art Newspaper article Thoughts on writing Uncategorized

Shorty Smith and LeRoy Neiman

While packing up things for my upcoming move, I came across a favorite photograph. Done on a color printer of dubious merit, it expresses the mad spirt embodied in camel racing. And it reminded me of LeRoy Neiman’s colorful style with horses.

The lead rider is Shorty Smith, a Tasmania resident, who I met in 2015 at the Virginia City Camel and Ostrich Races. Smith gave me the photo, eager for me to have something about him. It depicts him in a real race in his home country.

Smith was garrulous, a term I don’t use lightly. He could talk. And talk. And talk. Not only had he raced all over Australia, he had been to Saudi Arabia and recounted races there. Luxurious tents were set up in the desert, complete with trained falcons attending. All the while he talked I wished I had a tape recorder and some magazine to sell a story about him. And I wished that my breakfast wasn’t getting cold. Fascinating guy.

If you want to know more about Shorty Smith, just Google Shorty Smith and Camel racing. And check out LeRoy Neiman’s paintings anywhere on the web. I’m not sure Neiman ever painted a camel race but I bet he could have. And I am sure he would have liked Shorty Smith.


fiction Thoughts on writing Uncategorized

Shall We Dance?

The word “shall” has always baffled me. Much like steam locomotives or the theory of relativity, the word shall seems fated to confound. But I admire complexity for complexity’s sake, much as I admire the gleaming brass of the steam engine or the wonder of traveling at the speed of light.

Consider Burchfield writing in New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, describing shall and will. ” The history of these auxiliary verbs and of their contracted forms is immensely complicated and cannot be satisfactorily summarized here.” An entire two column page follows, making fine distinctions, one after another, none of which seems to please the writer.

Shall we dance? Shall I get my coat? These seem fine examples of fine writing. But judging by statistics, should and will are winning over shall. Using Google’s Ngram Viewer (external link), we see the steady decline of the word shall, which peaked in 1820. Shall seems doomed like the fairies, condemned to getting smaller the less people think of them.

KIRK: What will it be? Past or future? Tyranny or freedom? It’s up to you.
SPOCK: It is time.
KIRK: In every revolution, there’s one man with a vision.
SPOCK: Captain Kirk, I shall consider it.

Click here or on the image for the full size graphic




The Company One Keeps

This is a biography page from the most recent Temenos Journal (internal link). Only in a literary magazine will you find such a large, diverse group of writers and artists. Although most of the writers have been published before, there is hope for new writers like you and me. Note that not all writers claim a college degree. If you don’t mind being paid in copies, investigate the literary review world and keep submitting your work.

music Poetry Uncategorized

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

Perhaps from a beating?

On October 4, 1986, CBS anchorman and journalist Dan Rather was attacked on the streets of New York while walking to his apartment. According to Rather, the assailant kept saying, “Kenneth, what’s the frequency?” The attacker was not captured at the time and indeed there were rumors as to whether the mugging occurred at all. Some thought Rather was trolling for a gay lover.

It was not until 1997 that a TV critic laid the story to rest. Rather had been attacked by William Tager, a man who had been convicted of killing an NBC stagehand in 1994. Tager thought radio waves were being beamed into his head by police and that television network personnel could stop the transmissions.

Perhaps presciently, R.E.M. released a song in 1994 called “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” It seemed to detail someone who had lost their moorings. But perhaps not. (external link) offered an explanation of the song and quoted frontman Michael Stipe:

It makes sense that R.E.M., a band whose lyrics were often cryptic and indecipherable, would find inspiration for a song in the mysterious circumstances surrounding a physical attack on newsman Dan Rather. “It was the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century,” said singer Michael Stipe. “It’s a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media-hyped and just plain bizarre.”

The song, although crazily written and delivered, had a more direct meaning. Stipe later said that “I wrote that protagonist as a guy who’s desperately trying to understand what motivates the younger generation, who has gone to great lengths to try and figure them out, and at the end of the song it’s completely fucking bogus. He got nowhere. ”

Where do you get your inspiration?

What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (1994)

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I’d pegged you an idiot’s dream

Tunnel vision from the outsider’s screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I’d studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
Richard said, “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy”
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth

You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rearview mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth

You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand

You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
I never understood, don’t fuck with me, uh-huh



Moving Again

After less than two years of living in the Las Vegas neighborhood of Spring Valley, I am moving again. I am going to an apartment complex in nearby Summerlin. The problem is smoke. And the drug culture. And everything that flows with the drug culture like crime. It wasn’t a surprise that my pot smoking neighbors’ apartment was broken into just last month, despite this being a gated and guarded community. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Now that marijuana smoking is legal in Nevada, most apartments are letting their tenants smoke weed without restriction. But unlike cigarette smoke, the stench of marijuana can pass as easily through my apartment’s thin walls as noise. My present apartment may, in fact, have a shared ventilation system with my neighbors. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that I am having to flee from the safe space I used to call home.

These are two Yelp Reviews I recently posted.


Apartment management is completely unable to deal with the pot smoking neighbors that I have had. My last three neighbors have been pot smokers, filling up my apartment with smoke at all hours. Management contends they have the right to smoke, I contend I have the right to breathe clean air. The pot smokers are being taken care of but not me. Me, I have been told I can give a 30 day notice and move out.

I do enjoy this place but I am bitterly angry with how the management will not support me, a good tenant, while letting the potheads and druggies fill my apartment with smoke. The whole world has turned crazy. I am an inoffensive tenant with a cat. I don’t bother anyone. But I am not being supported.

I have the right to clean air in my apartment! I have the right to clean air in my apartment! I have the right to clean air in my apartment! What if I had a young child? A baby? What if I had asthma? I have the right to clean air in my apartment!


I am now having to move out of my nice apartment. The other night found me sleeping on my couch because pot smoke in my bedroom was horrific. The next night I spent a hundred dollars at a hotel to get some sleep. Management wouldn’t even call the offender. All management does is place a paper notice on their door the day after.

I will now spend four hundred dollars more a month to live in a senior community that cares about the rights of people who are not druggies. At The Resort at The Lakes, I have no right to clean air in my apartment. The people who are smoking weed are in charge. Peaceful people like me can’t use their whole apartment and have to move out. Damn them all!

art Uncategorized

A Book Without Words: Art Deco Borders by Ted Menten

I’ve always loved the Dover Clip-Art Series Books. You can still find them at your local used book store or at on-line book stores like (external link).

I bought three today: Advertising Art in The Art Deco Style, Art Deco Borders, both by Theodore Menten, and Art Nouveau Animal Designs and Patterns by M.P. Verneuil.

If you love clip art, line art, black and white illustrations, stenciling, or are just interested in Deco and Nouveau, order a few of these Dover Books. You’ll be very happy.


Photography Uncategorized

Nevada Northern Railway Museum Workshop and Trains

I recently visited the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely (eee lee), Nevada. A small admission fee allows you to wander the several workrooms of the repair shop and engine barn. Restoration is ongoing on engines, a caboose, and boxcars. Enough work to last decades. The four engines below are working trains. For a price, and by taking the required safety training, they are all available to drive. They even offer a “Railroad Reality Week” where you spend the entire time learning how to work on a railroad.

Google Tips Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing tips

Google Makes You Think You Are More Popular Than You Are

Google’s search engine may place your posts and pages higher in returns on your machine than anyone else’s.  If I search for “creative nonfiction,” for example, I find two of my posts listed on their first page of returns. If I search using someone else’s computer, or my tablet, none of my posts shows up after a dozen or more pages.

Google knows me as a user because my blog is linked to my Google+ (internal link) account. (It may also have other ways of detecting my search activity.) Google probably wants me t0 think my posts are popular. In fact, they are arranging their search results to make me look good. Notice, too, how they have my photo? I don’t see that anywhere else except when I search on my machines.

Best advice when assessing your post’s popularity? If you are linked to Google on your desktop or laptop, try a friend’s computer or one at a library.



Poetry Uncategorized Writing by others

It’s guilt edged glamorous and sleek by design

It’s easy to dismiss the Eurythmics as the Captain & Tennille of the 80’s. But Keats never wrote anything better about love than she did. (Credit also attributed to David Allan Stewart.)

Love is a stranger
In an open car
To tempt you in
And drive you far away

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It’s an obsession

Love is a danger
Of a different kind
To take you away
And leave you far behind
And love love love
Is a dangerous drug
You have to receive it
And you still can’t
Get enough of the stuff

It’s savage and it’s cruel
And it shines like destruction
Comes in like the flood
And it seems like religion
It’s noble and it’s brutal
It distorts and deranges
And it wrenches you up
And you’re left like a zombie

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It’s an obsession

It’s guilt edged
Glamorous and sleek by design
You know it’s jealous by nature
False and unkind
It’s hard and restrained
And it’s totally cool
It touches and it teases
As you stumble in the debris

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It’s an obsession

fiction Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others Writing tips

The Bible According to Quentin Tarantino

Director Tarantio is known for reimagining many things, perhaps most famously for his reworked ending of World War II in Inglorious Basterds. But I like most what he did with the Bible in Pulp Fiction. In that film, the character Jules quotes Ezekiel 25:17. In fact, Jules’ delivery is far from the original verse and is instead what I call a compilation quote; a distillation of a much larger amount of material.

I have an article in process right now with an outdoor magazine. Despite a lengthy set of phone calls and e-mails with the central figure in the article, I didn’t have a quote from him that would finish the piece. I wanted to go out with a winning summary in the last paragraph, a quote that would tie together the three or four points made earlier in the article. So, I made up a quote for the lead figure. Both editor and subject reviewed it and thought my six sentences summed up the article quite well; they had no problem attributing the quotation block to the lead figure. Would you say my work is fiction or not?

Speaking of fiction, this is what Jules says is Ezekiel 25. It is, in fact, a compilation quote of Ezekiel 6 to 17. Along with some of Ezekiel 34:12 and perhaps many other verses. The compilation quote works well for this fictional movie. In real life, you’d have to get the subject’s approval and your editor’s blessing.

This is what Jules said:

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

And this is what the Bible said, all these being reimagined as a single quote by Jules:

Ezekiel 6 to 17 KJV

6 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel; 7 Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

A Prophecy against Moab

8 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen; 9 Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim, 10 Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations. 11 And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

A Prophecy against Edom

12 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; 13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. 14 And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.

A Prophecy against the Philistines

15 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred; 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast. 17 And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.

Ezekiel 34:12

As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.