Not Talking About Writing - Part 3/4

» This page is PART THREE, continued from » Part Two. It was split into FOUR pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization. Here you go...

Pyramids at sunset» Increasing Size & Complexity

Have you noticed? by the way, how my entries have been growing?

.. in both size/length and complexity? And probably a few other ways, too.

I now have *two* 4-page entries » The Broken Butterfly (January 11) and » Big Brother (May 23).

Both coming in 2013. Can't say I sense any slowing.

The (compressed) HTML content alone of those entries totals to more than 100-KB - for EACH entry (120) . HTML = text + mark-up.

It feels, I must say, completely organic .. the growth .. in that I would prefer to say-n-exit what I need to say. But if nobody is saying what needs to be said .. then wtf?

[ Specially when the Bill of Rights goes up for auction. For sale to the highest bidder.

I mean, I would not be able to live with myself if I stood by silently .. while it sells to the highest bidder.

Fuck that noise. I'm feeling all Braveheart now. Where's my blue woad? Let's DO this thing.

Etain, Shewolf of the CenturionSeems like the sentiment is contagious.

Let it not be said of our generation » "They stood around with their thumbs up their asses while the government systematically dismantled the entire Bill of Rights" ]

I am not prepared right now to discuss increasing psychological depth. But it's there ..

.. not far from the door labeled insanity. Right down the hall from Alice and her rabbit hole. =)

If I recall correctly, I took you down to the Dog's gelatin membrane .. the one that separates sanity from insanity ..

.. where we talked to the dude on the other side .. shortly after visiting Dracula .. but before we watched Anne Rice interview Mr. Vampire. Off the porch we got. Soul-fucking torment.

(Which is why I am not prepared right now .. to discuss increasing psychological depth.)

And each of those 4-page entries comes with ~ 1500-KB worth of representative graphics, which I encode rather generously, to favor a higher quality image. Hand-crafted Rad-ness.

Made with love. Travaux d'architecte. (Architectural work/labor, as Proust called it.)

These rudimentary metrics, I understand, are beyond the simple word-count of the Twentieth century novelist, but they help me compare where I was with where I seem to be heading.

Tho never size for size's sake. I mean, I could easily turn an entry like » Gatsby into a 10-page entry, if number of pages were the goal.

Wolf howling at the full moonPerhaps this is something I will do with today's entry .. break it up into many smaller pages .. just to experiment.

And one the factors affecting this complexity is the » hyperlink. Because that's where I hide my background research .. the supporting evidence .. for my seemingly outlandish claims.

[ It is another discussion, entirely .. but with good hyperlink skillz, and effective use of graphics, a 21-st century writer can now convey the essential wisdom of an entire novel .. in just a chapter or two. ]

The hyperlink is the thing that makes HTML (running on the Web) such a powerful technology, as you know. And don't forget abut the inclusion of graphics, audio, and multi-media. Mui powerful.

Tho my graphics (I have observed) always come AFTER I layeth down the text. For what it's worth. Always. An observed "psychological rule" as Proust might say. It is what it is.

So (in other words) picking the perfect graphic can be a lot of fun. Like getting your paycheck after a long hard week. So the harder you work, the more you appreciate the graphic. =)

Later, when it comes time to edit and prune dead weight, the graphics also help me to find more quickly the passage I am looking for. My graphics do not always correspond precisely to the topic at hand. Tho they are normally in the ball park. So they are still a good (quick) gross homing beacon.

So when I sit down to edit these large entries .. to try to squeeze out everything but the delicious juicy grandeur .. I need to have open at least 8 pages. The back-end for each four, and also the front-end. Others, sure. But those 8 are the starting point.

<Ignore this Intentional Moveable Type text spacer>

••• today's entry continues here below •••

And the focus of attention required by these larger entries .. reminds me of the intellectual gymnastics I recall from Calculus .. that feeling of finely tuned mental strength .. a Porsche for your mind ..

Your Brain.. which comes from using your brain to a high degree .. for a period of months (2 semester's worth).

That feeling like you can explode rocks with your mind .. by focusing your attention.

In other words, these are large entries .. that have challenged me .. on numerous levels. (Exhausting.)

Consequently, I think that I am now more hesitant to begin new entries.

Notice that two calendar months passed without an entry. (That has never happened before.

Last year was the first with no entry for a single calendar-month, July 2012. Now we have two for this year.) I normally try to write at least one entry per month (.. so the site doesnt look neglected).

And I periodically attempt entries that challenge me (.. on multiple levels). But always, the larger they grow, the more unwieldy they become.

Some of my other large, multipage entries are » Geeks vs Gov (May 2012) = 100-KB + 800-KB (HTML + gfx). Righteousness » 70 + 700. Hitchcock (my first multipage entry) » 70 + 500. Newtown » 50 + 750. Tears » 35 + 350.

Gatsby is a big single page entry that weighs in at 35 + 450. The SYSTEM = 30 + 350. Those should probably both be split up. In a perfect world, all my entries would weight less than 250 total. 150 would be even better.

I get all my analytics from » here. These numbers therefore represent » compressed« data (seeing I have enabled gzip HTML compression). For example, right now this home page = 107-KB uncompressed, which comes in at 35 compressed. That sounds about right. 3-to-1 compression ratio for text.

So you could safely triple the HTML-text numbers posted above. The graphics is already encoded (generously) with jpeg and png, so those (gfx) do NOT compress very much more with gzip. I am pretty sure that the gzip encoder / compression is also applied to the graphics (to everything the server sends), but not 100% positive.

Basically, that would mean my biggest entries come in around 350-KB HTML/text (unc) and 1500-KB for graphics. Roughly speaking.

NSA | Aerial viewI would imagine the NSA has more precise analytics technology. Far more. Proctologically precise.

{ If you think about it, the NSA is very much about » analytics [ Big Data, baby. ]

Google is also very much about analytics. I mean, they send me shit all the time ..

.. about how I should put their ads in order to boost the site's earnings.

Google's analytics are so effective that, if I fart, an ad pops up for an air freshner.

This match clearly was meant-to-be. I mean, how can they NOT? .. be attracted to each other.

I'm sure they both feel as tho (with only the best of intentions) that this was a match made-in-heaven.

But any Geek can see how the system is begging to be exploited (.. by unsavory fucks). Such a beautiful system. [ I have a complementary story to accompany this statement, but no time to tell right now. ]

I am far from an expert on analytics (.. and I will certainly look further into this) .. but my understanding of analytics points to algorithms.

In other words, it's all in the math. In the code. The execution. The speed.

So the 'machine' will spit out 'minority reports' .. via predictive analytics and a human will have to look at it and say whether the alert is truly warranted. (Or not.)

Notice how the precog knew .. about Cruise's enforcer character. I like those kinds of movies .. that challenge your sense of ________ (« what's the word?). Orientation?

I must say that I found the timing somewhat curious .. when, a week after I posted an entry that concluded that money-in-politics is the source of corruption in our government ..

.. my web hosting provider suddenly announced that they needed to move my site/account to another server.

Sometimes when I talk to the support guys there, I throw in a question like » "Do you guys still have me on the NSA server?"

That gives them a good chuckle. }

The HTML number-value includes things such as link address, so they factor in (.. as they should for comparative purposes).

Size comes down to time. Time and passion. These guys who spent YEARS on the same book, the same story, the same subject .. you gotta really LOVE that.

What happens if you get halfway thru (a year or so later)? .. and say/decide » "This story sucks." Oops. What a commitment.

White dove on black background» Courage to Discuss the Unspeakable

But I must say that my own intuitive sense of things here .. does indeed find congruence with both Ernest and Sophy ..

.. that this thing, if it is even addressed at all, must be addressed carefully and respectfully.

The first problem I see .. is that it can sound like so much nonsense. Notice Hemingway's chatter about butterflies and hawk's wings.

"Say what, Ernest? What are you talking about, man? Speak english, please. Hanging around all those Frenchmen must have done something to you. What are you trying to say, dude?"

Then there is also the thing .. beyond Sophy's "one-on-one" thing .. where the writer could sound pretentious. I try to avoid this pitfall by imagining a » one on one. Using the hushed tones of intimacy.

» Curious Childhood Chutzpah

Speaking of which .. there was a time .. I don't remember how old I was. Maybe 3rd grade .. certainly no more than 4th.

And we were going somewhere, but I had a little time before we were leaving. So I pulled out one of those big Time-Life books that mom subscribed to. A book on birds. And I opened it to the first page.

And I read the first paragraph, which was very short. Only 4 or 5 sentences. And it felt like something in me automatically started to rearrange the words .. to see if there was a better way .. to say the same thing.

Pooh & Tigger & the Hundred Acre gangFor 5 or 10 minutes. This was ALL that I did. I read no other paragraphs, tho I did appreciate the photos.

At the end of which I concluded that this paragraph was written as good as possible. =)

And after I shut the book and mom called, I had the thought .. that it seemed like a strange thing ..

.. for a boy so young .. to critique the writer of this text (.. in a way) ..

.. who almost certainly had gone to college .. and likely majored in something that involved word-crafting. A professional writer, most obviously he was.

But there was a 'knowing' that came with that experience .. that I have this 'asset' (to use a good capitalistic word). And once in a while I even find people who concur with my childhood intuition.

It felt like I had a 'strength' in that area. I have ALWAYS felt that way .. ever since that day. Like there was nobody in the entire world that could tell me jack-shit about writing. [ « That is not the best way to say it, but you catch my drift. ]

» Writing is the Process of Creating Something Out of Nothing

But actually here, when I said » writing, I really meant » editing, which is surprisingly different from writing (creating, imagination).

For me, WRITING is the process of creating something out of nothing (from inside, or from your imagination) .. the more original and authentic, the better.

After that playful insinuation in the sixth grade (.. which I am going to tell you about next) .. nobody has accused me of plagiarism.

Pooh & Piglet looking for butterfliesSure, they have accused me of many things .. much worse. But never of copying another writer.

Because I could see back there in the sixth grade, that <paraphrase>

"Dude, you are going to have to write stuff that no one else is writing.

That is the only way you can keep them from accusing you of copying another writer."

In other words (talking to my myself) » "You're gonna have to get off the porch .. and you're gonna have to find shit that nobody else is finding."

And people who like things to look a certain way .. they don't much fancy the notion when everything is not in it's 'proper' place.

So I could see back-then, in sixth grade, that I would need to write about things that nobody else did. A degree of originality lends special consideration to an argument, no?

My thoughts and feelings on this topic vary, but there is a part of me that considers prophecy to be the writer's gold standard.

If you say "thus-n-so" .. and thus-n-so happens .. then you neednt much further validation. No?

Particularly if your 'thus-n-so' involves lightning-bolts and swarms-of-locusts.

[ Scripture specifically instructs the Christian to "earnestly desire" the gift of prophesy. ]

This even extends to people who, for whatever reason, seem to be able to see into the future. Who is going to say that this person is a shitty writer? (Not me.)

The Red and the Black by Stendhal (1830)The problem here is that is usually takes a decade or two or three ..

.. before we get to see who was most accurate .. and who was most eerily accurate.

» It Will Take You 50 Years to Understand

Stendhal (1783-1842) is famous for saying at the publication of » Le Rouge et Le Noir (1830, which met with harsh reviews) »

» "Dudes! It will take you 50 years to figure out what I'm saying."

And sure 'nuf, come 1880, Stendhal's writings experienced a resurgence of interest.

If you ask me, that prophetic declaration alone earns Stendhal entrée into the writer's Book of Ages.

Today you will find Stendhal's title listed there as one of the 100 Best Books of All Time .. In Any Language. (Ever.)

How can that be?

Now yes, few are willing to call the prophet a shitty writer. But that often takes a century or two. While the prophet is actually scrawling .. he is too often getting his ass kicked.

And the average writer can probably do without the ass whuppings. (Feel me?) So they are not reluctant to lower the bar. To where I have set my bar. My gold standard.

» The Connection

And that is » connecting with an audience in such a way that they ALL feel like what you have written has been written JUST FOR THEM. Even tho they know it's not (.. not written just for them).

So it seems that a 'personalizer' comes along with the words. And they speak to you in such a personal way .. that you feel like this book/story/song/poem was written just for you.

There seems to be a mystical element at work here, no? Tho shared experiences between author and reader can definitely help enhance the connection.

The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A PortraitDylan's connection with his audience comes to mind. There exists somewhere on YouTube a fascinating video ..

.. of Joan Baez saying about Dylan and his art (songs) something like »

» Not everybody 'got' Dylan. But for those people who DID .. [ Okay. Here is the exact quote, tho I am unable to locate the video: ]

"There are no veils, curtains, doors, walls, anything, between what pours out of Bob's hand onto the page and what is somehow available to the core of people who are believers in him. Some people would say, you know, 'not interested,' but if you're interested, he goes way, way deep."

 In other words, for those people who 'got' Dylan (like me) .. he spoke to you on a very intimate level. Like he was speaking directly to your heart ..

.. thoughts and ideas and feelings that you always had, but that had never occurred to your consciousness  .. until he said it.

Okay, this 3-minute clip here is good, but that doesnt include the part I want. Notice however that she quotes Dylan as saying » "I dont know where this stuff comes from?"

Does that not seem like he is alienated from his creative source?

I will try to find for you the clip/scene that I am talking about. That has been more difficult than I anticipated. Here is where someone pulled the quote. Here, too.

» Hammer and Chisel Time, Combing Out the Knots

That outlines my feel for WRITING .. while EDITING is working with something that has already been created .. until it looks the way you want it to look. Until it says (precisely) what you want it to say .. in the just the way that you want to say it.

[ I am having a déjà vu right now .. regarding those last two sentences. So I hope I have not already said this before. =) ]

The writer in me can be someone who loves the whole world. Whereas the editor in me can be a total asshole.

Fucking perfectionist. Nothing is ever good enough. "So what your eyes are bleeding? Keep editing .. until it's perfect."

Yin-Yang Tattoo, well-placed[ If I were somehow at the base of Mount Everest ..

.. my inner critic would be saying » "So what? You think you're hotshit cuz you found base camp?

You think you're the first Swinging Dick to find it? Cuz you're not.

You're not even number one thousand. So sleep tight tonight. Because we leave at daybreak."

The inner critic makes for a marvelous contrast with my inner writer. Yin and yang. Perfect, complete opposites.

"Go fuck yourself."

"No, please .. you first. I insist." ]

Like Dostoevsky, I somehow feel I have my father to thank .. for helping to develop and hone my editing skills.

My dad got up at 4:30 every Sunday morning (hours before daybreak) for 4 years .. and took me around in his pick-up truck ..

.. to deliver the (fat, heavy) Sunday newspaper .. ~200 of them .. even when the temperature fell below zero (ages 11 to 15).

The famous shower scene in Hitchcock's PsychoWhen we were teenagers, dad would take all the neighborhood kids to the scary movies at the local theater.

They loved that. Couldnt get enough of it. Afterwards » pizza at Luigi's.

[ Pizza, btw, is the biggest advantage that the East Coast has over the West. The West Coast's biggest advantage » weather, where every day is picture perfect.

I told my friends after arriving here » "You know those days that were so nice that we would skip school?

.. because you might not get another day like that for months? Every day here is like that." ]

Mom told me that she married my dad, "Because he was smart." And smart he was. He had the genes mom wanted.

Not so much educated, as intelligent. Mom was the big reader. The library queen.

Even today, I am not sure I understand how such a young boy can use his rudimentary editing skills to challenge those of a trained professional .. but back then I definitely couldnt understand it.

Yet there you have it. It is what it is. An organic experience. I wasnt trying to prove anything to anybody. Nobody even knew .. until today.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo starring Marlon Brando» "Where did you get this?"

And as I grew, I began to experiment with this 'thing'. Such as with my 6th grade book report, which I did on The Godfather, by Mario Puzo ..

.. a book which rather shocked this sixth grader (.. such as the guy waking to find a bloody horse head in his bed).

I remember working especially hard on the first, introductory paragraph .. to make it say exactly what I wanted to say.

It took a surprisingly long time .. for such a little paragraph. But I was determined. Almost possessed.

I redoubled my efforts when I felt frustrated. That initial paragraph seemed to resist my efforts. I KNEW that I could kick its ass (.. eventually) .. but it became clear that my 'gift' was no magic wand.

It took work. Real work. Somewhat exhausting work. Much more effort than I wanted to dedicate to that book report. But that was the first time I ever saw the gift in action.

On due day, our English teacher (Ms. D, who had previously been a nun, but had since returned to secular life) read a selection of these book reports in class .. seated up at her desk.

This was actually cool, cuz she was very Italian .. and she pronounced the name of the Godfather » Corleone .. like a real Italian. She 'rolled' the r and used four syllables instead of the three I had used myself » cor-lee-OWN vs cor-lay-OH-nay.

» Horse Head in the Bed

And she did this cool thing with the R rolling into the L. Sounded very authentic, if you ask me. Her way sounded much more like he really would put a horse's head in your bed .. on the pillow beside you.

[ Speaking of horse heads, here is a restaurant for you to check out if you find yourself in Lancaster, PA. Not easy to find, because it's off an alley. A local girl took me there once. Very cool find. "Where are you taking me? Down this dark alley."

Puzo's novel covers multiple generations. It messed with my mind when he went BACK in time. Back to the future .. which filled in all the missing parts .. that you didnt even know were missing.

Up until that point I did not know you could do that. I thought all writing had to be chronological. Puzo was a rule-breaker who made time-travel look easy.

Very cool .. especially for a 6th grader. I learned that I like it when a talented guide takes me to places that I didnt even know existed.

That little insight forms a significant portion of my writing direction .. cuz I say, "I have been to places myself that I didnt even know existed." ]

But everything was done anonymously with our teacher reading these book reports. I liked that nobody knew who wrote the report she was reading .. until, that is, she got to mine.

She read the first paragraph I had written. Then, without any hesitation, she looked up over her glasses .. right at me (sitting way in the back) and said, "Where did you get this?" Her eyes locked on me like laser beams.

The thing was .. it really did sound like a professionally-written paragraph .. especially with the cool ethnic accent she thru in for good measure.

For a moment, while she was reading, it sounded as if someone else had written it .. and I thought, "That's good. Very good."

Her query was definitely a backhanded compliment, but I still felt funny .. for some reason. Curiously shy about it. Exposed, even.

Notice how I polished/combed/perfected the first paragraph only. I still maintain that technique to this day.

That first paragraph was so exhausting (at the time) and time-consuming .. that I could/would never write the whole report like that.

These days I normally 'make-smooth' and easy-to-read the first 25 to 33 percent .. depending on the novelty of the topic. After that, "You're on your own, dawg." I figure they know what they (readers) are getting into.

Gerolsteiner Mineral Water» The Effervescent Dogbrother Welcome

When the Dog comes over, I stock the fridge with a case of Gerolsteiner, which I know he likes, and say, "Make yourself at home, dawg."

He is a vegetarian, so I stock up on noodles & such.

That is very close .. to the underlying spirit that I try to create here at the site. The environment. A state-of-mind, you might say (.. tho I probably wouldnt).

Because once a man feels at home he can .. get down to business.

In other words, I try to roll out the red carpet for my readers .. without making a fuss. I definitely get off the porch far more in the second half of an entry.

As an example, I have gone back and re-read the the first page of Hitchcock .. and find that very well written. An oil-slicked slope. It is sometimes a trip .. to go back and read old stuff. Seems like some other dude wrote it. But that's another story.

» Biggest Compliment » "Revelatory"

Probably the biggest compliment I ever got (regarding my writing) contained the word » revelatory. Because this is the most difficult thing (.. for me). And this is something I got from the Dog.

The girl who commented on my writing, had worked as a writer herself for a decade. Nothing major, but paid to write and only write. She told me that she had read "about twenty" of my entries/posts (personal, not technical) ..

.. (and yes, I did feel somewhat naked when she said this) .. she looked me in the eye and said (regarding the more 'revelatory' entries) » "I could never do that."

Hollywood SignAnd that is *exactly* how I felt, at times .. when talking to the Dog ..

.. especially when he lived here in Hollywood (.. mere walking distance from the famous sign).

In other words » he bares his soul .. so bravely .. that (for me) it is truly awe-inspiring.

Not in way that deifies him, no. But rather, in a way that inspires me .. to be more honest with myself ..

.. honest enough to make Socrates proud. Trickier than you might think. Much trickier.

[ The girl who said the word 'revelatory' also asked me to will my notebooks to her. ]

It is much harder to be honest with yourself than I had thought ..

.. I mean, before you can even *think* about being honest with another human being .. you first have to be honest with yourself.

[ Which is why I love articles like » this. Because it is a looong way from Point A to Point B. And bumps. Many bumps. But I admire shit like that and could not stop reading. ]

And if you have been hurt and wronged and fucked over .. then hey (welcome to the club) .. but yes, that can be scary. For anybody.

I have since discussed with the Dog the 'revelatory' comment made by the girl .. and yes, he knows what she is talking about, and the Dog's comment was that ..

.. he had come to point where he needed to come to grips with himself .. or he was a dead man .. he was at a point where he thought he would die .. if he couldnt resolve things which needed resolving for him to live/survive.

[ I knew the Dog back when. Many of my best stories involve the Dog.

Like the time his florescent-white Irish ass fell asleep in the hot Hawaiian sun .. for four hours ..

.. in August, when 30 minutes had singed me, after we returned from a few months at sea (on a submarine).

For many years he had a scar of a hand-print on his belly. A party favor. "Dog, show her the hand-print."

"I still get checked for skin cancer every six months," he said recently.

In the Navy, if you get sunburnt so badly that you can't do your job, they charge you with something like "abusing government property" ..

.. so he did his job. Which is another story entirely. Dont get me started. ]

Which I found interesting. Because I can certainly see for myself, how sometimes, there are things which you simply WILL NOT DO .. unless you HAVE TO. Unless death is the only other option.

Hosue of Blues on Sunset Blvd, Los AngelesWhen the Dog lived up in the Hollywood Hills, we would spend whole days together ..

.. museum hopping, drinking espresso at the Bourgeois Pig ..

.. where it is surprisingly dark, even in broad daylight. Heavy curtains. Painted windows. Vampires love it.

Later we would check out the House of Blues .. with a cool, backdoor entrance. Yeah, the one there on Sunset.

"This is my friend," the Dog says to the doorman, without stopping (without even breaking stride). "He's from Connecticut."

» A Nod of Respect Comes From Being With the Dog

I got a dabble of eye contact and a respectful nod as we passed.

Before it got too loud (which it did, quickly), and while I was wondering how the Dog knew that guy .. he called out over his shoulder, "He's from Yonkers."

"Three East Coast boys chillin' out West," I thought to myself.

[ The Dog is a Hoboken boy. Now, I could have told Chris Christie » "Dude, don't mess with people from Hoboken," ..

.. and perhaps I could have saved him some political pain-n-suffering. But some people need to learn things the hard way, it seems. ]

"I come here a lot," the Dog added, scoping the House in scan mode.

"I like getting in the back door like this," I said, as the volume came up to levels loud enough to let me know that they took their music seriously at the House of Blues. Only meaningful comments were worth the shouting.

Nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine underwayThe Dog sometimes asks me questions about the ship we were both on ..

.. a submarine, nuclear powered, you know .. the "boat," we called it ..

.. home-ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii .. questions to see if I remembered.

"Port and starboard," he once said, ".. which side is associated with odd numbers and which side is associated with even?"

"I forgot," he added, "and had to look it up. You'll probably remember." [ See here » PESO. Also » posh. ]

No, we never made it to the Sunday Gospel Brunch there, but it was definitely on the list. "Praise the Lord and pass the pancakes, brother."

Other times we would just hang out and smoke cigars with graduate Film school students at the USC School of Cinema. (The Dog got his Masters from USC, so he knows the campus. Heck, he knows the whole city.)

We even spent some long weekends together. So we would totally get off the porch .. discussings topics which had no limits. Rich, juicy, nectar.

And I could never even come close to the places the Dog could go (.. in a self-revelatory way). Time after time after time. I'm talking about AFTER the Dog had been to Columbia and USC.

I'm talking about » TEN YEARS after we had lived together in Hawaii, downtown Waikiki .. with the sound of traffic all around, not unlike your typical big city, especially since the windows there were always open.

Where the two strippers lived above us (.. on Ala Wai blvd). Sandi & Bambi. They invited us to see their show .. at the Chinese Cultural Center, downtown Honolulu.

Surprisingly nice place. We had complimentary front-row seats. One of the other girls (..who didnt live in our building) even pulled the Dog up on stage .. to assist her in one of her acts. The Dog definitely has potential in the Performing Arts. =)

He dated one of the strippers for a month or two.

Freediver Nick Mevoli at Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas, Nov. 17, 2013He had obviously become a most impressive man (.. during his time at Columbia) ..

.. who had been thru the shit and came out a remarkable human being.

I was so proud of him. (Still am.) Probably similar to the way Nick Mevoli's friends felt about him ..

.. cuz it seems that they both are familiar with the mind set » "I am going to get this thing if it kills me." ..

.. tho in different ways, obviously. Nick Mevoli is also a city-boy like the Dog (and even Gatsby).

I am proud of the Dog because I knew where he has been, and from whence he came. And how he had been (mis)treated.

So as you can see, I was both humbled and inspired .. by this girl's comment. (Dostoevsky also does that to/for me .. tho echo'ing from another century, so not as strongly as the Dog does for me here-n-now, today.)

And this is why .. when the girl in the coffee shop (.. a former professional writer) said the word » 'revelatory' .. and said to me, "I could never do that" .. I thought to myself » "I know what you mean." =)

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)Because here's what I heard » "You're like the Dog."

And yes, that's a compliment.

I called the Dog soon as I got home.

"Dawg, you'll never believe what this girl just said to me."

Oh, this is interesting .. I had never realized that the term » revelatory also carries the notion of » prophetic ..

.. because yes, sometimes I do indeed feel prophetic.

[ Which is not as big of a deal as it might seem .. seeing that every Christian should be discerning "what is to come".

What is the difference between 'prophetic' and obvious? (.. if the prophetic is obvious). ]

Hmm. I need to think about that. Until I actually looked up the word just now .. in order to link to it .. I felt that the word, at least how she used it .. meant only » bares his soul, bravely.

Now yes, there *are* things .. that I have faced in as much honesty as I can muster .. but which are too intimate to share here. I could share them with the Dog. I could even share them with this girl .. but not here. Perhaps in the future. But not now.

Etain, Shewolf of the CenturionBut you have to transcend it .. before you can even consider discussing it.

And in order to transcend .. you have to GO THERE ..

.. and stare the beast in the eye. And say, "You aint shit, no more." (Touch it.)

Even if it means you get clawed (zapped).

Yes, I am waxing abstract, but it goes with the territory. If you do not know what I am talking about, then you are most fortunate.

When you challenge yourself, you learn things about yourself .. that may be difficult to learn any other way.

I've always admired people who have the courage to get to know themselves .. even if it means finding out ugly stuff about themselves.

Because then .. at least you have a fighting chance .. at improvement .. compared to those who live in a prefab illusion.

» Is it Me? (Soul-Bearing)

Along the lines of the Dog bearing his soul in such a remarkable (and encouraging) way .. I have sometimes wondered » "Is it me?"

Rotting in a jail cellBecause it is not just the Dog. There was also the guy in the jail cell ..

.. who was telling me extraordinarily candid (from the heart) things.

And after thinking about this .. I suspect that people can sense (intuitively) when you come without prejudice or judgment ..

.. and especially when you come with compassion.

So that they naturally feel that they are safe to share .. and that they will be heard by receptive soul ..

.. and in a way, they are sharing something ______ with you. (You fill in the blank.)

I have discussed this topic with those who know me well, and they say » "It's » you. It's *definitely* you."

If it is really me .. then I feel that it (a gift?) has something to do with » compassion.

Compassion basically means to » suffer with. And in order to suffer with .. you have to suffer. Which is another topic entirely.

And when it seems like some are bound and determined to make you suffer .. it is nice to have someone who will suffer with you. No?

Yes. (They help you keep your head above water.) Is there an easier way to get compassion?

» Editing is Drudgery for Gertrude Stein

The beginning I use Dreamweaver to work (create initial structure). That is much easier to use than the (relatively clunky) web back-end for Moveable Type. That's why I stay with Dreamweaver long as I can .. specially makes dropping in a hyperlink very easy.

Most web back-ends run Javascript in your browser = clunky (.. particularly when gripped by the ecstatic thrall of caffeine-fueled creativity).

[ My inner editor-critic, for example, thinks the end of that last sentence sounds like so much nonsense. But it's true, so I left it in. ]

Your machine's performance would matter, yes. Either way, that is definitely the way things are going.

So, most of a large, 4-page entry is done in the clunky browser .. where you have to want it more.

» Frank Language vs Euphemistic Misunderstanding

Even the blunt language is a way to ward off the unaware .. as my way of saying, "We will be speaking rather frankly here, so you might not want to continue reading. Might not be the nepenthe you were looking for."

That is not the primary reason why I employ what most people call 'profanity'. But that it is certainly one of them.

[ Speaking of reason .. I try not to let rationality influence my creative decisions .. but there you have it. We all have to live in the real world. Or do we? ]

The main reason why I employ language that some might term profane .. is because my target audience uses it (.. when they are among friends and colleagues). And I want them to feel at home.

I dont call it profanity, no. That would be silly. The KJV uses the word » dung, which I am pretty sure means » shit. The Bible contains many terms that polite society might consider offensive.

I know people who simply do not trust people who do not know how to use the f-word correctly (.. other than their grandmother, of course).

Think » "I use the Google to pull up maps." You might not be able to put your finger on it .. but there is something there that gives you pause.

If you are offended by such language, then this is a good sign that you are not part of my target audience. Because the letter kills.

» "I'm gonna kick your ass"

After that day, when our sixth grade, ex-nun English teacher read aloud a selection of our book reports ..

.. one of the girls in our class became very friendly towards me. She was dating a guy in another class (.. tho you dont call it 'dating' in sixth grade) .. a big dude, who suddenly wanted to kick my ass .. for an assortment of fabricated reasons .. but everybody knew the real reason why.

I did eventually have to throw fists in anger .. to defend myself .. but that's another story (.. about chunks of flesh torn off of my bleeding knuckles). He was big, yes, but he could not fight worth a shit.

Years later we laughed about it and became decent friends and he agreed that I smote his ass. =)

So perhaps you can see how the message that I came away from this experience was » if you use that writing thing to its full, people will want to kick your ass. Big people. They will make up bullshit excuses .. to kick your ass.

Franklin & Marshall college | Lancaster, PA. established 1787 » Very Clev-vah English Composition at F&M

Then there was college. English Composition. Mandatory for every 4-year degree, but the most boring class ever, right? Wrong.

Downright fascinating. I shit you not. English Composition 101. Scintillating shit. How can that be?

The professor, that's how. He had even written his own book for the course, tho we did not use it very much.

And at the end of the class, the prof kept all of us waiting out in the hall for the final class meeting, to give us our grades ..

.. and one person would come out and say, "He wants to see ____ next." But I was never called .. until the very end. (I shoulda brought a book along. No, my last name does not begin with Z.)

I was the last one, and he says, "I gave you an A. You're a very clever writer. I want you in my intermediate-level composition class next semester." He said the word clever like a Bostonian » clev-vah. With a soft r.

» Wittgenstein, Money & a Professor's Young Son

He also mentioned the themes I had explored in some of my weekly essays .. and how they made him think of what Wittgenstein had said [who?] and how that related to some interesting things that his young son had recently said.

I was actually touched that he would share with me something as personal as treasures his young son had said. Because this was an older man .. who wore those cool professorial sport jackets .. the ones with the suede patches sewn over the elbows.

He spoke like a dignitary, his head brimming with the coolest life-enriching stuff.

Back then I was more interested in the money than learning cool shit. Waay more. I was only taking classes because my brother was a dang surgeon (.. if you need an operation, I can get you a good deal) .. and I had to do something about sibling academic rivalry.

Indian Point Nuclear Plant on the Hudson river in New YorkThat was right before I left to go up to New York .. to work at the Indian Point nuclear plant. "I ran out of money," I told the professor. "I gotta go to work in New York."

I had saved up enough money to take off one semester from work .. but no more. (You cannot imagine how much I enjoyed my time during that semester. Heaven. Bliss. Nirvana. Paradise.)

I would have loved to take that class .. even if I did not need it for my degree .. because everything he said was infused with nectar.

» The Lady at Zinc Cafe (Laguna Beach)

Then there was the lady I met at Zinc Cafe. She was, somehow, a friend of the Film school girl (USC School of Cinema) that I was dating.

This lady worked up in Los Angeles, reading scripts for potential production. But before that, she read novels. So she knew her shit.

The Film school girl asked her to read some of my stuff. At the time, I had ~50 pages to give her, which would equal ~100 book pages.

Zinc Cafe, Laguna Beach, CaliforniaAfterward, a few weeks later, she wanted to meet for lunch. Most everybody in Laguna Beach seems to meet at Zinc Cafe.

[ They do have great food at Zinc. Tho I also like Anastasia's for weekend brunch with a sweet-tooth. ]

She first gave me her qualifications, then said, regarding my manuscript, "I know a lot of people who work very hard at this. They would kill to have what you have. And you make it look easy."

She also pointed out some non sequiturs that I hadnt noticed, which I promptly corrected. This was all great news, of course, but this kind of stuff / environment makes me uncomfortable, so I won't even discuss it.

I really didnt want to go. Wendy said, "Dude, you can't let this lady take time out of her busy schedule to read your stuff .. and then not meet with her."

"You're right," I said. "I'll sit down with her. Tell me where & when."

» The Self-Transcendent Quest to Boldly Go Beyond

But here's my point, my take-away [ as you can likely see already ] » I have always known I could write .. since grade school. I dont need anybody to tell me I can write. I dont need anybody to stroke my ego (.. not in that area, anyway).

It is actually counterproductive, to a degree .. because, then I don't try as hard. I dont reach as far. I dont dig as deep. I wouldnt even consider going for broke. (Like those who think their shit stinketh not.) But when you got nothing to lose...

Why crash the gates of hell .. if you don't have to?

Notice how the VERY FIRST thing that the Spirit-of-God did [ after "descending like a dove" ] .. was to » lead Jesus where? To a luxury 5-star resort located on the Mediterranean coast?

Chris McCandless - Into the WildNo. Rather » into the wilderness. For what? To get a massage? No.

Rather » to be "tempted of/by the devil." Does that sound like fun to you? I didnt think so.

Uh, my suspicion, my inkling, my impression here .. is that this wilderness experience .. would be considerably more challenging ..

.. than say, a 40-day cruise of the Mediterranean, or even the Baltic. No?

» Internal / Hidden Architecture Made More Plain

For example, with today's entry I am attempting to employ a technique of "hidden architecture" .. similar to what Tolstoy mentions regarding his writing of Anna Karenina .. where he says:

"The cohesion of the structure does not lie in the PLOT or in the relations (the meetings) of the characters. It is an INTERNAL cohesion. Look well and you will find it."

No, I am not saying that today's entry compares with Anna Karenina (.. acclaimed by many as the greatest novel written .. in any language, ever). I am merely playing with technique. Experimenting .. and observing the outcome.

Hopefully, by the time you get to the end, you will have a sense of the internal hidden architecture I have attempted to build into today's entry.

Actually, I often use this technique, intuitively. But today, I am trying to make this technique MORE OBVIOUS ( a way to pay homage to Tolstoy).

My hope is that my internal/hidden structure will jump out at you .. or perhaps even come to you later .. and you will say, like my English professor "Very clever."

Hotel Laguna at Main Beach» The Girl in the Lobby of the Hotel Laguna

There are other memorable examples of readers complimenting my work that I might cite ..

.. such as the girl who read my manuscript, sitting on the couch there in the lobby of the historic Hotel Laguna.

[ I used to have regulars, who would read my work regularly. (For critical feedback.) But then I started wanting to get fresh eyeballs .. to look at my work.

I especially looked for people who were well-read, and she was well-read.

But sometimes they want more .. than just to read your stuff.

You know, if someone is going to take a few hours .. to focus for you .. you are pretty much at their mercy. No?

"You can only meet when? Where?"

That's why guy-readers can be sometimes be advantageous. Sometimes, after a long time, I would call the regulars again, and they would say thing like ..

.. "I didnt think you could make this section any better. But I can see you have."

That made me feel good. I can tighten .. if I have the time. Unpublishably tight. ]

Lean, tight, muscularWe had walked there to the Hotel Laguna from the coffee shop across the street .. after it closed (her idea).

It was nearly 1 AM when she finally finished. (No, I did not expect her to read the whole freaking thing.) Tho I will admit she was a fast reader.

I am not a fast reader. I suck on my words. In order to get the full flavor, the understanding, insight, subtlety .. at least, with the books I really enjoy.

Hate to see the end approaching. The last few chapters, I suck extra slowly. Extra hard.

Is it not a very cool thing .. that we can read the EXACT words that an author writes .. even after he is dead ..

.. sometimes for a very long time. Even if his original words need to be translated .. by a competent translator.

Does this not seem an almost intimate thing? Can you not totally get a sense of their very soul?

The technical stuff is a slog, especially the brand-new concepts. And it feels like you are learning so much (cool stuff) ..

.. but then you look at the back of the book and see that there is soo much more to learn. That can be a bit daunting. I admire those who can dive in head first.

My Navy nuclear training taught me that » you cant touch jack-shit 'til you know wtf you're doing.

I could tell she enjoyed it. It was clear. Tho I probably shouldnt say how I knew. But it was clear.

But I dont feel comfortable sharing any more of these experiences right now. (My ego is saying, "Oh dude, come on, just 10 more.")

Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine underway» Lagunatic Culture Shock

Moving to Laguna was something of a culture shock for me .. coming from my "military-industrial" background.

It was the opposite end of my cultural spectrum. They did not trust me, at first, cuz I wasnt hugging trees with them.

Laguna is an old artists' community. I thought them weird and strange when I first arrived. So weird that I found them (and the things they say) highly entertaining.

I would go to parties and meet people who were into the craziest shit you've ever heard of. But little by little they win you over. "Here, try this kombucha. There. Now don't you feel better already?"

Me at a Laguna party » "So .. you're sleeping with magnets in your mattress .. the one stashed behind the couch, right? Tell me more. Sounds interesting. How many magnets? How powerful are these magnets?"

» Did She Mean to Pour that Warm Sesame Oil Down the Crack of My Butt?

Yoga pose in the mountainsYou start eating granola and sushi and hugging trees and practicing yoga and things like that.

Speaking of culture-shock .. the first time I ever got a massage in Laguna, the girl poured warm (sesame, Ayurvedic) oil ..

.. all the way down my spine .. and even into the crack of my butt. Dude, I knew then that I was in trouble.

I remember the question passing thru my mind » "uh, did she intend to do that? .. or did she mis-pour and go a little too far?"

What are you gonna say? "Umm, excuse me, miss. But did you intend .. to pour that warm oil down the crack of my butt? Because I am pretty sure that is not a sensation I've had before."

And she says, "I'm just getting started. You will be experiencing many such sensations .. and a few I know you'll enjoy."

Afterwards she lit on fire some herbs and walked around me with the smouldering herbs .. not unlike the way a Catholic priest walks around the alter with his censer of smoking incense.

They really are very nice people .. tho few artists can still afford the rent. I lived in Laguna Beach for 10 years .. in a number of different places .. all with juicy stories that I may tell someday. But not today.

[ Heck, I've already taken you to the Hotel Laguna .. at midnight, no less. How scandalous do you want me to get? ]

I will say, however .. that Julie's mom, far as I can recall, is the only person that ever came right and said » "You are a writer!" (unquote)

Yes, the professor at F&M with the oval suede patches said I was a clever writer, but, to my mind, that is different from an enthusiastic » "You are a writer."

» The Twenty-First Century Underground Man

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)As an Underground Man living in the 21st century ..

.. I certainly appreciate the freedom-of-expression that the Web affords ..

.. to explore an array of topics ..

.. and search-out the truth in these important issues ..

.. by exploring both sides of a story .. no matter how ugly each side might seem.

But this is probably all I am comfortable discussing right now ..

.. about things we probably shouldnt be discussing in the first place, seeing that the rest of these stories wax juicy, and some exceedingly so.

So let's shift gears and I will discuss something I find far more difficult.

Something for which I have no obvious gift. And perhaps we can return later to that which is considered unspeakable .. to those things which might be too deep for words.

In keeping with the tenets of web site optimization, today's entry has been broken into FOUR PAGES. The final page is posted here » Not Talking About Writing - Part 4/4.

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on August 1, 2013 8:01 AM.

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