Caught you scratching your head over the title, did I? No doubt you’re wondering what the “old thing” is. Well, skipping all the subtleties to jump right to the entirely justified conclusion, it is I. Your humble commentator. As I am feeling benevolent (which is seldom the case in these latter days) and pleasantly full (which is damned near never the case, as I’m still trying to lose weight), I thought I’d jot down a few random, mostly-but-not-entirely disconnected thoughts and see where they might lead. Old people do that, don’t y’know, except that most of us do it orally and don’t thereafter type up said collection of imbecilities and put it on the Web for others to goggle over and ask one another “Do you think he’s feeling all right?”
All the same…
The Fortress of Crankitude appears to have acquired a role in the neighborhood: Autumn Leaf Aggregator. Everyone’s fallen leaves migrate to our yard. I don’t mind. Fallen leaves are future topsoil. Besides, they make the hunt for dog droppings, of which we always have a great many, something of an adventure.
One of the more ironic wisdoms of our age is that of the Oft-Repeated Lie: If you tell a lie often enough, widely enough, and loudly enough, then no matter how outrageous or easily disproved, it will become the Official Truth. I can see heads nodding among my Gentle Readers – yes, yours too – yet virtually no one has escaped being led astray by a frequently, widely, and loudly repeated lie. It’s one of the reasons the following is among my favorite maxims:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha.
Today’s Big Brash Lie is that the constitutionalist John Birch Society is or was anti-Semitic. That is utterly false, has never been supported by a shred of evidence, and is refuted by quite a lot of evidence. Today, the lie appears at Ace of Spades HQ, whose writers ought to know better. Even the progenitor of the lie, the late William F. Buckley, knew it to be false. His real beef with the JBS was that it’s opposed to foreign aid, unjustifiable military interventions abroad, the formation of “alliances” and the adoption of international clients. Read this, and get smart.
(Oh, while you’re at it, Pope Pius XII wasn’t a Nazi sympathizer, either. Yet another frequently, widely, and loudly repeated slander.)
Do supermarkets hold Black Friday sales? Why not? Think about it.
Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my deceased friend Joe Flamini. Joe passed away in 2018, before the Kung Flu madness, owing to a tragic accident. Here’s what I wrote about him at that time:
Joe has been an engineer, a physicist, a security entrepreneur, and a law enforcement officer. In the practice of those occupations he’s visited virtually every country in the First World and has amassed an international reputation. For the past thirty years he’s lived in a redoubt near the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in a compound he built and equipped entirely with his own hands and skills. He spoke many times of the great joy his homestead brought him. “I have my wife and my mountain,” he would say. “What more could I possibly need?”
You’d have to know Joe personally to grasp the full import of that statement. He was so knowledgeable and talented that I’m convinced that he could rebuild Western Civilization – largely out of parts he already has on hand. And we who love him are about to lose him forever.
Concerning the current supply-chain disruptions and their effects on Americans’ living patterns, Joe would have sniffed in disdain. What he needed, he had in ample quantity. If he didn’t have it, he could make it from stock on-hand. If he were to concern himself about anything at all, it would be over whether he could get more .40 caliber ammo for his newly acquired KelTec Sub2000.
I miss him more than ever.
This thread on black killers’ claims of self-defense is worth your time. Contrast the incidents Amy Swearer cites to the tragedy that befell white teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, and ponder.
The “defund the police” madness appears to have halted and turned around, thank God. But stories about large gangs robbing luxury retail outlets of all their goods have nothing to do with the shortage of cops. What they tell us is rather simpler than that.
This has always been the case. It has nothing to do with police funding levels. Think for a moment about how much security, how well armed, and how ready to use lethal methods that Nordstrom’s in L.A. would have needed to prevent the robbery the lined story describes. Now think about applying that level and lethality of security to every retail establishment. The past couple of years we’ve seen the lower-end stores get targeted by flash mobs of teenagers – and the teens nearly always get away with it.
America’s high-trust society was premised on the conviction that “people wouldn’t do such things.” That time has passed.
Big Country Expat has a nice tirade about terrorist mass murderer Darrell Brooks. Hie thee hence.
I’m approaching the completion of a novel — The Discovery Phase, soon to be an overlooked classic of the Onteora Canon / subgenre “unlikely romances” – and have been pondering a technique I didn’t use in this one. The last two romances — Love in the Time of Cinema and Antiquities, in case you’ve forgotten – both use “framing stories” to provide depth of context and an extra perspective. I decided against it this time, believing that I could make the current tale stand well enough without that particular assistance. However, as this novel, like most of my others, is an element in the Onteora Canon, some readers will be baffled by the references to events narrated in other volumes. So it was a chancy decision.
That got me thinking about other narrative techniques that writers employ. One of particular note is called in media res, or “In the middle of things.” It describes the technique of jumping directly into the middle of the action, the better to get the reader’s blood pumping, rather than at the beginning and allowing events to unfold gradually. Many writers – possibly most – use it regularly.
But in media res has its own requirements, if you’re not going to frustrate and anger the reader. The opening segment must do more than merely get the reader’s adrenalin flowing. It must also provide enough information about what has gone before to make its significance plain. Moreover, it must do so without creating large lumps of backstory, which can bore the reader out of your tale.
This is not an easy task. If you’d like to see it done well, have a gander at P. S. Power’s “Damsel” novels. Each of them begins in media res, and each adroitly provides enough context to be both exciting and gently contextual. If you’d like to see it done poorly…what am I saying? Why would you want to do that? Never mind.
That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I’m still digesting – perhaps you are, too – and I have a few more-or-less imperative chores to see to later today. So enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend, stay out of the stores, and be well.