Back to Blog
In the last several months I have been experimenting with the "quatrain" - a poetic form that goes back to Rumi (and before). More specifically, I have been writing poems using the Shairi or Rustavelian quatrain.
For those that may need a review of the quatrain form, it is a stanza in a poem that has exactly four lines. Some quatrains comprise entire poems (Rumi), while others are part of a larger structure. Quatrains usually use some form of rhyme scheme, especially the following forms: AAAA, AABB, ABAB, and ABBA. Lines in a quatrain can be any length and with any meter, but there is usually a regular rhythm to the lines as well.
Now more specifically, a Shairi or Rustavelian quatrain has a rhyme scheme of AAAA, also known as monorhymed. It comes from the country of Georgia, and has four lines of sixteen syllables each. The name Rustavelian comes from the Georgian poet Shota Rustavelli. In the 12th century he published his greatest work, The Knight in the Panther Skin. The best translation is by Lyn Coffin. This book of quatrains is listed as one of the great master works of world literature. Rustavelli is often called the Georgian Shakespeare. This work tells the story of medieval romance of chivalry.
When I think my own quatrains are complete and polish for public reading I will publish them, but not before. I will not put a time limit on the publication of my quatrains.
Back to Blog
If you look at the raw numbers it may not seem that impressive, especially since the number of cases and deaths are much higher for seasonal flu. But don't be confused or mislead - this is a much more deadly virus, it is very contagious, and causes serious respiratory failure. Our hospital system will be overwhelmed (like in Italy) if we don't slow down the spread of this disease through aggressive social restrictions (like China did at the beginning). Everyone needs to take this very serious as if their life depends on it, because it does.
Ironically however, if we are successful and avoid a worst-case scenario, like Hong Kong and some other locations have, then the uninformed cynics will say: "See, I told you so, it was all media driven hype to create a panic, and trash our economy and trash Trump." Don't believe them. Don't believe the right-wing conservative talking heads (Hannity, Limbaugh, et al.) saying that it isn't that bad, that you should just wash your hands, go about your business and ignore so-called government over reach.
Rather, we should be seriously preparing for social isolation for several weeks, if not months. This is likely beyond the experience of most Westerners living today, and it may be challenging, but I think we're up to it if we ignore the ignorant naysayers who trivialize this crisis. Listen to the experts instead: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and your local health department officials. Trust your mayors and governors! They really do have our best interests at heart during a public health crisis. And yes, some mistakes will inevitably be made. We need to support each other and work together in a time of community need. Remember: successful solutions start at the grass roots level. Be a patriot. Be brave. We can fight this BUG and win.
Back to Blog
In all of my writing, be it long or short, the character is always front and center of the story. During the last 40 years I have collected 30 of, what I think, the best character novels from the classics down to modern times. I've read and studied each of them 5-7 times. A college professor back in 1978 once told me, if you want to write the great character novel or story, then study the great ones, ancient and modern. And so I have over my lifetime.
The one character novel that has had the greatest impact on my writing has been Against Nature by J.K. Huysmans. It was originally published in 1883 as A Rebours. It is beautifully written and beautifully structured.
In gold and purple prose the book recounts the exotic practices and perverse pleasures of Duc Jean Floressas des Esseintes, an unhealthy hero who resembles several of the more gorgeous dandies of the time, but is essentially Huysmans himself in the thinnest of disguises. Huysmans himself was the quintessential Decadent, tortured by that vague longing for an elusive ideal; torn between desire and satiety, hope and disillusionment; painfully conscious that his pleasures are finite, his needs infinite.
Back to Blog
The following is a summary of an email that I received from the Daily Stoic. I think we can all take lessons from this, whether we be leaders in our community or just individuals who wish to make a difference.
General James Mattis is part of a long line of tradition of Stoic warriors. Just as Frederick the Great carried the Stoics in his saddlebags as he led his troops, or Cato proved his Stoicism by how he led his own troops in Rome's Civil War, Mattis has long been known for taking Marcus Aurelius' Meditations with him on campaign.
"Reading is an honor and a gift," he explains, "from a warrior or a historian who - a decade or a thousand decades ago - set aside time to write." Yet many people spurn this gift and still consider themselves educated. "If you haven't read hundreds of books" Mattis says, "you're functionally illiterate." Channeling Marcus Aurelius, Mattis notes that human beings have been fighting and dying and struggling and doing the same things for eons. To not avail yourself of that knowledge is profoundly arrogant and stupid. To fill up body bags of young soldiers while a commander learns by experience? It's worse than arrogant. It's unethical, even murderous.
The same is true for much less lethal professions. How dare you waste your investor's money by not reading and learning from the mistakes of other entrepreneurs? How dare you so take your marriage or your children for granted that you think you can afford to figure this out by doing the wrong things first? What is the upside of trying to make it in the NFL all on your own, and not looking for shortcuts and lessons from seasoned pros and students of the game who have published books? There is no real job training for an emperor or the advisor to the emperor, but you can imagine both Marcus Aurelius and Seneca read heavily from and about their predecessors. The stakes were to high for them not to.
Back to Blog
When I was in high school and later at college, teachers and professors seemed to always say: "Start with a conflict and then use other elements to build around that." I have since tossed that idea in the garbage heap. It doesn't work for me, so there.
In all of my fiction writing - be it long or short - I first create and develop a character. When I'm done I look for a useful setting and plop my character inside of it. Finally, I come up with conflict(s) that may or may not come from the heart, mind or soul of the character. It works for me! I have always viewed my fiction writing as characterological studies.
Back to Blog
Tonight Mitch McConnell and cohorts made good on their pledge of no witnesses during the Senate trial of President Trump. The vote was along party lines, 51-49, and no surprise. This trial now is an official defacto coverup. The fundamental core of any trial is for both sides to call witnesses. Having no witnesses during a Senate impeachment trial is historically unprecedented since 1804. And there have been 13 impeachment trials in the Senate chambers.
The Senate has held just two prior impeachment trials against Presidents - Clinton and Johnson. Both included witnesses. 41 for Johnson and 3 for Clinton. The Senate lists 19 people prior to Trump who were impeached by the House, including 14 judges, a Senator, a Supreme Court Justice and a Secretary of war. The 13 that actually made it to the Senate for trial had witnesses. 8 yielded a guilty verdict and 5 found not-guilty.
But in the final analysis - all had witnesses. How can Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans still call themselves the "most deliberative body in the world?" The only answer to this citizen is a GOP coverup. We really needed to hear from Pompeo, Bolton and Mulvaney under oath, since they had the most direct knowledge of anyone involved.
From the beginning of this whole mess it was obstruction & coverup.
A president under impeachment inquiry who refuses to turn over critical documents, and then orders his staff not to testify or participate in said inquiry, is called obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is a crime and is impeachable. (800-plus constitutional scholars from all political persuasions who signed and sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee can't be all wrong.)
The Senate Republican leadership in refusing to review documents and subpoena critical witnesses, has engaged in activity that breaks historical precedent since 1804. The only conclusion as I said previously is a complete coverup! The Senate leadership and Justice Roberts have drank the hemlock of the Cult of Trump. It is now up to the American people to fix this mess in November - that is, if they have the moral courage to do so.
If President Trump gets a second term, history will not look kindly on Congress or the American voter.
Back to Blog
As of now this website is the only internet presence I have as an author (other than my Amazon Author page, of course).
Back to Blog
There have been major changes to my internet presence. All of my google blogs, Medium blog, etc., have been deleted permanently. I am maintaining my Facebook & MEWE social media sites for the express purpose of keeping in contact with family and friends. I will also use those two sites to re-direct folks to this webpage for updates on my writing projects.
I found that my attention was stretched too thin in maintaining those sites. I didn't have enough information and opinions to justify their existence plus, it became a total distraction from my writing projects.
This blog will keep my small fanbase updated on projects as well as my opinions and observations about the writing life and the world in general.
Back to Blog
This will be the go to place for updates on all my writing projects. Stay tuned.