Writing Tips Are for Suckers!

fountain pen, writingDo Long-suffering Bastards Write Better than Happy Schmucks?

I don’t write or post much about the craft of writing for several reasons:

  1. There are as many ways to write as there are writers, and we all have to develop the process that works for us. What works for me will probably not be useful for you, and vice versa.
  2. So much has already been said about the subject, a great deal of it from really good writers, that I can’t imagine I have very much to add to the subject.
  3. I have an abiding belief that writers, good ones at least, are born rather than made. William Faulkner agrees. (See below.)  Any tips that I might offer would be contrary to this belief, and, to the extent they looked like encouragement, would seduce those not born to the art to pour still more dreck into the growing flood in which I have to compete for attention. I’m just not interested.

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Top Places to Buy Inventory for Your Next Garage Sale

garage sale items, junk, vintage stuffMoving is Such Sweet Sorrow

No, it’s not. It’s a pain in the ass!

We’re moving. Not right away, but soon enough. We’re sure to be moving into a smaller place, so getting ready to move is all about downsizing and offloading. A garage sale is in our immediate future. That means going through all the stuff we own and making the decision: keep, sell, or discard. It’s not so much that the individual decisions are hard to make. It’s that there are so many of them to be made.

We own a lot of stuff. Before I decided to try writing for a living, I brought home regular paychecks. Weekends, we would go out and spend those checks accumulating stuff to store at home. Some things store better than others, and, when it comes time to sell off your storage problems, some things are more attractive to the people who show up in your driveway to beat you out of a nickel. Continue reading

Review: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Book Cover - The Last PolicemanThe Last Policeman

Ben H. Winters

I knew just a few pages into the first chapter that I was going to give this gem 5 stars. It has everything I like in a book. It is unassuming but self-assured, well crafted but without artifice, engaging but not easy. It gets categorized as science fiction, and I suppose it qualifies on a superficial level. There is some science, but it is not set in a futuristic or post apocalyptic universe full of imagined technological wonders. Nothing in it is unfamiliar. It takes place in contemporary New England. The only thing that sets it apart from the world we know is that the world in the book is about to end from impact with a large asteroid.

Concord Police Detective, Henry Palace, catches a new case: an apparent suicide in a MacDonald’s restaurant men’s room. The crime scene doesn’t add up for Palace, but he’s new at his job. The more experienced detectives and the prosecutor’s office all want to call it suicide and get back to worrying about the approaching cataclysm. Palace plods doggedly through the evidence in a world gone mad over its shortened future. The work, the puzzle, the mystery of it, keep him sane, at least until it seems rather to be making him a little crazy. Continue reading

Essential Rhythms: Dancing with the Stars

Om Is Only the Half of It!

Cosmic Clock FaceThere is a rhythm to the affairs of the universe. It has a beat. You can’t really dance to it because it is very, very slow. One beat takes two lifetimes. This is why the closest anyone has gotten to the sound of the universe is ‘om.‘ They could only register one lifetime’s worth before they shuffled off this mortal coil, and one lifetime’s worth is only half a beat. The sound of one complete beat, which takes two lifetimes, sounds more like ‘nom nom,’ which is the sound of the Universe chewing you up. Is it any wonder that most people don’t listen very closely?

All the other rhythms—the ones you can dance to—syncopate to this fundamental rhythm in wondrous, poetic ways. If you get out of step with these non-essential rhythms, you can assume that you are also out of step with the universe. It’s important to hear the beats all around you, and dance to the ones that have meaning in your life. Continue reading

Yosemite Trump

My Neighbor’s Truck Wants to Make America Great Again!

Trump graphic on the side of a pick-up truckThis is my neighbor’s pick-up truck. I’ve always liked the truck. He’s done it up smartly with a body kit and trick wheels. It’s a 4×4 with enough juice to pull a house off it’s foundation. It’s always clean and parked straight in his driveway. I thought, as far as pick-up trucks go, this one was cool and relatively tasteful.

Then, about two weeks ago, he showed up with this funky addition to the door panels. It’s perhaps the most ambivalent graphic I’ve ever seen. I don’t have the foggiest idea whether it’s supposed support Trump or poke fun at his flamboyant celebration of all things ignorant. It’s a lot like Trump himself. You don’t know for sure if you’re supposed to take him seriously or he’s just screwing with you, but you’re afraid to ask.

I have to think my neighbor is a Trump supporter, mostly because the truck also features three fairly large signs that say ‘Trump: Make America Great Again!’ Problem is, I’ve never actually talked to this guy, so I don’t know for sure, and, now, I’m afraid to ask.

This may not be affixed to the neighbor’s bumper, but it is a fine example of the in-your-face bumper sticker mentality that is dominating our current election cycle.

The Joy of Ritual


cigarette ashI like a certain amount of ritual. Ritual is comforting. It unites people in purpose, allows them to celebrate their commonality even in the midst of diversity, and mitigates the nasty surprises that punctuate the rest of our lives.

I remember suggesting this to a young woman at a party when I was in college many years ago. She had just handed me a joint, which was traveling around the room from person to person. I saw it coming. I knew what to do with it. Continue reading

The Perfect Martini – Both of Them

A philosophical guide to (and recipes for) the most sophisticated, sublime, and American of cocktails

martini-19324_1280There are probably as many perfect martini recipes as there are martini drinkers—an unusual state of affairs when you consider that the drink has only two basic ingredients. It is hard to imagine that something so simple could have such a wide range of outcomes—from nearly divine to truly appalling.

Conceptually, the perfect martini is a fairly static and well-established thing. In execution, however, perfection becomes mercurial, ethereal, elusive . . . impossible even. Continue reading