Swirly, or the Great and Widening Rift 9/1/13


Here is a second installment of my exploration of just what happened to us and to that loss of intimacy – that rift – that now exists between men and women.


(See my blog archives for August for the initial post.)


You know that wondrous evocative Yin/Yang symbol, that swirling eternal dance of opposites in the tornado-like act of creation. Light and dark, black and white, high and low, front and back, heavens and hells, life and death, material and spiritual, gods and men, all in rolling, spinning, fluid embrace.

Among the 'opposites' included in the churning symbol are the male and the female locked in a 'loving' embrace. Well, it is a hash of opposites, so let's say they are locked in a loving/hating cuddle.


'Men and women, women and men. It will never work.'
Erica Jong

Have you sensed the rift, the rending, of the embrace of these universal lovers? I have and I am not alone in this. This tear seems ever widening and a desolate wasteland of desert and thorn appears between them.

I would heal that rift if I could. We are, all of us, less happy and incomplete because of that rift. That emptiness between male and female is among the uncounted polarized rifts afflicting us today. And, like all of the polarizations found today, this rift seems guided by, led by, and vocalized by the worst ends of each extreme. We swim in a sea of discontent labeled with the terms misogyny and misandry. Woman hating and man hating.


All men and women have an equal need for love. When these needs are not fulfilled it is easy to have our feelings hurt, for which we blame our partner.
John Gray

The female half of my audience knows the term 'misogyny'. They certainly know their share of misogynists. I know them too. But 'misandry'. 'Can't be any such thing, they will say.

Be careful. Take a moment and think. I know some of those women and so do you. The next time you sit with an adult beverage in your hand being regaled with hilarious tales of mistreatment and male stupidity. Remember as you sit amid shrill gales of raucous laughter validating and being validated. Remember the words used. Remember what you laughed at. Remember why you laughed. They are of the same tenor of the jokes and laughter made in the company of men.

Men, you do the same. What is said? What is laughed at? Why did you laugh at the dumb blonde, at that bitch at work, at that spouse that got half, at that cold soul that stopped giving it out?


The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics and women are idiots.
Rebecca West

We have those differences no longer celebrated. We have that isolation, that emptiness. And, please God, let us all morn for what has happened to us.

I would heal that rift if I could. History writes of it in countless primary sources, myths, and literature. Bible to Shakespeare to modern political rhetoric. I feel it on the job. I feel it on the streets and in the bars. I see it on the comedy shows. I hear it on the news. It was a cold dead shadow in the houses my girlfriends and spouses where we sat alone together in silence. Could I but find the magic elixir?

I'd be rich if I could find it or could promise it. Countless are the websites that do that. Psychologists, marriage counselors, family therapists, pastors, tantric yoga, they're all there and more. One can learn to heal the rift with the yin and yang of the I Ching. One can search and find through the intervening wasteland guided by the Holy Grail (there are sites that claim possessing it). One can rediscover the 'lost female of the one God' studied in the Kabala. One can become an acolyte of the 'Sacred Courtesan' becoming a woman healer and muse. Many more paths exist.

All one needs is to keep paying the dues, following the steps, saying yes to the upsell, and wanting it all to end.

It is stunning how many good folks make a passable living showing how to heal that rift. Yet, the rift remains.

Many said a time and place existed in a state of perfection before the rift. A time of an innocence of mankind, and womankind, when the swirling symbol of yin and yang turned perfect and pure. A time before the fall when we joined in the loving embrace happy with and in each other. Well, maybe and maybe not.

Maybe once, Father Sun and Mother Earth danced together in naked happy bliss, giving the pleasure of the company of male and female to their joined creation humankind. I found no proof of that Eden. In the end, I think it never was. I think we prefer it that way. Else how will we know who gets to gossip in the kitchen or growl in the den when the game's on.


Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.
Katharine Hepburn

So, the prescription... Is there something to be done? The best one I found is that told by Alan Watts in Nature Man and Woman. We are all, to some degree, broken souls, he states. Broken and carrying the baggage of our history, our culture, and even our biography. The best step to take may be the healing of our individual self. Find that cloister, that meditation pillow, that tree-shadowed mountainside. Look inward. Find a way to fill those inner holes. Find a way to inner strength. In the end, find a way to be strong enough and happy enough with yourself. You will do better if you're cutting that opposite loose. You will do better if that opposite of the yin yang swirl remains absent. You will do so much better when that opposite shows up.

Take time to bless those people you know that have truly met their soul mates. They are rare. Give them a special hug from me.

Until some sign of healing comes, I will sit alone in the dark with you and dream.






My Dear Readers 9/14/13


There once was a reader named Fred
Who never liked a word that I said.
He raved and ranted,
And never recanted.
So, I choked him 'till he was dead.



There once was a reader named Hera
Who noted every coma and error.
Her posted reviews went viral,
Read widely from Edo to Worrall.
Now my lonesome nights know nothing but terror.



Some few take my book from the shelves,
Numbering in twos, or tens, or twelve's.
They say my prose is hardy and hale
And, they're glad they bought it on sale.
The gods bless those wonderful reading elves.



"I think the mystery of art lies in this, that artists' relationship is essentially with their work — not with power, not with profit, not with themselves, not even with their audience."
― Ursula K. Le Guin

"Never use the word 'audience.' The very idea of a public, unless the poet is writing for money, seems wrong to me. Poets don't have an 'audience': They're talking to a single person all the time."
― Robert Graves

Though I love and honor each and every one of my gentle readers, I am a writer that writes for himself. I cannot do otherwise it seems. I've tried to write to gain an audience. I've actually written for some publishers and their writer's guidelines. College campuses are littered with the things I've written on assignment. Little of that was fun or fulfilling. Much like Narcissus at his tranquil pool, I see the story I want to write reflecting back at me.






Don't mistake me.

I don't do experimental fiction. I believe in all the universals of human experience. I believe in characters that hunger and want, and doubt. I believe in characters that love and hope and think. Protagonists have flaws and Antagonists know something above absolute evil.

I do not stray far from the principles of authorship. I believe in plot and theme and setting. I believe in beginnings and middles and endings. Stories should flow and characters grow. Characters must be human not superhuman. Even my wizards and heroes know defeat sometimes just as my devils and villains know a victory now and then.

Still, what I write is what I want to write. That said, I confess I flush and glow when I get a reader and a sale.



"Don't dance for the audience, dance for yourself."
― Bob Fosse

"Writing is one of the loneliest of the arts; unlike the actor we have no immediate audience and must wait many long months, even years on occasion, for the splatter of applause to reach our ears, if indeed we are not damned by total neglect."
― Bryan Forbes


I am not alone in being a writer that writes for himself or herself. I see, in general, two other kinds of writers. There are writers most of them by my count that say they write for their readers. There are writers, brave enough to be honest, that say they write for the money. And, we all work like a hungry two dollar whore on a Monday to please those that plunk their money down.
What kind of readers do we get?


"...but never seek to know the reader's wants. Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living."
― E.B. White

"But there's an enormous difference between an audience that's watching you because they can't wait to see what comes next and an audience that's watching you because they're waiting for you to fail."
― Jodi Picoult

"The worst readers are those who behave like plundering troops: they take away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile the whole."
― Friedrich Nietzsche

We get all kinds of readers. Most return the love we give in writing our passion with the love they have for the genres they buy. Most have empathy for our vulnerability when we open the vein that bleeds onto our pages. A good many are very demanding and come to our writing with strong preconceived expectations. Some few approach books like an opium addict desperate for more and more of the same that they've read before. A few come to attack, to pick apart, to gleefully watch the train wreck of our prose.





Personally, I sit in stunned and humble gratitude whenever I get a review of many stars or get an email saying someone really liked my blog post. I spin in a downward spiral of stunned writer's block when I get that single star from someone that seemed to have read a different book entirely or shows no sign of reading it at all or throws the thing away because of my spelling or comma misuse. Heaven forbid that someone got bored.


"I'm finding that many G plussers only want entertained, not informed."

"I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we don't really exist if you don't."
― Vladimir Nabokov





Make A Smile 9/21/13


My cloudy day, today, gave me the blues. Not so yesterday. Tropical rains, thunder, lightning, now that made for a good day. However, what to do about today?

Well, put a smile on your face, whispered my muse.

How do I do that, my beauty? I returned.

Make a joke, why don't you? She breathed.

I just shrugged. She is my muse after all. Hell, it might even help.


"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."
― Robert Frost

"Laughter is a powerful way to tap positive emotions"
― Norman Cousins

Norman Cousins, a writer, an activist, and a hopeless optimist, suffered repeated heart attacks and a life-threatening collagen disease. He self-proscribed daily doses of belly laughs to go along with his doctors' regimen. He managed to survive 26 years of heart ailments and 16 year of his 'terminal' collagen disease. He's doctors perplexed and his book about it became required reading in some medical schools.

Might jokes I make cure my simple blues?


"Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine."
― George Gordon Byron

"Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand."
― Mark Twain

When cracking wise, comedians advise 'The Formula of Threes'. Two formulas of threes to be exact. Target, Hostility, and Realism. And, Exaggeration, Emotion, and Surprise. Look for them in one-liners, lengthy anecdotes, and a three act theatrical piece. These six criteria are a recipe for humor. Leave one out at your peril.

Humor is criticism cloaked as entertainment and is directed at a specific target. Cartoonist Bill Mauldin says that humor is laughing off a hurt and grinning at misery.

Most comedy is cruel – even hostile – if you think a bit. It may be that the real thrust of humor is using mental agility to fight those things that threaten to defeat me most often.

Humor, good humor, is a paradox. It is the juxtaposition of the reasonable with the unreasonable. The real and the exaggeration. That juxtaposition creates surprise. Without the 'real' there will nothing for to bring it home for me.


"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose."
― Woody Allen

"Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me."
― Robert Frost

Apparently, formulas exist for comedy and joke writing. I'll try a couple. These chosen will be a couple that play with words since I often consider myself something of a wordsmith. I warned myself ahead of time that not all of my jokes might work.


The first formula seems simple enough. Take a simple word and list a few legitimate definitions. Some will have totally different meanings. These can show depth of meanings and hidden meanings. Then play – turn them on their heads.

Let me try the word 'fly'. Among the definitions is the act of soaring through the air.

After a new loving couple enjoyed a wonderful night together, they chose to walk along the Cliffs of Dover in the dawn. A beautiful sight. The boyfriend gestured into the sunrise and said. 'Come fly away with me to the ends of the earth.' The girlfriend gave pause looking into the Channel. She said,' You go first.'

See the author shrug at his muse.

Another definition of 'fly' is that tiny dirty insect.

'Your fly is opened,' she said.

'No he's not,' he said grimly. 'My fly hasn't changed his mind about anything since the day he was born.'

Another word to define is 'cup'. One of its definitions is that of a stoneware container of hot liquids like coffee.

I like my lovers like I like my coffee; hot, steamy, and as sweet as toffee.

If Tequila is Spanish for truth serum then coffee is Sumerian for telling truth early and often.

Or, 'cup': to hold or touch something with one's open hand.

My wife reached over to cup my ample man boob. 'I don't know what you men get out of doing this,' she said. 'but if the one I've got a hold of gets any bigger I'm buying you a bra.' Now, I would want to reach over and cup one of hers but when I do, it gives her a headache.

Other words I might use for this formula include; hit, deck, place, finger, well, window. Surely, many more exist to pick from.


"A joke is a very serious thing."
― Winston Churchill

"Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious"
― Peter Ustinov

Another way to create a joke is to work with captions. Take some photos all of a similar theme. Or, find some somewhere. Think what might be happening in that picture or image not what is actually happening.

Caption it.

Here's some I found:





Maybe the lady could answer him, "Not the way I do it, honey.'


Anyway, for better or worse, that's my effort today. My heart is a little lighter for it. Try some yourself. Put some in your writing.


"I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb - and I'm not blonde either."
― Dolly Parton

"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come."
― William Shakespeare

"The gods too are fond of a joke."
― Aristotle