Sunday Stuff

Im attaching a photo of workers building the Mackinac Bridge, to remind of us a time when our country actually built stuff.  This morning I heard the chairman of the GOP compared the President to the captain of the Italian cruise ship who abandoned his post, and his ship, and his passengers.  Seriously? And the Donald the Trumpet may jump into the GOP race if the nominee doesn’t look like a winner? Maybe he can bring Palin with him, who reportedly  once described wolf shooting  as an All American sport. Really folks. Seriously. Everybody, all of us,let us take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and then re-engage our brains, assuming you know what.

Oh, here’s what I read this month: 

1. Melvin R Starr. The Unquiet Bones

2. Melvin R. Starr A Trail of Ink

3. Melvin R. Starr. Unshallowed Ground.

4. Joseph Heywood. RED JACKET. [MS]

5. Joseph Heywood. HORSE BLANKETS. [MS-SS]

6. Joseph Heywood. KILLING A COLD ONE. [MS]






12. Joseph Heywood. BLUE WOLF IN GREEN FIRE.

13. Douglas Brinkley. THE QUIET WORLD: SAVING ALASKA’S WILDERNESS, 1879-1960. [NF]


15. Jim Harrison. THE GREAT LEADER.

16. Adam Johnson. THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON.


What it looks like to actually build something important.

One Small View of One Scrivener’s Life

Another “typical” writing day lies ahead. (Typical for me only, though I am sure other writers would report similar agendas). To bed at midnight last night, up at 0700 this morning. KILLING A COLD ONE (Woods Cop #9) has grown to 86,000 words and as i look at the +/- goal of 100K words, i realize i have 13 pages midway in the book, that i’ll have to excise because the two chapters don’t advance the main story. A bunch of new typing sits by the computer upstairs. I write first draft in longhand (readable only to me) and edit the handwritten draft and then transfer to the word processor to edit again.  Meanwhile, i await receipt of final manuscript (OFF WING) of a pal, a book more than 12 years in the making. And i have comments on a short story (“Bend in Water”)to return to another friend who asked me to take a look-see. Another old friend, an editor in NYC, sent email yesterday asking me to “blurb” a novel her outfit will publish later this year. A bound galley will arrive in today’s overnight mail. Blurb means a sort of review, the sort of things you see excerpted on book jackets and featured  in book ads. I hope to blurb another for another pal, for his first novel later this spring.

And I started reading Douglas Brinkley’s THE QUIET WORLD: SAVING ALASKA’S WILDERNESS KINGDOM, 1879-1960. Brinkley is a terrific writer.  I will be taking part in a Michigan State (MSU) series in late march. The series focuses on how fiction can bring focus to cultural, national, and world issues. My session will focus on wolves as the feature example for endangered species, and BLUE WOLF IN GREEN FIRE, will be the book of choice. Ergo, I will spend a couple of months reading and making notes in preparation for my presentation in East Lansing, and to prepare me for discussions featuring actual experts from the field. All such reading goes into the hopper for material for future books and ideas. Last night I got an meal from a pal basically calling President a Commie and I sent a reply calling my pal a Fascist. My old coach Ed Jarvie also phoned to tell me he and wife Yvonne are having dinner with my old teammate Dan Riordan (and wife Sue).Did I have any wisdom for Ed to pass on to Dan? No, I passed that along decades ago and he ignored most of it, so no need to beat the dead horse. Felt bad about snarking at my extremely right wing pal, but so it goes. All these calls for political unity are being sucked into the national political tar baby we call the presidential election run-up. Thank god this summer we’ll be in the U.P. without TV and beyond the reach of massive bullshit political ads and walkup ice worms looking to glad hand and give us bullpolitlit. Other business, Admiral Al the Pal is trying to set a date for Fishing Camp YR #36 in Lake County, and thus the usual exchange of sophomoric and insulting emails as  we react with the 14-yr-old shit-for-wit we apparently never outgrew. On balance, this is prolly more good than bad. And my pal Mel Visser let me know “the EPA is hanging on to local instead of Asian sources for PCBs and toxaphene. Even magically figured out that Lake Superior can maintain its horrendous toxaphene levels without a source and that suddenly toxphene levels are dropping in all the lakes. Amazing how politics trumps science.”

 Next on my reading list is THE COMPLETE McAUSIAN, which is written, I believe by the creator (George McDonald Frasier?)of the immensely amusing  FLASHMAN series I read and enjoyed years ago.  Jambe Longue is finishing Michael Korda’s IKE and will start  Ike’s autobiography, AT EASE, next. And once a night we take a break to watch a movie on disk: In order, from last night backwards: 50 DEAD MEN WALKING; ATTACK ON LENINGRAD; OPEN RANGE; CRAZY OUTSIDE; INGLORIOUS BASTERDS; SPOILS OF WAR; THE UNFORGIVEN;THE PROPOSAL; BENEATH HILL SIXTY;  SOCIAL NETWORK; LARRY CROWNE; AND MONEYBALL. I know, we have very pedestrian movie tastes, but I grew up a military brat and we got a pair of double-features a week at the base theater where it cost a couple of dimes to get in and i watched them ALL. The coda was, ANY move beats NO movie…. My kids still rag on me for being able yo identify  movies after seeing just a few frames play. Truth is that very few movies made such an impression that i have a list of faves in mind because i don’t.  But i  LIKE movies that tell good and compelling stories,  and I try especially to pay attention to how the story (narrative) gets spun or told. A writer can learn a lot about action construction, personna, setting and visual settings by watching a wide range of movies. And dialogue, which is critical both to novels and films. 

Finally, I post tidbits and stuff on Facebook, or write and post a blog a couple of times a week. And, we might run over to Sam’s for pop this morning, and we need to pick up some paint for a  small-wall repair. Ordinary ife always goes on either parallel to or entertained with the so called creative life.  Dinner last night was Chinese takeout, fetched home by Jambe Longue after teaching her drawing class at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Tonight will be  Mexican green chile chicken and rice from a crockpot. Giants vs Patrots in Super Bowl coming up.  We won’t bother watching. 

 Typing calleth mein vornamen.Over. 

Monday’s Child

Awoke at ohdarkthirty to thunder and lightning, 40 degrees, barometer at 960. Holy wah, where dat liddle winter she go, eh?

Naturally my creative juices were stinkulated. And I awso  t’row you pitchers fum vahairious pipples.

Winter’s Fool

Thunder roils peeled

away night sleep, leaving

me thinking brook trout

rising to my fry pan

my feet hit the wood floor

where’s my five-foot rod,

snelled hooks, my Yooper

gear, desperate to

got downstairs, get out back

to pick up night worms,

I take the dog downstairs

plump with optimism let

Shanahan out to pee

on scabby snow,

all this a goddamn

dream wrought by Aquilo

or Heikki Luunta,

nevertheless I check

the pantry and fridge for

corn meal, brown sugar

lemons, shallots, capers

all bundled in the go-kit

for trout fishing I crawl

back into bed

Lonnie mumbling, “Whaaa?

False alarm, teased by gods

ninety eight days

ere the last Saturday in April.

[Portage, 1-23-12]

When one wishes to use and elkhair caddis, it is best to take the hair from the elk before casting,s not to try to cast the entire animal. But that's just an opinion.
Big Mack Bridge, web cam photo, few days back. Interesting driving, lads and lassies.
Sergeant Mike's Mountain Pose Hairyzoner.
No idea where Lenny the Dep gets his photos, but they sure catch the eye!

Satiddy Moaning: A-Sneakin’ up on Work and Musing on Polyticks

Voting in South Carolina’s Palmetto primary began this morning. By the way, back in the distant past when Sandy and I were in the
Carolinas one fall we discovered huge cockroaches all over the room and when I asked the hotel management about them they informed me politely that, “Them’s what we call palmetto bugs, y’all.” Right. 

Definition in order: Polyticks: Many parasitic arachnids which live by sucking blood of warm-blooded creatures.

Iowa still hasn’t figured out results of theirs. With all the vaunted computer power and committed people we have, shouldn’t election results now be your basic dog shot? I am blogging to avoid typing. Have a heap to put into the word processing draft of Killing A Cold One. But I need to sneak up on the chore.  

Also been thinking about all the accusations of Mitt Romney being a vulture capitalist. I would remind us all that vultures almost always eat carrion (dead stuff) and only huge vultures occasionally attack small animals. Thus, a true vulture capitalist wouldn’t make a whole lot of money investing only in dead-meat companies. Hyena capitalist might be better, but that’s only a guess. Hyenas eat the dying and the dead.

Also, why is so much being made of Mitt-the-Flip’s business experience? There is virtually no talk at all about his time in an elected office actually governing Massachusetts? Why is that? And what is his hangup with disclosing finances. What sort of dullards are advising him? This is like a 2+2 problem facing the candidate and his advisors. In my limited experienced, successful businessmen tend to be hard-working, smart, etc.  They become successful by moving up an organizational ladder (inside a closed world), with increasing power and control coming with increasing rank through promotion. Such businessmen are of course individuals, but in my corporate experience I noticed one constant among some top execs: They could not deal easily with the media, because the media, unlike internal questioners, ask the questions they want to ask, not the questions the exec wants to answer. [Stark violation of Emperor’s-New-Clothes no-nos] This brazen openness  always rankled hell out of some execs who had reached august heights by being highly controlling. See, inside audiences and personnel always had to be cognizant of dealing with the boss. Business, like any institution, is a closed loop that abhors any outside contact or interference with that the closed loop can’t control. The closed loop loathes the media, and government at all levels, and even customers.  Private companies who rarely interact with the media tend to be even more abhorrent of the media than publicly held outfits who have no choice (at least by SEC regs)  but interact with the mass media in all of its forms.  The media have no such constraints in the questions they ask, nor should they.  It is this factor that often make politicians declare reporters the enemy.This almost always happens when the person making the declaration feels trapped by a question, or wants to try to throw the focus on to the questioner (like the old saw of “shooting the messenger). The ability to effectively meet reporters is of course a key skill in being president. If candidates get flustered and discombobulated during a campaign, how the hell will they act under the real and crushing pressures of a national crisis? As for Governor Romney’s reluctance re: financial disclosure, every truly professional PR consultant and practitioner knows if you’ve got nothing to hide, get it out quick. And if you have bad news or what may be initially be taken for bad , get that bit out even quicker and move on. Mark Twain once  advised, “If you  have to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first. And if you have to eat any frog, eat it first thing in the morning.” In other words, take your lumps, and move on. Still have no idea who I will vote for come the election, but lots of time ahead to contemplate and read garbage forwarded by friends about how Obama will exempt Muslims from so-called Obamacare (which was modeled on Mittcare), and work sharia law into our land. Yeah, right. God god, boys. Think! (Even if it hurts).

Back in the days when God and I taught at Western Michigan’s professional masters writing program we had some outstanding students. Here I provide a photograph of one of our best. I think we worked him so hard we caused his head to reform into a pencil so he’d always be reading to scriven. Aaron Klammer. Good guy (Unt  maybe a tad eccentric?)
Over. Ave-a-noyce-dye-mites. 

Aaron, Ready to Write

Banning Books in Plymouth, Michigan

Word today that there is a hooha about Toni Morrison’s Beloved in the Plymouth Canton MI  high school, some parents pushing for a ban from an AP English course. Never read the book myself, never had an interest, but if they ban it, I guarantee they will multiply the local readership and push up sales. From an author’s perspective: Go ahead and Ban It! Works about as well as Prohibition. You think the war on drugs is a failure? Try a war on books.  Do people never learn? Ever? According to Jack Lessenberry on NPR,  “At a two-hour public review last week two parents complained that the novels contain passages that discuss sex, ghosts and the killing of an infant. Mr. Dame also said that characters in the books take God’s name in vain. Well, I’ll be goddamned. Excuse me, but have you  people never seen television, a movie, a magazine, the internet,  newspapers, or listened to your teenage kids talk? The father in this case already got one book pulled from the program. He ran for office last year as a Tea Party rep and lost. Draw your own conclusions. What bothers me is that the schools bowed to this at all. How long before these same folks start trying to tell teachers how to teach. Oh wait, they’re already trying that. Bah humbug. Over: I just want this sort of crap from people who are certain they know best for all of us to be over. Over. On the other hand these folks have the right to believe what they want and say what they want. That said, I’m not aware of any law, moral or ethical code that necessitates we take such things or people  seriously or even with respect. All ideas are not equal. Seriously.

Story from the Fate Pile

My pal Bob Linsenman took Jambe Longue and me on a honeymoon float awhile back. This story was supposed to appear in Midwest Flyfishing, but the editor there, a friend of both Bob and me, died and the story fell into the bottomless fate pile. The editor’s name was Tom Helgeson, a truly good guy. I offer the story here, courtesy of,  und mitt der permission of Mr. Linsenman und  his house full of Lab pupskers, including my favorite girl Kukl, the Butterfly Dancer. [By the way, the first novel of Robert L will be forthcoming. I’ll post updates as the dates are firmed up. You won’t want to miss that read.]

The Honeymoon Float by Bob Linsenman

An earlier era hockey goalie mask is prominently displayed in the Au Sable Angler fly shop.  Its blood red base color is overlaid with key words from a minor angling tragedy – “sorry Bob”…“no rattlers.”  This is just enough to beg the question and answer sequence that generates honest moans and shudders. 

The short version is “…then Joe (Heywood) turned and cast and buried the Rattlesnake’s tandem hooks in the inside of my upper lip.  Both hooks, past the barbs.

 “Is he the guy that wrote the Snowfly and those books about the conservation officer?”

“Yup, the very same.  Joe painted the mask and brought it to the shop for a memento.” 

Joe has a keen wit, a somewhat devilish sense of humor, and a passel of classy friends.  The classiest of which is Ms. Lonnie.  Lonnie became Lonnie Heywood in a quiet ceremony earlier this year and immediately elevated the stature of Joe’s entire operation.  The wedding was performed by Godfrey Grant (as God is my nickname), one of Joe’s close friends and frequent angling companion.  Godfrey discovered that the great State of Michigan recognizes any ordination – even one that involves only the exchange of credit card information for a spiffy certificate via the internet.  So, Godfrey became the right reverend God of the First Church of the Gooey Backcast and Joe and Lonnie were joined in matrimony by God, himself on the first day of spring, 2010.  It snowed.

Godfrey thought a serene float trip on the Au Sable would be a suitable wedding gift and commissioned me to man the oars.  Hired by God.  I remarked that I would have to remember to duck if Joe tied on a Rattlesnake.  God said, “You will” in a commandment-like voice and went on to say that he and two of Joe’s other close pals, Lou Carlson and Bill Stout, would follow along in a second drift boat to join us for a streamside lunch and generally keep an eye on things.  The pressure was on.

I made arrangements for our flotilla to stop for lunch at Steve and Lisa Scott’s cottage on Fudgie’s Riffle, a bit downstream from the mid-point of the Au Sable’s Trophy Water stretch.  Steve promised to have the charcoal grill fired up and his pup, Sophie, on watch for our arrival.  My thought was that Joe and Lonnie would fish the productive water in front of the Scott cottage while the rest of us scurried about cooking, tending to potato salad and fresh fruit and trying to keep Sophie, the super Airedale, occupied.

All of that worked as planned but there was no proviso or escape clause for lousy fishing weather.  The barometer was jumping up and down within a tight, low range.  We had alternating periods of clouds, heavy rain with thunder, then bright sky with full sun.  Correspondingly, the temperature fluctuated up and down several degrees with each shift.

To say that fishing was poor would be a considerable understatement.  But, we had some blue-winged olives and a few Isoynichias emerging.  Although larger trout generally feigned indifference throughout the day, Joe managed to land a “slam” including a lovely, wild brook trout of about seven inches.

The honeymoon float lunch was a lot better than the fish catching.  Godfrey grilled filet mignon for all and we added homemade pasta salad, fresh strawberries, cheese, and a lavish serving of bold-hearted fishing lies to complete the menu.

Now, I want to make and stress a point here relative to brazen fishing lies just referenced and to angling conversation in general.  Joe, Lonnie, Godfrey, Steve, Lou and Bill are all adults, at least by chronological measure, and are beyond the point where they feel the need or desire to strut and posture the use of in language or cool slang for recognition or acclaim by others.  Not once during this day did I hear the words dude, or toad, or the expression totally  awesome.  I have pretty much stopped watching TV fly fishing shows and industry sponsored videos because I am tired of hearing everyone hailed as dude, every fish- even a small, skinny one categorized as a toad, and nearly every distinct, recordable event blessed with totally awesome.  I just can’t stand it anymore.  My position is this – when someone calls someone #2 “dude” I assume they are too lazy to remember #2’s name, or just don’t care; when someone calls a trout that is clearly in the 15-16 inch class, “A 20 incher, a real toad,” I know they have not caught many trout of size and/or they are working at that darned posturing lingo crap for the camera; when someone releases that same trout, or points out a cow on the bank, and says “totally awesome,” it’s a safe bet that they are 14 years old or an idiot.

The float downstream from Fudgie’s Riffle to our takeout at McKinley (home territory of the McKinley cannibals, but that is another story) was relaxed, content, almost lazy.  There was no unrealistic pressure to overcome the days volatile weather with guide magic, and Joe and Lonnie were generally philosophical about an individual rising trout’s acceptance or rejection of their offered fly.

At one point God’s boat sidled up alongside and we sat awhile watching a fine pool in the vain hope of seeing a large trout whack a hapless bug.  It was pretty quiet for a short while until Godfrey had a memory blast.  He had purchased a very spendy bottle of French champagne to share in salute and remembered it with a loud “whoop,” and “Oh, boy!”

There soon followed some difficulty in transferring directions for the deployment of an exotic cork-pulling thing because God turns off his hearing aid while fishing. There was some wild gesturing and yelling while a bemused Godfrey thumped and poked at the bottle’s cork.  It all worked out.  I had given alcohol a bad name in several foreign countries and two US embassies and no longer drink, so there was enough of the good bubbly for the wedding party to enjoy. 

The boats were nestled up to the bank on the inside sweep of a beautiful curving pool on one of our nation’s most lovely trout streams.  It was late afternoon and the sun’s rays angled through the tops of bank-side cedars and touched the water softly. Two small trout started rising near the far shore, eating bugs probably too tiny to copy with artificials. But, Godfrey did not think it a waste of time.  He sloshed out into the pool a bit and cast to the determined but spooky little predators.  We watched without comment.  I think each of us silently urged Godfrey on to a rise and hook-set but it was not to be.  He turned after a bit, shrugged, and reeled in his line.

As we neared the end of our float a mature eagle cruised overhead and banked left against a backdrop of dark cedars and spruce.  It was a gift, a majestic vision.  It was close, but not totally awesome.  Remember kids, “dude,” “toad,” and “awesome” are four letter words.

Just Doing What Needed Doing

If we’re lucky, we meet people in our lives we don’t forget. One such in my life is Barry Hanchett, a year behind me at Michigan State, graduate of Wayne Memorial High School in Detroit. In college he was  a pencil-necked jock, wiry, hard-nosed straight talker, who always pulled more than his own weight and believed in  team.  Barry graduated from MSU in 1966, volunteered for the USMC, and became an officer and Marine aviator, a career fighter pilot. Good man by all standards. The other day we got an email from another pal of ours and Barry mentioned in passing something about one day in his flying career. Pretty ho hum narrative of what he called one of his most urgent emergencies. Here it is in his own words:

“On takeoff on one hot summer day from Cubi Pt in the Philippines with a max load F4 (54,000 lbs gross weight), I suddenly lost my right engine and in my mirrors saw fire spitting out my ass end. We were at 400 feet and quickly descending SL with the USS Enterprise in sight. At this point I said to my RIO (Radar Intercept Officer: in the AF F4s we called them the GIB, Guy in Back), “Popcorn, I think I have it. Declare an emergency, have the wingman join and check for fire. If I yell ‘eject’ once, do it!” Due to some quick actions to get “rid” of some of our weight, and holding the aircraft at L/D max angle of attack, we were able to avoid the carrier by some 50 feet, climbed to altitude and returned to base for an arrested landing. Shortly after that it was time for a couple of beers! it is moments like that when training pays off and you realize we are members of the best fighting force in the world.” Indeed.

Hanch doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a guy who did a job.  And there are lots of vets like him.We don’t agree on most things-politic, but I’d fly with him any day, anyplace.  

He retired as Colonel Hanchett after a long, illustrious career. I’ve stuck a photo of an F4 below so you can sort of see what kind of aircraft he’s talking about. The one in the photo is, I think, a USAF F4E and Hanch’s bird was a later model adapted for carrier use, but it will give you a sense of what a Phantom looks like.

I’ll close by citing guys from Rudyard High School and MSU who served in the military.( * = Deceased)

RUDYARD HIGH SCHOOL:  Richard Beaudoin (USN); *Richard English, (USMC); Jim Heywood (USAF);Donald Prince (USAF); Charles “Bucky” Roebuck (USN); Robert Soucy (USAF); Bill Spitler (USMC). There may have been others, but these are the ones I knew about.

MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY (F=Fraternity Brother; LAX = Lacrosse teammate): *Steven Canavara (USAF); * Dave Grimm (USAF); *Thomas”Leadfoot” Tubbs (USAF)Ted Tower (USAF);Randy Hotten (USN); William “Wolfman”Haeger(LAX) (USA); Michael “The Giant” Jolly (LAX) (USA); Joe Sutschek (LAX) (USA);Dick “Lurch”Aubrey (LAX) (F) (USA); Frederick “Fritz” Barratt (F) (USAF); Barry “Hanch” Hanchett (F) (USMC); Carl J. “Songbird” Pfaffenberg (USN); Gary “Pretty Boy” Smalt (F);(USAF)Joseph M. “Goose”  Vairo (F) (USAF); John “Coathanger”Turbeville (USN); and Jon “Aardvark” Vilhauer (F) (USAF)

The vast majority of college boys in those days ducked military service for various reasons, some legit, some not so much. Many simply didn’t  want their careers interrupted before they began. Diff between now and then is there was a draft in place. 


Phantoms in the Light

No Place Like Home

Lonnie and I ran into pal Lane Wick yesterday, fellow MSU J-School man, retired newsman.  (Ran into him at Hobby Lobby, of all places.) Lane’s family has a deer camp near Lewiston, about 25 miles west of Gaylord. I think the camp’s been in operation now for 51 years and he says there just aren’t  many deer left in the area. New hip installed in August, Lane dutifully drove  north to deer camp this year for a week in November:  He saw — zero/zip/nada/bupkis  deer. Understand, he expects the camp experience to be  mostly deerless, because that’s how it is in this era [A nearby camp had nine hunters this  season and saw a total of one deer]. But deer camp is about a lot more than merely  killing deer, so Lane still goes to camp  because of all the he ghosts who  inhabit the  camp and expect and need  a visit every deer season just to bring them back to life for a few days. [Plot for a story?] Week done, ghosts satisfied, Laner returns south  to the Zoo where he lives, and looks out back one morning and sees a most substantial buck eating off one of his bird feeders. No camera at hand or even close, he misses a shot. Being an enterprising lad, he puts out a trail camera and after a week at deer camp where he saw nary a cervid a’tall, he is now seeing some lovely bucks every day, right on the west side of Kalamazoo. Mother Nature’s sense of humor? Ain’t she a hoot.  The bird feeders are about 40 feet from his easy chair. There Ain’t No Place Like Home, Toto.  Sometimes. Over.

EyeballingNight Phantom
Broad Daylight Visitor

Last of the 2011 Reading List

I last posted the annual reading account in October, and pick it up here from thence to hence. The codes in brackets are no brackets = Fiction; [NF] = non-fiction; [MS] = manuscript; [CL] = Children’s lit; [SS] = Short Stories.  Once I find an author I like, I tend to go back and read all he or she has written, and this applies to long fiction, short fiction and non-fiction.  My tastes tend to be eclectic [ forty-dollar word for erratic]. Some of my reading is background work for stories, but mostly I read out of sheer curiosity and let the wind take me where it will. Over Za Rest of Za 2011 List:

120. Philip Kerr. March Violets.

121. Jerry Dennis. The Windward Shore: A Winger on the Great Lakes. [NF]

122. Joseph Heywood. Red Jacket. [MS]

123. Philip Kerr. Hitler’s Peace.

124. Paul Reichardt. Whitetail Crimson Tales. [NF]

125. James Warhola. Uncle Andy’s. [CL]

126. Mark Obmascik. The Big Year. [NF]

127. Edward O. Wilson. Naturalist. [NF]

128. Jackson J. Benson. Wallace Stegner: His Life and Work. [NF]

129. Craig Johnson. The Dark Horse.

130. Craig Johnson. Another Man’s Moccasins.

131. Craig Johnson. Death Without Company.

132. Craig Johnson. Hell is Empty.

133. Craig Johnson. Kindness Goes Unpunished.

134. Craig Johnson. Junkyard Dogs.

135. Melinda Moustakis. Bear Down Bear North: Alaska Stories. [SS]

136. Edmund Morris. Colonel Roosevelt. [NF]

137. Stanley Wells. Shakespeare Sex & Love [NF]

138.  Robert Brustein. The Tainted Muse: Predjudice and Presumption in Shakespeare and his Times. [NF]

139. Arthur Phillips. The Tragedy of Arthur.

140. Janet Evanovich. Explosive Eighteen.

141. Michael Shaara. The Killer Angels.

142. Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veeneme, Kimberly Sheridan. Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. [NF]

143. Joseph Heywood. Red Jacket. [MS]

144. Joseph Heywood. Horseblankets. [MS]

Sunday Craziness (Mostly Self-Inflicted)

Today on CBS Sunday Morning  we learned that Judge Judy of TV syndication fame earns (a term used loosely in this context) $45 million a year! Say what?

This afternoon a hulking mouth-breathing tardigrade young fella whomped on our front door and wanted to talk about Ron Paul. I ,the house bandog, told him to  beat it.  You’d think a self-professed  Libertarian ought to know better than to come knocking without invitation on a man’s property, right? As for Ronnydoc, If a man cannot control or edit the editorial content going into his political newsletters, how can he run and control the official  editorial content of  a country’s business? 

When I think of leadership in small snapshots of relatively meaningless things,  I think of once-upon-a-time newly appointed Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka addressing his players. “I’m going to the Super Bowl. Who’s coming with me?’  And then they went. When a genuine  leader asks such a thing (not for small stakes like football) but for real stakes, for things that matter, you raise your hand or stand up and get involved. Ronnydoc ain’t that man. Never has been, never will be. All my years in the corporate world I met only one man who could fill this bill, but I met many when I was in uniform. Hard to define leader, but you know it when you encounter it and you recognize leaders, being human, possess great strengths and skills, right along with great weaknesses.

God can’t change the past. Only conspiracy theorists and Superpacs can do that.

All great moments turn on chance.

Here a potential Shakespearean test for villains: The Bard’s villains “prefer appearance to reality, art to nature, seeming to being.” Good test for politicians, mayhaps? Shakespeare, I once read, “wrote foolish things for the foolish, the filthy for the filthy, and the brutal for the brutal.” Sounds much like a politician telling people what he/she think they want to hear?

Course Shakespeare is losing ground. At one point in the not too recent past according to Robert Sanford Brustein [The Tainted Muse, 2009]: “Shakespeare, according to a recent report, is not longer a requirement in 55/70 leading American universities, where English majors an earn a bachelor of arts degree without having been required to read Hamlet.” We’re now dumping art and music from high school curricula. How long until literature goes Deep Six in favor of science, math etc? For some of us old guys, we lean on the Bard. My late character Maridly Nantz and current recurring character Tuesday Friday were drawn in accordance with Shakespearean notions of female characters, which is to say they are: unwomanly woman, able to compete equally on an intellectual basis with men, and they are witty, independent, spirited and refuse to be define by the ‘male’ concepts of virtue and domesticity.” 

Instead of Shakespeare nowadays we have things  such as “QuikCubery,”that is,  people trying  to solve Rubik’s cube as quickly as possible and, to do this learning and practicing certain alogorythims of manipulation that have no bearing on their own native abilities to solve problems. One-trick-ponyism. The world record is 6.6 seconds and to that I say, Congratulations and who cares? Or people who memorize hundreds of three and four letter words so they can play fast Boggle simply for a high score, but can’t define or use the vast majority of the words they can summon forth to spell. We are awash in the the whackadoodledandysea of social nonsense and popcorn fart social gravitas. For example, children coming into our schools here in Portage speaking zero English, that is none whatsover, yet, these kids must take standarized tests and their scores are then counted in with all the other students. Does this not strike anyone as a hair odd?

Mitt Romney wanted no bailout of the auto industry. You think that will set well here in his native state, the one he disappeared from and has rarely re-visited, but the same one he assures  us he loves so much. That state? And then he says, like Limpy Allerdyce, yehyehyehyeh, his head undulating like a Bobblehead doll. [I liked Mitt’s old man, George. But I wonder given George’s flub on the road to the White House if the Mittsker is trying to win one for the old man, the way some insist Dubya invaded EYE raq to get payback for his poppy? Just sayin.’

Naturalist Ed Wilson wrote, “When savage tribes reach a certain size and density, they split, and one group emigrates to a new territory.” Does this apply equally to political tribes? 

Wilson also wrote that” the great talent of vampires is evading detection.” Wilson was talking about vampire bats, but it made me wonder if this applies equally to the true  blood-sucking natures of some politicians?

And Wilson tells us, “In the natural world, beautiful usually means deadly. Beautiful plus casual demeanor always means deadly.” Another measure to apply to political candidates?

No snow today. Lions are done for the season. Good moment perhaps for a bitta usquebaugh uvda-aulde.

In addition to counting animal sightings, we like to keep an eye on automobiles to keep track of various social movements and zeitgeists. In this light friends saw a very odd bumper sticker yesterday, which I have trick-up color-wise but leave [sic] meaning as found, and unchanged.or your viewing pleasure. Seriously, who knew God needed an editor? I mean he/she/it’s either omniscient and omnipotent, or he/she/it is like the rest of us, right?

And also include here a photograph demonstrating that God [my God, probably not yours] enjoys New Year’s Eve costume parties. What I can’t quite grasp is the Hughhefner angle, though I suspect the two entities are similar in age (my God and Hughey, not THE God, or your god, and Hef). I am not intending to be sacreligious here or join in the so-called war on Christians, I am simply passing along observations of things among us.

To close I will try to quote the late philosopher Isaiah Berlin who wrote of the search for truth and the endless contest for the one-answer/size-fits-all quest by obsessive portions of mankind:  First comes those (let us say them or they) with “visions of the ultimate goal, some conviction about ultimate truths, some confidence in the quest for perfectibility, and some certainty about the path to the ‘desired place’  may result in their declaring that a given policy will make you happier, or freer, or give you room to breathe. Then comes us and I, (opposite of you, them and they) and I/we know you/they are mistaken. I know what you need, what all men need, and if there is resistance based on ignorance or malevolence, then it must be broken and hundreds of thousands may have to perish to make millions happy for all time.” [Excerpt from article in Jan-Feb 2012 Atlantic.] If this sort of circle of righteousness doesn’t ring a bell you need to read some history, including religious history.

Unedited, viewed in downtown Kalamazoo yesterday morning.
Herrn Frau Gott on za cusp of MMXII

To close, for those who think I give strange names to my characters, here’s one from the real world of Bhutan: King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. ISYN. Over.