I love to write…but

Still waiting for spring
Still waiting for spring

There is no green grass and no leaves on the trees. It is just slightly foggy on a warm February morning. Mother nature keeps teasing us into thinking spring has arrived. Hmm, there’s an idea for a story, Mother Nature the Tease.

***

I can hear you saying to yourself that nobody blogs who doesn’t love to write. Except for those people who only have a blog to share pictures of kittens. I say to those people, “Get an Instagram account!” I mean really. Kittens? OK, I’ve got that out of my system. Back to my topic.

This morning I was dividing my concentration between watching a morning news magazine and reading the introduction of the next book in my reading challenge. I was making mental notes from both of these activities for future inclusion into Classical Gasbag posts. Ideas, both good and bad, are never a problem for me, whether for a blog post, a short story, a novel, an email, or even a snail mail (I love sending and receiving letters). There are so many ideas for the taking. You might call taking ideas thievery of a sort, and you might be right. Or you might consider that I take another person’s idea and build upon it. That is certainly the way that I like to look at it.

With that happy thought I realized that for the past several months I have been spending so much time gathering ideas and planning posts and letters and stories that I haven’t been spending much time actually writing. I’m lucky if I remember to jot down the ideas, let alone build an idea into something useful. When I do complete writing something. the finished product is seldom what I had originally planned. For example, this post was originally planned as an exercise in listing all of the things I would rather be doing than writing (look at the title). Maybe I’ll write that one some other time. I’m too busy enjoying my time at the keyboard writing a small bit about the process.

It is true that often when I start banging out a post, that my brain seems to guide my fingers in directions I hadn’t considered when I started. Sometimes the end result is good, sometimes bad, often just mediocre.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, I would like to know about your process for writing. You may comment or complete the form below. If I like your process, I might steal it.

Horns of a dilemma

Waiting for spring
Waiting for spring

I took this picture earlier this year. Outside today it feels like spring, no matter what Punxsutawney Phil predicted. Well, who depends on a large rodent for weather predictions?

***

I know that a dilemma is not an actual horned animal. Though often when I read the phrase “horns of a dilemma” I imagine a children’s book illustration of an angry water buffalo. If only life were so simple. No, the phrase means having to choose between two bad options. No matter your choice, it won’t be a good one.

I find myself making that choice now. A few days ago I was writing about how I felt that avoiding politics in Classical Gasbag was the proper choice for me as a person. Today I’m not sure. Watching the news, listening to friends and acquaintances who are not U.S. citizens, and drawing upon historical precedents have brought me to a place where I can’t publicly ignore what is happening here.

Our President and his minions are constantly labeling our free press as the purveyors of fake news and the enemy. Meanwhile they put forth lies and label them as alternate facts. This is a familiar tactic to people who read history. I recommend that people read about “Big lie” on Wikipedia and see if it strikes a chord.

Perhaps I am writing this from a political perspective. I feel so close to it that I’m not sure. To me it feels like our Constitution, particularly the first amendment, is under attack, and that scares me. What scares me more is the number of fellow citizens who believe, or want to believe, the lies that are coming from our President and his minions.

OK, so here is some political ranting: Part of me wants to blame that phenomena on the apparent decline in people who see the worth of an education other than for gaining a better paying job. What is wrong with education for the sake of education? Of course I lay the blame for that type of thinking on Richard Nixon who during the 1952 Presidential election labelled Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson and his supporters eggheads. Yes, the same Richard Nixon who as President had an enemies list and brought Watergate into our political vocabulary.

I don’t plan on going on and on about politics in Classical Gasbag, but neither do I plan on remaining silent when things truly bother me. I just hope that I can remain civil enough that I don’t offend too many people.

Quite a dream

Barn behind the trees
Barn behind the trees

I went for a short ride in the country yesterday and found this barn. I felt that it deserved to be seen on this blog. It was a pretty day for mid-February.

***

The other day I mentioned in a post that I wanted to write about a dream that I had, but didn’t feel it would be proper. Last night I had one that was so bizarre that I need to write about it. Those of you who own books on dream interpretation might want to get them out to see what this s all about. Then you can share your findings with me because I am completely stumped.

Like most of the dreams that I remember, I jumped into it with no preamble. In my dream I had infiltrated an organization of assassins. I don’t know why I had done anything so risky, but it was a dream.

The organization of assassins was knocking off the top people in a media corporation that started out making cartoons. Their best known cartoon character was a rodent with a first name that rhymed with Dickie. Why were they killing these people? That’s a fair question.

It seems that the head of the organization that I had infiltrated had decided that the entire media corporation was run by pedophiles, and he wanted to do something about it. Why did he believe they were pedophiles? That is another fair question.

He believed that while watching one of their cartoons he had heard clues about it while listening to two cockroaches who were having an argument in the cartoon. Plausible, right? Are you confused? I was, and it was my dream.

I found myself in a banquet hall where one of the killings was about to take place, and I was running towards the assassin, trying to stop him. And then I woke up. What happened?

The dream had no satisfactory beginning, and certainly nothing you could call an ending. It was just a stupid dream. If you have any ideas about a possible meaning, feel free to share them in a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

So much to say, but I can’t

Wall Art #15
Wall Art #15

I took this picture in West Lafayette last week. It is at the end of the parking lot where I had lunch with a friend. I really like the colors in this wall art.

***

There are a number of things that I want to write about, but I don’t feel they are appropriate, for one reason or another,  to put in this blog. When I started Classical Gasbag I wanted it to be a place where I could freely expound upon anything that crossed my mind. It hasn’t turned out to be that way. There are a few reasons that I don’t feel that I have the freedom to write in that manner. Here are three of them.

Reason #1: I don’t want my wife, Cindy, to be embarrassed by what I write. Over the years she has told most of her friends and family about Classical Gasbag and has encouraged them to read it. I know that there have been occasions when one of her friends has asked her if what I wrote bothered her. Recently I cancelled a drafted post about a dream that I had. Cindy might have been embarrassed by the details.

Reason #2: At some point last year I decided that I would stop writing about politics in Classical Gasbag. Politics has been a very touchy subject among even some of our closest friends. I don’t want to antagonize anyone else if I don’t need to. So the closest I will come to writing about politics is to recommend a new drinking game. Listen to any speech by President Trump and take a drink every time he uses the word “really.”

Reason #3:  I don’t often lose my temper, but when I do I can write scathingly about whatever has angered me. But that doesn’t help anyone, not even me. If letting fly with mean-spirited slurs and curses made me feel better, perhaps I would do it. I’ve found over the years, however, that I feel no better if I do it. So I don’t. It helps no one and may hurt someone. What would be the purpose in doing that? It’s not for me.

Life is a series of choices. I choose to try to be a better person…at least in this blog.

2017 Reading Challenge update #1

Killing Floor
Killing Floor

The first book that I read for this year’s reading challenge was Killing Floor by Lee Childs. It was the first of his Jack Reacher novels. It was first published in 1987, and will count as a book written in that decade. I had never read any of this series of books, and it isn’t likely that I’ll read another. The book began with an unlikely coincidence, had negligible depth of characters, and had a definite lack of suspense. I’m glad that I read the novel, just so I can say that I didn’t ignore the series of books completely. I purchased the book using a gift card that I received at Christmas, so I don’t feel that I wasted any of my own money.

 

 

 

The House of Velvet and Glass
The House of Velvet and Glass

The second book that I read for the challenge this year was The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe. I’m not sure what genre this book falls into. The U.S. Library of Congress catalogued it as Fathers and daughters – Fiction, and Mediums – Fiction, as well as Boston (Mass.) – Fiction. It is all of those and a lot more. I have to admit that I wouldn’t normally pick up a book like this one, but I was looking for something different to read for the challenge; and I was drawn to the book by the cover art. The book is set in the early 1900’s with flashbacks to the 1860’s. I suppose I would describe the book, succinctly, as being about people dealing with loss and discovery. I enjoyed the book and will look for others by Katherine Howe.

 

Riders of the Purple Sage
Riders of the Purple Sage

Last year I mentioned that I had trouble finding a western when I went to B&N. It turns out that I didn’t search well enough, because they have a section devoted to western novels. This year I walked to that section and picked up Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage. It is without a doubt his best known novel. I admit that while I have heard of Zane Grey since I was but a lad, I had never read one of his books before this year. I was surprised, when I read it, that it was so anti-Mormon. He almost seems to go out of his way to run down the church. The book was written about a time, but not during the time, when polygamy was practiced in the church. In the book, Mormons are also depicted as a closed, intolerant group. I can’t imagine that the novel would be as well received today as it was when first published in 1912. If you can get past the severe anti-Mormon speeches you will find the book to be a good tale.

The Secret Life of Words
The Secret Life of Words

I went back and read The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English as the book I had started but not finished. This was my third attempt, and this time I succeeded in finishing the book. It was worth the effort. To be honest, I’m not sure why I couldn’t finish it the first two times that I started it. It is an interesting  book for anyone who enjoys reading about the history of languages. Count me among that group. A large part of the book recounts how various words from other languages have become part of the English vocabulary. I believe it was T.S. Eliot who said that the only languages that don’t change are dead languages. I could be wrong about that since I’m relying on my memories from graduate school. At any rate, English is alive and well.

 

The Retaliators
The Retaliators

From the 1970’s I chose to read The Retaliators by Donald Hamilton. I chose this book in a reaction to the first book in this post. I wanted a reminder that Donald Hamilton had conceived of a tougher, more intelligent, less sentimental character than Jack Reacher decades before the Lee Child books. I’m talking, of course, about Matt Helm (not the very bad movie or television versions of this character). This book was the seventeenth in a series of twenty-seven novels, and was first published in 1976. Some of the latter books in the series have recently been republished. If you haven’t read any of the novels you may enjoy reading about a government agent who is primarily an assassin. Not very likable? Perhaps, but I eagerly read my way through most of the series in the 1960’s and into the 1980’s. I haven’t read all of the books, but plan to if they become available.