For the future is gated, and there are tolls to be paid.


          Oh, what a wondrous sentence.  I tripped over it at the terminus of the short fiction, We Show What We Have Learned.  Although the metaphorical story (written by Clare Beams) was deftly crafted, it was her insightfully essomenic bumper-post sentence which brought me pause. 

          I paid my first toll exactly thirty years ago.  Up to that point I'd been clumsily sketching together a future which included a degree in art followed by a job which would utilize my creativity.  I'd been tracing my future on the skein of selfish privilege in the ridiculous naïveté of youth (qualities, both invisible in the mirror but soon to become extremely clear in my backlight).  Inside the echo of a single conversation in February of '82, I permitted my future to be shanghaied and—subsequently—dropped out of college, joined the army, and became an infantryman.

          Navigating through life's toll gates must be something of a forte; adapt or become trapped.

lex parsimoniae


          Abstract of Magnetic alignment in grazing and resting cattle and deer found here.  Full paper found here.  These "scientists" forgot about wolves and, obviously, Occam's razor.    

Other posts on fuzzy, pseudo, or bad science:

Vachss Can No Longer Carry The Weight

          Unfortunately, the quality of The Weight by Andrew Vachss is slightly lower than his previous (which was slightly lower than its previous, et cetera).  Mister Vachss has been slip-sliding down for several years and this last one of his is a solid ☆☆ (not recommended, seriously flawed, and difficult to read).  For the last few years Vachss' books have been wavering between the forgettable ☆☆☆'s and forgettable-with-minor-flaws (☆☆☆ -'s). 

          Having read every Vachss book, beginning in the late 1980's, I believe he lost his drive and anger and clarity of voice about the time he killed Pansy (Dead and Gone, 2000).  He's tried for the last dozen years to get it back the way many authors do...with new characters, new settings and even new genres...none of those books are in the same league or contain the grit, clarity, or surprising hooks as well as the dark, gut-wrenching emotions he was able to imbibe into those early Burke revenge-thrillers of his.  The reason is, probably, what it was/is for many artists.  He changed.

          Success de-fangs many creative people (which I like to think of as the Morissette Principle) and so Andy the artist becomes Andrew the author becomes Mister Vachss the businessman.  He is now only writing to pay for the toys he bought with the proceeds of his previous sweat and hard-won creativity.  He is no longer devoting months of his time to the keyboard on re-writes because he no longer has a message he needs to get out.  Or a story to tell.  Or an impatient ghost uncomfortably residing in his spine.  Add to that...he has a very lazy, publisher-owned editor who never, never, never will send his story back for re-tooling because that would slow down the money train.

          It's a sad thing to see, when an author becomes ensconced in his tower of success where he slowly loses readers because he has stopped struggling to create a quality product and has resorted to writing from a template, writing for a paycheck, and writing poor-quality pap.

          This will be my last Vachss.  I may pick up a future book of his at a lending library just to see if he was able to Koontz his way out of this downward spiral (Dean Koontz pulled out of a quality-dive-and-impending-crash in the late 1990's with his Moonlight Bay and Odd Thomas Series and now writes so very much better than he ever did in the preceding two decades).  The odds are that Mister Vachss is satisfied with his past successes, is not listening to critics, and is very happy to be Mister Vachss the businessman...isn't it ironic?

motion feel — Shinji Inamoto