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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

I’ve never been one for milestone birthdays, but this one is different. It feels like a milestone, and so a few days ago I decided to just go with it.

What I didn’t expect, though, was that this “go with it” approach has engendered a fair bit of introspection. I know. Shocker, right? Still, it doesn’t feel wrong to take a long look back in order to see the long view forward.

In a few short weeks, I’ll be sixty years old. Not bad for a kid who never thought he’d live past the age of twenty-six. I’m in good health, take no prescription meds, and sure, I’ve got a dodgy knee and could benefit from losing some of that IPA-paunch I’ve developed, but overall, I’m not in danger of punching my ticket any time soon.

So, I’m on the cusp of what feels like a new chapter. What have my previous chapters been? (more…)

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We keep it out
shunned
banished
beyond the electric glare
past heavy curtains
behind double-glazed panes

We fear
its cold
its dark
its unspoken secrets

I say
open the drapes
shut the lights
put flame to a candle’s wick
and let it in

Invite the night inside
forget its chill
forgive its inky mien
offer it a seat
and pour a wee dram

Enjoy its quiet
the stillness of its nature
and listen closely
as it whispers
of secrets
eager to be known

Let it in

—————-

k

Moon and Cedar

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Full disclosure: I am a white, male, middle-class, soon-to-be senior citizen with liberal tendencies.

That said, I’ll tell you that I simply do not understand racism.

Oh, I understand that we humans like to draw distinctions, define the “Other” in the face of conflict. Such dichotomies make it easier to argue, to fight, to hate, to kill. I get that. Not a fan, but I get it.

But why skin color?

(more…)

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I was missing London last week. I really felt the need to go for a visit. Luckily, I had a book in my TBR pile that was waiting to take me there.

I’ve visited London a handful of times over the decades, seen it clean itself up—from pollution, bombings, fires—seen it rebuild itself, piece by piece. I remember thinking, when The Shard started to go up, “Oh my, that’s gonna be awful,” and yet today, I look on that gargantuan pillar of glass rising above the Southwark walk and think, “Yeah, I like that. It fits.”

While I’m not always fond of London’s continually changing cityscape, one thing I adore about London is what doesn’t change. A perfect example is the ancient building that’s tucked in among skyscrapers called the Gherkin, the Walkie-Talkie, and the Cheese Grater. In the shadow of modern architecture is a treasure that’s been around for nearly a thousand years.

The Tower of London. (more…)

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Some weeks are so disjointed, so fractious, that I find it difficult to settle on a topic for my regular post.

This has been one of those weeks.

So far today I’ve written about 6,000 words and deleted about 5,950. I’ve pinballed between topics—the debacle of our political system, my 27th anniversary working in the same shop, the evolution of a short story that’s been simmering in my head, the upcoming birthday milestone that I’ll hit in December, the character of this year’s autumn display, a recipe for acorn squash soup that’s really good (and easy)—without being able to settle on one of them.

At such times, my mind can’t hold onto anything, not long enough, anyway. My attention, buffeted by gale-force winds, gets blown off course, lost at sea. Between radical changes at work, drama in the political sphere, and the very real possibility of life- and lifestyle-altering projects currently in the offing here at home, I simply cannot concentrate.

However, I’ve decided that this is okay.

Not every week is a winner.

Sometimes just making it through to the end is the best we can do.

Here’s hoping for better.

k

 

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Science Fiction has had a tough go of it over the decades, and oft-times it’s been with good reason.

Back when I was cracking paperback spines and dreaming of writing my own novel, a lot of SF readers only cared about the science. If you got the science right, if you got all your gizmos, franistans, and spindizzies in a row, even if you drew your world in crayon, wrote dialogue as wooden as an oak, and populated scene after scene with stereotypical characters hired straight from Central Casting, you could still win awards and have a healthy readership. While I gravitated toward the “social” science fiction of Le Guin, Zelazny, and Cherryh, the genre had a strong and ardent following of the “hard” science fiction style, where the gimmick ruled and “What if?” was the only question worth asking.

In visual media, it was often worse. Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and the Six-Million-Dollar Man gave us mindless matinee-serial pablum served on a foundation of whiz-bang gimcrackery.

This, however, has changed. (more…)

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This past year, I’ve reviewed only three books. There are a couple of reasons for that.

The primary reason is that I’ve been reading a lot more news these days. Current events (and my often visceral reaction to them) have been consuming a great deal of my available attention. A secondary reason is that another main chunk of my reading time has been devoted to research—online and offline—for my work-in-progress, and while some of these research works are very good, they’re not titles that most (or any) of you would find interesting.

Through this, however, I felt the lack of fiction, not only as a needed escape from the real world, but also as part of my education and development as a writer.

With this in mind, last month I decided to devote time to fiction (the first of which resulted in this), and I’ve been continuing that trend by reading Raymond Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep.

But this isn’t about that; this is about reading. (more…)

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