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Looking For My Unique Woman

October 30, 2017 Leave a comment

There are some amazing women in literature. I need to find a woman as fascinating and desirable as Lisbeth Salander is in Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’. To find a woman like her, in my reality or in my fiction would be exciting beyond imagination. I need to find a woman equally unique about whom I could write.

In ‘The First Deadly Sin’ by Lawrence Sanders, a bold, sensual woman named Celia Montfort was unlike any other woman I had ever met in a story. She was completely different from Lisbeth Salander and fascinating in different ways. Both characters had large parts of their lives hidden. Not out of fear of attack or anything like that. It just was more comfortable for them to keep themselves to themselves. There was not a lot of soul-searching and plotting to be as unique as they are – it was just the way they are.

All characters one creates must quite naturally be based on characters one has known in life. Usually, one takes characteristics from several acquaintances and weaves them together into one interesting character. I am pondering my unique woman as I begin to create her. I remember a time several decades ago, when I found myself in a huge rockabilly nightclub in Savanah, Georgia. Center stage there was a young blonde woman singing and shaking. There were two physical characteristics of that woman with which I will begin my search for my unique woman.

She was more than six feet tall with a gorgeous avalanche of lively, radiant, bouncing blonde hair flowing out from the ten-gallon straw hat she wore. Her shape was hidden behind her large bib overalls. The effect was enticing, because her large breasts, narrow waist and parts of her hips flashed creamy white skin through various openings in the overalls. Bare feet projected out of the long legs of the overalls.

I hope to use her as a framework for my uniquely exciting woman. If I can properly imbue her with unique characteristics, I might be able to write stories about her as a heroine or anti-heroine. I expect a challenge because of her unique size. Admittedly, it does give me an open opportunity to use her size to justify some of her unique characteristics. At the same time, it might go against my ability to make her sexy or intimately appealing. I will just have to start a story and let it lead me to answers.

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2 Books, 2 Authors, 2 Plum Trees

October 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Two books that I consider to be among the best are: A Confederacy of Dunces and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Two more books that follow the life of Lisbeth Salander followed the latter. A Confederacy of Dunces stands alone. There will be no more books by Stieg Larsson, who wrote the Salander books, nor from John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the Dunces book.

Both books met with immediate acclaim when they were published posthumously. They are, in fact, fabulous stories brilliantly told. Anyone who enjoys reading strong, earthy, beautifully written books must read these four – the three by Larsson and one by Toole.

Films were made of the Larsson trilogy, I’ve not heard of a worthy one for Toole’s book. The American versions of the Salander story, to me, are not worth the time of day. The Swedish versions, with subtitles, are brilliant. The casting, the acting, the script, every scrap of them is great.

Ignatius Jacques Reilly is the morbidly obese and endlessly pompous star of A Confederacy of Dunces. He is unique in literature, and is purely wonderful. The lead character in the Larsson books and films is Lisbeth Slander, the most fascinating and exciting hero you’ll ever read.

You might well wonder where the plum trees come into this story. I used to own a hobby farm in the mountains where I kept horses and sometimes pigs and cows. There’s an ancient apple orchard behind the house. It’s very picturesque, with the old, gnarled trunks and untrimmed limbs.

At far corners of the orchard, diagonal from each other were two, old, sterile plum trees. For years, while the apple trees were bursting with huge, antique apples, the plum trees appeared to be little more than four inch wide sticks in the ground.

Suddenly, one spring, the plum trees came to life. To super life, I want to say. Both trees burst forth with volumes of perfect, beautiful, Damson plums. Bushels of them. Sweet, firm Damson plums from trees that we thought were long dead. They produced a vast amount of wonderful nourishment, and then they died dead. Forever.

Similarly, both Stieg Larsson and John Kennedy Toole burst forth with brilliant books. They created stories and characters unparalleled in modern literature. They nourished readers’ minds with intrigue and excitement. Then they died.

Stieg Larsson died suddenly, of a heart attack at fifty. John Kennedy Toole took his own life at forty-four. I like to think that, like the plum trees, the effort to produce such a fine result was more than life could sustain. They gave their all, the plum trees and the authors. We have their books, and they are as much a blessing as were the plums.

John Kennedy Toole

Stieg Larsson

Toole (top) – Larsson (bottom)

The Sheeny Man

October 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Sheeny man

In the 1950s, one could still see horse-drawn carts on the city streets. Some were the bread men, some were the ice men, some were the milk men, and some were the sheeny men. My sheeny man was Mr. Mintz, and his old horse was Annie.

I say he was my sheeny man because he was the only one I ever met or spoke with. Not too much speaking, of course, because I speak English and he spoke Yiddish. I worked on the weigh scale at a large scrap yard. Mr. Mintz came with Annie and the cart full of scrap about once a week.

It was not good scrap, in fact we’d really rather not have it. It usually consisted of old rusty bedsprings and tin oil cans. It cost more to have two men take it off the cart and throw it onto the scrap heap than it was worth. However, Mr. Mintz was a quiet, poor, religious man, so we accepted his scrap, doubled the weight and paid double the value.

One Friday afternoon, Mr. Mintz clopped through the scrap yard gate and positioned Annie so the wagon was on the scale. I weighed the wagon with the load and Mr. Mintz guided Annie to where two of the yard workers could drag the bedsprings, tin cans and rusty pieces of metal off of the cart and onto the scrap heap.

It was the end of my day at the yard. I weighed Mr. Mintz’s empty cart and subtracted the light weight from the loaded weight and paid for the difference. As usual, we cheated in Mr. Mintz’s favour and gave him double the value of his load. I realized that Mr. Mintz would be eager to get home before sundown, in time for the evening Sabbath prayers.

I left the office in time to see Annie and Mr. Mintz clopping along Carmody Street. I had always wondered what Mr. Mintz’s life might be like. Where does he keep his cart? Where does he keep Annie? On impulse, I decided to track Mr. Mintz to his lair. It was a mild evening, I was only 18, and Annie was slow. I could follow him on foot for as far as he was going.

I was surprised that it was barely six blocks to Mr. Mintz’s destination. At first, I was surprised that he went to Bellaire Boulevard, a wide residential street with large, elegant mansions on both sides. These mansions had long since ceased to be single family dwellings with servants. They are rooming houses, divided into small flats, but still, the boulevard is elegant, with old, large maple trees overhanging the street, casting cool shadows.

Annie crossed Bellaire and clopped past the street of mansions until she turned right into a back lane that ran behind the walled, mansion properties. Most of them had old sheds, garages, or parking areas accessible through the lane.

The horse stopped at a row of sheds, taller than the others around it. Mr. Mintz climbed down from the wagon and led Annie a bit farther on before he went to an overhead door in one of the sheds and had the horse back the wagon into the shed. With the wagon in the shed, and the horse outside, Mr. Mintz took the tack off of Annie and opened a swinging garage door to lead the horse into a spacious stall.

Mr. Mintz had seen me following him all along. He looked down the lane at me and waved me over. I stood near him as he saw to Annie’s bedding, grain and hay. She had an open window that looked out on the yard of the mansion beyond it. Mr. Mintz asked if I would like to see inside. Obviously, he perceived my fascination, and I jumped at the chance. He closed Annie’s shed and led me to a pedestrian doorway in the third shed.

One large room was neatly laid out and maintained. A small bathroom contained a toilet and old-fashioned bath tub on claw legs. A small kitchen area with a 4 element stove and small refrigerator covered a wall. A Formica counter carried a sink and dish drying rack, with a large window that looks out at the garden behind the mansion.

There was a full bookcase, but there was no television. An easy chair beside a reading lamp completed the room’s furnishings. I asked where he slept. He opened a door in the wall that faced Annie’s shed. There was a bed between Mr. Mintz’s shed and Annie’s shed. He said he liked to sleep close to her. Her body heat gave him comfort, and his presence gave Annie peace.

I walked back to my car, contemplating the life of Mr. Mintz, the Sheeny man. He was as happy and satisfied as anyone I ever met.

The Burden of a Creative Spirit

October 6, 2017 Leave a comment

One who is filled with the creative spirit is always alone. When driving to work or riding public transit, the creative spirit is working within the mind. The face of the old woman in her kerchief would be nice to sketch, one’s mind thinks. The kid with the striped beard might be from the city’s wealthiest family. He might have ostracized them because they did not believe in his yet-to-be-discovered talent. The creative mind is relentlessly working, painting pictures or writing stories.

Those creative spirits among us are in inevitable conflict with the surrounding community. That’s why ‘creative communities’ develop, where the eccentricities of bohemian personalities are a comfortable norm. That’s fine for those of us who reside in cities or towns where such a community exists, but what of those who lack access to like-minded companions.

An old woman on a remote farm might be developing some wonderful paintings. A young man in the military might be writing admirable short stories. Those people, in their inappropriate environments, are likely to be regarded by the community around them as ‘peculiar’, or at least ‘different’. The constant desire to experience things of all kinds keeps the creative spirit working within the creative person.

The secret inner life of the creative person is a mystery to the surrounding community. Often, I am presented with problems that need a creative solution. Over the decades, I have learned to trust my instincts and just execute the ideas that form within. I no longer worry that I might have missed the mark.

It is always a bit of a surprise to me that clients don’t think of the same idea on their own. On the contrary, they seem blown away by the idea that is simple and quick for me. I recall a time when I created an entire newspaper campaign in my head, while driving home from the meeting. I presented it to the client the next morning. It was approved and put into production.

Creativity is a mystery to everyone, including those with the creative spirit.

The Burden of a Creative Spirit

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

One who is filled with the creative spirit is always alone. When driving to work or riding public transit, the creative spirit is working within the mind. The face of the old woman in her kerchief would be nice to sketch, one’s mind thinks. The kid with the striped beard might be from the city’s wealthiest family. He might have ostracized them because they did not believe in his yet-to-be-discovered talent. The creative mind is relentlessly working, painting pictures or writing stories.

Those creative spirits among us are in inevitable conflict with the surrounding community. That’s why ‘creative communities’ develop, where the eccentricities of bohemian personalities are a comfortable norm. That’s fine for those of us who reside in cities or towns where such a community exists, but what of those who lack access to like-minded companions.

An old woman on a remote farm might be developing some wonderful paintings. A young man in the military might be writing admirable short stories. Those people, in their inappropriate environments, are likely to be regarded by the community around them as ‘peculiar’, or at least ‘different’. The constant desire to experience things of all kinds keeps the creative spirit working within the creative person.

The secret inner life of the creative person is a mystery to the surrounding community. Often, I am presented with problems that need a creative solution. Over the decades, I have learned to trust my instincts and just execute the ideas that form within. I no longer worry that I might have missed the mark.

It is always a bit of a surprise to me that clients don’t think of the same idea on their own. On the contrary, they seem blown away by the idea that is simple and quick for me. I recall a time when I created an entire newspaper campaign in my head, while driving home from the meeting. I presented it to the client the next morning. It was approved and put into production.

Creativity is a mystery to everyone, including those with the creative spirit.

2 Books, 2 Authors, 2 Plum Trees

May 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Two books that I consider to be among the best are: A Confederacy of Dunces and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Two more books that follow the life of Lisbeth Salander followed the latter. A Confederacy of Dunces stands alone. There will be no more books by Stieg Larsson, who wrote the Salander books, nor from John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the Dunces book.
Both books met with immediate acclaim when they were published posthumously. They are, in fact, fabulous stories brilliantly told. Anyone who enjoys reading strong, earthy, beautifully written books must read these four – the three by Larsson and one by Toole.
Films were made of the Larsson trilogy, I’ve not heard of a worthy one for Toole’s book. The American versions of the Salander story, to me, are not worth the time of day. The Swedish versions, with subtitles, are brilliant. The casting, the acting, the script, every scrap of them is great.
Ignatius Jacques Reilly is the morbidly obese and endlessly pompous star of A Confederacy of Dunces. He is unique in literature, and is purely wonderful. The lead character in the Larsson books and films is Lisbeth Slander, the most fascinating and exciting hero you’ll ever read.
You might well wonder where the plum trees come into this story. I used to own a hobby farm in the mountains where I kept horses and sometimes pigs and cows. There’s an ancient apple orchard behind the house. It’s very picturesque, with the old, gnarled trunks and untrimmed limbs.
At far corners of the orchard, diagonal from each other were two, old, sterile plum trees. For years, while the apple trees were bursting with huge, antique apples, the plum trees appeared to be little more than four inch wide sticks in the ground.
Suddenly, one spring, the plum trees came to life. To super life, I want to say. Both trees burst forth with volumes of perfect, beautiful, Damson plums. Bushels of them. Sweet, firm Damson plums from trees that we thought were long dead. They produced a vast amount of wonderful nourishment, and then they died dead. Forever.
Similarly, both Stieg Larsson and John Kennedy Toole burst forth with brilliant books. They created stories and characters unparalleled in modern literature. They nourished readers’ minds with intrigue and excitement. Then they died.
Stieg Larsson died suddenly, of a heart attack at fifty. John Kennedy Toole took his own life at forty-four. I like to think that, like the plum trees, the effort to produce such a fine result was more than life could sustain. They gave their all, the plum trees and the authors. We have their books, and they are as much a blessing as were the plums.

Toole (top) – Larsson (bottom)

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07. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 7

A courier delivered the invitation. Milton Korn took it from the old woman at the door, signed her pad, and opened the envelope. Honey Freed had enjoyed some creativity with her idea to invite Milton for dinner. The date was the following Friday evening. The invitation was made of a photograph of one of Milton’s best-known paintings. The text read, “The artist will appear in person, for a discussion of his future plans.”

Milton took a taxi to Honey’s apartment. The building was high on the side of a hill, with a view of the busy city, spread to the horizon. Her apartment was a small penthouse, with direct access to a small garden on top of the building that she cared for. A houseboy answered the door. He was perhaps 5’2” tall, a bit plump, and shockingly, an albino. It was not possible to discern his age, because his hair was white as was his skin, and his eyes were almost transparent, with a hint of pink.

He showed Milton through to the garden, where Honey was waiting, looking out over the city. Brightly lit bridges spanned the river, beyond which a multitude of buildings lined a complex network of streets.

“Honey,” said the albino. Honey turned and smiled broadly when she saw Milton. Milton was surprised when the man addressed her by name. A servant wouldn’t do that.

“Welcome to my nest,” said Honey. She strode to greet Milton. “This is my friend, Mitch. He’s my assistant.” Milton shook hands with Mitch, who went inside. Honey led Milton to a garden table that was set for two. They sat across from each other.

“I didn’t see much of your place, but it seems very comfortable,” said Milton.

“I’ll show you around after dinner,” she said. “What do you like to drink?”

“Coffee, thanks,” said Milton.

“Coffee, before a meal?” said Honey. “No aperitif?”

“No thanks. I don’t drink.”

“An artist who doesn’t drink,” said Honey. “That’s rare. Do you at least smoke grass?”

“Yes, I do. Do you?” said Milton.

“Would you like cappuccino?” said Honey. Milton agreed to have cappuccino. Honey pushed a button on the edge of the table, and said, “Two cappuccino, please, Mitch.” She released the button, and Mitch’s voice came back.

“I’m on it,” he said, cheerfully.

“You have a very nice life here, Honey. Why do you want to leave?” said Milton.

“I’m just ‘making do’ here, Milt,” said Honey. “Do you mind if I call you Milt?”

“No, it doesn’t matter,” said Milton. “Why leave here, when life is so nice?”

“We each have just one life, Milt. I want to live mine in my ideal way. Don’t you?”

“Alright, I’m with you, Hon. Do you mind if I call you Hon?” said Milton.

“Actually, yes, I do mind.”

“Okay, Honey. Call me Milt, I’ll call you Honey,” said Milton. “Now, let’s get down to business. Let’s see the paperwork on that wonderful piece of country.”

Honey went across the room, while Milton noticed her very attractive shape in the tight jeans she always wore. He was intimidated by the thought of being alone, in the country, with this beautiful, bright woman, living under the same roof with him. Time will tell.

Honey returned with a file folder full of papers, and an ashtray with two joints and a lighter in it.

 

(continued soon in 08.)     encourage authors – If you like this, please ‘LIKE’ it.