forward to a portrait of a completely toxic obnoxious narcissist,
but I was sort of charmed by the cat. His rage seemed mostly transparent,
in a good way, and reminiscent of a stand-up comedian whose schtick
is rant against The Man. I hope I have his energy when I'm 73.

One funny part: Harlan's in the middle of an anti-TV rant and
he's telling the story of when he and his wife were watching
the Weakest Link, a game show. The female contestant is asked
a question about the film version of Lawrence of Arabia. The
clue is the letter "S" and the correct answer is Omar Sharif.
The woman's answer is "Naomi Campbell." So Harlan got a kick out
of this, how the answer was utterly nonsensical, how Naomi Campbell
doesnt even have an "s" in it, etc.
What Harlan didnt catch was that the contestant obviously thought
"Lawrence of Arabia" was a clothing designer, as in
"Valentino of Beverly Hills." Hence, the first model that came to
mind: "Naomi Campbell."

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

4 More Mystical Secrets of Writing.

6. Writing is focused daydreaming. Not focused,
but paying attention to the daydreaming
as it happens. As opposed to normal daydreaming
which is not paid attention to by the daydreamer.
Writing is observed daydreaming where the observer is
the daydreamer.

7. Don't worry about writing. You know what worrying
about something is. Writing is not worrying. If it
is a worry, it is not writing. If you are writing
and you are worrying, don't stop writing, merely stop
worrying. Do you worry about other things that you
enjoy while you're doing them? Try the same approach.
Everything you were told about writing in school was
a lie; it is the source of all your worrying about writing.

8. Written words are a blend of matter and time. They
issue from the brain and senses and writing instrument.
This happens in time. They immediately begin to change,
to evolve, like sea creatures emerging onto land for the
first time, as does the one who expressed them, as does
all matter in time. Time immediately begins to change
the meaning of the words and the condition of the instrument
and the perception and skill and intention of the writer,
strengthening and eroding at once, mystifying and clarifying.
In other words, it is impossible to control all of the fluid
variables that go into writing a sentence, grocery list, or
novel. Only when you see the utter uncontrolability
of everything to do with writing can you begin to relax and
waken and shape what it is you want and have to say and
daydream without worry and with perfect attention, "perfect"
meaning "alert, fluid, canny, innocent, practical, wondering,
and vigilant as a whale-watcher in the vegetable garden in the

9. The other day I thought it was Lincoln Day, and by coincidence
I had a t-shirt on that said, "I care not much for a man's religion
whose dog and cat are not the better for it." - Abraham Lincoln
I said to a person I didn't know very well, "I put this shirt
on without thinking what day it was." He read the saying and said,
"What day is it?" "Lincoln Day," I said. He said, "No, it's not,
it's Columbus Day." He was quite right, and I had made a number of
mistakes that were astonishing to him and intriguing to me. Both
states of mind are good to be in when writing.

10. I have the door open. It's raining for the first time in many
months. That is the cause of the above.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Moby Dick, Twittered.


"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me."


"Broke, nothing to do, went sailing. Good 4 me. Depressed, pissed, want 2 kill you or me, I go 2 sea. You want 2, 2, admit it. Ishmael."

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Sometimes I find a single solitary ant wandering the kitchen counter.

I assume he is a scout looking for food
to go back and tell his nest about.
I put him outside on the porch & wonder:
Does he spend the rest of his days a wandering nomad?
Does he join the nest that lives inside the porch?
Do they let him join or drive him out or worse?
Does he find his way back to his original nest?

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

On Not Sitting in the Garden ...

Again, from my most favorite quote well:
Quotes for Gardeners

Sitting in your garden is a feat to be worked at with unflagging
determination and single-mindedness -- for what gardener worth
his salt sits down? I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden.
-Mirabel Osler

Have you ever noticed how few sitting places you find in private gardens?
How seldom the versatility and importance of benches is considered? True
gardeners, with their peerless taste, dexterity and inspired planting,
never stop.... To sit is almost an offence, a sign of depravity and an
outrage towards every felicitous refinement that has gone into making a garden.
-Mirabel Osler

I found a wonderful small blue wooden chair, perfect for the garden.
I imagined myself stopping now & then & sitting to cool the sweat,
admire my handiwork, make contemplative decisions about what to do
& not to do next, and I've never sat in it once. Never sitting
in such a perfect chair for the garden makes it seem like the gardener
is a frantic entity who cannot stop for a moment of peace, but in fact
the industry, the business of gardening is nothing but peace, from entrance
to last light.
- Me

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Teach Me, Your Bitterness, How Not To Grow Old.

An interview with Gore Vidal.

I began to read this thinking about where I agreed & disagreed
politically with old outrageous Gore, but by the end
nothing seemed to matter to me but his overwhelming willful nasty
unhappiness. Whether he could have helped how he turned out or
not, I step back and learn from him, not about politics or art,
but spiritually. Yes, he's our Gore, and I guess I'm glad he's there
& still at it, but I'm glad I'm not him & that I don't want to be
like him. Through your hatred, do you truly become the enemy you hate?
Right or wrong, what a miserably unwise & mean old man.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

I just saw the movie Pi

for the first time.
It was great until the last fourth or so, which
got a little too crazy, which I guess is the very point,
or one of them.

The mumbo-jumbo with the numbers is fascinating
on its own, the suspicion that there is an order
in nature, in reality, that can be found in
numbers, that numbers are somehow a part of nature,
that there is order in everything if we know how to
look, the suspicion that there is a key in numbers
that can unlock the mystery of life, or express
it, the idea that the true name of God is 216 letters

Although the spirit in which we look for the solution
to these mysteries seems finally to be the real key

I would have very likely been living a life of
numbers instead of words had my father not died
when he did, when I was young, just turned 13.
13 years & 13 days, as a matter of fact. He was a
scientist, a mathematician, engineer in aeronautics.
And I was already headed up the same road. I might
have even been into defense contracting eventually,
as he was at North American Aviation.

The summer he died he went to Brussels for some global
conclave of aeronautical types, and I put together
a scrapbook of photographs of missiles & rockets
I had cut out of his Aviation Weeks, with pertinent
data alongside--size, payload, range. He had dozens
of scientists who attended sign the book for me. I
don't know where that might be today.

After he died I continued to think I would be
something of the same sort as him, because I was
good in math, it came easy. I dug it up to algebra, but
then hit trigonometry & said to myself, this ain't
fun no more, and there wasn't anybody around to push me
where I didn't care to go, if he would have.

It wasn't really until I went away to college at 17 &
had no friends that I started to write--letters back
home to family & friends, writing entirely different types
of letters & using disparate parts of my personality when
I wrote to my mom, sisters, guy friends, girl friend.
Communication is a problem, or a need, and the secret is
finding the way to get out what's inside in a way that
will unlock & awaken myself & inspire somebody else. But
how to find that way that is like nobody else. Fingerprints
are all so almost alike, but every one entirely different.
Like that, only writing, words, not swirls in skin, but
swirls in sentences.

Words offer the same temptation as numbers in a way,
the same suspicion that you will be able to put them
together in a certain particular way that will turn the
key that will open reality, that will explain or describe
it all, or a part of it in such a way that has never been
seen or heard before, that gives the idea or sensation that
it has all been explained or described or pointed to without

With numbers there is the added suspicion that the answer
is either there or not, either right or wrong. That's what
I liked about Pi, that the closer you get, the crazier it
makes you. I read a story about Bobby Fischer's madness the
other day & thought something along the same lines. I told
my wife tonight, watching PI, that I wished I were more
eccentric. She said not to worry about it.

Words offer the same enchanting promise, that there is one
perfect way to put each sentence, each paragraph, story,
book, poem, line, phrase. And there is, in a sense, in this
one moment, because the sentence is alive and what's perfect
today will grow into something differently perfect later,
when I'm a better writer, or in a different mood. It's like
trimming a tree so it's perfect, today.

So, the guy in Pi (SPOILER COMING!), after chasing the numbers
rainbow, ends up nuts & puts a hole in his head with an electric
drill, a somewhat extreme approach to letting off some
pressure from figuring out the universe, but apparently it
didn't do him too much damage, because while he can no longer
perform big multiplication tricks in his head (or simply doesn't
care to anymore), at least he enjoys the playful presence of a
little child & the leaves turning & trembling in the sun & wind
for the first time.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Write or Drink, Live or Die.

Alcohol, at the end, was my only companion, my
lover and killer both. It was me and the bottle
against life, the human race, God. I'd lost every
relationship, every friendship, every love, even
killed my talent to write, or at least sure felt like
I had.

It got to a point where it was either live or die,
go insane & give up any hope of writing again,
or somehow stop drinking, which I had no hope
of doing either. There wasn't room enough in
town for both me & booze. One of us had to go,
one of us had to be left behind.

Over 20 years of drinking & misery I brought on
myself & those I loved, but when the decision came
it was a pretty quiet event. Nothing disastrous. I just
saw with total clarity not only that that I had to stop,
if I every wanted to write again, & that I needed
help to do it.

Physically I had years left to drink I guess, but every
morning was like a little death. I was hurting everybody
around me until there wasn't anybody left around me,
to hurt or to blame.

I saw the future fitting me for a straitjacket.

Far as writing went, every night I'd tell myself I'd
have a couple drinks just to tap the spring & get the
juices going, but all I'd do was drink & produce
nothing except hermetic barely legible ravings.

When I got that help I needed & stopped drinking,
began to get connected to other folks with the
same problem, I didn't write a word for six months.
In fact, life was a dead empty bore, just exactly like
I figured it would be sober, but it was still better than
the insanity I'd been about to collapse into, so I kept
trudging along. And every once in a while found out
that I could help somebody else along the way.

At some point I started feeling a little bit better about
things, kind of slowly began re-entering the human
condition, getting aquainted with the sober me. In the
meantime, the old connection with alcohol was dying,
and I was beginning to emerge from a kind of grief.

But I couldn't see much point in living without
writing, & I still had no desire or ability to write
anything about anything. I was so used to writing
while drinking that I couldn't write without it,
even though it had been a long time since I actually
wrote anything worthwhile while drinking.

Desperate, I answered an ad & wrote TV crap with
a guy for a year or more. I hated it so much that
for the first time I could imagine enjoying writing
by myself sober. I tried it, starting with plays
& their emphasis on dialogue, something I've always
had an easy facility for. It was still too much
to ask of myself to describe a table or a landscape
to save my life. That all came back in time.
Everything came back, and better, in time.

If I hadn't stopped drinking, hadn't said goodbye to
booze, I doubt I'd be alive, much less writing anything.
I certainly would not be sane, as I am today, or at least
a reasonable facsimile of sanity, sometimes even serenity.

If I would have kept going the way I was, still
drinking & managing to be writing somehow, it would
be a bitter toxic spew that wouldn't do me or anybody
any good. And there's no way I would have ever been
able to write Mixed Animal or anything near it, with
its humor, hope, joy, wonder, & love.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nobody likes to hear other people's dreams.

From Mixed Animal:

"Nobody likes to hear other people's dreams.
Unless they're in them, and then they only want
to hear that part. When Shane started telling me
one of her dreams I twisted around like a cockroach
tangled in a spiderweb.

"Other people's dreams are so looooong
and boring and full of obvious painful Fruedian details.
The one telling it can't see how embarrassing it is
because they're too close to it. They think it's a interesting
TV show instead of a direct look into their tawdry subconscious.
Why are you even telling me this? Don't you have any shamelessness?"


The following are my dreams, not Lemuel's. I had them on successive
nights. They are short. They are not written to communicate with
anybody's conscious mind. If anybody figures them out, please don't
tell me, I got enough problems as it is. It don't have anything to do
with me anyway, it's about my subconscious. I always try to
mind my own business and let my subconscious mind its.

1. A tiger came out of the garden and looked at me
about four feet away. I had a dagger in my hand
and would wait for the tiger to leap at me and then
drive the knife up under its jaw into its throat.
I woke up. Looking back I see the tiger's face, very
human, and it was just watching me to see what I would
do, it didn't look angry or aggressive at all, just
curiosity and intelligence in the form of a tiger.

2. Also in the garden. My back to a chain-link
fence, a big crow came flying like a rocket just over
head-high at me. I thought it was going to attack me but
it didn't see me until it was almost at me and it put on the
brakes and landed on the fence. It was huge. I thought it
wanted to fight. I reached an aggressive hand to bat at
it and it pecked my hand, but playfully, and I thought,
Oh I'll have a pet crow, at which point it turned into
our black&white cat Jolly and it jumped off the fence
into the grass and I petted it.

3. I dreamed I was giving a speech and I realized I didn't
have any pants on. I was sitting at a table. I felt oddly
calm. The room was bustling with before-speech chatter. I
saw my pants to one side of the table. I wondered how they
got off me and over there. I couldn't get up and put them on
because everybody would see me. I thought maybe giving a
speech without pants on was a part of the format of the meeting.
I decided to give the speech, then while the basket was
being passed and everybody was preoccupied with their money,
I would get up and put my pants on relatively unnoticed. I
began to give my speech and instead of talking about whatever
I was going to talk about, I recounted roughly what I just said
in the paragraph above. In other words, I told them the dream
that I was in the middle of. It was a rousing success, with lots
of laughter and understanding.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Burning of Los Angeles

Streetsweeper wakes me at 3, hour of the wolf.
Lonely, thoughtful job, streetsweeping.
Long thoughts, long & quiet as streets
laying in a coat of ash.

I looked in my father's closet after he died.
I felt his suits, found his comb in a pocket.
I smelled it, his smell. He was gone, the smell
of smoke & him on his comb remained.

The glowing seasick hive of man
held to the world by one red nerve.

Painted on the building across the street:
earthquake mural of a freeway falling
& tidal wave rising out of an orange sky
to swallow the city.

Beyond the Santa Monica Mountains,
a fin of red moon glides.
My eyes come upon a dark jewel of lights.
Remorse prowls the deepening current.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lars & the Real Girl!


A movie about a weirdo who buys a plastic doll and tries
to pass "it" off as his actual girl friend?

Creepy or insane or ridiculous or sick or all four, right?

Wrong. Lars & the Real Girl is the first movie I've
seen in a long time that I even remembered the next day,
much less loved, and I do.

I'm not going to say much about the actual movie, because
whoever you are, if you read this blahg, I guarantee
you will love Lars & the Real Girl. The part about him
buying the doll is early in the movie and has been pretty
widely a part of the ad campaign anyway.

Couple things I learned, or re-learned, about storytelling
while watching this wonderful movie.

First, you can get away with anything in terms of love,
or sweetness, or even cornballness--IF you unfurl the absurd,
or the impossible, a step at a time. Don't be afraid to let the
very sweetest part of your creativity & imagination show. Put
your heart on the table, but an artful card at a time.

Always have somebody in the story who acts outraged, unbelieving,
who doubts & sneers & protests, who asks the questions that need
to be asked and raises the issues that need to be raised--even if
the answers are half-assed or brushed off by those who go
along & believe. People want to believe, but they want all their
questions asked at least, if not answered fully. That critical
function is fulfilled by Lars' brother, who is amazing and essential
to the beauty & truth of this story.

The whole town itself is a character which is also essential,
but that part you have to see for yourself.

The other thing is, no matter what they say, everybody loves
love. They still do. So much art today is harsh & violent &
scary & crazy & loveless. To me, it's an addictive sickness,
just my opinion. Maybe it's the way it's supposed to be, I don't
know, but thank God for artists who make heartful, soulsome gems
like Lars & the Real Girl.

The best things in life, the most essential things, are quiet,
wordless, silent. This from a writer & a blabbermouth, yes, but I believe
it. Yet the world gets louder & noisier & faster & full of more & more
words & images with less & less human meaning.

Lars & the Real Girl is about another world, or another part
of the world. A place of craziness, maybe, yeah, sure,
but it's the tenderest of craziness, the craziness of love, and
how far & determinedly people will crawl through their fear (of themselves)
to get to that love.

Viva Lars & the Real Girl!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fresh New Exciting Sexy Ideas for TV Shows.

All of these ideas are currently under serious consideration
by various top people in TV and movies. For your own good,
please do not try to steal them.


"Stranger in Blog Town"

Suddenly one day, nobody is able to start a new blog in town.
For some mysterious reason there is a limit to how many blogs
there can be in town, and that limit has been reached. Everybody
who was thinking about starting a blog and kept putting it off,
they go into a panic, fearing that now they will never have a blog,
unless they move to another town and start life over from scratch.

Then somebody with a blog dies for no good reason. Foul play is hinted
at. A waiting list forms to take the dead person's blog place. The
people who already have a blog are frightened, because they wonder
if the people who don't have a blog will try to do something to take
their blog place. The people who are on the waiting list are
afraid that somebody will try to do something to move up the
list. A brutal blog black market ensues. Everybody who has a blog
blogs about only one thing--the blog mystery crisis--although they
watch every word they write in order not to offend the people who
do not have blogs.

Then a stranger rides into town on a golden palomino. It will soon
turn out that she has the answer to the mystery, although, is her
"answer" worse than the mystery itself?

This is Movie-of-the-Week material, rather than a series. It is
suspense, with romantic adventure undertones.


"Tick-Tock, Hypno-Schnauzer"

A schnauzer named Tick-Tock was born with the ability to
hypnotize oversensitive people. He pants and looks in their
eyes as if he needed help. Then they keep asking him questions
about what's wrong until it's too late and they realize they're

Tick-Tock then gets his victims to do his bidding. That
consists of providing him with all the peculiar food he
prefers, taking him for walks that he escapes from to run free,
throwing sticks and balls which he may or not chase and return,
and providing him with various family-fare dog entertainment.
So far, so good.

The only thing is, a strange mastermind named Ernie notices
Tick-Tock can hypnotize people. Ernie tries to trick Tick-Tock
into evil schemes, e.g., hypnotizing all the guards at the bank,
or the cheerleading coach. Each week there is a battle of wills as
Tick-Tock tries to pursue his own self-interests and Ernie
tries to pervert what is a natural gift from God to Tick-Tock.

This is Animal/Adventure/Inspirational.


"Detective Tim, Embryo"

An embryo in a poor immigrant named Sandra is discovered to have
mystical abilities to detect evildoers. One day his mother is sitting
on a bus bench and Tim starts kicking like hell for no reason, only there
is a reason.

Namely, the person sitting next to Sandra has just robbed a bank
and is trying to blend into the crowd. Sandra sees a packet of money
with a bank label that falls out of his trousers. She rolls her eyes
and makes head movements at a cop who's in the area looking for the

From then on, there is a battle of wills between police agencies
who want to employ Tim to detect criminals through his kicking,
and Sandra, who wishes only for a normal life for herself, for
Tim, and for Tim's mysterious father who cannot reveal himself
at this time.

A team of doctors and scientists determine through technical means
that Tim will lose his detective abilities once he is born, but
minor complications ensue that make Tim not be able to be born,
but have to stay in Sandra's womb. At first, Tim is upset, then
accepts his situation and makes the best of it.

This is a Sci-Fi mixed with thoughtful domestic romance.


"Emily in Backwards Town"

Emily is a young woman setting out on her own to find fame and
fortune, starting from scratch. She's naive but tough, having run
an entire ranch since she was fourteen years old, after her parents
and sisters and brothers and whole extended family were taken away
on a spaceship during a reunion picnic. Emily had fallen asleep under
a table to sleep off some bad potato salad, the aliens didn't see her,
and she has felt grateful but guilty from that day forward.

Then, one day, the farm is destroyed in a tornado. Looking for
happiness, she stumbles into a town that goes backwards in time. At
first, she doesn't notice, because she is so lonesome and stunned from
her bad luck in life. She thinks it is her, but can't figure out why
the waitress keeps taking away her full plate of food, etc. But then
when she notices time is going backwards, it's too late and she is
caught in the strange web of the town.

But not all in a bad way, because she helps people. Since she already
lived in the time that the other people in town are going backwards
into, she is able to suggest things and give advice about the future,
which is her past.

There are also evil forces in town who want to control the railroad,
the saloon, and the plunge. They don't want her interfering in their
"good thing." Also, she becomes coach of a church youth softball team
whose success is threatened by its players regressing in skill levels,
and by her growing notoriety as a troublemaking guru. The team wants
her all to itself, but she is trapped in a web of helping people
by using her powers of being normal in forwards time, rather than
having romance or learning how to play jazz piano, which is all
she ever dreamed about.

This is a Mystery, with a flair of community crime drama.


"President, Zombie, Friend"

A zombie is elected President under mysterious circumstances.
The story is told from the point of view of the President's
childhood friend, Jim, who has known the President both as zombie
and as a normal person. The President makes Jim his adviser, so
Jim can provide stability and counseling 24/7, a needed commodity
as the President is highly emotional at times and completely
indifferent at other times.

The first episode tests their friendship as aliens land in the Rose
Garden. The President wants to eat one of the aliens to see if
somehow the extraterrestrial elements will make him not be a zombie
any more, so that he can start life over from scratch, but Jim
counsels patience until they can figure out what the aliens want,
although are the aliens themselves all or more that they seem?

This is political culinary noir.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Great Gulp

I was barefoot, my yellow rain coat on, dark glasses, a bug bite on my upper arm itched, gloves, a ski mask, a black hat. Four or five accidents happened all at once down on Western. A body lay in the street and nobody came. A woman stood on the curb, longing. Clouds were coming out of the Union Bank Building. Somebody said "flagpolla unfirma." A large strange piece of furniture slipped from my grip over the side. In the infinitesimal distance I caught the red mouth of Angel's Flight. The body in the street began to rise into the air. My heart went out to him and then came back to me in fear. I was in my own arms, so confused I understood everything in one great gulp and rose to face the day.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Took A Strange Fall

I'd had free-floating anger all day, barked at my wife a couple times
out of nowhere, made amends. I think my anger had to do with a situation
where I believed I had not been properly praised & appreciated for the
wonderful things I'd done.

Later we were headed to a meeting. I was carrying a big blue glass
bowl full of fresh picked cherry tomatoes from our garden. I was
still impatient with her, with myself, with parking, with
carrying the tomatoes, with thinking about being late & not
getting my favorite seat. We were starting to cross the landscaped
middle strip of a four-lane road & the traffic was too thick, so I
started to rush up the middle strip until we could cross.

My left foot hit a sprinkler-head and my right foot hit my left
foot, so that suddenly I was falling straight down like a cut
sapling, holding this blue glass bowl in my hands, and the bowl
was right in front of my face as I fell, thinking, This does not
look good.

I landed with my face right in the bowl of tomatoes. The bowl
didn't break, or it would have been bad. Half the tomatoes were
smashed. There were two guys behind us who stopped to ask if I was
all right. When I said I was all right, they went ahead to the
meeting. It was a kind of twilight zone in-between time in the event
where I was embarrassed but not sure if I wasn't badly hurt or not.

The bowl had caught under my left ear & I kept checking to see if
my ear was there or cut or what--it was all right. My arm and chest
had also hit the bowl as I landed, and would bruise like hell the next

So, I wasn't seriously hurt. The two strangers who had stopped were
at the meeting but left right after my wife and I finally got there.
Nobody had ever seen them before. My wife thanked them for stopping
and they smiled. I was too embarrassed still, and shook up, to even
think about thanking them.

During the meeting I was disoriented, going back and forth between
the lingering free-floating anger, and a new strange calm, as if
something toxic had been knocked out of me by the fall, but I was
still trying to hold onto the angry place as protection, or the
delusion of protection.

Then in the meeting I shared about the fall, and it came out hilarious
in parts, to my amazement. How I had thought in the middle of the fall,
"This is going to be interesting," and how I said to my wife when I
finally stood after falling, "I'm not going to that meeting," as in
"I'll show them, or show somebody, or show something." And the whole
sensation of my face going into the tomatoes, and comparing it to
getting rotten tomatoes thrown at you for being phony, or stuffy, or

Then after the meeting I couldn't figure out why nobody was eating any
of the tomatoes.

Now, I don't know what the long-term effect will be, if any. But
three days later, I'm still wondering about it, about the glass not
breaking, at the tomatoes cushioning my fall, at the two strangers
who stopped, at the fact that all my anger came out in humor when
I told the story.

I believe it has something to do with taking myself too seriously,
and especially my anger, my impatience & resentments. I felt so totally in
charge when I stormed into that landscaping for that short-cut, and
in one-step everything was taken out of my control, as if it were ever
in my control. And there was a micro-second of non-verbalized awareness
where I knew I was falling just like a tree into hard dirt and there
was nothing in the world I could do about it but wait for impact, and the
only reason I kept holding onto the bowl of tomatoes was that I had
been holding onto it when I started the fall, and whatever I was doing
at the beginning of the fall I would be doing at the end of the fall.

Still thinking about it, wondering on it, grateful for it.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Convenience & Pitfalls of Picking Yourself As Your Hero.

Yes, my hero is me.

I don't mean that as a compliment. I don't mean it
as conceitedness. I'm not a stuffy person. I mean only
that it's both convenient & practical to have yourself
as your hero. Conceitedness has absolutely nothing to
do with it.

First, I'm present more than anybody else in my life.
I'm here all the time. Even when I'm sleeping, my dreams
are basically full of myself. Dreams are nothing if not myself
placed into other people, furniture, animals, and situations
so to see me from different angles. I didn't invent dreams,
or myself. It's not my doing that my life is full of myself,
asleep or awake, thus making it inviting to consider myself
as my hero. Why?

Because I would be a fool not to take advantage of my constant
closeness, as far as heroism goes. Whatever benefits I want to
receive out of having a hero, if I'm my own, then I can get those
benefits 24 hours a day. I never have to go look for my hero
someplace else. I never have to even think of them or drive by
their house or go get a book they wrote or watch a movie they
starred in and got millions for while my ticket price goes up,
although I understand economics, more or less. As your own hero,
you are always right here to be inspired by yourself, providing
you're both inspirational and open to being inspired at the same

As it is in dreams, so it is in waking life: even when you
think about other people, you're really thinking about yourself
indirectly. Your views of them are filtered and smeared and
stained with your own perceptions, likes, wants, and moods.
So why not surrender to the fact that everybody and everything
in your life is really just a middleman to yourself. Therefore,
cut out the middleman and pick yourself as your hero. It's your
choice, of course.

Furthermore, I know secrets about myself that I might not know
about somebody else if I had them as my hero. Secrets I may
just not want to particularly know. It might be a little
harder to have someone as your hero if you know every single
thing they do and think all day long, and night, too. Imagine
knowing your hero as well as you know yourself. But you
can always use a little bit of denial and put on rose-colored
glasses to overlook certain disgusting or alarming thoughts
you have, or irksome peccadilloes you exhibit, or revolting
opinions you harbor, or eyebrow-raising activities you might
participate in with yourself or others.

I also must note that as my own hero, I get on my nerves at
times. That is, the hero part of me does get bugged by the
non-hero part. Imagine having somebody that sees you as their
hero following you around 24 hours a day. Not only following
you around, but inside your head watching every thought, and
participating intimately in every activity you do. That could
get annoying, or even somewhat frightening at times.

So, you have to make certain allowances for yourself, or for
the different parts of yourself, hero and non-hero alike. I
know I do, in any case. Sometimes both heroes and fans are
annoying, that much more when you are both of them at once.

Of course, the main point of having a hero is that it gives you
something to live up to, or feel good about; that there's at least
one person in the world who understands you and loves you and leads
you on a heroic path, even if they never heard of you and never will.
Even if when you write them a letter of admiration they might have
their robot secretary answer you, if you're lucky. Even if you saw
them rushing down the street surrounded by a retinue of hanger-ons
and bodyguards, they wouldn't even bother to look your way if you
screamed and jumped up and down and threw your clothes in the air.

If you have yourself as your hero, you may not always be able to
inspire yourself as much as some conventional external hero, but
you never have to go through any of the humiliating experiences
above either. As your own hero, you always answer your own love
letters promptly. You always wave back when you wave. You always
humbly and happily give yourself your own signature, day or night.
And you certainly never have to throw your clothes in the air
to get your own attention.

In other words, you can't get away from yourself. In fact, if
you're not your own hero, there will be somebody around you all
the time who is constantly failing to live up to the standards
you have set that are based on your hero. Is that what you want?
I suspect not, but if I'm wrong, then so be it and be my guest.

You can have other heroes, of course, and should, and I do. I
have writer heroes. I have sports heroes. I have spiritual
heroes and political heroes and attractiveness heroes. But they
are not around all the time. They might be in my head, but I
forget about them. Do I ever really forget about myself. Not in
so many words. I may not be hero material, to be sure, but the
convenience of self-heroism far outreaches the inevitable lowering
of standards. You never have to fear finding out some sickening
secret about them that causes you to dump them as your hero, because
you already know all the sickening secrets about yourself.

Therefore, after much difficult and pain-staking consideration,
my hero is myself.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If One Paragraph Keeps the Boogeyman Away, Then Have Two ...

Both from Mixed Animal . . .

* * *

We packed up and broke camp. The wigwam turned out to be inflatable
and squeezed down to the size of a lampshade, which we strapped
to Buzz's head. Him and her started down the mountain, while I
took a moment to drink in the enchanting vision of my home village
far below in the glow of sunrise. There sat little Hmmm, in the
disconcerting shape of Founder Lola's missing foot, a tiny herd
of cottages and farms in the green teacup of the ancient valley.
Puffy pink clouds floated above it like bunny slippers, only new
and fresh, not worn and smelly. You missed your village, looking
at it like that, with people too small to even see, much less bug
you. You couldn't wait to hike down and get home. You was thankful
you could dwell there your whole life, and not have to venture into
the great unknown of the non-Hmmm world beyond, where unfamiliar,
unbeseen, and untowards things could happen at any moment.

* * *

He ceased howling. He stopped shaking, trembling, and tossing about.
He sat up in our arms, sniffed the night air, listened and surveyed,
alive and alert as a sentry to something that was bigger than the
torment of having nor skin nor fur nor blubber. Something more important
and powerful than death itself had entered the mountain clearing.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Paragraph a Day, Part 2.

As far as Mabel went, who known how she saw
the big picture of me and her. With gals,
all you did was watch your front foot
and don't step off any cliffs.
If you looked up at the big picture
with a gal, you just went right over.
Gals was born for the big picture.
A gal not only had her own mind
humming away on new methods
to outsmart you, she also had
all other gals' minds since time begun
built in to her mental atoms
to advise her along. Whereas a fella's mind
was pretty much on its own from beginning
to end with no help in sight.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Apple Molecules

The apple just sitting there is not really just sitting there.
There are molecules in it that are moving all the
time, although it seems like it's sitting still.
It's called nuclear physics. Or atomic science.
Molecules, atoms, quarks, quantums, other things.


All the time.

It doesn't look like anything's moving.

That's why it's called nuclear physics. Nuclear means
it's too small to see, and physics means things are moving.

And they use binoculars. I mean--

Microscopes. And even the microscope molecules--

You mean one part of the apple moves over to another
part of the apple while you're not looking?

No. It happens while you're looking. It's happening all
the time, whether you're looking or not. You could have
never been born, but it would still be moving, even though
your eyes swear to God that it's sitting completely still.

Does it makes any noise?

If you could hear good enough. A humming, buzzing, depending
on what kind of molecules, the shape of the atoms, what
season, how cold it is, so on. Thing molecules moving through
space produce sound molecules. And they are attracted to
ear molecules.

So, while I'm looking, this part on this side moves over
here, say, and this part that was here moves over there?

No. It moves inside. It moves within itself, in the little
parts of itself.

So, parts don't move where other parts are, but parts
within parts move?


Well, if no part of the apple is being replaced by another
part of the apple as it moves, then what's being moved around?
I mean, don't something bump into one another in there?

No, because there's space. An apple is mostly space.
Just like we're mostly water. When you touch yourself,
I mean in a normal way, and you're not sweating, then you feel
dry, even though you're 95% water. Same with an apple.
Every apple atom, or apple molecule, is mostly space, giving
the electrons room to fly around in. But if you look at it,
it doesn't look like space, because it's squeezed together
by being so small. But it's all happening within, inside.

Inside the peel?

Inside the molecules.

Are there peel molecules?

Yes, in so many words.

Why can't you see the peel molecules moving around?
They're right there on the outside.

But all motion in a peel happens on the inside side
of the peel. Some molecules are more sensitive to the sun.
Plus, peel molecules are pressed together tighter
than the white part of the apple, because of eating
purposes and letting vitamins from the sun filter
into the inside of the apple, and the seeds.

How do they get pressed together?

Gravity, curiosity, time, and how flat the molecules
are when they're first made, and how much air is in them.
Every molecule of anything, if the pressure could be
released, would be the equivalent of an atomic bomb
explosion. That's why it's called atomic bomb. It's
not really the atom bomb exploding, it's only the
atom bomb atoms. The only thing holding anything together
is neutrons and protons huddled together inside in the
middle of atoms while electrons fly around.

And they're not moving, the protons and neutrons?

Yes, but very little. Huddled type moving.

Well, this is terrible. This whole thing is just terrible.

Not really, because everybody's used to it by now.

Well, I'm not.

You never heard of nuclear physics before?

I heard of it. I just thought it was scientists poking
around in things. I didn't know that everything were
moving around all the time like that. I just thought
it was a real bad idea or something.

Well, don't worry about it. Like I say, it's all happening
way inside the apple. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

How far inside? It can't be that far, an apple's not
that big.

It's not that big only in terms of how your mind is trained
to see something as this big or that little.

What do you mean, "my mind is trained"?

Well, not your mind specifically. Children's minds. You
don't want to tell a bunch of children that you could put
your hand right through everything, because it's moving
and full of space, and your hand, too, and electrons hurtling
around, and protons and neutrons huddled in there looking
at the electrons like we look at shooting stars, and everything
could turn around and put its hands right through you, too, and, in
fact, does, is.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Changing the POV in a Novel.

Which is what I'm in the middle of doing
on an earlier novel, Oranges for Magellan.

For the bulk of the novel this guy Joe Magellan
is living on a 10X10 redwood platform
at the top of a sixty-foot flagpole.
He's trying to set a world record
for his own peculiar obsessive reasons.

I originally had it in omniscient third person,
so I could go to other characters on the ground,
including his wife and son who live and work
in an attached café/apartment at the foot of the pole.

But Joe & his story didn't feel close enough in third person.
It's a simple but strange story that needs to be as close
as possible to get.

So, the problem was how to do first person
when the guy is in one spot for a lot of the book,
and much of that time all by himself?
And still include a bunch of other earthbound characters.

I toyed with but didn't care for him being in first person
and the others in third.

I decided to start off with him in first person, before
he goes up, with his family, stay with him in first
when he is up, but go to first person with other
characters below as well.

I just designate (in parentheses) whose chapter it is
at the start of the chapter. I don't change within chapters.

I also have a couple chapters so far
(I'm about a third done changing the whole thing)
that have remained in the original third person omniscient.
I like the mysterious feel I get out of that.
It wasn't mysterious before, but now, contrasted with
the surrounding first person chapters, the omniscience
has a sort of ominous feel it didn't have when the book
was all third person.

The omniscience & steadiness of third person
made the story too remote, but also made the narrative
too unified & smooth. With changing POVs, the divisions
& conflicts between the characters, and between what's happening
at the top of the pole & on earth below, gets an edge
& an emphasis they didn't have before.

I've never liked innovation for innovation's sake,
but this variation I decided on was more a necessity
to boost the intimacy with the characters
the book was crying out for. Joe's being stuck
up there called for the mother of invention.
Though I'm poorly-read, I was aware that variations
of this POV set-up existed, and have been informed
of others. Which is not quite the same as doing it yourself
& by necessity rather than whim.

It feels simple & appealing to me,
once I overcame the
"Oh you cant do that it's not permitted &
people will complain & get confused!"
state of mind. Somebody said,
Don't underestimate the intelligence of your readers.
I have to remember that not all readers are as slow
to catch on as me.

It feels right because it almost changes itself as I go,
because the book has come alive to me on wavelengths
it was half-drowsing in before, and because it's
easier to follow & less jarring or fragmented
than I thought it might be.

I like to make a book easy on the reader to get into,
inviting, accessible, so I was concerned just a tiny little bit
that this arrangement would be like rocks on the path, or
too sudden lefts & rights on the path. But I believe
it's not difficult to go with, and in fact fun, so
those rocks turn into playthings to kick and throw
instead of trip over, and those zigzags become exciting
& enlivening. I'm happy that this change has renewed my
love for the book.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Paragraph a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away

I put the radio on soft. All the way home I was thinking about things that were happy and lonesome at the same time. The snow fell light and the moon kept turning on and off in the clouds. My animal and my sister snored away beside me, with the heater clanking but working pretty good, and Sam Cooke crooning "You Send Me" on KWDS.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009


I wonder why, so often, when I walk out the door
into the world (except to go to "work" in the garden),
I am unable, or forget, to be the same easy free child
of delight, mystery, and wonder I am when I'm writing.

My music is best understood by children and animals.
- Igor Stravinsky

You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated.
You can only write books that are of interest to them.
- Maurice Sendak

Only child life is real life.
- George Orwell

It takes a long time to become young.
- Pablo Picasso

I don't know who I am or who I was. I know it less
than ever. I do and I don't identify myself with
myself. Everything is totally contradictory but
maybe I have remained exactly as I was as a small
boy of twelve.
- Albert Giacometti

I detest a child that is wise too soon.
- Erasmus

I decided to make a circus just for the fun of it.
- Alexander Calder

Because of my willingness to play on the surface,
the work underneath could then take place.
- Joseph Chilton Pearce

The thing is to become a master and in your old age
to acquire the courage to do what children did when
they knew nothing.
- Henry Miller

A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I remember when I was very young and I saw the circus.
I thought, "How can life be like that? Can you live
that way and always pay attention to the absurd?"
I try to create my art with this in mind.
- Pat Oleszko

Genius is childhood recaptured at will.
- Charles Baudelaire

Some day you will be old enough to start reading
fairy tales again.
- C.S. Lewis

Not to expose your true feelings to an adult seems to be
instinctive from the age of seven or eight onwards.
- George Orwell

In the lost childhood of Judas,
Christ was betrayed.
- George William Russell

Childhood decides.
- Jean Paul Sartre

If we do not keep on speaking terms with children,
we cease to be men, and become merely machines for
eating and earning money.
- John Updike

The best way to give advice to your children is to
find out what they want and advise them to do it.
- Harry Truman

That great Cathedral space which was childhood.
- Virginia Woolf

Don't give a child a knife.
- Greek proverb

What can I say to you? I am perhaps the oldest musician
in the world. I am an old man, but in many senses a very
young man. And this is what I want you to be, young, young
all your life, and to say things to the world that are true.
- Pablo Casals

White childhood moving like a sigh
Through the green woods.
- W.H. Auden

(Click on the title of the post to go to the book
these quotes came from.)

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Are You Closer to God than Somebody Else? Closer than EVERYBODY else?

How do you know?
What good does it do you?
Why would you be?
Why should you be?
How could you be?
What did you do to be closer?
What didn't you do?
How do you know?
What good does it do you?
Could you help it?

I relaxed when I realized how often I think I am
closer to God than somebody else
(or maybe even sometimes everybody else)
(and there are many many many many ways to think
I'm closer to God than somebody else,
when I'm thinking like that),

and I let go of thinking I'm closer than you
when I realized that's what I like to do,
(I relaxed just in the realizing)

and in relaxing I gave up the idea of thinking
I could get closer at all, because in thinking I could
get closer, even closer than I was myself
just a minute ago, or last week,
that thinking grows like bricks
in a wall between everything.

And, in seeing all that, and relaxing,
I felt like I had become a little
closer to God than I was before I realized
how often I think I am,
or saw that I had been closer all along,
because I couldn't help myself,
but no closer than you.

(Somebody once went so far to say
you're most closest to God when
you feel you're most farthest
away. Imagine that.)

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lemuel Washington Challenges Happiness Theory

We caught up with Lemuel Washington between fix-it jobs,
resting alongside his railroad handcar in the shade of a bunyon
grove on the outskirts of Hmmm, while his animal Buzz and a
pack of jackrabbits took turns chasing each other through the
briar underbrush.

RM: Do you agree, as was stated, that happiness is the greatest
challenge in the world?

LW: No. Happiness is the easiest thing. Happiness is a simple
matter of minding your own business. Whenever you suspect you're
unhappy, ask yourself: Am I minding my own business? If I am,
could I mind it just a little bit more?

RM: Aren't you curious about your fellow man?

LW: Which one?

RM: Me?

LW: Oh, sure. I'm curious as to how you found me. Frankly,
I prefer not to let nor man nor woman, nor child nor beast,
nor bug nor mollusk interfere with my own inalienable
constitutional happiness to pursue my own business.

RM: Aren't we all part of the world, part of one another?
Aren't we our brother's keeper?

LW: I'm my sister's keeper but only because I can't pawn
her off on a fella. You married, by the way?

RM: Yes.

LW: Happily?

RM: Quite.

LW: Still?

RM: What do you mean still?

LW: Since I just asked.

RM: How do you block out the suffering in the world in
order to wallow in your own private happiness?

LW: When in doubt, I fix something.

RM: What do you fix?

LW: Name it.


LW: Well, there's only one in the village. It never breaks
because nobody never uses it. We only got three channels
and they keep playing the same three shows over in over all
month, so there's no sense in taping because any time you
might want to watch the tape, the show itself is on again.

RM: What are the channels?

LW: Vegetable Channel, Gossip Channel, Dreams Channel.

RM: Dreams Channel?

LW: People go on there and plunk down a dollar and
tell the village their dream. Only nobody watches it
but besides the one that told their dream. But the
dollars are going toward a fourth station.

RM: What's that going to be?

LW: They ain't decided. I'd like it to be The Mind
Your Own Business Channel. Nobody would be on there
and nothing would happen, except a sign that says,
"Are You Minding Your Own Business? If You're Not,
Whom Is?"

RM: And yet everyone knows that the mixed animal has
burrowed his way into your life and heart. I think
you're just pretending to be gruffer than you are
in order to protect your creamy marshmallow center.

LW: My heart is tough as a New York sidewalk before there
was even sidewalks. I didn't have no choice but to take that
mystical fleabag under my wing. It was a globular conspiracy
against me wallowing in my happiness. I fought the universe
and the universe won.

RM: I'm surprised to hear you admit that you lost at

LW: Where'd you get that idea?

RM: Oh, for example, you say you win every conversation
you get in.

LW: How come I don't feel like I'm winning this one?
I guess I mean that I get tempted into conversations with
every knucklehead that wanders my way, thinking I can talk some
common sense into them, and then I win by getting away
with half my sanity in tact, which grows back when I mind my
own business again. And at that, I got a walnut-counting machine
to fix for Laverne and Dyle Plum up Pizana Bandura, although
you got me why'd anybody want to count walnuts. Am I gonna
ask? Probably, but I'll regret it. Buzz! Come here, you
mystical fleabag! Leave them rabbits be! And you rabbits let
Buzz be!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Greatest Challenge in The World

What a challenge
to be happy
in the world
this torn world of
mayhem bombs hunger madness terror hatred
heartbreak torture death happiness
is the greatest
challenge in the world
in this whole old torn howling world

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

"One Teacher"

From The Way to Love, by Anthony de Mello
(Doubleday, Image Books):

You can get someone to teach you things mechanical or
scientific or mathematical like algebra or English or
riding a cycle or operating a computer.

But in the things that really matter--life, love, reality,
God--no one can teach you a thing.

All they can do is teach you formulas.

As soon as you have a formula, you have reality filtered
through the mind of someone else. If you take those formulas
you will be imprisoned. You will wither and when you come to
die, you will not have known what it means to see for yourself,
to learn.

Think of the kind of feeling that came upon you when you
saw a bird fly over a lake or observed a blade of grass peeping
out of a crack in the wall or heard the cry of a baby at night
or sensed the loveliness of a naked human body or gazed at a corpse
lying cold and rigid in a coffin.

You may try to communicate the experience in music or poetry
or painting. But in your heart you know that no one will ever
comprehend exactly what it was you saw and sensed.

That is exactly how a Master feels when you ask him to teach
you about life or God or reality. All he can do is give you
a formula, a set of words strung together into a formula.

Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with
is Reality?

Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any
formula whether given by another or created by yourself. It
can not be put into words.

So what can teachers do?

They can bring to your notice what is unreal, they can destroy
your formulas, they can indicate your error. They can, at the most,
point in the direction of Reality.

You will have to walk out there all alone and discover for yourself.

To walk alone--that means to walk away from every formula--the ones
given to you by others, the ones you have learned from books, the
ones you yourself invented in the light of your own past experience.

That is possibly the most terrifying thing a human being can do--
move into the unknown, unprotected by any formula.

To walk away from the world of human beings as the prophets and
mystics did is not to walk away from their company but from their

Then, even though you are surrounded by people, you are truly
and utterly alone.

What an awesome solitude!

That solitude, that aloneness is Silence. It is only this Silence
that you will see. And the moment you see you will abandon
every book and guide and guru.

And a strange change will come about in you, barely perceptible
at first but radically transforming.

You will feel the exhilarating freedom, the extraordinary confidence
that comes from knowing that every formula, no matter how sacred,
is worthless; and you will never again call anyone your teacher.
Then every single thing will be your teacher.

So put your books and formulas aside; dare to abandon your teacher
and see things for yourself. Dare to look at everything around you
without fear and without formula and it won't be long before you

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Unauthorized Interview with Sexy Whopping Apples, Part 3.

(Parts 1 and 2 may appear immediately below)

SWA: Now, the book takes place in a village called Hmmm.
Where is Hmmm located exactly?

RM: In the book. As the book is in the village.

SWA: I mean, Is there an actual place in the world
you were thinking of when you wrote about Hmmm?

RM: Oh. I was thinking of a combination of both Alaska, the Cape of
Good Hope, ancient Fresno, the Catskills, the Great Wall of China,
and primal Spain.

SWA: May I say there doesn't seem to be anybody in charge
in Hmmm?

RM: You may, but I would suggest that everybody is in charge.
Once you get a village oiled and humming along, it pretty much
runs itself, like a cactus, or a rusty can.

SWA: Now, at one point, Lemuel mentions the village computer, and
that he's 163th in line to use it. That surprised me, because
I had believed the story takes place in, oh, the 1950s perhaps?

RM: The gravity is lighter there, requiring less energy, so
the clocks run faster and don't use up as much time. Hmmm
uses the Gnelnm calendar, a more flexible sense of time
based on the Tao and the general mood of the village.

SWA: How does one measure the "general mood of the village"?

RM: It's in the Zeitschmaultz.

SWA: The what?

RM: That's German for Geistvelten.

SWA: I think you're making up words.

RM: Not on purpose. If I was going to make up words, I wouldn't make
up German words. It's enough of those already.

SWA: Lemuel, your protagonist, seems to get in a lot of conversations,
but he also becomes quite agitated when they don't go his way.

RM: I wouldn't call it agitated if your foe in the conversation keeps
ignoring the rules.

SWA: The rules of conversation?

RM: Yes, Lemuel starts most conversations, and whoever starts a
conversation ought to get to decide which way it goes.

SWA: Do you happen to have any pictures of the animal?

RM: I have had some pictures of the animal, but he retains
the rights.

SWA: How does an animal retain the rights to pictures?

RM: By eating them. I suspect he heard that pictures steal
a part of his soul, and that he could get the parts back if
he ate them.

SWA: That can't be good for him.

RM: It would be worse for anybody that tried to stop him.

SWA: Who.

RM: Anybody.

SWA: You said "that tried", it should be "who tried".

RM: That who tried what?

SWA: Without giving anything away, there's a project, shall
we say, in a certain area of the cottage, and it involves stolen
items from somewhere, quite a few stolen items. Is there any kind
of moral compass that guides the, shall we say, project manager?

RM: Without giving anything away, shall we say, no. That animal
has the morals of a sack of gumballs.

SWA: Keeping that in mind, do you think this is a book for children?

RM: I wouldn't even let a impressionable adult read this book.

SWA: Who's the audience for the book, then?

RM: Underemployed 14th Century shepherds. I think it would cheer
them up, or at least confuse them for a while, and I wonder
what more you could ask for from literature.

(Part 4 may be coming soon, depending on the Weltenzeist.)

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Uncorrected Transcript of Interview from Sexy Whopping Apples, Part 2.

(continuing--see just below for Part 1)

SWA: Feel better?

RM: Yes, thank you.

SWA: You have just a smush of ketchup on your nose there.

RM: Oh. I like to do that with French fries.
(discreetly wipes nose with tablecloth)

SWA: What would you compare your book to?

RM: In terms of food-wise?

SWA: In terms of other books, other authors.

RM: Well, people have compared it to Mark Twain,
Flannery O'Connor, The Little Prince, and Kafka.

SWA: My goodness. What people compared it to those?

RM: Off-hand, I don't recall at this time.

SWA: Could it have been yourself?

RM: It might have, but I'd like to doubt it.

SWA: Don't you think that's a little overreaching,
comparing youself and your little book to masters and classics?

RM: At the moment, I certainly do. I haven't read many books,
so when somebody says to compare my books to other books, I
often casually compare them to the same books over in over,
just because I don't want to look any more dumber than I might

SWA: All right. Let's talk about the message of the book.


SWA: What is it?

RM: Oh. I thought you were going to tell me.
Well, I think it could be that, well, go ahead and fix
things if you must, that are broken, if you can, but
remember that more things might be going on than you
know, broken or not, under the surface, and, so, you ought to
maybe meditate a little, while you're at it.

SWA: That'll be catchy on the book jacket. Personally,
I think your book is a sociological inquiry into the
lexiconography of rural myth and post-rational philosophy,
concluding that communication in the 21st Century is akin
to a variety of meta-ur-dialectics.

RM: The only thing I understood is "21st Century," but
luckily the book takes place in the 20th.

SWA: Let's talk about the animal. Buzz. How did he get
that name?

RM: Well, first, it was Oscar. Somebody asked me what his
name was, and I just said the first thing. I didn't even know
the animal at the time. But a lot of animals and people were
named Oscar, including a book with Oscar in the title
by the same publisher. Then it was Aloha somehow, but everybody
thought he was Hawaiian, and he wasn't.
So then I couldn't think of any other names. Then
I had a dream about a mysterious fellow in a t-shirt that said
"Don't Kill My Buzz" on it. And then I heard a song about
the Northern Lights by Neil Young. So, I figured out how it got
its name in the book because of Uncle Leonard and where he went
to get away and think about life and inventing and misanthrope

SWA: How exactly did Uncle Leonard die, by the way?
You left that somewhat up in the air.

RM: I don't believe I do, but I don't like to think about it.
It's pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty gruesome.

SWA: What about Lemuel? Lemuel Washington. Is he as dumb as
he seems some times?

RM: It depends on who he's talking to. I notice
he gets dumber or smarter depending on who he's talking to,
and I relate to that a lot myself sometimes, such as now.

SWA: Is he happy?

RM: That's a odd question, because I never thought about it.
I think he would be happier if he didn't think so much
about things. Such as winning conversations all the time.

(Part 3 later soon.)

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