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Useful Quotes

One thing I started doing soon after I got a computer was writing out all of my favorite bits and pieces from books, TV shows, songs, and movies.  Here are just a few:

1)  Monty Python:

Too many people, through no fault of their own, are sane.  It is up to us, who are out of our tiny little minds, to help them.  One thing you can do is roll around on the floor going “squawk” “squawk,”  “squawk,” and then rolling around in some treacle…

Excellent advice, the problem is finding the treacle.

2)  Hamlet  Not everyone remember the resolution to the “To Be or Not To Be” soliquoy:

There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow.  If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come.  The readiness is all.  Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is’t to leave betimes:  Let be.

3)  Special points to whoever guesses this one:

Discretion is the better part of valor; of dinner, dessert.

4)  Even bigger points for this one because I can’t remember where I found it:

Are there UFOs to save us?/And do we really care?

5)  Every writer out there can probably identify with Stevie Smith at least once in a while.

I long for the Person from Porlock/To bring my thoughts to an end,/I’m becoming impatient to see him/I think of him as a friend

Often I look out of the window/Often I look out of the gate/I think, He will come this evening,/I think it is rather late.

6)  I love Dashiell Hammett as much as anybody else for his brilliant mysteries, characters, and concise writing, but this may be one of the best psychological explanations of what is a more common phenomena than most people realize.  I try to remember it whenever I’m working on a character:

A man named Flitcraft had left his real-estate-office, in Tacoma, to go to luncheon one day and never returned.  He did not keep an engagement to play golf after four that afternoon, although he had taken the initiative in making the engagement less than half an hour before he went out to luncheon.  His wife and children never saw him again.  His wife and he were supposed to be on the best of terms.  He had two children, boys, one five and the other three.  He owned his house in a Tacoma suburb, a new Packard, and the rest of the appurtenances of successful American living…was worth something in the neighborhood of two hundred thousand dollars at the time he vanished.  His affairs were in order, though there were enough loose ends to indicate that he had not been setting them in order preparatory to vanishing…  “He went like that,” Spade said, “like a fist when you open your hand.”…

I was with one of the big detective agencies in Seattle.  Mrs. Flitcraft came in and told us somebody had seen a man in Spokane who looked a lot like her husband.  I went over there.  It was Flitcraft, all right.  He had been living in Spokane for a couple of years as Charles– that was his first name– Pierce.  He had an automobile-business that was netting him twenty or twenty-five thousand a year, a wife, a baby son, owned his home in a Spokane suburb, and usually got away to play golf after four in the afternoon during the season.

Spade had not been told very definitely what to do when he found Flitcraft.  They talked in Spade’s room at the Davenport.  Flitcraft had no feeling of guilt.  He had left his first family well provided for, and what he had done seemed to him perfectly reasonable.  The only thing that bothered him was a doubt that he could make that reasonablenees clear to Spade… “I got it all right,” Spade [said], “but Mrs. Flitcraft never did. … Here’s what happened to him.  Going to lunch he passed an office-building that was being put up– just a skeleton.  A beam or something fell eight or ten stories down and smacked the sidewalk alongside him.  It brushed pretty close to him, but didn’t touch him, though a piece of the sidewalk was chipped off and flew up and hit his cheek.  It only took a piece of skin off, but he still had the scar when I saw him.  He rubbed it with his finger– well, affectionately– when he told me about it.  He was scared stiff of course, he said, but he was more shocked than really frightened.  He felt like somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the works.

Flitcraft had been a good citizen and a good husband and father, not by any outer compulsion, but simply because he was a man who was most comfortable in step with his surroundings.  He had been raised that way…The life he knew was a clean orderly sane responsible affair.  Now a falling beam had shown him that life was fundamentally none of these things.  He, the good citizen-husband-father, could be wiped out between office and restaurant by the accident of a falling beam.  He knew then that men died at haphazard like that, and lived only while blind chance spared them.  It was not, primarily, the injustice of it that disturbed him:  he accepted that after the first shock.  What disturbed him was the discovery that in sensibly ordering his affairs he had got out of step, and not into step, with life.  He said he knew before he had gone twenty feet from the fallen beam that he would never know peace again until he had adjusted himself to this new glimpse of life.  By the time he had eaten his luncheon he had found his means of adjustment.  Life could be ended for him at random by a falling beam:  he would change his life at random by simply going away.  He loved his family, he said, as much as he supposed was usual, but he knew he was leaving them adequately provided for, and his love for them was not of the sort to make absence painful.

“He went to Seattle that afternoon,” Spade said, “and from there by boat to San Francisco.  For a couple of years he wandered around and then drifted back to the Northwest, and settled in Spokane and got married.  His second wife didn’t look like the first, but they were more alike than different…He wasn’t sorry for what he had done.  It seemed reasonable enough to him.  I don’t think he even knew he had settled back naturally into the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma.  But that’s the part of it I always liked.  He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling.”

“How perfectly fascinating,” Brigid O’Shaughnessy said.

So, we’ll have a real blog next time, but for now this will have to do…

FREE, FREE, FREE VERA!!

Okay folks, Such A Deal!  One of my favorite authors, the twice Nebula nominated, Vera Nazarian, publisher of Norilana Press who returned Tanith Lee ( yes, that TANITH LEE) to print has a new, FREE story available on Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120720.  “The Witch Who Made Adjustments” is typical Vera, surprising, funny, scary, never what you think it is, with a little bit of wisdom tossed in.  Here’s her description:

A humorous and deeply heartwarming fantasy novelette of a witch who may not be as “terrible” as she seems — a witch who came into a turn-of-the-century town, just a few days before Halloween, and changed the lives of the entire populace, and especially young Tommy, a hardworking boy, and his impoverished family.

Then, after you download this story for free, you get to visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  E-books are so cheap that you should get both her Nebula-nominated stories.  Her short story collection, Salt of the Air, has “The Story of Love,” the 2007 Nebula finalist.  Her stories are often fairy tale-esque, this a more eastern tale with a surprising, soul-satisfying ending.   Actually, all the stories are wonderful as is the introduction by Gene Wolfe.  In it Gene Wolfe (yes, THAT Gene Wolfe) explains fantasy to you and why Vera is one of the top writers around.

In 2008 her novella “The Duke in his Castle” was a Nebula finalist.  I am partial to this story since I read it in Draft 0.5.  Vera, you are one of my dearest friends and I love you, but folks that draft was publishable as it was.  Not 1000% perfect but one hell of a ride.  A little re-write and it’s one of my favorite stories I’ve ever read.  Nothing is as it seems, but flows and changes until the final truth is revealed masterfully.  Great, now I have to read it again.

There is a lot of Vera, her novels Dreams of the Compass Rose and Lords of Rainbow are great reads.  “Dreams” has stories that are like lightening in the mind, new ways of looking and feeling that you never thought you’d think of.  “Lords” is the love story of three people living in a world without color.  Her novella “The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass” is both fantasy and science-fiction.  It’s a fascinating tale with a wonderful introduction by Charles de Lint.  For more of her science-fiction, there is “After the Sundial.”
They’re e-books!  They cost nothing!  Buy them all!  Don’t blame me if you’re up all night reading them…

Many years ago I was the production manager on a TV pilot called “Rumors.”  It investigated rumors like whether Walt Disney is frozen (he isn’t) and other celebrity stories.  One of the people we interviewed was a world-renown psychic and astrologer named Jeane Dixon who was revealed to be one of Nancy Reagan’s “consultants.”   The term “the Jeane Dixon effect,” was coined for her.  It refers to a tendency to vigorously promote a few correct predictions while ignoring a larger number of incorrect predictions to convince people that you have special abilities.  I hated her like I hate any narcissistic scam artist that preys on the emotionally needy.  There was only one person I hated worse.  Her agent.  He was a nasty, self-important, arrogant (fill in your word of choice and there’s some great Yiddish ones I can recommend) who was thrilled to help Ms. Dixon scalp everyone and anyone they could.  I am basically an honest person.  You can trust me on that.  But for some reason, Jeane Dixon’s check just never seemed to make it to his office in New York.  Three weeks I think it took.  A month?  I was bringing my rabbit in to work most days then.  If I wasn’t so basically honest, I might have had him pee on it.

For decades every December of The Enquirer Magazine had her top 10 predictions.  They were always wrong.  The only good thing about Ms. Dixon’s predictions is that they were pretty funny.  Remember World War III?  The one that started in China?  She was great at getting presidential elections wrong — including who would run.  Every year — and I do mean every year — she wrote about Michael Jackson’s alien love child.  If she was still alive, she’d probably make it Conrad Murray’s alien love child so she could keep it in the family.

So, for my predictions or non-predictions…  These are not based on my knowledge of the stars, psychic abilities (the best I can do is know when the kids haven’t brought in their dishes), or “brilliant” mind.  These are based simply on what either makes sense, should happen, or what I would like to happen.

Mayan Calendar December 21, 2012 — others say end of the world, paradigm shift, the divine female takes over, whatever.  I say ancient Mayans come up from out of their underworld civilization,  look at what we’ve done to the planet, and go back under for another 5,125 years.

Politics… Next President no better than the last.  Worse, maybe, but not better.

Literature… Captain Underpants’ writer Dav Pilkey will win the Pulitzer.  Or so says my 8 year-old nephew Max.

Sports… Oh, whatever.  I know nothing about sports.  They’ll get paid too much.  How’s that?

Science and Medicine…  Don’t get me started on the pharmaceutical companies.   I love research scientists — I’m related to research scientists — but what ever wonderful thing they’ll come up with won’t make its way to us in a useful manner.   As a hypnotherapist and daughter and granddaughter of psychiatrists, I have a tendency to think about things through symbolism.  Three heads of Satan:  Pharmaceuticals, For-Profit Health Insurance companies, and most Multi-National Corporations.  Not a prediction, just an observation.

Film… Oh, there’s always something to see.  Of course, it’s the kid’s animation that seems to draw the better filmmakers in some ways.  One little note, though.  I read somewhere that if Dreamworks/Pixar made it easier to make 3-D animated films, there’d be fewer animators working.  I don’t think it works that way.  If the films are successful, and you can make more with fewer people, then you’re going to be making more films.  And hopefully they’ll be good.

Scholarly Matters… I separate this from Literature because it’s really a matter of people needing to be published and get publicity.  New ideas on who really wrote what in 2012?  Shakespeare was written by Ezra Pound.  Why?  Ezra Pound wrote T.S. Eliot.  (Actually, it was the guy who trained the dancing bear who wrote the plays as anyone who has worked in the theatre knows.)  The big thing is now who really wrote what in the early comic books.  Stan Lee says he did.  He ended up with the money so he’s got the lawyers.  Wait to object on this one until he’s dead.

Personal Predictions…  The cat will still pat my face to wake me up if I move while I’m sleeping.  My niece will come up with very good excuses not to finish her homework right now (Glee, anyone?).  My nephew will want to learn more Yiddish (and I can’t teach him any of the really good stuff!)  All of my friends books will sell well (wait for the reviews here).

Yes, folks, it’ll be just like last year only different.  Send me my check soon.

Soul Surprise

This guy walks into the office and everyone is a bit put off because he obviously doesn’t have an appointment and then we see the box so we know he must be selling something.  Which is no big deal, we always have peddlers coming and going, no matter what the “No Soliciting” sign says about prosecution and security.  We all get ready to ignore him.  But this guy is different.  It’s not perfume or scarves or stuff like that, it’s dreams.  In a bottle.

With no small degree of savoir-faire, he opens his black case to reveal three rows of tiny bottles resting in black velvet luxury.  The more reckless of us stop what we are doing to watch him.  As he looks us over, his lips form a small smile.  “What in life is more wonderful than dreams?  It is where our minds and our hearts coalesce to create our only truly private experiences – some beautiful, although,” he paused, “sometimes terrifying.  That is until now since, as we all know, scientists have learned how to manipulate gamma-endorphins in the brain to create extraordinary dream experiences.  And I am very pleased to tell you that these programmed dreams are no longer just for the very rich.  One drop of any of these liquids,” he says, “and you’ll dream the most beautiful or the most outrageous dream you’ve ever had.  Perfect in every sensual detail from sight and sound to smell, taste, feeling… And I don’t mean merely physical sensation.”  And again, that tiny, knowing, smile.

The sounds of inputting goes quiet as we each look up from the rows of desks.  It’s because of guys like him that there is a designer watch on your wrist, not to mention other luxuries some of us possess.  The gray market is the American way.

By now everyone in the rows of desks has stopped working to watch the different colors swirl around like liquid clouds in the tiny bottles.  Loreen, the receptionist, is the first to leave her desk.  She stands  on the tippy-toes of her high heels to look in the velvet-lined box.  Each bottle has a different name which she reads out loud:  “First Kiss,” “Antarctic Explorer,” “Around the World,” “Sweet Revenge,” “Space Voyage, “Moonlight over Paris.”

“What’s that one?” she asks as she points to “First Kiss.”  But, before he can answer, she adds, “how do you make it work?”

“It’s the easiest thing in the world.  One drop, two at the most, dabbed on the tip of your tongue before you go to sleep and you’ll be the star in your fantasy made real.  Every nuance complete, all those tiny details that are so important; they’re all there to create the fullest and deepest experience for you to enjoy and savor for years to come…  And, tell me, is there anything more romantic than one’s first kiss?”

My first kiss?” Loreen asks while the rest of us come to look at the bottles.

The man looks everyone over as he leans his head down to hers so that their eyes are only a few inches apart.  “Was your first kiss full of longing, aching love, so sweet that you were afraid to touch his lips because it just might break the spell?”

“Well, no,” Loreen says uncertainly.  It’s easy to see embarrassed memories of fumbling in the dark cross more than a few faces, yours not excepted.

“Well, it will be from now on,” he whispers to her.  “One drop tonight and you’ll have the first kiss you always wanted — moonlight and candles, romance laced with that essential element of innocence.  The first time is the most important, the one you always remember in your heart.”

“No side effects?”  Loreen whispers back.

“Guaranteed or a full refund, it’s all right here in our literature.”  From a hidden spot inside the box, he pulls out a brightly, yet tastefully colored brochure.

As Loreen steps off to one side, the crowd (and we are a crowd now, since everyone is out of their chair) moves forward.  No one is immune from the excited hush.  When someone asks about the differences between “Daredevil” and “Antarctic Explorer,” the man explains how each and every one of the dancing fluids was created and calibrated to guide a sleeping brain along the pre-designed track.  The exact look and feel of Antarctica, the precise sounds and smells, as real as if you were there in person.  The chilling cold, but without the danger of frostbite.  The speed and thrilling sensations of successfully leaping a motorcycle over the Grand Canyon.  Exhilaration in perfect safety – except for that touch of the unknown that makes it all the more thrilling.  Everything is precisely the way it would be if you were actually living it.  In fact, as long as you are asleep, you will be living it.  Your secret fantasy come to life.

While people peer at the rows of bottles, the man goes from person to person.  For each one he finds a certain bottle that contains a little piece of what they’ve always wanted.  Lori from Accounting giggles that, yes, “Reckless Abandon” does sound just a little bit tempting.  Prescott, the office eavesdropper, tattletale, and bore has his attention caught by the purple and blue bottle named “King/Queen of the World.”

But none of those seem really interesting to you.

Then the man picks up an iridescent black bottle and comes over.  The label reads “Soul Surprise.”

“This,” he says almost conspiratorially, “is a very unusual blend.  Most created dreams are stories that follow along a basic pattern, but not ‘Soul Surprise.’  You take one drop — only one drop, mind you — and you will have an experience that will change your life.”  As wonder spars with disbelief, he says, “’Soul Surprise’ reaches down into the center of your psyche.  You might have the sudden insight that allows you to undo the destructive patterns in your life.  Or you might discover your true bliss.  Or,” he almost smiles, “the answers to your deepest questions.”

Swallowing hard, you stare into the dancing liquid.

“…without pain, I assure you.  There are no nightmares here.  Only your own heart’s truth.”

The varying shades of purple with just a hint of black swirl effortlessly in the bottle, mesmerizing.  “You can find out… anything?”

He speaks so softly that it requires all your concentration to hear him.  “I’ve heard that some people have experienced the Ultimate of Ultimates and dreamt their way to the Other Side, beyond life itself.  When they wake up safe and snug in their own beds, they know the greatest mystery of all.”

It is only a few moments later that you realize how wrapped up you’ve been in reverie.  The man has returned to his velvet box.  And, again, you find yourself drawn to the undulating black waters inside the bottle.  The phones are ringing and can no longer be ignored.  The man slowly begins the process of packing up, but first he waits a moment.  Most mouths are silently calculating.  Some lick their lips when the final figures are reached.  The man pauses.

Nearly everyone buys a bottle and yours is black.  After that, very little work manages to take place.  The day creeps by until it finally gets to 4:30pm and then, by mutual consent, everyone goes home early.  When the familiar face across the dinner table asks if anything interesting happened today, you shrug it off with a “not really.”

There’s nothing on the TV that’s interesting, so you yawn loudly as you get up from the couch and announce your plan to hit the sack a little bit earlier tonight.  “A long day,” you say.  “See you in the morning.”

Sitting on the bed, you use no small degree of formality as you lift the dropper to your tongue — surreptitiously, because you do not want anyone else to know about this.  Tomorrow you’ll share it; but not now, not tonight.  Tonight this is your secret to be savored in your own private world.  You carefully close the bottle and lay it next to the clock on the night stand.

Crawling into bed, you start to wait.  The sheets won’t warm up.  It seems as though you’ve been trying to fall asleep forever even though the clock says only 10 minutes have passed.  But then you can feel sleep’s silken tendrils flickering as they make their way up the back of your head.  They pull you down deep as time takes a time-out.  All is hushed, quiet, quieter, then still.

Now it is time for the moment of truth.  You wait for the tunnel of light.  For familiar, long ago voices.  A parent, grandparent?  Or maybe even that boy who died in the sixth grade.  But then the blackness grows increasingly heavier, dragging you down the eternal sea of darkness.  All becomes nothing except one thought.  You know the man lied for you are tasting much more than a flicker of fear.  Oppressive silence envelopes you as pain begins to radiate from the center of your being.  And then, everything, stops.

***

     Bright lights.  People talking.  Metal clanks loudly against metal. You open your eyes but must blink two, three, four times before comprehending that the bed you are in is not your own.  This is a hospital.  The face you last saw watching TV now sits across the room stained with tears.

“What happened?” you ask through a throat made of chalk.

A person in hospital scrubs with a stethoscope standing next to you speaks using words like “defibrillation” and “cardiac arrest.”

It doesn’t take you long to understand.  You had a heart attack and, for a terrifying moment, your heart stopped completely.  Suddenly you find that you’re screaming, yelling, “He killed me, that lying bastard, that poison killed me!”

Hands restrain you and comfort you firmly back to the white-sheeted bed.  Tears now stain your cheeks, tears of rage.

“No,” the person in white says, “Whoever sold you this stuff definitely cheated you, but he didn’t kill you.”

Your unspoken question contorts your face.

“It was a scam — there’s nothing active in that bottle.   It didn’t cause your heart attack.  We’re running tests now.”

“That bottle” is now sitting on a metal tray next to your head.  You stare at the iridescent waves of black as they fold and ripple behind the glass.  Disgust overwhelms you for taking the bait and you took it, you literally took it to heart.

The “Ultimate of Ultimates” — the ultimate in stupidity is what the man was probably thinking to himself when you took the bottle and he took your money.  And, yes, there is a soul-shattering surprise in finding out that you are a gullible idiot, fair game for the most obvious of sharks.  This must be the worst, the absolute worst.  The metal tray reflects a mockery of your face and you stare into the disfigured eyes.

Then you think about the properties, though not those of the black swirling water in the bottle, but of the capabilities of the mind.  If what was in the liquid didn’t stop your heart, then what did?  And slowly you begin to wonder.  Not so much about your last dream as of your next.

This story was published in the May 2004 issue of the e-zine Simulcrum.   I like playing with points-of-view and they seemed to have liked it too.

$100 Surprise

Just when I thought the water was all gone, a flash flood.  I was contacted by a potential client who wanted to see me today.   I saw said client and we’ve an appointment for Saturday.  I hope it goes through.

Nice to start the week with unexpected cash.

I doubted myself; couldn’t talk myself up.  I’ve been hypnotizing people since I was 12 and I doubt that still.  Of course, that’s just a cover for the real thing; I can’t really help anyone.  I don’t know what I’m doing therapeutically.  All the negatives kept running through my head.  Enough to make your heart weigh against your lung.  But session went fine.

I can’t just follow a script and I need the confidence to truly trust myself to create it as I do fiction.  I did it before, but the longer I go without a client the more “proof” it is that I’m incompetent as a hypnotherapist, not as someone who isn’t doing a good job getting clients although I’ve done everything I can think of.

This box is safe, but it reflects old, bad, dangerous beliefs.  I see them in every roll of Mother’s eyes, slight changes in the tone of her voice, her breaths.  I hear it in my head, nonstop.

But I know as I get my sleep patterns back to normal, it will be easier to combat these thoughts as I have done before and won.

No, that isn’t as fun as it might sound.  Gary is The Gary Monster a very vocal Siamese who loves to be spanked.  And yowl.  He’s my sweet boy, but bedtime starts out as a battle.  I’m happy to spank him 60-70 times, but when I stop and say “Good Night,” it’s pat, pat, pat on my face and he wants to start all over.

 

No way out of it now.  Bedtime.  And Gary’s fast asleep.

To Sleep or Not To Sleep

It’s been a tricky day here.  I’ve haven’t really slept since maybe Sunday night and all day I’ve been either half-awake, panicky about getting everything done, or cranky.  Or at least so it seems to me.  Everything hurts or aches except The Gary Monster who sneezes and wheezes.  Worst of all, when I finally decided to get up since early since I wasn’t going to fall asleep, my Thurber Carnival was in Mom’s room.  I couldn’t read a Thurber!  It’s like demented secret passion.  No one I know actually reads anything except for Walter Mitty and The Catbird Seat.  But every mystery reader should read The Macbeth Murder Mystery.

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