All posts by Steve

DEATH

Does Death care if you joke about it?

Hi, there! It’s been a long time since my last post, I know. And my circumnavigating friends are stuck in the Seychelles, and I’m basically lazy. I have been researching on behalf of my next project as well as getting the current one ready and sending it out in a query. But, you know what? That stuff is dull. Heck, even I don’t see any reason to write about it. But, Death, now there’s a topic near and dear to us all.

One of Tami’s colleagues at the Law Firm where she works, name of Moorea after where she was conceived, is maybe forty years old. She has a six-year-old daughter that Tami adopted as a grand-daughter, and Beatrix is a neat kid. She has a husband named Nick who loves his family. She probably won’t ever see her next birthday. This truly sucks. Moorea has two brain tumors. It started out as one, but obviously her form of cancer is ambitious. She’s going into Hospice care soon. Nobody ever comes out of Hospice care alive. Okay, this really sucks a lot. She’s just embarking on middle age, which is a lot better than the rumors would have you believe, and, guess what? Rides over! Please exit the cars carefully and proceed down the ramp to your right! There are words for this sort of situation, but I promised somewhere (try to find it) that I wouldn’t use any absolutely filthy language here. But you know what those words are, I’m sure. I truly don’t like it at all!

The thing that bugs me about Death isn’t that I’m going to die. I think anyone who wants to live forever hasn’t really thought that through. I’m easily bored. How boring would be living forever? Sooner or later, you’d have done everything possible to do, several times over, and now what? I’m not that crazy about harp music in the first place! But, that said, what really bugs me is that when somebody dies, the world at large doesn’t even notice, nor has it reason to. When my dad died I remember how weird it was that everything was exactly the same, except that my dad was out of the picture. Outside of that sports, commerce, government, city council meetings, house repairs, everything, just went on as normal. I got a couple of days off of work to attend the funeral, then it was back to work as usual. It’s been the same with everybody else I’ve known that died. Mom dies, and the newspaper gets delivered right on time. A couple of brothers have died, and the airline schedules didn’t change a bit. That seems wrong, except I can’t think of anything to be done about it. I mean, the world can’t stop every time somebody dies, or we’d all die of starvation or thirst, I suppose, from nobody doing anything to prevent that.

Next weekend (31st July through 2nd August) I’m going to a Celebration of Life for my youngest older brother. He died last year (not from COVID-19) but we put off this ceremony until this year when it’s safer to travel. I liked Jim; he was a good guy. Now he’s gone. I have trouble with the fact that I can summarize the situation with those two sentences. Poop on you, Death!

I know, you have to take the bad with the good in life. That’s true, and any other balm that can be thrown on the situation is also fine, but the bottom line here is that, I accept Death for me and everything else. But, I won’t ever like it.

Thanks for reading my rant!

S.

Let’s Get Personal

My son Marty, more than a few weeks ago.

I think that picture was taken in Minnesota. Maybe.

By personal I mean that this won’t have anything to do with writing, at least not per se. I was blessed with a hiatal hernia for my entire life. I was a colicky baby, and that’s why. It means that your stomach sticks up through your diaphragm, so you get a lot of heartburn. It used to be very expensive to correct it, and insurance wouldn’t cover it. Well, now I have really good insurance, thanks to Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance, I get any outpatient surgery for free. And, guess what can be corrected with outpatient surgery? Wowie, huh?

Well, yes, actually, but there have been some unexpected side effects. My microbiome has been shifted, and it ain’t going back. Most of us, including me now, have alkaline environments in our mouth and esophagus.  If you’re blessed with what I had, it’s actually acidic. In order to not suffer sleeplessness due to heartburn, I took a lot of proton pump inhibitor, over many years, so my stomach was less acidic than most. Now, I’m normal, acidicly speaking. So, the tooth where my dentist missed a small root when doing my root canal had a small infection in it that suddenly bloomed. And those little buggers managed to get all the way to my lower digestive tract, and, well, it wasn’t pleasant. But I got that tooth fixed, and once my regular dentist puts another crown where the temporary filling is, that problem will be gone forever. Then there’s the athlete’s foot. You wouldn’t associate athlete’s foot with stomach surgery, but it sure has popped up, and for the first time in my life I have athlete’s foot badly enough that it is bothersome. It’s responding to treatment, but it’s bothersome to have to treat, you know?

So, first world problems, I know. In fact, if you live in the first world and suffer from persistent heartburn doe to hiatal hernia, you should check out getting it corrected. But be prepared for some weirdness as you go.

S.

** I had to do liquid diet for two weeks, semi-solid for two more, and not lift more than 20 pounds for five weeks. But, it turns out that if you hold chocolate in your mouth, it liquifies! **

The Creative and Artistic Type

A PAINTING BY AN ARTISTIC GUY (A print of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh)

I wanted to be a writer for a long time. Since maybe second grade or somewhere in there. For one reason or another, I haven’t yet finished the Great American Novel. Well, for some good reasons, actually. See, I’ve lived a privileged life, and that’s not the best thing for creativity.

To be creative, one must be somewhat marginal in one’s society. That’s easy to understand because people who are more central in society like things fine the way they are. Can’t be helped that if you’re making out fine the way things are, you don’t have any reason to dream up anything different. If you’re on the margin somewhere, then you’re not all that happy with the way things are going, and you’ll be goosed by your own circumstances to invent new ways of looking at he world. There’s actually quite a bit of biological and psychological theory behind this idea, but life is too short for me to go into it all now. But it’s true. Van Gogh, besides making a lot of really lovely paintings that showed the world as nobody else ever has, was anxious, insecure, probably suffered from a painful condition in one ear (really, no joke there) and was, as anyone can see by looking at the above picture, incredibly creative. *

You know who are the most creative people in the USA these days (and for a lot of days previously, too?) How about those whose ancestors were slaves? Or those being called vile names just because their grandparents were born in Asia? Or, for Pete’s sake, how about the descendants of the people who met my white forefathers at the boat? I’ve met a bunch of indigenous folks, and love their sense of humor! They, and the other groups I’ve mentioned, are truly creative. The lucky bastards!

Me? Well, I had cousins at Jamestown. My earliest direct ancestor in America was living in Philly in 1729. In 1730 he married a girl from New Jersey. They had thirteen sons, twelve of which fought in the revolution, including a direct ancestor of mine. Hell’s Bells, I’m a genuine W.A.S.P.! If there has ever been a more   privileged group in the history of this planet, I’d like to meet some of them and compare notes. Moving along, my great-grandfather fought for the Union in the Civil War. Our side won, which is only now being discovered by a certain segment of society. Sorry, losers! Other ancestral branches include Wales, Ireland, France, Germany,  Switzerland, and a trace of Scandinavia. Oh pauvre moi, huh? All of which means that

I’M NOT THE BEST GUY TO ASK TO PRODUCE GREAT ART!

My deprivation? Well, mom wouldn’t always buy me what I wanted. That was tough. I was in my forties when I first tasted caviar 🙁 ! And, although I got to be not bad with a six-string guitar I never got to be a guitar player hero, and of course, I can’t ever sing the blues! I mean, sure, my eyes are blue, maybe some of my blood, but sing the blues? That ain’t gonna happen, is it? All I’ve got going for me is lame comedy. Lame, because of course it is.

So, my only complaint is that I have nothing to complain about, and also I’ll never write a great novel, or compose a great song, or paint a great painting. (I’m lucky to be able to paint a wall, frankly.) I know that my story is tugging at your heartstrings, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for my GoFundMe campaign. Donate generously! It’ll take your mind off of your own many troubles when you contribute to my one and only!

Later . . .

 

 

  • Those cypress trees really do look like that, even if you don’t believe me because you’ve never seen them.

A Reintroduction to the Cruising Life — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

With Covid Lockdowns eased and Sonrisa’s crew looking more ship-shape, we cast off to explore the famous cruising and sailing grounds of Mahe, Seychelles to enjoy bluewater swimming, star gazing, and a barbeque on a white sand beach.

Source: A Reintroduction to the Cruising Life — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Nothing Is Happening Here — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

I moved back aboard! (Those flesh demons harassing the cat while she tries to nap on the dodger are my fingers, present and accounted for aboard Sonrisa.) I spend my days doing a lot of Physical Therapy and Yoga, but I’m getting stronger every day. I’ll be back in full fighting shape, soon, I think

Source: Nothing Is Happening Here — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

The Future Angora Rabbit Farmer and His Magical Mustachio — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

With our five year anniversary of castoff expiring, we find ourselves caught in Covid Lockdown with nothing for Andrew to do but sculpt his most magical mustachio ever and dream of the day he might become an angora rabbit farmer. Join us for Andrew’s Birthday update.

Source: The Future Angora Rabbit Farmer and His Magical Mustachio — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Adjusting to a New Normal — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

We, of all people, cannot complain. Between the isolation of the Maldives, the remote islands of Chagos, and the Seychelles’ careful policies about quarantine and travel, we spent all of 2020 enjoying the luxury of Covid-Free zones. Certainly, our travels have been curtailed by closed borders and

Source: Adjusting to a New Normal — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Another Reluctant Shrimp on The Barbie — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Oddgodfrey and his team of best friends came through to make sure Christmas Celebrations were as topnotch as ever. Join us in this blog post to observe a real, live (Scottish) Australian lad in the wild “throw another shrimp on the barbie.”

Source: Another Reluctant Shrimp on The Barbie — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Writing Advice

The Library Bar and Grill of Albuquerque, New Mexico

So you want somebody to use your book in a display like the one pictured above. You want to be known as the new (insert favorite wonderful author’s name here.) Of course, so far, nobody is buying what you’re writing, so there’s that. I mean, heck, somebody like James Patterson has hundreds of books for sale and you can’t manage to sell even one? That’s terrible, right? So, what do you do? You go looking for writing advice, natch. And, boy howdy (I’ve been reading Craig Johnson’s Longmire books) can you find it. Everything and anything is offered up for advice. Some successful writers even take time from creating new worlds to publish their own take on how to be a successful writer. Stephen King’s book, On Writing is a very good book. I’m not sure it’s ever helped me to write better, but I recommend it anyway because, you know, he’s a good writer. Which, of course, is the key to being a successful writer: you first have to be a good writer. Or do you?

Fifty Shades of Grey is, according to all the writing advice I’ve ever seen, horribly written. When I tried to read it, I had to agree. I don’t care how titillating it is, the writing is by turns opaque, laughable, and steadily terrible. The thing is a best seller, with sequels, and a movie. Terribly written say all the critics, but there it is. That’s a successful book from a successful writer. I think it works because the writer knows what people like to read, and how to produce that. No real secret. It was self-published initially, although I believe that someone other than the author produced the movie.

Mark Twain, in his autobiography, even the severely edited edition from the sixties, says that, when asked how to know if a book was good or not, he always said simply to “Publish it, and see if anyone buys it.”

It appears that, to be a successful writer, the only rule is to write something that lots of people want to read. Screw grammar, screw characterization, screw pacing, just put out something that people want to read. Except . . .

Even a turkey like Fifty Shades has things in the story happen in the right order, and at the right time. The reason Twain had Huck and Tom go through all that nonsense to break Jim out of his prison is simply that, at the beginning of that sequence, it wasn’t time to have him free, within the timing of the story. Know what was wrong with that last season of Game of Thrones? It was too fast! The battle of Winterfell alone should have taken two episodes, and think of the cliffhanger you could’ve put after the first part. Wowzers, huh? So, what, there are rules?

Well, let me use my favorite quote from a great visual artist: “You must know the rules like a professional in order to break them like an artist.” — Pablo PIcasso.

Yep, there are rules, and you have to know what they are. The author of Fifty Shades instinctively knew when to make things happen, so readers forgave the things that weren’t so well done. (I suspect that a tamer subject matter might have needed to be more grammatical, etc.) So, how do you get to be a great writer? It’s difficult.

First, you have to read. A lot. Preferably in the genre or at least general type of story you want to be known for.

Second, refer to the quote from Picasso above. No, your book doesn’t have to be grammatically correct, or use consistent subject/verb agreement, but you’d better pay attention to just when and why you are making it the way it is. And the timing of the story, I don’t think that’s negotiable. When PBS did an adaptation of Huckleberry Finn they used the academic’s favorite, “just get Jim out of there ’cause that’s what’s important here” ploy and the ending was flatter than a possum on a Kentucky centerline. Do not mess with the timing, or your story won’t work.

Outside of that, I think that it’s your story, and you should write it however you think it should be written. Have people read it before you proceed, but take their advice for what it’s worth, which could be a little, or it could be a lot. When you’re really ready with a good story, you’ll know that you are. And the writing advice? Like critique from your friends, take it for what it’s worth.

Manic Positivity From the Back Seat of a Rental Chariot — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World

Circumnavigating aboard a sailboat seems it cannot be without detour. Mid-December, part of the Oddgodfrey crew ended up moving into a temporary land apartment and visiting the Seychelles Emergency Room after discovering her self-identity to be far too wrapped up in hopping. Join us in this post t

Source: Manic Positivity From the Back Seat of a Rental Chariot — OddGodfrey: The Oddly Compelling Story of a Sailing Circumnavigation of the World