Friday, February 28, 2014

Call Me Cheap





 Here’s what I think I think:

I have discovered that the best way to get “into” a prolific author is AFTER that author has already been established and gotten a good number of books published. If you can manage to get “into” them a decade after they hit the scene, then you’re really going to be able to have an inexpensive, enjoyable, relaxed time reading their books. If you read them a decade later and they stink, then they were probably stinky to begin with. You just aren’t all caught up in the hype. Which is a good thing in my book.

Example:

Last fall I started reading the John Grisham books. In case you live under a rock and don’t know, John Grisham is a best selling writer of “legal thrillers” who almost single handedly turned the genre into a huge industry. His first big book was his second book, “The Firm,” which they made a movie out of. In fact, they made movies out of most of the books he wrote over the first ten years of output. The movies were pretty much in the category of “just okay” because they could communicate the plot lines and story ideas of Grisham (which is not his greatest strength), but they can not communicate the flair, simplicity, smoothness and readability of his writing (which are his real strengths). Movie makers have the same problem with writers like Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. John Grisham could write about pretty much anything, I think, and make it readable. In fact, I wish he’d try some other things more often. I’d love to see him team up with a horror writer and see what happens. Or just write a novel about monsters and see what happens. But that’s just me.

The point here, though, is that I didn’t start reading his books until this past fall. I started with his first (and one of his best) books, called “A Time To Kill.” This book was published in 1989, 24 years before I started reading Grisham’s books. I finally just decided to see what all the hub bub was about.

I didn’t give thought to this at first, but I really liked the book and have been progressively reading through his canon, like you would do with any author you really like. But, because I’m behind the times, I have been getting these books very cheap, on discount racks, at the library, or loaned to me by people who’ve had them sitting on the shelves for years, collecting dust since they read them years ago. As a result of this, when his new book came out last fall, called “Sycamore Row,” which happens to be a sequel to the first novel, “A Time To Kill,” I was not at all tempted to jump into the “gotta have it now” fray. I’m still way back at “The Broker” (2005). I’ve got plenty of time to kill (ha ha) before I get to the new one. And I’m happy to work my way to it, watching the price drop and drop as time goes by. Why? Because I am not a rich man and I think it is stupid of me to get something NOW for reasons that don’t make any sense.

I have stopped buying books when they first come out. That, I have determined, is for rich people.

So, you do what you want. I won’t interfere. I won’t judge you. But I’m going to go ahead and let those other people out there, hustling through the hurley burley, worry about reading the latest and greatest book by their author of choice. Let them pay top dollar to read it the day it comes out. There are plenty of those people and their obsessive nature will always provide retailers with big income and all the rest in our gotta have it now world. And when those readers finally give decide to clean house and donate that book to a book sale, where it will probably sell for a quarter, I’ll be there to pick up the pieces.

And I’ll enjoy it just as much.

Maybe more.



Peace to you.



© LW Publishing 2014

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book of Life



I can't believe it's been, like, 5 months since I've posted on this blog. That seems crazy to me. I won't say that I've been too busy. I've just been focused on other things - and there are times when I just don't seem to have that much to say.

I have been taking a lot of things in over the past year; trying to listen and learn and assess things. A big part of that has been a kind of reading frenzy. I don't even know why, but I have read more books over the past several months than I have in a long time. I've read them very fast, like I used to back in the day, including a lot of novels, which I thought I was done with. Prior to this, I went over a year without reading a single novel. It was all biography and history and technical reading and such.

Why?

I don't know.

I've also been rereading a few things that I read over twenty years ago. Things I read and really liked. I liked them so much I kept them on shelves. I'm not sure if I ever intended to read them again, or if I was saving them for someone. When you read a great book, it becomes a part of you and it's hard to let it go. But I've been rereading some of those and putting them in the box to give to the library. I won't be reading them again. I'm saying goodbye. Moving on.

To what?

I don't know.

I wonder some times about the afterlife. I wonder if we'll write and read novels and do other artistic things for all of eternity. I like to think so. I like to imagine that all of the art we produce in this life will be like the crayon drawings of two years olds compared to what we'll produce with the wisdom of eternity. Even Mozart and Bach will be like kids stuff, which is hard to imagine. What they did seems so sublime and perfect. And yet, I can't help thinking that, as a race, we've only scratched the surface, and scratching is all we get to do until the blinders are taken off.

I like to think I have a book in me. I'm not sure. A novel, maybe. Or some kind of historical thing. I have lots and lots of ideas. The ideas I'm brave enough to even start writing are the ones that are the least interesting. I know, call me "chicken." I guess the idea is that swimming in the kiddie pool is safer than jumping into the deep end. At least to start. The other problem is that the patience required may not be in my bag of tricks.

We'll see.

For now I'll just have to continue to feast on the hearts and minds of others.

Yeah, I know that sounds kind of zombie. But it really is a feast.



Peace to you.


© LW Publishing 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

50




Just turned 50. People act like it's a big deal. It's not.

Went with the Better Half to see a play in Indiana. Amish country. We weren't there for the play. It just happened to fall into the agenda. It was kind of surreal. A sort of rockish musical-dramady about a quilting class led by an older Amish widow with six stereo-type quilters: a biker type a goth chick a pastor's wife a bickering couple and a soldier. They all had emotional problems.. It was ridiculous, really, contrived. But it was still quite funny at times. The actors did well with what they had. One of the characters had about 80 percent of the funny lines. I thought, if I was in that play I'd want to be him. I'd want to be the guy who gets the laughs.

I can't act.

Found a book written by Eddie Cantor in a used book store. This was a world class, extraordinarily famous comedian from the same era as Jack Benny and George Burns. Vaudeville. Radio days. Eddie is now almost entirely forgotten. He didn't make the jump to films or TV like some of the others. At least not well. I'm sure a lot of people don't know who Jack Benny is anymore. Or even George Burns.

It's tragic.

This Cantor book was released the year I was born. It cost me $3.99. When originally published it was $3.95. Fifty years and it's only worth 4 cents more. Doesn't seem right. But I didn't offer more for it. I'd have paid less if I could.

They say a thing is only really worth what someone is willing to pay for it.




 Peace to you.




© LW Publishing 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Non Resolutionary Living



Yes, my taxes are finished. Sent. Done. And yes, you should be jealous.

Not really. But they are finished. I know it sounds like I'm bragging, but that's because I'm bragging.

Notice: I'm not telling you how I'm going to get them done early this year. I'm telling you they're done.

I have also cleared the file cabinet of the old papers. Yes, I have. At least the biggest chunk of them. There are a few things still to go, but it's down to a few hours of work.

And I have been getting through some serious reviews of things at work and at home. Working to get plans in place for work and home. Serious, careful plans to get real things done.

All of this, I have done, without having made a single New Year's resolution. Which is not bragging. It's simply a fact.

I've just never been big on resolutions, if by "resolutions" you mean those brief little wish statements people make at the end of the year. "This next year I'm going to do this or that!" No real plan. No real commitment to change. No serious self examination and thinking about how to follow through.

I don't like empty talk. It makes me nervous to talk about what I'd simply kind of "like" to do because I know how easy it is to talk, and yet how hard it is to actually do things that are challenging to do. I prefer the simple act of doing something and letting the doing of it be the evidence of my intent.

Matthew 5: 37 Simply let your `Yes' be `Yes,' and your`No,' `No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.




© LW Publishing 2013

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Meeting Margaret


Photograph


Did I happen to mention the time I met former Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher? No?

I am remiss.

So here’s how it went down. And, yes, this is a completely true story that really happened.

One day I was driving a delivery truck and had a little time to kill while waiting to be called back. With this particular job, I would deliver a package and, if it was fairly far away, they would have me wait to see if a pickup came in before heading back. It saved a lot of time and money, except when no pick up came in.

But I digress...

One day I had a little time to kill, so I stopped at a Border’s Bookstore. I liked this store. It was one of the early ones. It had the aroma of coffee and new books about it. One of the finer scents the human race has managed to manufacture over the centuries. And, as I was browsing around, I became aware of some Men in Black.

Seriously.

First I saw one, and then I saw another and another. Men in black suits, sun glasses and ties and white shirts with shiny black shoes. Just like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. But before that movie came out. My curiosity was immediately piqued, of course, so I looked around and noticed a line of people. I made the natural assumption that the Men in Black had something to do with it, so I joined the cue.

Just call me “Mr. Adventurous.”

Everyone was being really quiet. The place was in a real hush. It was a little odd, but I went with the flow and waiting silently with no idea of what we were waiting for. I figured I’d just get out of line if it turned out to be something stupid.

The line was long, winding around book shelves, so you couldn’t see where it ended. But then I could tell I was getting close because there were large stacks of books on the floor, hundreds of the same book. And just on the other side of the stacks, where you couldn’t quite see, was an author of some kind, signing books. I could see the signing table. I could see people at the table, but not the person signing. So I picked up one of the books on the big stack. It was Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography, the second part. Apparently the first part was a huge success, and now she was touring the States, signing copies of the second part. Here I was, about to meet Margaret Thatcher.

Why not...

Now, what brings this to mind is that I watched the movie called, “Iron Lady,” a few days ago, about Margaret Thatcher. Which is very good in it’s way, though it presents her in extremes in the sense that she is either old and suffering from dementia/Alzheimer's, or young and over zealous/naive, or middle aged and working too hard to be too tough for too much of the time. You would get the impression from the film that her entire 11 year stint in office was spent huddling away from either screaming, angry mobs trying to kill her, or screaming ecstatic mobs who were getting rich during the eighties, all of whom had nothing better to do but to bang on her car windows and scream every time she left the house.

Aside from these overdone tones, the exceedingly liberal Meryl Streep, of all people, does a superb job of playing the very conservative Margaret Thatcher. Meryl is a marvel to watch, let me tell you. That woman can act. She absolutely becomes Margaret Thatcher.

How do I know? Because I met Margaret Thatcher. Yes I did.

I walked up to the signing desk with my book in hand. I had nothing much to say because I knew very little about her at the time. But she was very quiet and nice and asked me how I was doing today. I said very well, thanks. And she signed the book and handed it back to me. I said, "thank you," and she said, very distinctively:

“Thenk Yewww.”

That was one seriously British woman, let me tell you. And Meryl Streep was the mirror image of her. It was uncanny.

I would be willing to show you the book to prove my story, but I gave it away, a long time ago, to a good friend who I thought would appreciate it.

So you’ll just have to trust me.


Peace to you.


© LW Publishing 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who Can Understand It?



What’s going on? Why do people do the things they do? Why do I do the things I do? Why do I respond this way or that?

It seems to me, like it or not, that everyone has pieces of themselves they either can’t or won’t share with another human being. Even if you want to, when you’re willing to, there will be things you can’t share, because you don’t even know what’s going on yourself. Some things are unknowable. And these “unknowables” are what often lead us to the water, or the poison, we can choose to drink or leave behind.

Some people want to be “transparent” about their lives. They feel it’s false or fake in some way to hold anything back. But even if you managed, somehow, to totally reveal what you believe to be the “truth” of who you are, you would still be a mystery because you can’t even know yourself completely. How is anyone else going to know you that fully?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s worth trying, at least with some people. But it is futile in many ways and I think we need to admit that up front. We’re all just the tips of icebergs. There is a lot going on below the surface, and even a person who is amazingly dedicated to the art of self awareness and self revelation can be, I should say, “will be,” blind to their own motives and at least some of the realities that cause them to feel and eventually do what they do.

We feel things and then think things, and finally do things, because we have been convinced by some event in the past to respond that way. Sometimes, even long after the event itself is forgotten, the reaction lives on. We have been trained by experiences to respond, and our responses can tell us a lot about what’s going on underneath. But it’s like putting together a puzzle with missing and messed up pieces.

I guess you could say I believe in at least some aspects of behavioral psychology. But doesn’t it just make sense? In fact, I think it’s biblical.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

To change this reality, to “understand” your heart, you would have to remember everything you ever did, every thing that ever happened to you, and also be able to measure and calculate a proper emotional response to all that information on the fly as you move through the day.

Let me know how that works out.

You can’t always “choose” your emotional responses to things, but you can “choose” what to do with it. Where do you let it take you? What do you do as a result? A lot of people want to believe they have no control, or responsibility, for what they choose to do, because they don’t always have control over the emotional responses that lead them to that action. But you can always choose. You are not a cyborg, an automaton, a robot, or a thoughtless animal. You are not. You are a human being.

What you, and I, actually do each day, each moment, is the product of your decisions. And decisions have consequences.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, August 9, 2012

AMAZING THINGS A LOT PEOPLE DON’T SEEM TO REALIZE ARE AMAZING


 There are many amazing things depending on you to realize they are amazing. In other words, if your eyes aren’t open to how amazing things are then nothing will seem amazing to you, which reveals, unfortunately, unfortunate things about your desire to learn and grow. It can reveal how much we take for granted. It can reveal arrogance and closed mindedness. I personally find a mind that can’t be amazed any more to be a little scary.

Consider: What does it take to amaze you? Do things have to explode? Does the world have to be a brand new circus everyday, putting on a show just for you in order to get some kind of response? Perhaps you aren’t seeing things that are right in front of you.

I certainly hope this is not the case. For anyone.

If you don’t know what I mean, I hope you figure it out. And to help people along, here are just a few examples of some amazing things a lot of people don’t seem to realize are amazing. Feel free to share some of yours if you are so inclined...

1. Bass players who sing lead vocals and play bass at the same time.

Guys like Sting and Geddy Lee. Paul McCartney. I seem to remember the guy from Thin Lizzy doing this as well. But it is fairly rare to see someone sing and play bass at the same time. Even more rare is the lead singer/bass player. You know why? Because it’s, like, stinkin’ impossible, that’s why. I have tried it. I can’t really play bass, but I definitely can’t sing lead vocals and play bass at the same time. Some players get away with it by basically playing root notes, plunk plunk plunk. Like Gene Simmons of Kiss. Not the same thing. I’m talking about guys who actually, really, genuinely play complex bass parts, peddling through the chords, while singing at the same time. I don’t know why it’s so impossible, but it is. More impossible than playing drums and singing, or playing accordion and singing, which is also very difficult, or so I’m told. But I’m telling you, if you see someone playing bass and singing lead vocals at the same time, be amazed. It is amazing. Probably the only thing more amazing would be a person playing a wind instrument and singing at the same time. I’ve honestly never seen that. I assume it's impossible, but what do I know? Still, if you see this kind of thing, bass guitars or otherwise, whether you realize it or not, you are witnessing something amazing.

2. Everyone’s kids.

Everyone thinks their own kids are amazing. And yet, to other people, they are just normal kids. Therefore, the inclination is to believe that the people with kids are biased and their kids are not actually amazing. But, in fact, the kids are amazing. All of them. Every single one. And if you don’t think so, it’s because you don’t get it. But that’s okay. You’re still amazing too.

3. Empty space.

Sure, seems boring, because it’s nothing. But if it’s nothing, then how is it still “there” in any way that makes sense? And if it wasn’t “there” what would be the difference between here and the “there” beyond the "there" of empty space? Some physicists argue, like Einstein did, that there is really no such thing as “empty” space because fields, such as gravity, fill all so-called “space,” including a vacuum, which is the ultimate empty space, I suppose. And I get what they are saying.

Kind of.

But that “space” is still there, isn’t it? In other words, the space is not, itself, the gravitational field that is “in” the space, right? Even if that empty space couldn’t exist without the forces acting on it and within it, what exactly is that thing that the gravitational field is occupying? Maybe it’s not technically empty, but it’s practically empty. And it’s space.

Perhaps we should call it empty space/time?

Okay. I seriously have no idea what I’m talking about anymore.

But I still think it’s amazing.


Peace to you.



© LW Publishing 2012