Let's Speak The Same Language

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


A new working title for the Manning novel may be, Last Chance For the Human Race. Dramatic, eh? Writing it is still going swimmingly. That other novel, the first I ever wrote, The Man In The Mirror, the one I'm typing from hard copy into editable files? It's down to 20 pp. At one or two pages a day, I'll be done in 10 to 20 days. A whole 'nother George wrote that crazy thing. A murderous high school teacher? I would soon after be a sinister [according to the principal] high school teacher for one year.

Speaking of old guys still performing, I caught Kirk Douglas's one man show, "Before I Forget", on the Turner Classic Movies Channel. He was sweetly entertaining. I used to think something like that ought to be easy to do, then I saw how much cleverness goes into pacing a performance like his!

Living in a lively town like Portland, you rub elbows with talent all day long. Went to St. John's Booksellers this morning to buy a copy of Chris Luna's Brutal Glints of Moonlight, style inspired, I believe, by Jack Kerouac's school of disembodied poetics. Never visited that neighborhood before.  Afterwards, I took my hour walk there and discovered Pier Park: softball fields, b-ball courts, swimming pool, walking trails, picnic shelters. It features a huge disc golf course. Suddenly a young man stepped from behind a pine to call out, "Sir?" "Yes," I said. "We're shooting a scene for Grim right now," he said. "Can you stay to the left of that basketball court so you won't be in the shot?" "Of course," I said. Two brief summers ago, Mertie had to skirt her usual lunch hour walk in a Vancouver cemetery because "Leverage" was being shot there. Add those encounters to the time we had brunch with Timothy Hutton and his girlfriend ... well ... you get the picture. Actually, we were seated at a table right next to theirs, but...?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The writing goes well. As I continue my pursuit after a best selling novel, published by someone other than myself before my ashes are cast to the winds, I'm reminded of a friend I made in Cheney WA, a member of that quickly fading Greatest Generation. We were members in a local club. Chuck was ten years my senior, had made his living as a railroad telegrapher, a blue collar profession just as mine had been. He was one of the last at his profession. 

another old man's dream
Well over six feet, Chuck was rugged, round cheeked and nicely proportioned, handsome into his sixties and beyond. He'd been a writer too, often publishing humorous pieces in whatever local paper he was reading in whatever town he found himself working.

His retirement dream was to spend his time traveling the American back roads like a Charles Kuralt, then came the blow old timers fear—a crippling illness. Within months of his retirement, my friend came down with Ménière's disease, aka endolymphatic hydrops.
Ménière's attacks the inner ear and leads to dizziness so severe that one can't stand upright and suffers nausea much like seasickness. Driving was impossible. Chuck's dream was dead, but he decided to try new operations that did reduce the severity of his attacks and took up painting, and he was good at it too. One of the things I most recall that Chuck told me was, "When I was in my 60s, I could still kid myself I was relatively young. In my 70s that's no longer possible." Approaching 77 myself, on some better days, I might argue with him about that.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Today I wrote a note to myself about something I needed to remember later on after I went in to make an alteration in a previous chapter when I got around to it. That moment of frantic scribbling to remember because I'm old and my memory can fail me at any time made Leonard Pearce leap into mind, him and all his notes to himself. Remember him? Sometimes, when I hurriedly scribble messages to myself on notepads, post it notes, napkins and lined papers, I feel like the protagonist, Leonard Pearce, of the 2000 movie, MementoI kid you not. Wait a minute. Who am I writing this note to? Is anyone listening out there, beyond this page? This feeling I’m having right now must have been why I was so much drawn to Sounds of Silence when I first heard it back in January, 1966 when my world was crumbling. I was one month away from walking out of graduate school at Southern Illinois University. Ten years away from having my last drink. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014


The Summer Issue of FOURBYTWO is in my hands, and a fine production it is, put together by Kurt Lipschutz and Jeremy Gaulke in association with Luddite Kingdom Press of Yakima/San Fransisco. This issue features the poetry of Klipschutz (Kurt's nom de plume) and Joie Cook. Very small and beautifully conceived, it cries out to be held and appreciated both for the poetry and for its polished and intriguing format. Altogether a handsome thing in a small package. You should get your hands on it as quickly as possible. The Spring Issue, I've heard, disappeared quickly. The poems aim for cultural relevance and are droll observations of the times we live in. Klipschutz's "Apples" is a brilliant send up of Steve Jobs, and, here, I'll give you the whole of Cook's 


we were born
in the same century,
i presume;
and from the same tribe
of carnivorous apes
we emerged,
craving warmth, shelter and food;
then three nights of babylon hit!
some cappuccino was ordered,
computers were down at the club,
and there you were,
strapped to canvas at the museum,
being perfectly analyzed.


This morning's entry will be brief unless during the course of the writing, new ideas appear. They often do. Yesterday, in Facebook discussion, the idea came up that people who write almost always are discovering what they know and feel in the process of writing. If it's true that the human animal is an electrochemical robot, that idea makes sense. As words arise from a writer's unconscious to appear on the page, they become very aware of what is in their unconscious, and they have an extensive record of themselves on the page. Writers and readers are, by and large, much more self-conscious than those who read little and, thus, know little about themselves. (I don't know if that last sentence is true. Today, I seem to question everything I try to generalize about.) At this moment, if I were being honest, I'd say that even writers don't know themselves. 

The picture, you ask? What about the bloody picture? Yesterday I made a pretty significant breakthrough in the Manning (working title) novel. I discovered a good way to bring in the corporate elements in the novel who are aligned, unknown to him, against Manning's investigation. Will Wile E. Coyote get to the other side of the wall is another question. This is a good metaphor (I just realized—see above) for writing. The road running bird (writer's unconscious written down) leads the way, with the coyote learning about himself as he follows it. Sometimes BLAM into a wall. 

PS: Many things did appear out of nowhere in this brief account.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


12:10 pm on a Wednesday. Only 3 days between last posting
dead man
and this one. Sitting at Starbuck's a few blocks from home. The writing has gone well enough for the past couple of mornings. I've been working on the dialogue and exchanges between Charley Manning, his sidekick, Beaunita, and Nathan Dane who writes and makes films about Yetis and Bigfoots. Simultaneously, I'm dealing with old age stuff that impedes good writing, with dizziness, weakness, tiredness (even though I've slept well) and accompanying pinchy bowel stuff that sends me frequently to the can to deliver resounding farts but little else. This condition appears from time to time in its own good time whenever it pleases. I know you don't think you want to know this stuff, but it's the stuff of an old writer dude, still trying for financial reward in his mid-70s. I think of Norman Mailer who was being interviewed as part of a PBS show, and how old he looked. I wondered, at the time, about his ability to continue writing with arthritis plaguing him. I don't recall that what he was working on at that time has ever seen the inside of a printing press, and he's gone now. Finished. His brief time upon the stage strutted away. As if to accent this rumination on Mailer's and my own age, at this very moment, scratchy on Starbuck's speaker system, Fred Astaire is singing Cheek To Cheek to Ginger Rogers. Ah, the coincidence of it all!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Source of picture here:
Call this segment in my writer's blog: the things that a writer thinks about. I haven't written for days. The holiday and an adventure came between. Some minds want to know more about the world or about themselves while a sociopath wants to know which of our buttons they can push to get the results they desire.

Last week I returned to Spokane for a party at the company I retired from. I ran into an old nemesis of mine and confronted the smile of a sociopath.
It interests me to no end to try and understand why this particular man's smile can chill me like that. I swear to you, the smile of this fellow says to me, "I know you. I know your fears and weaknesses, and if I can't control you that way, I'll kill you." I felt that same fear once around an ex-con in a bar back in my drinking days. I departed that bar swiftly. 

Am I truly looking into the grin of a sociopath, or does his smile trigger some horrific unconscious memory from my childhood? I have a terrifying childhood memory, a memory so deep that I did not recall for 50 years. I am being held face down in a couch pillow. My memory is of the moment when I am released and come up gasping for breath. Just a single strong memory. Who was holding my face into the pillow, I cannot recall, but it was a near death experience.

I wonder if the smile of the person who did that to my five year old self is the same as the smile of that fellow from work? I watched a PBS show on sociopaths, and, in that segment, a family man who had been diagnosed as a sociopath was featured in it. His own family said they feared him at times, but he credited his parents with showing him a path to achieve what he wanted without becoming criminal. I believe he ran his own business. 

Many sociopaths aren't murderers. They achieve what they want through other manipulations. I have a strong suspicion that a number of politicians and businesspeople at the economic top are sociopaths. A friend of mine recommended the book, "The Wisdom of the Sociopath" which I think I'll read someday. The way I look at it through the lense of evolution...the sociopath is almost the perfectly developed survival tool. That's pretty chilling, isn't it? To imagine that some fraction of global culture is headed up by sociopaths?