It’s been a week, hasn’t it? Peggy Lipton, Doris Day, and Tim Conway all passed away this week.

Losing stars isn’t anything new. Although I didn’t know them, they were part of the magic that we thought we had going for us after World War II. They helped us cope as the shit started happening. McCarthyism and the red scare. Korea. JFK’s assassination. Demonstrations and riots. Gulf of Tonkin incident. RFK and MLK’s assassinations. Vietnam. University of Texas shootings. USS Pueblo. Kent State. Watergate. Recessions and energy crises. Iran-Contra scandals. Iran hostages. John Lennon’s murder. Attempted assassination on Ronald Reagan. KAL 007 shot down. Beirut Barracks bombing. Challenger disaster. Operation Just Cause. Desert Storm. Oklahoma City bombing. Monica Lewinsky. Move On. Columbine. Hanging chads. Enron. 9/11. Hurricane Katrina. Virginia Tech University shootings. Housing bubble burst. Global banking meltdown. Umpqua Community College shootings. Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Global warming. Isla Vista, 2014 shootings. Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Wildfires. Sutherland Springs Church shootings. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings. Sante Fe High School shooting. Las Vegas shooting. Thousand Oaks shooting. Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. Measles outbreak. College cheating scandal.

And that’s all just a small bit of America’s piece of it. To think of what’s happened in the rest of the world during those years is numbing.

Now, Conway, Lipton, and Day gone. What a week.

Thank God it’s Friday.


Tuesday’s Theme Music

After reading some news last night and this morning, my anger spilled over. “You must be evil,” I said in my head to several of the articles’ principals, evil for how their minds work, evil for their indifference about what their actions do to the world or other creatures, evil for their willingness to rationalize murdering and victimizing.

From that came, quite deliberately, Chris Rea’s 1989 song, “You Must Be Evil”.


Thursday’s Theme Music

After watching some televised testimony in Congress yesterday, I walked away thinking, yeah, but who will save your soul for these lies that you told?

Cue Jewel with “Who Will Save Your Soul”. Although it was released in 1996, the lyrics’ sentiments are timeless and easily apply to our current era.

People livin’ their lives for you on TV
They say they’re better than you and you agree
He says “Hold my calls from behind those cold brick walls”
Says “Come here boys, there ain’t nothing for free”
Another doctor’s bill, a lawyer’s bill, another cute cheap thrill
You know you love him if you put in your will, but

Who will save your souls when it comes to the flowers now?
Who, who will save your souls after those lies that you told, boy?
And who will save your souls if you won’t save your own?
La da de da de da la da da da da

We try to hustle them, try to bustle them, try to cuss them
The cops want someone to bust down on Orleans Avenue
Another day, another dollar, another war
Another tower went up where the homeless had their homes
So we pray to as many different gods as there are flowers
But we call religion our friend
We’re so worried about saving our souls
Afraid that God will take His toll that we forget to begin, but

h/t to

Another day, another dollar, another war, sometimes it’s civil, sometimes it’s civic, but religions and hate guide our killing.




The delivery trucks were lined up on Main Street as he took his morning walk. The doors opened up. The ramps came down. People began walking down them.

It wasn’t encouraged to stand and gawk, but slowing, he watched with a sly side gaze. The newcomers seemed like an older lot and mostly white, which gave a grimace to his face. He preferred it when they brought in young people, especially when they brought in young men. Spilling out on the sidewalks, they had the befuddled look that he’d seen before on others, the look that asked, “Where am I? How did I get here? What’s my name? Do I know you?”

He wondered who they’d be, and whether any would become friends. Ambivalence hedged his thoughts about the answer. On the one hand, he wasn’t supposed to remember these things. Meeting a new delivery always fueled temptations to share his secrets with them. He wanted to whisper to them, “Psss, did you know that you died and were resurrected? You’re just like Jesus.” He always wanted to giggle about it.

Not that it was a laughing matter, having a dead population that was always being resuscitated and put into communities to give them a lived-in look. That’s how it goes when you lose the war.

The victors dictate the terms for peace.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I’ve always enjoyed War. Their music speaks to me. Today’s song, “Why Can’t We Be Friends”, is an excellent accompaniment to walking about town. As part of the writing practice, I walk and think about where I’m at with my writing and editing projects. Once freed of that, I drift into other things. This song, though, was heard coming from a Toyota pickup truck as it trundled by. Picking up on it, I sang it and some other War songs, like “Smile Happy”, “Low Rider”, “The World Is A Ghetto”, and “Spill the Wine”. Such classics.

The Rationale

“I had to kill him,” he said with a calm voice.

“Assassinate,” a Secret Service agent said.

He smiled. “Assassinate, kill. Funny how we decorate our killing terms. War is acceptable for killing, but terrorism, murder, and assassination are not, even though it’s all about killing. The differences are the who and why, and sanctions. Well, I killed him — excuse me.”

His smile developed a humorous tint previously absent. “I mean, I assassinated him because he was a threat to me and my family. He scared us. The way he spoke on television, the way he sounded, the things he said, all of it, he sounded insane, and it was scary when he started talking about nukes, and using nukes. I don’t want a nuclear war. I don’t think anyone does except crazy people. Like him. And the thing is, as a crazy person, he’s the one that can order us, our country, to use our nuclear weapons to attack another country. But the thing is, we don’t what would have happened then. It would have been like opening Pandora’s box, except Pandora’s box is filled with nuclear and biological weapons, war and terrorists.

“So it was simple. I had to kill him to protect me and my family, and our way of life. It’s funny, but I think he would approve.”

Today’s Theme Music

In this age….

And what is this age, this technological age of rising alt news, polarization, nationalism, fascism and repression, what is this age? Sure don’t feel like the Age of Aquarius.

Back in nineteen eighty-five, the world was facing many issues, like the famine in Africa. In the U.K., Bob Geldof responded by organizing Band-Aid. In America, a ‘super-group’ was put together to release an album to help. A group, U.S.A. (United Support of Artists), was put together to help the cause. Produced by Quincy Jones, a song, ‘We Are The World,’ was co-written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, and arranged by Michael Omartian. Released as part of Live Aid, it helped awaken awareness of the famine in Africa. Other ‘live-aid’ type of events followed as musicians stepped up to help farmers and earthquake victims.

I didn’t particularly like the song, but I appreciate the sentiment and effort. Harry Belafonte was the first spark plug in this effort because he thought something needed to be done, but watch the video and listen to the voices, and see how many artists participated in trying to make a difference. It was a hit; it won awards; it raised money and attracted attention to the problem.

Well, here we are again, with war and terrorism shredding the world. Displaced peoples are seeking the very basics of food, water and shelter, and nations, like America under Trump, want to turn their backs. Insisting, “America First,” he builds walls and bombs other places, because walls and bombs have always been so effective. That’s why the war to end all wars was fought one hundred years ago.

It seems like that was just the opening of a War-apalooza.

A Random Stream

‘Hey Ya’ is playing in my head but otherwise, thoughts are normalized streams of randomness.

  • Eva Lesko Natiello posted a blog about not quitting. I was happy to read it and read it again today because her words summarizes my writing process. Here’s one paragraph.
    • “Yesterday my manuscript was torturing me. I couldn’t move forward. Stuck in my puzzle. I was having trouble with the order of disclosure and who’s POV it should be. Should the dialogue contradict what the character was really thinking? Maybe she wasn’t thinking that at all. What was she thinking? Maybe it wasn’t her place to reveal it. Perhaps we should find out some other way.”
    • I like how she captured this process. Later, she mentions that she becomes frustrated and pushes herself to sit it in her chair and squirm it out. I don’t squirm; I close my eyes and bow my head. But’s it’s the same thing.
  • Earlier in February, Barbara Froman published an interview she conducted with Dr. Harrison Solow in 2013. I read it again this week. I recommend it. I like what Harrison said in this paragraph:
    • “And someone has had the great good sense to leave this book alone. Or if altered, respectfully tuned to perfect pitch by an invisible hand, so that each word has the unmistakable ring of authenticity. The reader perceives nothing enharmonic. A true book and a beautiful one. But although there is no false note, neither is the entire composition a universal symphony. There is vision here — intensely personal, internally arranged.”
    • There is the difficulty, finding the notes so no false notes are played in the novel.
  • Gray, cold air cups the buildings and trees this morning. Walking past a row of apartments, I smell…laundry detergents and fabric softeners being vented out. Nostalgia strikes a chime. This is a day like my Pittsburgh childhood. Smells often transport me.
  • Striding past the cemetery, I acknowledge, again, I like cemeteries but I don’ t like them. The history they represent touches me and prompts questions about the lives beneath the headstones. But I think the land where cemeteries reside could be better used for other things. I’ve never had the interest in visiting them to talk to people who passed on; I just speak to them in my head. But it matters much to others. I guess I’m an unsentimental jerk.
  • Watched  ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ on Friday night. Wasn’t impressed. It seems like, as my wife called it, a movie war, dated and hackneyed. Others obviously think differently, as they nominated it for the Best Picture. Again, it must be me. I do admire Desmond Doss, the conscientious objector (cooperator, he calls himself) at the story’s center. I thought Garfield did a good job, but overall, Mel Gibson as a director seemed heavy handed. I found Hollywood vs History’s details about the differences between the movie and the facts very interesting.
  • Many smart houses, with their smart thermostats, are actually connected to apps that allow you to call it from your phone and change the temperature or turn the lights on or off. That’s not a smart house, but a remote control. A smart house, to me, is one that I don’t have to program and set reminders other than to provide it with some basic operating instructions. For instance, my system is programmed for fifty-eight degrees at night. But if the temperature is dropping into the mid twenties Fahrenheit, like this week, I turn it up to sixty-four at night. Part of this is because the house design; the furnace is mounted on its side in the attic space. It’s not insulated, and the drip line runs through it and down inside a garage wall that also isn’t insulated. That sometimes allows the drip line to freeze. It’s a shortcoming that I’m working on to fix, but meanwhile, a smarter house would be helpful.
  • ‘Nocturnal Animals’ was last night’s household viewing feature. Well done and everything, but not my style of movie.
    • During the movie, my wife turned to me and asked, “Have you ever killed me in a novel?” No, I haven’t.
    • Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Tony Hastings, is a writer. During a conversation, he states, “All writers write about themselves.” I kind of agree; I am the baseline from which I begin, but then it changes according to the character and story’s needs and expectations. Often, though, I model a character on another person and use how I would expect them to behave as my guide.
    • My wife also wondered what I thought of Tony’s revenge. While it’s not something that I would have done, I can see how a writer can end up going there.
    • If you don’t know what I’m writing about, sorry. I don’t mean to be obtuse but didn’t want to reveal too much of the plot.
  • Now time to dip myself back in the imaginary world of an imaginary future, technology and people. In other words, I’m going to write like crazy, at least one more time. I’ll probably do a little squirming, too.

Today’s Theme Music

Maybe it’s just me, but this song is just cool.

Put this song in your head on autoplay, and you walk around feeling and acting cool. You are cool because this song has made you cool. You’re bopping your head just a little as you walk or sit, tapping your foot whenever you’re standing still.

That the group who came out with it, War, had so many hits, is amazing. I could have gone with ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’, ‘Cisco Kid’, ‘The World Is A Ghetto’, or ‘Spill the Wine’. But I went with the cool.

Fresh out of the Peadbody Wayback Machine and 1975, (when I was celebrating finishing basic and technical training with the military, and was driving around the my first car buy, a 1968 Camaro RS*, around my first duty assignment at Wright-Pat in Ohio), here is ‘Low Rider’. 

*That’s not my Camaro RS in the set photo. My car was copper, with a black RS stripe.

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