Sunday, September 24, 2017

6:48 p.m.

Little d played a clever game of backgammon with just enough derring-do and luck to beat me by one solitary blot. I enjoy the close ones and don't mind losing a hard fought, close battle. And then all three of us coconuts, at the urging of the youngest charmer, went for a walk where we collected yesterday's mail. Now I'm settling down to read When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris with a Jack & Coke at the ready.

Dorothy On Writing

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”—Dorothy Parker

Autonomous Author Predicts

How to Write a Novel Set More Than 125 Years in the Future.

Thelonious Monk - Solo Monk (HD FULL ALBUM)

At This Moment...

Morning shards: into homestretch on my Margaretha Zelle article. Then bracing black tea ahead of the Sunday papers. Music: 65's Solo Monk.

80 Years Later: The Hobbit

What J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit still has to offer, 80 years after its publication

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Liking Trans

Always spirit-lifting to see positive reviews for a project you worked on for many months. In this case, Transgemination by Glenn Gray.

Guardian Amis Rub

It seems The Guardian (piece by Anne Enright) finds a lot to like about this new collection of essays from Martin Amis though apparently with some reservations. Of course, as you know, I'm an aficionado of Kingsley's son and will buy straightaway.

Lillian Ross

Ms. Ross was a legendary journalist with over 500 pieces published by The New Yorker. Don't click here or else you will go down the rabbit hole, like I did, of astounding talent.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Light In Darkness

A daily pitstop for me is Pat's Blog that is dedicated to all things mathematics. Today, he posted a  Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky quote that in a current reality many have felt has gone mad is optimistic:
Mankind will not remain on the earth forever, but, in search of light and space, will at first timidly penetrate beyond the limits of the atmosphere and then finally conquer the spaces of the solar system.
Not a fan of math? Maybe my Movies + Math article can help make a minor dent in your life-long cynicism. Deal? 👍

Wandering Spirit

John le Carré Interview

Just got around to watching the 60 Minutes interview with John le Carré. I've read his books since the 1980's when I first saw Alec Guinness play George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People. Steve Kroft does a fine job of getting the famed author to reveal a little bit more about his past than I've seen in other such presentations. Worth your time if you appreciate his work or a writers creative process. Also, if you are a bit more intrigued with George Smiley, I've done a recap of his career at Macmillan's Criminal Element blog.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rest In Peace, Stanislav Petrov

The man who stopped nuclear catastrophe in 1983 has passed away. If you are not aware of his history, I recommend clicking over to learn more about Mr. Petrov who deserves a monument in both Russia and the United States.

Concealed Carry, Alt-Right, And Hive Mind

Merriam Webster has expanded their essential dictionary with 250 new words. Here's the link to immerse yourself with the likes of froyo, Saigon Cinnamon, and my favorite... schneid. Oh, and I guess I was being a bit mischievous with the header to this post knowing it would bring in some traffic—but those have also been added. You don't feel cheated, right? Talking words is so much more enlightening.

Happy Birthday, Lexicographer

"Dull: Not exhilaterating (sic); not delightful; as, to make dictionaries is dull work." And Samuel Johnson would know. Happy 308th, sir.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Frank Bullitt Is The Name

This: ‘Bullitt’: A Suspense-Packed Thriller that Introduced a New Kind of Action Films. And hat tip to Andrew Nette for bringing this percipient article to my attention. Thought I knew most everything about this movie and realize I hardly had a clue.

Lonely As Hell

In a Lonely Place (1950) features one of the finest Humphrey Bogart performances equaled by the lovely Gloria Grahame as his doomed lover. And a very astute line, my favorite, comes when Bogart as a cynical Hollywood screenwriter named Dixon Steele says, "It was his story against mine, but of course, I told my story better." And another more tragic gem, "I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me." How great is that, right?

Such poignant, flawless writing was adapted from the Dorothy B. Hughes novel of the same name. Considered by some to be the greatest noir, I disagree there, but it would easily be in the top five, with numero uno being Out of the Past. I watched Lonely Place earlier today and am thinking it needs to be part of my yearly rotation. A film of such immense, staggering depth is bound to elicit more treasures on repeated dives.

Worth The Wait? Dune (1984)

I have a sister that speaks well of the Dune books and even likes the 1984 movie though I know there are other fans who view this David Lynch science fiction extravaganza as a major misfire. So after 34 years, and a being a fan of both director Lynch and actor Kyle MacLachlan, I decided to take a look this early Sunday morning. Here's my ultra pithy, in the moment, thoughts:

Dune's special effects are dated so the movie has to survive on its narrative merits and though it's a bit long-winded it has tons of complex, interweaved story threads to maintain interest. As I said earlier on Twitter, it triumphed in me wanting to read the Herbert novels on which this production was based. Gripes: too many character inner voiceovers and though it's no fault of their own, I look at Patrick Stewart and think Captain Picard and Sting as that rock and roller with The Police. They are fine actors, that's just my visual hang-up, and you may not have such issues.

I would give Dune a non-committal 2 1/2 ✨ out of four. Far from a stinker like many have suggested but it just needed a little more wind in those sand infested sails.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Worth The Wait? Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

No it wasn't. As a matter of fact I could barely finish this mirthless time traveling adventure. I recall Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) was stratosphere popular when I was 19. It seemed like everyone loved it and many of the silly catchphrases ("Bogus!") were in constant rotation. Maybe, I'm the wrong age for it now, perhaps, then again I don't think I would have enjoyed it any more back in the day. Huge fan of George Carlin and even those interludes seemed to lack focus and didn't register on the laugh-o-meter.

Next up, in movies I've missed until now, is David Lynch's Dune. Never read the book and have only seen a few parts of the movie. 

The Old Man and the Sea (1999)

Top hand-painted animation! From Alexander Petrov's adaptation of Hemingway's classic.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Motherhood & Creativity

The Atlantic: "How Motherhood Affects Creativity. Cultural messages tell women that making art and having children are incompatible pursuits. But..."

Best In Detective Fiction

Ross Macdonald, True Detective: The '50s noir novelist investigated sources of rot in the American grain.

Tweet, Tweet

I'm on Twitter and below is a few of my last tweets. I'm usually over there several times a day if you wish to connect beyond Blogger.

Heartening to follow Cassini's pioneering descent into Saturn—humans succeeding at something other than political squabbling, war. 

Co-worker retold my droll story, weeks later, as if it was his own. Harmless, but what stings, is the laugh-o-meter spiked on his version.

Finished book I'm reviewing and—bless the author—no "narrowed eyes" anywhere in 250 pages. Respite from that unrelenting, histrionic gaze!

Removing this etiolated mainframe of middle-aged bones away from the desk—off for a walk before rigor mortis develops.

I'm bringing back the word "devilry" that Merriam places in the low 30% of usage. Slipped into two colloquies in one week—no one blinked.

I try to remember every individual's totality is vast, complex, often with many tortured dead ends.

Read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (1960) to my daughter for the umpteenth time and not bored—what rhythm Seuss conjured.

Crossing the Rubicon with Julius Caesar, 49 BC, is on my time travel bucket list. Not the strongest swimmer, will bring an adult floatie.

Such an impulsive drive to write. If I don't—miserable.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017


Sammy came into my life in 2000 and I brought him from Virginia to New York where he eventually lived with my mom and dad. When dad passed away in 2005, Sam was someone for my mom to take care of even though she wasn't a pet person. However, there was no doubt that six years later when they were separated a mutual bond had developed. Mom, in her eighties, had a hard time hearing Sam at the door ready to come in, so he would climb onto the roof to the side of mom's front door and leap down onto the air conditioner causing a loud enough din for her to go open the door and let him in. Also amusing, when it was getting dark and she was ready for him to come inside, she would call in a loud, vociferous shout, "SAM! SAM! HERE, SAM!" Like she was calling a person. It worked. And we all loved that chemistry.

My nephew Kyle took care of him next, though as with my mom, looking back, maybe it was Sammy taking care of him. Not a cat person either, he also fell to Sammy's charms. Once my sister Meta stopped by to see her son, looked through a window, and saw Sammy sleeping while wrapped around Kyle's neck as my nephew typed away on his computer. I treasure that image. For the last several years, my niece Kayla and her husband Kevin took extraordinary care of this kind soul and gave him tons of loving attention with all the comforts that I'm eternally grateful for. She called me today to say Sammy was on his way out. Though, seventeen years is a good, long time for a cat, I can't help feel profound sadness over this wonderful creature who made a difference in our lives.

Goodbye, and love you, old friend.

Five D's

Here are some words I have used in some recent or upcoming projects. All definitions are from Merriam Webster.

Deviltries is an archaic variant of devilry. Wickedness, mischief.  I said on Twitter earlier today: I'm bringing back the word "devilry" that Merriam places in the low 30% of usage. Slipped into two colloquies in one week—no one blinked.

Disport means sport, pastime. A recent Merriam Webster Word of the Day.

Discursive is digressing from subject to subject.

Dissolute. From the bottom 30% of deviltries to the top 30% with dissolute which means more or less lax morals.

Dragooned has become a quick favorite which means to coerce someone into doing something. Click on the link for another essential word of the day.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Drone King: A Newly Discovered Kurt Vonnegut Short Story

The Atlantic has "The Drone King" by Kurt Vonnegut.

I'm Reading...

Valuing again, the inverted (at times discordant) panache of Times's Arrow by Martin Amis. In the top five of his best with Money, London Fields, The Information, and The Zone of Interest. And what is your current read?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Conversations with Vladimir Nabokov collects 28 interviews with the author of Pale Fire, Lolita, etc. A must for me. And, in case you missed it, one of my most read articles was
Vladimir Nabokov’s Hidden Noir: Despair. You know me, always return to that noir thumping heart no matter the genre.

The Longest Word in the Dictionary - Merriam-Webster Ask the Editor (Not Antidisestablishmentarianism)


That nettlesome sporadic occurrence filling in a number, in the daily sudoku, when that very number is present in the grid. Fleeting 'blindness' of sorts, occupational hazard.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Honorable Killer

Working like mad on the fifth novella (there was a fourth called Blood Moon not pictured above) in The Lawyer Western series. Following in the footsteps of Wayne and Eric is daunting but I'm feeling I got a fairly good handle on what I'm calling The Honorable Killer. For starters, much more backstory featuring J.D. Miller's (The Lawyer) past and how he came to be on his retribution trail. It is looking like an early 2018 release. Wish me luck! Back to the keyboard.

Happy 25th Anniversary! Top 10 Best Batman: The Animated Series Episodes


I remember when Voyager I (and later 2) blasted off forty years ago today. As a kid the image of our technology leaving the galaxy was jaw-dropping to comprehend. Theoretical physicist, Lawrence M. Krauss has a splendid article touching on the historic event and what the future may hold for humanity and the Voyagers. By the way, any Star Trek fans? Whenever I think upon Voyager I, can't help recalling The Motion Picture (1979) and the Enterprise crew meeting up with our history.

Missing Pieces

Kudos to Matthew Olson for enumerating the logical (i.e., most beneficial) way to savor Twin Peaks. At this stage, I'm just interested in watching The Missing Pieces (2014) and reading "The Secret History of Twin Peaks" by Mark Frost (2016). And if you don't want to lose interest in Olson's approach, I recommend, after Laura's murderer is revealed just leapfrog to the last episode of season 2. That way you can avoid meandering narratives that really weigh down the overall enjoyment.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Just A Little More Rhythm

I turned my final Twin Peaks article around in less than twelve hours which is a little too fast for my tastes–I like to polish for a few days to develop more rhythm. Still, if you are interested in my two-cents click over to Criminal Element, and, more importantly I'm interested in hearing from you.

Peaks has been a joy to watch, a bright spot in the fickle TV landscape. What next? I've heard Westworld is returning. Maybe I will hold out for that sci-fi Western. In the meantime, I will continue to play backgammon against Demon Seed. There's always backgammon.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Reelin' In The Years

Chimera, Tulpa

I have written about Richard Burton at LitReactor and follow 'him' on Twitter. An entry from his August 19, 1980 diary: "Last night the audience was a phantom, now with you, now gone, a chimera of wrong responses." Merriam Webster defines: "1. a fire-breathing female monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. 2. a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve." (Note to self: It would be a shame to not make use of this word soon.)

In Twin Peaks: The Return, FBI Agent, Tammy Preston mentioned the word tulpa (I was not familiar) which is an imaginary thing made real through individual visualization or group conjuring. The show I'm recapping for Criminal Element makes good use of several tulpas and the conclusion of this subversive gem ends tonight. Going to hate like hell to see it go, in a sea of banal balderdash passing for entertainment, David Lynch brought progressive, thought-provoking film-making.

George Orwell: A Life in Pictures Full Documentary (High Quality)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Noxious Is Harmful

Definition of noxious from Merriam Webster: "physically harmful or destructive to living beings noxious waste noxious fumes." Some of the synonyms of noxious: poisonous, toxic, deadly, harmful, dangerous, pernicious, damaging, and destructive.
Glad there's a reporter there in Crosby, Texas to question such an obvious divergent technique from this chemical company spokesman.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Smiley's Legacy

I've long been a fan of fictional master spy George Smiley ever since seeing Alec Guinness in the legendary Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People. Read all the books at least twice and have compiled a handy refresher course over at Macmillan's Criminal Element. The reason for my look back is that there's a new Smiley out this week by John le Carré called A Legacy of Spies. 

Thelonious Monk - Solo Monk (HD FULL ALBUM)