Friday, May 22, 2015


The title refers to a space in time when two or more related or unrelated events occur simultaneously. When we experience this phenomenon it usually isn’t earth shaking although it does provide an item of conversation that can be shared.

On the other hand, using coincidence in a fictional sense is dangerous because it immediately challenges the reader to hold onto disbelief at the same time that the reader’s inner voice is shouting wait a minute.

If an author uses a coincidental meeting to begin his or her tale the inappropriateness becomes glaringly apparent. It might even result in an otherwise good story being consigned to the oblivion of being unread.

Coincidence is much like the god in the machine device that early writers used to solve the painted-into-a-corner problem with the plot. Both devices strain the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief and have usually been consigned to the same trash can as hackneyed and trite phrases. However, when an author does revert to using the coincidental appearance of a character or event a modern reader throws up his or her metaphorical hands and is bumped out of the story. Only dogged determination will cause the reader to once again take up the tale, perhaps to find that disbelief can once again be suspended to enjoy an otherwise well-told piece of fiction.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


The Political Zoo gives Michael Savage’s take on many political players. Some describe career pols while others are of entertainers that have entered the political fray with their sometimes inane comments that are only broadcast because of the celebrity status of the speaker.

Each person is lampooned in an introductory page with a caricature of the individual and a pseudoscientific name. Once Savage turns the page and gets into a description of the animal so named in the introduction he proceeds to list peccadilloes, outright lies and past history of the insider advantage that many of them have used to build their own fortunes. There is no rock for these pols to hide under when it comes to Savage’s investigations.

If you’ve forgotten the pattern the pol has relapsed to time and time again, Savage reminds you in a very entertaining way. And though seeming venomous, the descriptions and facts are not nearly as poisonous as the acts themselves. What Savage is getting at is the undermining of the body politic by these lawful but despicable acts.

Many of these political animals have no compunction when it comes to putting their families on the payroll, even when the jobs they are purported to do conflict with the legislation that the pol is either working on or has influence over.

Savage is much like Sisyphus in his lashing out at the pol’s behavior because they, in his estimation, are exactly like the people who have elected them, somewhat petty, greedy and willing to cut almost any corner to achieve their ends. Pushing that political boulder up the hill of Machiavellian misdeeds only to have it roll down to the bottom requiring another round of examination and reportage is, alas, what appears to be an inevitability inherent in our political system.

Friday, May 8, 2015


First there’s fame and then the grave. Might be something that George would have said. In his thoroughly iconoclastic approach to entertainment he garnered numerous awards and performance dates (some of which are on You Tube).

His book “Napalm and Silly Putty” is filled with what his audience has come to expect—language that dives into the gutter and soars into impeccable logic. It’s fun to read but the staggering carom of his thoughts makes a straight reading of the book nearly impossible (except for Carlin junkies).

His title derives from what he considered two of the most important inventions that mankind ever came up with. One to wipe out as many humans as the jellied gasoline could contact and the other to provide endless hours of harmless fun.

Carlin’s take on napalm permeates the book as he is constantly making allusions to devices and methods that would eliminate the most people at one fell swoop. Part of it was his shtick, but I suspect that there was something deep down that didn’t really like people in general all that much.

So George had his fame and now is no longer among the living. Having spent seventy years doing essentially what he wanted to do, one can be tolerant of the negative behaviors that probably shortened his life.

If you want some chuckles and a few belly laughs then pick up a copy you won’t regret it.

Friday, May 1, 2015


A friend who is also a writer had a book signing that heralded the publication of her book that chronicled the adventure of a young girl solving a mystery with Sherlock Holmes’ help. The event was well attended by friends, members of her writing group and other aspiring writers.

During a question and answer period Elizabeth who goes by the sobriquet “Mitty” was asked a number of questions about how she came to write the book, how she decided on the name of the girl who is the main character and whether she talks to her characters and whether they talk to her.

I’ve never thought about that last question but it does pique my interest. As I wrote back to her I don’t really talk to the people who inhabit my books, but they do seem to have minds of their own as the twists and turns of the story proceed in ways that writing on the fly doesn’t always prepare me for. I don’t know whether thinking about the characters constitutes a dialog, although what I hear them saying does more often than not appear on the page.

Getting the tone right for a particular character is difficult at times and often requires an edit to bring the latest utterance in line with the general “voice” the character presents. I suspect that others walk through a similar sequence to make sure their characters don’t step out of “character.”