It Can Happen Here: A Lesson from Charlottesville, Virginia

Charles French has written a very germane commentary about fascism, bigotry, hatred, and dictatorship. I will also add neo-Nazis, and Racism. President Trump has played a large role in this democracy-crushing-road to ending the United States of America, as we know it, by his dog-whistle baiting, tyranny-like speech, and the company he keeps.

charles french words reading and writing

ItCantHappenHere

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This will not be a post about my normal subjects.

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis’ book It Can’t Happen Here spoke to the issue that many Americans held that fascism could not occur in the United States of America. His book is satirical, frightening, and, unfortunately, still applicable.

Erik Larson’s nonfiction history book In The Garden of Beasts, 2011, detailed the experience of Ambassador Dodd in Berlin in the 1930s, during the rise and solidification of Hitler’s power, and it is a terrifying read.

We must always remember that it can happen here, that bigotry and hatred can lead to terrible results. That white nationalists and neo-nazis brought their horror and bigotry to Charlottesville, VA yesterday, resulting in violence and death should make all Americans, regardless of political party, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, aware of what can happen.

We should all be frightened of the possibilities of such hatred…

View original post 126 more words

The Tyranny of Fire and Fury

Looking back in human history, one can see that war is the quickest way a Tyrant can assert power to destroy democracy and rule as dictator.  However, how does a nation recognize a Tyrant?  Here are some famous quotes to consider.

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.” Alexis de Tocqueville

“In every age, it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.” Eugene V. Debs

The world is made up for the most part of morons and natural tyrants, sure of themselves, strong in their own opinions, never doubting anything. Clarence Darrow

Ignorance has always been the weapon of tyrants; enlightenment the salvation of the free. Bill Richardson

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.  Albert Camus

It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. Henry A. Wallace

Tyrants always have some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them. Voltaire

Secrecy is the freedom tyrants dream of.  Bill Moyers

“Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.” Lysander Spooner

“The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law.” Christopher Hitchens

 

 

Book Review Monday! Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Uniquely Magical, Alien, and Danger-at-Every-Turn Mystery Thriller! Great Story!

This magical, alien driven, strong female heroine story, first captured my attention by its interesting cover and title. This story takes place in a normal appearing small town in the present day, with chapter one opening with, “Brutus is dead”. Well, I had to find out what happened to Brutus and from that moment, I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading. Our intriguing Heroine, Dina, keeps us guessing about who, what, where, and when, as she struggles to resolve the mysteries surrounding her – while managing to stay alive. This fascinating story takes you by surprise with exciting and scary alien adventures from the very first page with unique mysteries, good writing and complex characters that will make your head spin. The ending left some unresolved issues, however, they are carried over to book 2. Anyone looking for a good mystery involving human and alien magical interactions, this is it.

The GasLighting of America!

gettyimages-631482662 “If Donald Trump can undercut America’s trust in all media, he then starts to own them and can start to literally implant his own version of reality.” http://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/some-experts-say-trump-team-s-falsehoods-are-classic-gaslighting-n711021

“The behavior has all the signs of “gaslighting”, says clinical psychologist Bryant Welch, who wrote a 2008 book entitled “State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind”. Gaslighting refers to a 1944 film in which a murdering husband manipulates and confuses his wife by dimming the gas lights in their home and then denying it’s happening.

“The very state of confusion they are creating is a political weapon in and of itself,” Welch told NBC News. “If you make people confused, they are vulnerable. By definition, they don’t know what to do,” added Welch, who has not personally examined any of the Trump team.

“This is a pretty systematic, sophisticated attempt to gaslight.” “There certainly is a general stereotype that politicians lie,” said Robert Feldman, a University of Massachusetts psychologist and deputy chancellor who specializes in the psychology of lying. But Feldman and Welch both said the statements Trump and his staff made on the very first days in office rise to a new level.  “It is lies about things that are so easily contradicted that it is amazing in terms of the degree of arrogance and the lack of respect that it shows for the American people,” Feldman said.

 

***Bending and manipulating, skewing the truth, causing mental confusion, is classic Chaos techniques, until we walk of the edge of the cliff and we’ve been had, taken for the fools that we are by confusion as to what is real and not real. Telling us how horrible the journalists are as rotten dirty deceitful scoundrels deflects what is really going on – the slow painful destruction of our Democratic Republic until it becomes right under our noses a authoritarian dictatorship. These leaders know what they are doing, they have the “Play Book” right in front of them. What these sly, crafty “manipulators” wish to create is Chaos until, like Russia it is too late, goodbye to freedom of the press, to writers, teachers, even religious leaders. These highly skilled manipulators create falsehoods as truth. So, Grab the Seat of your Pants…we are in for a bumpy ride and I hope we come out of it still being a Democratic Republic – I have my doubts.  K. D. Dowdall

Word Painting – The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan

Word PaintingHere are 11 secrets to keep in mind as you breathe life into your characters through description that Rebecca finds to be very important in writing descriptively.

  1. Description that relies solely on physical attributes too often turns into what Janet Burroway calls the “all-points bulletin.”

When we describe a character, factual information alone is not sufficient, no matter how accurate it might be. The details must appeal to our senses. Phrases that merely label (like tall, middle-aged, and average) bring no clear image to our minds. Since most people form their first impression of someone through visual clues, it makes sense to describe our characters using visual images. Green eyes is a beginning, but it doesn’t go far enough. Are they pale green or dark green? Even a simple adjective can strengthen a detail. If the adjective also suggests a metaphor—forest green, pea green, or emerald green—the reader not only begins to make associations (positive or negative) but also visualizes in her mind’s eye the vehicle of the metaphor—forest trees, peas, or glittering gems.

  1. The problem with intensifying an image only by adjectives is that adjectives encourage cliché.

It’s hard to think of adjective descriptors that haven’t been overused: bulging or ropy muscles, clean-cut good looks, frizzy hair. If you use an adjective to describe a physical attribute, make sure that the phrase is not only accurate and sensory but also fresh. In her short story “Flowering Judas,” Katherine Anne Porter describes Braggioni’s singing voice as a “furry, mournful voice” that takes the high notes “in a prolonged painful squeal.” Often the easiest way to avoid an adjective-based cliché is to free the phrase entirely from its adjective modifier. For example, rather than describing her eyes merely as “hazel,” Emily Dickinson remarked that they were “the color of the sherry the guests leave in the glasses.”

 

  1. Strengthen physical descriptions by making details more specific.

In my earlier “all-points bulletin” example, the description of the father’s hair might be improved with a detail such as “a military buzz-cut, prickly to the touch” or “the aging hippie’s last chance—a long ponytail striated with gray.” Either of these descriptions would paint a stronger picture than the bland phrase brown hair. In the same way, his oxford shirt could become “a white oxford button-down that he’d steam-pleated just minutes before” or “the same style of baby blue oxford he’d worn since prep school, rolled carelessly at the elbows.” These descriptions not only bring forth images, they also suggest the background and the personality of the father.

  1. Select physical details carefully, choosing only those that create the strongest, most revealing impression.

One well-chosen physical trait, item of clothing, or idiosyncratic mannerism can reveal character more effectively than a dozen random images. This applies to characters in nonfiction as well as fiction. When I write about my grandmother, I usually focus on her strong, jutting chin—not only because it was her most dominant feature but also because it suggests her stubbornness and determination. When I write about Uncle Leland, I describe the wandering eye that gave him a perpetually distracted look, as if only his body was present. His spirit, it seemed, had already left on some journey he’d glimpsed peripherally, a place the rest of us were unable to see. As you describe real-life characters, zero in on distinguishing characteristics that reveal personality: gnarled, arthritic hands always busy at some task; a habit of covering her mouth each time a giggle rises up; a lopsided swagger as he makes his way to the horse barn; the scent of coconut suntan oil, cigarettes, and leather each time she sashays past your chair.

  1. A character’s immediate surroundings can provide the backdrop for the sensory and significant details that shape the description of the character himself.

If your character doesn’t yet have a job, a hobby, a place to live, or a place to wander, you might need to supply these things. Once your character is situated comfortably, he may relax enough to reveal his secrets. On the other hand, you might purposely make your character uncomfortable—that is, put him in an environment where he definitely doesn’t fit, just to see how he’ll respond. Let’s say you’ve written several descriptions of an elderly woman working in the kitchen, yet she hasn’t begun to ripen into the three-dimensional character you know she could become. Try putting her at a gay bar on a Saturday night, or in a tattoo parlor, or (if you’re up for a little time travel) at Appomattox, serving her famous buttermilk biscuits to Grant and Lee.

  1. In describing a character’s surroundings, you don’t have to limit yourself to a character’s present life.

Early environments shape fictional characters as well as flesh-and-blood people. In Flaubert’s description of Emma Bovary’s adolescent years in the convent, he foreshadows the woman she will become, a woman who moves through life in a romantic malaise, dreaming of faraway lands and loves. We learn about Madame Bovary through concrete, sensory descriptions of the place that formed her. In addition, Flaubert describes the book that held her attention during mass and the images that she particularly loved—a sick lamb, a pierced heart.

Living among those white-faced women with their rosaries and copper crosses, never getting away from the stuffy schoolroom atmosphere, she gradually succumbed to the mystic languor exhaled by the perfumes of the altar, the coolness of the holy-water fonts and the radiance of the tapers. Instead of following the Mass, she used to gaze at the azure-bordered religious drawings in her book. She loved the sick lamb, the Sacred Heart pierced with sharp arrows, and poor Jesus falling beneath His cross.

  1. Characters reveal their inner lives—their preoccupations, values, lifestyles, likes and dislikes, fears and aspirations—by the objects that fill their hands, houses, offices, cars, suitcases, grocery carts, and dreams.

What items would your character pack for a weekend away? What would she use for luggage? A leather valise with a gold monogram on the handle? An old accordion case with decals from every theme park she’s visited? A duffel bag? Make a list of everything your character would pack: a “Save the Whales” T-shirt; a white cotton nursing bra, size 36D; a breast pump; a Mickey Mouse alarm clock; a photograph of her husband rocking a child to sleep; a can of Mace; three Hershey bars.

  1. Description doesn’t have to be direct to be effective.

Techniques abound for describing a character indirectly, for instance, through the objects that fill her world. Create a grocery list for your character—or two or three, depending on who’s coming for dinner. Show us the character’s credit card bill or the itemized deductions on her income tax forms. Let your character host a garage sale and watch her squirm while neighbors and strangers rifle through her stuff. Which items is she practically giving away? What has she overpriced, secretly hoping no one will buy it? Write your character’s Last Will and Testament. Which niece gets the Steinway? Who gets the lake cottage—the stepson or the daughter? If your main characters are divorcing, how will they divide their assets? Which one will fight hardest to keep the dog?

  1. To make characters believable to readers, set them in motion.

The earlier “all-points bulletin” description of the father failed not only because the details were mundane and the prose stilted; it also suffered from lack of movement. To enlarge the description, imagine that same father in a particular setting—not just in the house but also sitting in the brown recliner. Then, because setting implies time as well as place, choose a particular time in which to place him. The time may be bound by the clock (six o’clock, sunrise, early afternoon) or bound only by the father’s personal history (after the divorce, the day he lost his job, two weeks before his sixtieth birthday).

Then set your character in motion. Again, be as specific as possible. “Reading the newspaper” is a start, but it does little more than label a generic activity. In order for readers to enter the fictional dream, the activity must be shown. Often this means breaking a large, generic activity into smaller, more particular parts: “scowling at the Dow Jones averages,” perhaps, or “skimming the used-car ads” or “wiping his ink-stained fingers on the monogrammed handkerchief.” Besides providing visual images for the reader, specific and representative actions also suggest the personality of the character, his habits and desires, and even the emotional life hidden beneath the physical details.

  1. Verbs are the foot soldiers of action-based description.

However, we don’t need to confine our use of verbs to the actions a character performs. Well-placed verbs can sharpen almost any physical description of a character. In the following passage from Marilynne Robinson’s novel Housekeeping, verbs enliven the description even when the grandmother isn’t in motion.

Notice the strong verbs Robinson uses throughout the description. The mouth “bowed” forward; the brow “sloped” back; the hair “hovered,” then “sprouted”; the hem “swept” the floor; hats “fell” down over her eyes. Even when the grandmother’s body is at rest, the description pulses with activity. And when the grandmother finally does move—putting a hand over her mouth, closing her eyes, laughing until her shoulders shake—we visualize her in our mind’s eye because the actions are concrete and specific. They are what the playwright David Mamet calls “actable actions.” Opening a window is an actable action, as is slamming a door. “Coming to terms with himself” or “understanding that he’s been wrong all along” are not actable actions. This distinction between nonactable and actable actions echoes our earlier distinction between showing and telling. For the most part, a character’s movements must be rendered concretely—that is, shown—before the reader can participate in the fictional dream.

Actable actions are important elements in many fiction and nonfiction scenes that include dialogue. In some cases, actions, along with environmental clues, are even more important to character development than the words the characters speak. Writers of effective dialogue include pauses, voice inflections, repetitions, gestures, and other details to suggest the psychological and emotional subtext of a scene. Journalists and other nonfiction writers do the same. Let’s say you’ve just interviewed your cousin about his military service during the Vietnam War. You have a transcript of the interview, based on audio or video recordings, but you also took notes about what else was going on in that room. As you write, include nonverbal clues as well as your cousin’s actual words. When you asked him about his tour of duty, did he look out the window, light another cigarette, and change the subject? Was it a stormy afternoon? What song was playing on the radio? If his ancient dog was asleep on your cousin’s lap, did he stroke the dog as he spoke? When the phone rang, did your cousin ignore it or jump up to answer it, looking relieved for the interruption? Including details such as these will deepen your character description.

  1. We don’t always have to use concrete, sensory details to describe our characters, and we aren’t limited to describing actable actions.

The novels of Milan Kundera use little outward description of characters or their actions. Kundera is more concerned with a character’s interior landscape, with what he calls a character’s “existential problem,” than with sensory description of person or action. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Tomas’s body is not described at all, since the idea of body does not constitute Tomas’s internal dilemma. Teresa’s body is described in physical, concrete terms (though not with the degree of detail most novelists would employ) only because her body represents one of her existential preoccupations. For Kundera, a novel is more a meditation on ideas and the private world of the mind than a realistic depiction of characters. Reading Kundera, I always feel that I’m living inside the characters rather than watching them move, bodily, through the world.

With writers like Kundera, we learn about characters through the themes and obsessions of their inner lives, their “existential problems” as depicted primarily through dreams, visions, memories, and thoughts. Other writers probe characters’ inner lives through what characters see through their eyes.

… and I saw how the smooth, white curve of the snow as it lay on the ground was like the curve of a woman’s body, and I saw how the farm was like the body of a woman which lay down under the sun and under the freezing snow and perpetually and relentlessly produced uncountable swarms of living things, all born with mouths open and cries rising from them into the air, long-boned muzzles opening … as if they would swallow the world whole …

Later in the book, when Agnes’s sexual relationship has led to pregnancy, then to a life-threatening abortion, she describes the farm in quite different terms.

It was August, high summer, but there was something definite and curiously insubstantial in the air. … In the fields near me, the cattle were untroubled, their jaws grinding the last of the grass, their large, fat tongues drinking the clear brook water. But there was something in the air, a sad note the weather played upon the instrument of the bone-stretched skin. … In October, the leaves would be off the trees; the fallen leaves would be beaten flat by heavy rains and the first fall of snow. The bony ledges of the earth would begin to show, the earth’s skeleton shedding its unnecessary flesh.

By describing the farm through Agnes’s eyes, Schaeffer not only shows us Agnes’s inner landscape—her ongoing obsession with sex and pregnancy—but also demonstrates a turning point in Agnes’s view of sexuality. In the first passage, which depicts a farm in winter, Agnes sees images of beginnings and births. The earth is curved and full like a woman’s fleshy body. In the second scene, described as occurring in “high summer,” images of death prevail. Agnes’s mind jumps ahead to autumn, to dying leaves and heavy rains, a time when the earth, no longer curved in a womanly shape, is little more than a skeleton, having shed the flesh it no longer needs.  ****originally posted  Writer’s Digest by Rebecca McClanahan

 

 

 

Reblogged in Celebration of Samhain on All Hallows Eve, “The Witch of His Dreams”

Samhain is a Celebration for  All Hallows Eve, or “summer’s end”  and tells us that winter will soon be upon us. For Wiccans, this is the beginning of a new year and time to reflect on the old year and look forward to a new year.  From ancient times,  it is the end of Harvest Time and time to rejoice in life and survival. Samhain is a time of festivals heralding the colors of black and orange, obsidian, onyx, apples, catnip, corn, pears, squash, and wormwood.  All Hallows Eve or Halloween (as we know it) is also referred to in different cultures as Blood Feast, Celtic New Year, Day of the Dead, Last Harvest, and Winter’s Eve. 

Beautiful Witch 4She comes to him at midnight,

The Witch of his dreams,

Her eyes, a forest green,

Her hair, dark and long,

Her voice, a sweet magic,

He could not help but watch her,

Dance among the daisies,

Beneath a waxing moon,

She whirls and cast her spells,

A haunting chant she sings,

And soars into his soul,

On gossamer wings,

She whispers things he wants to hear,

Of secret longings in his ear,

She enchants him with delights,

And leaves him breathless with her kisses,

Craving her embraces,

She tells him of her love,

And casts her spell upon him,

To love him, evermore,

His heart she steals, forever,

The Witch of His Dreams

 

 

 

QUOTES THAT SHINE A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

 

fantasy-art-wood-winter-painting-landscape-moon-stars-night_1455533

“The wound (in your heart) is the place where the Light enters you.”
Rumi

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
Albert Einstein

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
 Friedrich Nietzsche

 “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
 Robert Frost

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
 Eleanor Roosevelt

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
André Gide

Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.
Bruce Lee

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
Bil Keane

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
 
Mahatma Gandhi

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
Dr. Seuss

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
Dalai Lama XIV