Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

50% Return From Tax Deductible Investment

January 31, 2011

I am volunteering my assistance to Dorothy Palmer who has been in show business as an agent for 40 years. Dorothy runs a talent agency from her apartment near Columbus Circle, New York. She also acts as an agent for movie scripts and a “finder” of investors attracted by the glamor and high returns of investing in movie productions. While Hollywood often seeks 100 million for a movie, many of the “Indies” (Independent films) are produced for 2 to 5 million and potentially yield a higher return.

Here is an example of what such an investment can do for the investor:


Many years ago, profits depended solely on the theatre box-office. Now we have at least 23 ancillary markets, which tremendously increase the return of monies to the investors. “Gone With The Wind” was produced over 70 years ago and still sends checks to the investors and their families. “Wise Guys” was shot for 7 million dollars and earned 280 million dollars in videocassettes alone! “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was shot for 6 million dollars, made over 300 million dollars and also spun a TV series.


1.) DVD sales and rentals worldwide (rsult in enormous returns)
2.) Video cassette sales and rentals wordwide
3.) Television and Cable (including Pay-Per-View and premium channels
4.) Satellites
5.) CDs
6.) Sound Track
7.) Recording of music from film
a.) royalties paid each time the music is played in the media
8.) Books (royalties)
9.) Product Placement deals
a.) Payment for showing products in a scene (airlines, Coca-Cola, pianos, etc.)
10.) Hotels and Motels
11.) Libraries and Schools
12.) In-transit movies (for airlines, buses, and trains)
13.) Pilots used to sell Television Series
14.) Sequels (films to follow from the original)
15.) Hospitals and Nursing Homes
16.) Overseas products
17.) Internet
18.) Games
19.) Toys
20.) Clothes
21.) Jewelry
22.) 3-D
23.) Language Changer
24.) Investors can DEDUCT whatever they invest from their taxes.


20th Century Fox distributes many of these films.

Dorothy Palmer
Talent Agency, Inc.
New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-765-4280
Fax: 212-977-9801

Unrepeatable Insights

December 29, 2010

Kevin: A coworker of mine wrote some software that was subsequently classified. She was later asked some questions about how the software worked. When she asked for the source code to refresh her memory, she received a listing with the classified portions – which she had written – literally cut out of it.

William: Well, I suppose one moral to this story is always keep copies of everything one does that is of value. And yet I suppose to keep copies of such work without the express permission of the employer is unethical and perhaps illegal. A different moral is to heavily document all work so that even if it becomes classified, anyone with clearance to access it would be able to follow the documentation. On the other hand when writing very complex code it becomes cumbersome to maintain accurate documentation since the task of documenting impedes creativity and imagination. If one suddenly has some insight, it often takes a long time to put that insight into a narrative documentation which can be followed easily by others. I think we have all had the experience of writing something which seems rather inspired and unique and then losing track of the only copy and which point one realizes that it is impossible to recreate the exact same words. I sometimes feel that the mind’s creative imagination is like a kaleidoscope which is constantly refocusing and once a particular configuration passes out of focus one can never return to that exact same configuration.


I worked for two years as a programmer in RPGII at Stone & Websters Engineering in Boston in what they called “The Treasury Department” which handled payroll and other accounting related tasks. Each programmer would be given an assignment which might take only a day or might take several months. After the programming was completed it would take a day or two to complete flowcharts and documentation. There was a full-time “librarian” who did nothing but file and monitor all documentation. I remember several times getting a program to do what was necessary and test out but losing sight of HOW the entire program actually worked. It was observed back in the 1980s that the IBM OS mainframe operating system was the most complex of all human creations. At any given time that operating system had a constant number of “bugs” that hovered around 1000. No matter how many bugs were “fixed” there were always new bugs. It was like trying to smooth out the wrinkles in an infinite carpet which of course was a never-ending task of Sisyphus. Perhaps if I possessed a higher caliber intellect I would not have produced working programs which escaped the full grasp of my understanding. Many old software programs and operating systems had layer upon layer of redundancy built into them to make them backwards compatible with older techniques. CICS on-line real time programming was said to be like that. Some huge programs had been maintained over the years by many programmers of varying skill levels. Sometimes a programmer was under pressure to implement a change or fix a “bug” in a hurry and so they would simply write something to BYPASS the old code and perform the task in a way that they could understand and control. I found it was ALWAYS easier to start a program from scratch and make it work rather than to take an old program, understand its design and modify it. Some programmers were more adept than others at demystifying old programs. I do wonder how open source programs like Linux deal with such issues. It took me years to realize that I did not really possess all the skills necessary to be a good programmer.

Encouraging a would-be writer

December 21, 2010

“The Atlantic” magazine observed wryly that nowadays more people than ever are writing books and fewer people than ever are reading them. Consider Stephen Dixon

Before becoming a full-time writer Dixon worked a plethora of odd jobs ranging from bus driver to bartender.

Just get a WordPress blog and write every day from the heart. Back it up regularly too so you do not lose all your work. Write for yourself. Wallace Stephens in his correspondence mentioned one contemporary poet who “did not write because he MUST.” Write because you must and not because you always thought you SHOULD.

Think of those writers who wrote for themselves and died never knowing they would be famous (Emily Dickinson, Fernando Pessoa)

The phrase LARDED WITH

November 19, 2010

I like that word “larded!” You know, I am going to Google on “larded WITH” and I bet it is not overly used (which of course is a huge point in your favor for if every Tom, Dick and Mary is saying “larded with” then that means you are no more clever than a parrot but I always see you as EXCEEDINGLY clever!

Oh, well, 89,000 hits for “larded with” and they seem to be articles about military, budgets, bills…. So I guess your copyright is still patent pending.

One of my friends posted on something different today and used the luscious phrase “larded with” so I had to google and study its occurrence and I came up with “Larded with Fiction.” There was a recipe which said “larded with lemon.”

‎”Larded” — “In sounds so wrong. It sounds so right. Don’t mean I’m in love tonight … I LOOKED UP LARD AND I LIKED IT… the taste of that bacon chap stick.”

Hillary Clinton and Wonky Prose

November 8, 2010

New Yorker Magazine Bashes Hillary

The Political Scene

The New Yorker
Jan 28, 2008
Page 26

– by George Packer

I commented on the above article:

I am not a very political person, but I know what I despise.
I consider it a cheap shot to feature an illustration of Hillary Clinton’s backside, with a sly expression on her face as she glances over her shoulder.

The article actually mentions both strengths and weaknesses of Hillary and Barack, yet the general tenor of the article is to bash Hillary.

All the candidates (with the possible exception of Huckabee), are fine people who have both strengths and weaknesses and have worked very hard to get where they are. The only “flaw” that they all share in common is that there can be only one winner. That is no reason to bash them, or take cheap shots. If you are curious why I cite Huckabee as an exception, you can see my blog of several weeks ago.

The opening paragraph of the article is kind of a cheap shot, mentioning the apartment which Bill and Hillary took together in New Haven, for seventy-five dollars a month, in 1971. Why not have an article describing the first time each candidate copped a feel, or got to second base?

We are all human beings. We all have a gluteous maximus. We all have an adolescence which includes sexual experiences.

The second paragraph of this article informs us that Greg Craig, who used to be a close friend of the Clintons, is now an Obama supporter, has been “inspired” by Obama, and doubts that Hillary could inspire him. Does this mean that Obama has inspired throngs, hordes, masses of people, and Hillary has never inspired anyone?

The article, as well as the caption beneath Hillary’s butt cartoon, suggests that Hillary cares only about advancing her own personal career goals, and cares nothing about transforming society. I rather suspect that each and every candidate sees the presidency as a fabulous career goal achievement.

What does it really mean to “inspire” or to “transform society.” Please list the times in history when society was transformed single-handed by one politician.

A young teenage relative of mine tells me that my blogs are too boring to read. Well, I mention booty and shacking up, which are two topics of perennial fascination.

(some hours later) OK, back to the New Yorker Article:

On page 32, we read that Hillary Clinton “filled yellow legal pads with incorrigibly wonky prose, in ’round, schoolgirlish handwriting.”

What is “wonky” prose, anyway? I blogged a few weeks ago about all those letters that Hillary wrote during college to an English professor. There are actually photocopies of her handwriting and samples of her young adult prose. If you browse the above link, on page two, you will see her round schoolgirl handwriting when she was actually a schoolgirl. Looks better than my handwriting.

I feel its time to Google on “wonky”. So, in all fairness, let us compare the handwriting and prose of all the candidates. We here them all speaking extemporaneous prose during debates, and I find nothing particularly egregious about anyone’s prose. All candidates seem well spoken. The only person I can think of that does not always appear well-spoken is Bush, but, that is water under the proverbial bridge (hey, is this sentence wonky?)

A Google search on “wonky prose” example, yields 97 hits, among which are:

What Does George Packer Know About Hillary Clinton’s Book, Anyway?
January 26, 2008

George Packer: Fine, smart writer. But I’m curious about a section in an otherwise nice New Yorker piece this week about the contrasting political styles of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Take a look:

A search on WONKY DEFINITION yields:

wonky adj. Chiefly British. , -kier , -kiest . Shaky; feeble. Wrong; awry. [Probably alteration of dialectal wanky , alteration of wankle
Let’s see what literature professor Peavoy (above PHOTOCOPIES link) has to say about Hillary’s schoolgirl prose:

Ms. Rodham’s letters are written in a tight, flowing script with near-impeccable spelling and punctuation. Ever the pleaser, she frequently begins them with an apology that it had taken her so long to respond. She praises Mr. Peavoy’s missives while disparaging her own (“my usual drivel”) and signs off with a simple “Hillary,” except for the occasional “H” or “Me.”

As one would expect of letters written during college, Ms. Rodham’s letters display an evolution in sophistication, viewpoint and intellectual focus. One existential theme that recurs throughout is that Ms. Rodham views herself as an “actor,” meaning a student activist committed to a life of civic action, which she contrasts with Mr. Peavoy, who, in her view, is more of an outside critic, or “reactor.”

“Are you satisfied with the part you have cast yourself in?” she asks Mr. Peavoy in April 1966. “It seems that you have decided to become a reactor rather than actor — everything around will determine your life.”

In conclusion, may I say: My dear Hillary, it seems that your butt, your prose and your penmanship are all under attack! Is there nothing sacred?

Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

September 19, 2010

I often feel very self-conscious about my grammar and punctuation. I purchased a used copy of “The Chicago Manual of Style” but have never found the time and discipline to go through it methodically. I am very dependent upon built-in spell checkers to show me my frequent errors. I Google on words just to be certain of their spelling. At age 61 I doubt that I will gain significant writing skills. And yet I must continue try to express myself each day to keep what skills I have alive through practice. I have had access to Internet since 1998 which has allowed me to read new things that I might never encounter on the printed page and express myself each day in writing. Without Internet access I would have written far less.

I was a spoiled only child who went through the public school system prior to St. Johns. The most important thing that I learned from public school was to conform and get along in a large group where I am no one special and must suffer the knocks and bumps, grin and bear it. I don’t know how someone would learn such social skills with home schooling.

My G-Mail status reads “Grammar Nazi but he who lives by the sword dies by the sword so go ahead and correct me.” I have only average skills but I do care deeply about what I write and how I write. My prose may not be the magisterial prose of Gibbon but it is adequate to express my thoughts and it is the best I can muster. I hope I shall always value constructive criticism which helps me improve my skills and stop making the same errors over and over. I used to write “loose” when I mean “lose” until one day a learned Scottish gentleman pointed out this frequent error.

Young students SHOULD learn the basics of various of the world’s religions but I think that PBS style documentaries and books by people like Huston Smith are far more effective and less invasive that taking field trips.


@Adrian, I agree that things like Godwin’s law and critiques of grammar are sometimes a way of avoiding some inconvenient question that is not on everyone’s agenda. Another evasive tactic which irritates me is when someone says that a particular post is off-topic for the thread. The seminars that I remember from the 1960s rambled all over the place and yet remained pertinent to the assigned reading. One might try to claim that Plato’s “Republic” rambles off topic but what would such an argument achieve?

Besides, Facebook should or at least could be a less formal and relaxed way of interacting and exercising our minds without resorting to ad hominem. I see grammar and style as well as forbearance and equanimity as faculties which require constant practice and exercise and I am convinced that my years of Internet activity have improved me in these areas or at least prevented me from backsliding.

One recent FB thread was about an interview with Obama where in the second paragraph he was asked “do you believe Rev. Wright loves America as much as you do?” I raised what I felt were some excellent points about what it means to “love America,” hinting that it is an ill-defined piece of empty rhetoric. Some else agreed with me giving as an example “do you love dogs” to which she replied “I like some dogs for certain reasons, dislike other dogs and have certainly not met every dog.” We were told that we are “off topic.”

Sometimes it IS pertinent to mention Hitler (I could not understand why there was a red underline until I looked carefully and saw that I had written HILTER.) Certainly William Shirer is not forever refuted for writing “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”
Languages and cultures change when we are not looking. I imagine there was a time in the past when people seldom found fault with spelling errors in English for the simple reason that spelling was less standardized and there were no dictionaries.

Someone pointed out to me that in our times the humor of Jackie Gleason’s “to the moon, Alice” would be seen as violence against women. In the 1950s television shows such as “The Lone Ranger” and “Sky King” were NEVER allowed to show anyone being killed. As a child, watching these shows, I was not conscious of the censorship of violence. Hitchcock wanted to film a movie script in which the protagonist commits suicide but the movie code forbid the portrayal of suicide and so the script was rewritten to make the suicide a dream-sequence.

George Burns’s portrayal of Gracie as a simpleton would not go over well with today’s stress on equal rights and feminist interests.

Someone pointed out that “Winston taste good LIKE a cigarette should” is a grammatical error and should read “AS a cigarette should.”

I was taught to strictly use the impersonal “one” rather than “you” but now younger people tell me that I sound stilted and artificial.

There was once a distinct difference between “shall” and “will.”

If I normally leave work at 6 p.m. then I would say “I shall leave at 6 p.m.” BUT if someone asks me to stay late then I would say “I WILL stay until 7 p.m.”


@Martin: The monks in the Greek monastery where I stayed for 13 months would speak about “theologoumena” as questions or issues which could be discussed endlessly with no resolution (such as the details of the Dormition / Assumption) but the resolution of such questions are not “salvific” (not essential to salvation) in the way that the issues of the Ecumenical Counsels on matters of the Trinity required resolution.

I imagine there are “theologoumena” in language as well. We live with the fact that there are British and American spellings and usages. I wish I could “speak with the tongues of angels” but I cannot and yet neither can I remain mute.

I am sure we can examine Dickens and Hardy and find sentences which were perfectly correct then and are not now incorrect and yet now sound awkward or affected.

When I was a child we would gloat and say “Ain’t ain’t in the dictionary” but now of course it is.

One hesitates now to say in a narrative that “someone ejaculated (exclaimed)” and “gay” and “queer” have an entirely different connotations from “the gay nineties.”

A month ago I was in the street and heard some high school students actually speaking in text-speak (spelling out L-O-L.) I remember in the 1970s the first time someone on the telephone said to me “I want that ASAP” and I had to ask them what “ASAP” means.

Strunk & White distinguishes between “shall” and “will” in this way: If a person slips off a boat by accident, he laments “I shall drown! No-one will save me!”, whereas someone committing suicide defiantly yells, “I will drown! No-one shall save me!”- (thanks to Weldon Goree)


@Luis, Great post! You inspired me to Google on – relative pronoun case clause preposition
because I know there are a lot of helpful links around on grammar

These sites looks very interesting:

Excerpt: I found this error in a Time Magazine article on the Gores:
“She had just begun to realize whom it was she had married.”

The corrected version would read, “She had just begun to realize who it was she had married,” because “who” is the subject complement of the clause “it was who,” and therefore must take the same case as the subject (the subjective case).

Use of the word eschew

September 7, 2010

Someone in Facebook wrote:

Day at high mountain lake. Trout eschewed Kroeger’s Extra Fancy Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

I became curious about the word “eschew” and googled to find
1300–50; ME eschewen < OF eschiver, eschever < Gmc; cf.
OHG sciuhen, G scheuchen, shy

to keep clear of or abstain from (something disliked, injurious, etc); shun; avoid

[C14: from Old French eschiver, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German skiuhan to frighten away; see shy 1 , skew ]

So, perhaps it is more accurate that the fish were not attracted by the cheese than to say they had the cognitive means to renounce it or even recognize it and fear it….

Famous Quotations

"Commencement oratory … must eschew anything that smac…"

Commencement oratory must eschew anything that smacks of partisan politics, political preference, sex, religion or unduly firm opinion. Nonetheless, there must be a speech: Speeches in our culture are the vacuum that fills a vacuum. ~John Kenneth Galbraith

"Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who …"

* Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.
Letter (5-6 January 1932); published in Ernest Hemingway : Selected Letters 1917-1961 (1981) edited by Carlos Baker

Our Unique Writing Style

July 19, 2010

If we acquire the habit of writing daily, at length for a period of years then we each develop a style of our own which is as unique as a fingerprint. Our style may be excellent or it may be flawed but it is unique. I have been blogging daily on the Internet since 1998. I posted some of the highlights of that writing at

Hemingway was awarded a Nobel prize for the lean and pithy style of dialog and narrative which he developed. Falkner and Hemingway were always at odds. Falkner said “Hemingway has never been guilty of sending a reader to a dictionary.” Hemingway retorted “I do not use Falkner’s $10 college words but I use words which are perfectly good and accomplish the desired effect.” (I am paraphrasing from memory here.) There IS a website which contains all the Nobel prize acceptance speeches including Hemingway and Falkner.

I did find one page which parodies the style of each of 100 authors writing about a squirrel jumping over an electric fence. The examples are both amusing and insightful into the style of each author. I suppose we truly have a style when someone can easily imitate us in mockery.

The Proper Use of ANACHRONISM

June 23, 2010

Here is a very fine article which offers wise counsel and it is written by a skilled attorney who is unusually caring and compassionate.

What bothers me about the article is the use of the word “anachronism.”

When I hear the word “anachronism” I immediately think of something like Shakespeare’s play about Julius Caesar mentioning that a clock sounded. Obviously there were no clocks in Caesar’s day. The mention of a clock during a period prior to the clock’s invention is an ANACHRONISM. Mind you, a clock in and of itself is not an anachronism but rather the MENTION of a clock in an inaccurate context.

If we refer to this article on ANACHRONISM we will see that there is also a secondary meaning:

IF you were to walk into an office and see someone writing with a goose quill pen, periodically dipping it in an ink well, then that too is an anachronism. It may be that this person is eccentric or affectacious.
The quill pen and the ink well are not in and of themselves anachronisms but rather the active use or employment of them at a time when one would expect to see a pencil or ballpoint pen.

If one strolls through a museum, one is not gazing at anachronisms but rather at artifacts from a bygone era. When you visit Egypt and tour the pyramids you are not seeing anachronisms. IF you should learn that a governor or a president or prime minister or a dictator were having a pyramid constructed for their entombment then that indeed would be an anachronism.

Now if we examine the article in question, it commences with a colorful array of items which catch the reader’s attention as oddities, then the author mentions that all such items are anachronisms and finally, now that he has the reader’s attention and curiosity aroused to a high pitch, he proceeds to make his REAL point by likening such old fashioned artifacts to the feelings and emotional baggage which people bring with them to divorce cases.

Our author is perfectly correct in pointing out that the love and affection we once felt or our anger and resentment at some sleight or infidelity are no longer appropriate to nurture in our heart but should be placed aside, released, and replaced with reason, compromise, practicality. We need to make peace with the past and move on.

But, herein lies another problem. The reader is left with the suggestion or intimation that our feelings and emotions are anachronisms. I disagree. Homer’s Iliad opens with the Greek word for RAGE “Mainen aide Thea” (Sing, O Goddess, of the RAGE [of Achilles].)

It is my feeling that FEELINGS and EMOTIONS can never properly be called anachronisms since for one thing they never go out of style and secondly if YOU feel anger or resentment or jealousy or attraction then YOU ACTUALLY FEEL those emotions and they are exactly the same kind of emotions felt in the time of Homer. Our technology had advanced but our psycho-dynamics remains perennial and unchanged throughout the eons.

I think the author could have achieved his goal and avoided the problem by listing the items and calling them antiques which would suggest that they no longer fit in and are “out of place.”

Why Should We Write?

January 30, 2010

Two Facebook friends say that readership must be the main motive to write and readership results only if one writes something great or something controversial.

My reply:
Controversy becomes dated and is short-lived. Nowadays only historians discuss the Teapot Dome scandal. Besides, we should write for ourselves primarily. Readership should be secondary. Writing is an extension of oneself; an alembic which concentrates our ideas and feelings into the meta-person of our authorship. Salman Rushdie observes that each novel takes on a life of its own. Camus calls posterity “a paltry eternity.” Harper Lee was “a one book wonder” (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) who has remained silent ever since. Socrates says that misology is closely related to misanthropy. Sartre wrote an essay about “why we write.”


Sartre says, of style, that “[e]veryone invents his own, and one judges it afterward. It is true that subjects suggest the style, but they do not order it. There are no styles ranged a priori outside of the literary art”.

Sartre claims that “the function of the writer is to act in such a way that nobody can be ignorant of the world and that nobody may say that he is innocent of what it’s all about” (ibid. 321). Sartre here seems to be implying that there is some sort of truth which the author has access to which is conveyed to a reader through the medium of fiction (for how can one alleviate anothers ignorance without having some access to truth?).

Sartre makes a distinction between two different ways of artistically portraying objects: (1) as signs (that is, representations of ideas) and (2) as things (where we focus on the thing being portrayed as opposed to what the thing symbolizes). For example, we may consider a flower. One may either consider a white rose as a sign of fidelity, or conversely, one can consider the rose as a thing in itself; one can become lost in the texture and shape and sensation of perceiving a flower.

Prose,” Sartre says, “is, in essence, utilitarian” (ibid. 316). Prose is meant to get things done; it’s meant to be an action in itself but it is also meant to be a catalyst for further action.

“The writer can guide you and, if he describes a hovel, make it seem the symbol of social injustice and provoke your indignation” (ibid. 306) such that you are moved to act. That is the purpose of prose writing, according to Sartre.

Camus said that “a novel is never anything but a philosophy expressed in images. And in a good novel the philosophy has disappeared into the images. But the philosophy need only spill over into the characters and action for…the plot to lose its authenticity, and the novel its life”


I’m a writer. I write every day of the year. Even when I have no pending client work cluttering my desk, I never allow the sun to set without the jotted thoughts of my day, for the best moments of each earthly orbit should never be abandoned. Of course I carry my own quirks and struggles. Writing isn’t always as fluid as I like, clients aren’t always as easy as I hope, and my string of successes and mountains of money are no doubt a tad late to the party. But I would never call myself tortured. Writing is expression and I’ve found myself fortunate enough, midway through my third decade, to find the pleasure of doing it for a living.