Category Archives: News

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

4 Comments

Filed under News

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…

View original post 1,836 more words

6 Comments

Filed under News

Happy Father’s Day 2016!

father39s-day-source3

“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

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Happy Mother’s Day 2016!

_MG_4881

“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

Leave a comment

Filed under News

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

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2015

PEN_International_-_Day_of_the_Imprisoned_Writer

“Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action – though often trivial in isolation – are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.”

George Orwell

 

Today is the 34th Annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer, sponsored by PEN International.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

National Banned Books Week 2015

Old Covered Books on Table HD Wallpaper

Today is the official start of “Banned Books Week” here in the U.S.; the annual counter-assault against the angry and the self-righteous who dare to tell the rest of us independent thinkers what we can and cannot read. It’s a relentless battle.

This year the theme is “Young Adult” fiction. YA fiction, as it’s more commonly known, is the newest fad among adventurous scribes who want to help teenagers cross the troubled bridge into full-blown adulthood; the period of life where people learn the hard way that they aren’t the center of the universe. Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy is one highly successful example. Despite its popularity, it has garnered its own share of conservative protestors. I really can’t understand that. Within the context of American mythology, “The Hunger Games” has everything: violence, racial exceptionalism and plenty of bad luck. I mean, people getting shot down like wild animals. What’s more American than that?

One of the more curious books being challenged is Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman, born Loretta Pleasant in Virginia in 1920, who died of cervical cancer in Baltimore in 1951. It’s not her brief life or tragic death that is necessarily so compelling. It’s not even the fact she died of cervical cancer. It’s what resulted from her death, and the variety of ethical challenges her situation posed. The type of cervical cancer she developed was unique; something oncologists at the time had never seen. Shortly before Lacks’ death, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital removed two samples of the cancer – without her knowledge or permission. They ended up in the laboratory of researcher Dr. George Otto Gey who noticed the cells were unusually durable. Gey isolated and multiplied some of the cells, producing a line he dubbed “HeLa.” The HeLa line would go on to assist cancer researchers in the ensuing decades.

Perhaps the most famous outcome was the cure for one of humanity’s greatest scourges. Jonas Salk used the HeLa line to develop the polio vaccine, which was approved for general use in 1955, after only three years of testing. Immediately thereafter, other scientists began cloning the HeLa cell line; since then, over 10,000 patents involving the HeLa cells have been granted.

The Lacks Family didn’t learn of these advances until 1973, when a scientist contacted them, wanting blood samples and other genetic materials. For them and many African-Americans, this scenario reminded them of the infamous “Tuskegee syphilis study;” perhaps the most egregious and blatant example of medical racism in the U.S. The tale of Henrietta Lacks is nonetheless a compelling study of medical research and medical ethics. But one idiot in Knoxville, Tennessee has a different view: she calls it pornography. Parent Jackie Sims found Skloot’s book inappropriate for students at L&N STEM Academy in Knoxville. The term “inappropriate,” of course, means: ‘I don’t like it, so no one else should have access to it.’ Sims apparently equates gynecology with pornography. The term “cervical” surely sent her frail mind into a tizzy. Her precious on was given an alternate text (maybe something along the lines of a Disney coloring book), but Sims – like the typical self-righteous curmudgeon – wants Skloot’s tome to be banished from the entire school district. Fortunately, district authorities haven’t backed down, and – as of this writing – the matter is still under consideration.

For a complete selection of this year’s frequently-challenged books, check out this list. Then go out and buy, or download, one of them and read it, if you haven’t already. Remember, true freedom begins with the written word.

Banned Books Week on Twitter.

Banned Books Weeks is partnered with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

2 Comments

Filed under News