Short Story (flash fiction) of the day, Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”
― Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata

The Forest, David Smith (click to enlarge)

Over the years I have been embarrassed because I would occasionally be confused over who wrote Crime and Punishment vs. War and Peace. So, because I’m reading Dostoevsky, here’s something by Tolstoy.

Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy

 

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Knowledge Takes Root by Yann

Logically, she could just walk away. Walk away from this tree, from this hilltop, and never come back. What was the tree going to do, uproot itself and follow her?

—–Yann,Knowledge Takes Root

Do trees seem wise to you? Age can be wisdom, but it can be insanity too. Is it wise to wait and to let everything come to you? All you need is some sunshine and water… maybe a little phosphorus and fixed nitrogen. The only hard thing is to spread your seeds. Maybe the one-armed winged helicopter seeds blown by the wind are the way to go. Or better yet – feed the squirrels – so that they carry your progeny far and wide, bury, and hopefully forget about them over the cold winter.

Read it here:

Knowledge Takes Root by Yann

from Gratuitous Text

What I learned this week – August 5, 2011

I’ve been fighting through some nasty bouts of writer’s block and finding help where I can.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

By SUSANNAH BRESLIN

From Forbes Magazine

Stuck on what to write?

Try something different.

The only way to beat writer’s block is to write your way through it.

TIP #1: Write anything.

A decade ago, a friend of mine told me I had to stop writing short stories and write a novel. I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to do just that. I’ve had agents, finished drafts I decided I didn’t like, and given up on more than one occasion.

TIP #2: Forget everything else.

A few years ago, based on the first 30 pages of my novel, I was signed by a big Hollywood talent agency. That led to me pitching an HBO drama sort of based on my novel to Mark Wahlberg’s production partner and ended not long after that.

Eventually, I decided to forget agents, publishers, and pretty much every dream I ever had related to the novel other than making it into something I liked.

TIP #3: Never give up.

I finished that draft earlier this year, but then I got stuck in the revisions.

One problem with writing is that it is a solitary act.

Also, writing a novel is a marathon, and I am a sprinter.

TIP #4: Do what scares you.

In order to deal with my rewriter’s block, I decided to revise my novel in public. This requires a daily act of bravery. Every day, I post a revised section of my novel on a blog I set up to do just that. (The blog is here. The novel starts here.)

TIP #5: Write what you know.

My novel is about a federal agent looking for a missing adult film star. (This is what I know.)

As far as overcoming a block, this is what’s working for me.


The battle over our constitutional protections has now reached the point where our god-given right to hang huge plastic bull testicles from our trailer hitches is being threatened.

Truck Nutz Hooters

Truck Nutz Hooters

From Fox News

On July 5, Virginia Tice, 65, from Bonneau, S.C. pulled her pickup truck into a local gas station with red, fake testicles dangling from the trailer hitch. The town’s police chief, Franco Fuda, pulled up and asked her to remove the plastic testicles.

When she refused, he wrote her a $445 ticket saying that she violated South Carolina’s obscene bumper sticker law.

David Hudson, a First Amendment attorney and scholar, says laws banning these types of decals, emblems or bumper stickers are problematic, but often someone just hasn’t challenged them.

Hudson believes Tice and her lawyer can make a good case the South Carolina law is “unconstitutionally vague and unconstitutionally broad, and it violates the First Amendment.”

Hudson detailed many cases where law enforcement officials cited individuals for the content of their bumper stickers, and in the majority of those cases, a judge tossed them out because “the First Amendment protects a great deal of offensive expression.”

Hudson also cites the Supreme Court’s opinion that “the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

Read More

I’m not too happy this case is going to court … it is sure to result in a hung jury.

Here in Dallas, the question has been asked and answered.


I learned that there is a way to cook pasta that looks really good and really easy. Unfortunately, it takes a pot that I can’t afford.

Alain Ducasse - Pasta Pot

Alain Ducasse - Pasta Pot, by Alessi

From the New York Times:

Alain Ducasse and the designer Patrick Jouin have created a pasta pot for Alessi that perfectly shows off Mr. Ducasse’s pasta-cooking method.

First the pot: it is slope-sided stainless steel with a mirror finish. The well-balanced cast aluminum handle stays fairly cool and serves as a nesting place for the melamine spoon that fits it. The flat lid has a steam vent, and the set comes with a melamine trivet for stove-to-table service. A recipe booklet is included. It is $238 at the Alessi store in SoHo at 130 Greene Street (Prince Street) and at the new store that opened two weeks ago at 30 East 60th Street.

Now for the pasta: Mr. Ducasse said he learned this all-in-one technique from traditional olive oil makers in the Ligurian region of Italy. Instead of boiling pasta, making a sauce and combining them, he sautés aromatics, including garlic and onion, in the pot, stirs in the pasta, then slowly adds stock, so the pasta absorbs the liquid and softens. It is an effective method, like making a risotto, that takes about 20 minutes for delicious results. The starch in the pasta, which is not discarded in boiling water, thickens the stock, making a lush sauce. The process is for short macaroni cuts like penne, not spaghetti.

——–

But there is hope, my friends. I think I can make this recipe in a Dutch Oven. Man, looking at this is making me hungry.


More Pasta Information. From Malcolm Gladwell, the genius, via the TED network (which is chock-a-block with interesting lectures and… stuff, thanks, Carrie).

Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce

To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish.


I think I know what’s wrong. We’re all stuck in an Army Ant Death Spiral.

What I learned this week, July 22, 2011

Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata

Goals are important, but they are only metrics. A goal is useful for making sure you are on the right track, but it doesn’t work very well for motivation. To get where you need to go, you need to concentrate on the journey. If all you look at is the final goal, you will be overwhelmed and will fail. Look at the next step. If you enjoy the journey and are able to make yourself take that next little baby step, always, no matter what, then you will be unstoppable.


If you put the water bladder in your hydration pack upside down, you will get thirsty very quickly.


A prime lens on an SLR produces a picture that is sharper than one from a zoom.


With today’s tools, the idea of waiting for approval from the minions of a multinational sounds as lazy and self-defeating as a band that won’t burn CDs until they get a major label record deal. Just as musicians have to know their way around a sound board, writers need facility with the layout and design software used to create books, the ins and outs of formatting for ebooks; they need design sense enough to guarantee that their book looks good inside and out.

We used to wait passively for the pearly gates to open and then gratefully pass our manuscripts through to hallowed ground. In music and in books, those days are gone forever. And good riddance.

—- With Traditional Publishing Dies the Passive Writer-Victim by Leonce Gaiter in the Huffington Post


The problem is that these are all goods and services, …, and goods and rights are not the same things. People tend to concur upon rights …, and they do not depend upon others to supply and pay for their rights. With goods, there is always a political argument: about the value of the good, who is to get it and who is to pay.

from A Fling with the Welfare State, by Noemie Emery


If you want to be on the cutting edge – you have to be prepared to bleed.