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In Memoriam – Tom Wolfe: 1931 – 2018

“Love is the ultimate expression of the will to live.”

“The surest cure for vanity is loneliness.”

“I do novels a bit backward. I look for a situation, a milieu first, and then I wait to see who walks into it.”

“To me, the great joy of writing is discovering.  Most writers are told to write about what they know, but I still love the adventure of going out and reporting on things I don’t know about.”

“This is the artist, then, life’s hungry man, the glutton of eternity, beauty’s miser, glory’s slave.”

“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”

“It’s fortunate that I am a writer, because that has helped me understand the properties of words.  They are what have made life complex.  In the battle for status in the animal kingdom, power and aggressiveness have been all-important.  But among humans, once they acquired speech, all that changed.”

“There are some people who have the quality of richness and joy in them and they communicate it to everything they touch.  It is first of all a physical quality; then it is a quality of the spirit.”

“I never forget.  I never forgive.  I can wait.  I find it very easy to harbor a grudge.  I have scores to settle.”

“People complain about my exclamation points, but I honestly think that’s the way people think.  I don’t think people think in essays; it’s one exclamation point to another.”

“I have never knowingly, I swear to God, written satire.  The word connotes exaggeration of the foibles of mankind.  To me, mankind just has foibles.  You don’t have to push it!”

“There was a time in the 1930s when magazine writers could actually make a good living.  ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ and ‘Collier’s’ both had three stories in each issue.  These were usually entertaining, and people really went for them.  But then television came along, and now of course, information technology… the new way of killing time.”

“My idol is Emile Zola.  He was a man of the left, so people expected of him a kind of ‘Les Miserables,’ in which the underdogs are always noble people.  But he went out, and found a lot of ambitious, drunk, slothful and mean people out there.  Zola simply could not – and was not interested in – telling a lie.”

“The modern notion of art is an essentially religious or magical one in which the artist is viewed as a holy beast who in some way, big or small, receives flashes from the godhead, which is known as creativity.”

“Nonfiction is never going to die.”

Tom Wolfe

 

Tom Wolfe Bibliography

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Writers

Alejandro De La Garza, 2018

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March 9, 2018 · 12:57 AM

In Memoriam – Ursula K. Le Guin: 1929 – 2018

“The way to make something good is to make it well.  If the ingredients are extra good (truffles, vivid prose, fascinating characters) that’s a help. But it’s what you do with them that counts. With the most ordinary ingredients (potatoes, everyday language, commonplace characters) – and care and skill in using them – you can make something extremely good.”

“If your manuscript doesn’t follow the rules of what’s currently trendy, the rules of what’s supposed to be salable, the rule some great authority laid down, you’re supposed to make it do so. Most such rules are hogwash, and even sound ones may not apply to your story. What’s the use of a great recipe for soufflé if you’re making blintzes? The important thing is to know what it is you’re making, where your story is going, so that you use only the advice that genuinely helps you get there. The hell with soufflé, stick to your blintzes.”

“Distrust anybody — fellow writer, agent, editor — who tells you that fiction must use only limited third person.  It’s trendy at the moment, sure. But the surest way to go out of vogue is to be in it.”

“All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills; we need guides to show us how. If we don’t, our lives get made up for us by other people.” – The Wave in the Mind, 2004.

“I think the word success confuses people. They get recognition mixed up with achievement, and celebrity mixed up with excellence. I rarely use the word – it confuses me. I didn’t want to be a success, I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t set out to write successful books. I tried to write good ones.”

“There is no reason a married woman with children can’t also be a committed artist. This seems self-evident now but wasn’t immediately clear to me.”

“You can regret a decision you made in an earlier book and correct it in a later work. This is a hard one in our unforgiving times, when your previous missteps are eternal and only a google away. But there is nothing shameful in becoming a better person, a wiser person. Done right, it’s pretty heroic.”

“Other writers are not your competition. They are your sustenance. Writing is joyous, but never as joyous as reading.”

“Speak up for the books, poems, shows, music, and paintings you love even though you sound smarter and more discerning when you can’t be pleased.”

“[I]mmortality has never worked out well for anyone. Avoid it at all costs.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Old Christmas Photos

I first posted this essay on December 24, 2012, as I neared the first anniversary of my blog.  I had printed out a copy for my parents to read.  My father got hold of it first and became somewhat emotional.  But both he and my mother appreciated my honesty and ultimately liked it.

 

In the five years since, there’s seems to have been a lifetime’s worth of changes in my world.  Most notably my father is gone, and so is my dog.  My mother just turned 85, but didn’t seem to remember until she saw the birthday card and a glass vase stuffed with pinkish-red flowers on her dresser.  Always give your loved ones flowers while they’re still alive!  Laying them at a grave site is actually a waste of time and almost ghoulish.

 

In retrospect, it’s odd because none of us ever really got into the spirit of Christmas (whatever that’s supposed to mean), but relished it for the sake of family.  My father’s side would gather on Christmas Eve, usually at my grandmother’s home, as Hispanic clans often do.  On my mother’s side, we often convened at the home of her older sister on Christmas day, as non-Hispanics often do.  That “non-Hispanic” side is really half-German.  And, while there’d be a Teutonic-looking angel perched atop my aunt’s Christmas tree, we’d have chicken enchiladas as the main lunch course.  Yes, Christmas in America takes many forms!

 

I don’t know why people wait until the end of the year to reflect on events of the previous twelve months.  Is it just neater?  Or purely sentimental?  Perhaps both.  Regardless, I have to thank all of you who have stuck with me and my quirky dispositions these past five years.  In this hyper-fast, electronic-based, Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/latest I-Phone age, there’s much to be said for people who actually take time to read stuff online (as opposed to just scanning through it) or in print (as opposed to asking, ‘Can I just download a copy?’).

 

Thanks again, everyone, for tolerating this 50-something Wolfman!  And we’ll see what howl-worthy events 2018 brings!

Chief Writing Wolf

christmas-tree

I don’t get too much into the Christmas thing; never really have.  But, I do wish most folks a ‘Merry Christmas.’  It’s just a tradition for most of us born and raised in Christian-based societies.  There is one tradition, though, that I think about often.  My father’s family used to gather every Christmas Eve at his mother’s house.  It’s a common Hispanic ritual.  They gather late on Christmas Eve, eat tamales and other conventional Mexican foods, and then go to midnight mass at a local Catholic church.  Most of us in the family, however, didn’t partake of midnight mass.  We’d usually eaten and drank too much by then.

My father’s family last converged on my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve 2000; she died the following February at age 97.  And, that was it.  No one got together anymore.  Not for Thanksgiving, not for Christmas, not for Easter.  In fact, the…

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Happy Father’s Day 2016!

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“When you’re young, you think your dad is Superman.  Then you grow up, and you realize he’s just a regular guy who wears a cape.” – Dave Attell

 

“Four-year-old: Tell me a scary story!
Me: One time little people popped out of your mom, and they never stopped asking questions.
Four-year-old: Why?” – James Breakwell

 

“He has always provided me a safe place to land and a hard place from which to launch.” – Chelsea Clinton

 

“Me and my dad used to play tag.  He’d drive.” – Rodney Dangerfield

 

“There should be a children’s song: ‘If you’re happy and you know it, keep it to yourself and let your dad sleep.’” – Jim Gaffigan

 

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” – Anne Geddes

 

“I just sit there and make up songs and sing to [my son] in gibberish. I’m very good at gibberish now.” – Elton John

 

“I found out that I’m a pretty bad father. I make a lot of mistakes and I don’t know what I’m doing. But my kids love me. Go figure.” – Louis C.K.

 

“Men should always change diapers.  It’s a very rewarding experience.  It’s mentally cleansing. It’s like washing dishes, but imagine if the dishes were your kids, so you really love the dishes.” – Chris Martin

 

“I’m probably the most uncool guy that [my daughters] know – as far as they are concerned anyway – ‘cause I’m Dad.  I mean dads just aren’t cool – especially when I dance!  They don’t want me to dance.” – Tim McGraw

 

“Having a kid is like falling in love for the first time when you’re 12, but every day.” – Mike Myers

 

“Having children is like living in a frat house: nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.” – Ray Romano

 

“The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” – Tim Russert

 

“My sisters and I can still recite Dad’s grilling rules: Rule No. 1: Dad is in charge. Rule No. 2: Repeat Rule No. 1.” – Connie Schultz

 

“You can tell what was the best year of your father’s life, because they seem to freeze that clothing style and ride it out.” – Jerry Seinfeld

 

“Fatherhood is great because you can ruin someone from scratch.” – Jon Stewart

 

“I’ve had some amazing people in my life. Look at my father – he came from a small fishing village of five hundred people and at six foot four with giant ears and a kind of very odd expression, thought he could be a movie star. So go figure, you know?” – Kiefer Sutherland

 

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” – Harry S. Truman

 

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain

 

“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.” – John Wilmot

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Happy Mother’s Day 2016!

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“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?”

Milton Berle

“Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.”

Marguerite Duras

“When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it’s a mere formality.  It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”

Erma Bombeck

“Mother – that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries.”

Thomas Dewitt Talmage

“My mother had a good deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”

Mark Twain

“I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. Then I want to move in with them.”

Phyllis Diller

“My mother’s menu consisted of two choices: Take it or leave it.”

Buddy Hackett

“Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has instilled within each of us a powerful biological instinct to reproduce; this is her way of assuring that the human race, come what may, will never have any disposable income.”

Dave Barry

“If your kids are giving you a headache, follow the directions on the aspirin bottle, especially the part that says ‘keep away from children’.”

Susan Savannah

“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after.”

Peter De Vries

 

Image courtesy: Love Statues

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In Memoriam – Harper Lee: 1926 – 2016

Nelle Harper Lee

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

Harper Lee

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