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Dear Listener,During the winter of 1971 I was a freshman at NYU, and I read two books that changed me. The first was Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury—a book I read in a single afternoon-to-dawn sitting. The second was Invisible Man, an astonishingly artful and complex work of literature written by a man I heard was actually teaching a course at NYU the next semester.
Over the next three years, after Ralph Ellison allowed me into a small seminar focused on the American vernacular, and a year after that, when he took me on as a tutee every Wednesday afternoon until I graduated, one of the greatest of all American writers taught me how to read. Ralph also helped me gain the courage and occasional insight to write, and I went on to make a living as a writer for 20 years after that. Ralph encouraged me and spoke up for me publicly until he died in 1994.
I learned from Ralph Ellison that Americans worked to create an identity from a synthesis of divergent cultures. We created a distinctive way of talking and telling stories, which led to the distinctive voice in the way we wrote. I understood from Ralph that the American experience derived from the process of a nation constantly making and remaking itself, a place that needed to create its own myths and art and even its own sounds because we had to. While Ralph Ellison taught me that Americans needed to create our own archetypes and myths, he also conveyed that in a nation creating itself without kings, a new order was created based on the color of people’s skin.
Because of Ralph I always heard the sound of what I read and what I wrote. Well-composed words sound like music to me, and after being a writer for 20 years, this led directly to an idea that became Audible.com and our 20-years of applying new technologies to the celebration and elevation of the unbridled power of the well-spoken word.
A few feet from my cube is the Ralph Ellison room, and the following is what I wrote about Ralph for the glass wall I see every day: Ralph Ellison’s understanding of the power of the oral tradition and his ability to hear the music in well-wrought arrangements of spoken words informed the vision and mission of Audible from the beginning. Ellison was the teacher and mentor of Audible’s founder. According to Ellison, the way the early American vernacular embraced storytelling around campfires, the braggadocio of our salesmanship, and the sound of our lamenting in the fields became the distinctive voice that defined American novels and our singularly “conscious and conscientious” culture, a culture that created itself “out of whatever it found useful.” Ellison loved the melodies in language and he told stories in a voice that sounded like a coal car coming out of a mine. He loved enormous cigars, jazz, and ideas. In many ways Audible exists to honor his legacy.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that great teachers can’t direct the course and meaning of a life.
CEO, Founder of Audible
Ralph Ellison’s first novel, “The Invisible Man,” is the most impressive work of fiction by an American Negro which I have ever read. Unlike Richard Wright and Willard Motley, who achieve their best effects by overpowering their readers with documentary detail, Mr. Ellison is a finished novelist who uses words with great skill, who writes with poetic intensity and immense narrative drive. “Invisible Man” has many flaws. It is a sensational and feverishly emotional book. It will shock and sicken some of its readers. But, whatever the final verdict on “Invisible Man” may be, it does mark the appearance of a richly talented writer.
Last year, we highlighted a 1956 video from RCA Victor which demonstrated how vinyl records were made back in the good old days. If you have 23 free minutes, you can get a pretty good look at the production process — the live audio recording, the making of a master disc, the production of a mold, the eventual mass production of vinyl records, etc.
Almost 60 years later, vinyl is making a comeback. So why not let Ben Krasnow, a hardware engineer at Google X, give us a much more modern perspective on the LP? Above, watch Krasnow’s stop motion animation, made with an electron microscope, which shows us a phonograph needle riding through grooves on an LP. Much of the 9-minute video offers a fairly technical primer on what went into making this stop motion clip in the first place. So if you want to get to the action, fast forward to the 4:20 mark.
If you hang with Krasnow’s video, you can also see him take some microscopic looks at other media formats — CD-ROMs, early forms of DVDs, and more.
Since just before IndieWebCamp LA, I’ve been working on better ways to own the articles I’ve been reading and syndicate/share them out to other social platforms. The concept initially started out as a simple linkblog idea and has continually been growing, particularly with influence from my attendance of the Dodging the Memory Hole 2016: Saving Online News conference at UCLA in October. Around that same time, it was announced that Pinterest was purchasing Instapaper and they were shutting down some of Instapaper’s development and functionality. I’ve been primarily using Pocket for several years now and have desperately wanted to bring that functionality into my own site. I had also been looking at the self-hostable Wallabag alternative which is under heavy active development, but since most of my site is built on WordPress, I really preferred having a solution that integrated better into that as a workflow.
I’ve been looking closely at PressForward for the past week and change as a self-contained replacement for third party services like Pocket and Instapaper. I’ve been looking around for this type of self-hosted functionality for a while.
PressForward was originally intended for journalists and news organizations to aggregate new content, add it to their newsroom workflow, and then use it to publish new content. From what I can see it’s also got a nice following in academia as a tool for aggregating content for researchers focused on a particular area.
It only took a minute or two of looking at PressForward to realize that it had another off-label use case: as a spectacular replacement for read-later type apps!
In an IndieWeb fashion, this fantastic WordPress plugin allows me to easily own private bookmarks of things I’d like to read (PressForward calles these “Nominations” in keeping with its original use case). I can then later read them on my own website (with Mercury f.k.a Readability functionality built in), add commentary, and publish them as a read post. [Note: To my knowledge the creators of PressForward are unaware of the IndieWeb concept or philosophies.]
After some playing around for a bit and contemplating several variations, configurations, and options, I thought I’d share some thoughts about it for others considering using it in such an off-label manner. Hopefully these may also spur the developers to open up their initial concept to a broader audience as it seems very well designed and logically laid out.
The developers obviously know the value of dogfooding as at least two of them are using it in a Pocket-like fashion (as they many not have other direct use-cases).
PressForward includes a beautiful, full built-in RSS Feed Reader!
This feature alone is enough to recommend using it even without any other feature. I’ve tried Orbit Reader and WhisperFollow (among others) which are both interesting in their own rights but are somewhat limited and have relatively clunky interfaces. The best part of WhisperFollow’s premise is that it has webactions built in, but I suspect these could easily be added onto PressForward.
In fact, not just hours before I’d discovered PressFoward, I’d made this comment on the WordPress Reader Refresh post announcing the refresh of WordPress.com’s own (separate) reader:
Some nice visual changes in this iteration. Makes it one of the most visually pretty feed readers out there now while still maintaining a relatively light weight.
I still wish there were more functionality pieces built into it like the indie-reader Woodwind.xyz or even Feedly. While WordPress in some sense is more creator oriented than consumption oriented, I still think that not having a more closely integrated reader built into it is still a drawback to the overall WordPress platform.
- It’s IndieWeb and POSSE friendly
- It does automatic link forwarding in a flexible/responsible manner with canonical URLs
- Allows for proper attributions for the original author and content source/news outlet
- Keeps lots of metadata for analyzing reading behavior
- Taggable and categorizable
- Allows for comments/commenting
- Could be used for creating a linkblog on steroids
- Archives the original article on the day it was read.
- Is searchable
- Could be used for collaboration and curation
- Has Mercury (formerly known as Readability) integrated for a cleaner reading interface
- Has a pre-configured browser bookmarklet
- Is open source and incredibly well documented
- One can count clicks to ones’ own site as the referer while still pushing the reader to the original
- Along with other plugins like JetPack’s Publicize or Social Networks Auto-Poster, one can automatically share their reads to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media silos. In this case, you own the link, but the original publisher also gets the traffic.
No clear path for nominating articles on mobile.
This can be a dealbreaker for some, so I’ve outlined a pretty quick and simple solution below.
No direct statistics
Statistics for gauging ones’ reading aren’t built in directly (yet?), but some scripts are available. 
No larger data aggregation
Services like Pocket are able to aggregate the data of thousands of users to recommend and reveal articles I might also like. Sadly this self-hosted concept makes it difficult (or impossible) do have this type of functionality. However, I usually have far too much good stuff to read anyway, so maybe this isn’t such a loss.
Adding the ability to do webactions directly from the “Nominated” screen would be fantastic, particularly for the RSS reader portion.
Default to an unread view of the current “All Content” page. I find that I have to filter the view every time I visit the page to make it usable. I suspect this would be a better default for most newsrooms too.
It would be nice to have a pre-configured archive template page in a simple linkblog format that filters posts that were nominated/drafted/published via the Plugin. This will prevent users from needing to create one that’s compatible with their current theme. Something with a date read, Title linked to the original, Author, and Source attribution could be useful for many users.
A PressForward Nomination “Bookmarklet” for Mobile
One of the big issues I came up against immediately with PressForward is ease of use on mobile. A lot of the content I read is on mobile, so being able to bookmark (nominate) articles via mobile or apps like Nuzzel or Twitter is very important. I suspect this may also be the case for many of their current user base.
Earlier this year I came across a great little Android mobile app called URL Forwarder which can be used to share things with the ubiquitous mobile sharing icons. Essentially one can use it to share the URL of the mobile page one is on to a mobile Nomination form within PressForward.
I’d suspect that there’s also a similar app for iOS, but I haven’t checked. If not available, URL Forwarder is open source on Github and could potentially be ported. There’s also a similar Android app called Bookmarklet Free which could be used instead of URL Forwarder.
PressForward’s built in bookmarklet kindly has a pre-configured URL for creating nominations, so it’s a simple case of configuring it. These details follow below for those interested.
Configuring URL Forwarder for PressForward
- Open URL Forwarder
- Click the “+” icon to create a filter.
- Give the filter a name, “Nominate This” is a reasonable suggestion. (See photo below.)
- Use the following entry for the “Filter URL” replacing
example.comwith your site’s domain name:
- Leave the “Replaceable text” as “@url”
- Finish by clicking on the checkmark in the top right corner.
Nominating a post via mobile
With the configuration above set up, do the following:
- On the mobile page one wants to nominate, click the ubiquitous “share this” mobile icon (or share via a pull down menu, depending on your mobile browser or other app.)
- Choose to share through URL Forwarder
- Click on the “Nominate” option just created above.
- Change/modify any data within your website administrative interface and either nominate or post as a draft. (This part is the same as one would experience using the desktop bookmarklet.)
Given the data intensity of both the feed reader and what portends to be years of article data, I’m left with the question of hosting it within my primary site or putting it on a subdomain?
I’ve also run across an issue with the automatic redirect which needs some troubleshooting as well. Hopefully this will be cleared up quickly and we’ll be off to the races.
E.B. White’s backstory
Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White (July 11, 1899 – October 1, 1985) was an acclaimed American writer who contributed to The New Yorker magazine and co-authored the quintessential English language style guide The Elements of Style, which is commonly known as “Strunk & White” ostensibly making him the writer’s writer.
While re-reading Charlotte’s Web and then watching the movie version of Charlotte’s Web (Paramount, 2006) while thinking about the struggling writer in White (and all of us really), I’ve found a completely different theme in the piece as an adult that I certainly didn’t consider as a child when I viewed it simply as a maudlin, coming-of-age, commentary on the cycle of life.
An Alternate Theme
One can think of the characters Charlotte, the heroine spider, and Templeton, the despicable rat, as the two polar opposite personalities of almost any (good) writer. Charlotte represents the fastidious, creative, thinking, and erudite writer that writers aspire to be–which White espouses in The Elements of Style.
Templeton is a grubbing, greedy, and not-so-discerning writer who takes almost any word to get the story written so he can feast on his next meal of left-over slop.
Wilbur, the runt Spring pig desperately wanting to live to see the first snow, represents the nascent story. It too starts out stunted and scrawny, and it’s not really quite clear that it will live long enough to get published.
And so the struggle begins between the “Templeton” in the writer, and the “Charlotte” that the writer wants to become.
Charlotte represents care, devotion, creation, and even life (she not only desperately tries to creatively save Wilbur’s life, but dies to give birth to hundreds), while Templeton is a scavenger, doing the least he can to get by and generally taking advantage of others. Charlotte is crafting art while Templeton represents the writer churning out dreck in hopes of making a buck.
Alas, once the written work emerges to finally see its first “Spring”, one finds that Charlotte has died the death we knew was coming, while Templeton remains–as selfish and dreadful as before–ready to gorge himself once more.
There’s also the bleak and looming fact that Charlotte is now gone and only the vague hope that one of her few progeny will survive to live up to even a fraction of her good name. (Will my next book be as good as the first??)
The Writer takes on the Editor
The other two voices a writer often hears in her head are those represented by the characters of Fern, the doe-eyed youngster, and John Arable, the pragmatic farmer whose sir name is literally defined as “suitable for farming”, but not too coincidentally similar to parable, but without the ‘p.’ The sensible farmer (editor) says kill the runt pig (read: story) before you fall in love with it, while Fern (the creative writer) advocates to let it live a while longer–naively perhaps–wanting to know what results.
Who will you be?
So as you work on your own writing process, who will you be? Templeton, Charlotte, Fern, or John Arable? Whichever you choose for the moment, remember that all of them are ultimately necessary for the best story seeing the proverbial Spring.
Though your story may not win the “blue ribbon at the fair”, the fact that it has a life that extends the winter is a special prize all on its own to the team that created it.
On Why E.B. White Actually Wrote Charlotte’s Web
Now that I’ve sketched out the argument, I suspect that most writers will now know, as I do, why E.B. White wrote Charlotte’s Web.
For all sorts of reasons, some people have a problem with updating WordPress installs properly. I will state now that for both our free and premium plugins we do not support anything but the latest and the prior to last version. At the time of writing that’s WordPress 4.5 and WordPress 4.6 . If you’re running anything else, we can’t help you. But mostly, I want to convince you to upgrade by dispelling all the reasons why you shouldn’t or “couldn’t” upgrade.
I maintain many open source projects on GitHub and elsewhere (over 160 as of this writing). I have merged and/or closed thousands of Pull Requests (PRs) and patches in the past few years, and would like to summarize here many of the reasons I don't merge many PRs.
A few of my projects have co-maintainers, but most are just me. The bus factor is low, but I offset that by granting very open licenses and encouraging forks. I also devote a set amount of time (averaging 5-10 hours/week) to my OSS project maintenance, and have a personal budget of around $1,000/year to devote to infrastructure to support my projects (that's more than most for-profit companies who use my projects devote to OSS, sadly).
I don't like closing a PR without merging, because a PR means someone liked my project enough to contribute back. But sometimes it's necessary. I'm not trying to be a jerk (and I usually start by thanking the contributor to try to soften the blow of a closed PR), I'm just ensuring the continued health of the project. Below are the principles behind how I maintain my projects, and hopefully by reading through them you'll understand more about why I choose to close PRs instead of merging.
That's a question I've been stewing about for the past few weeks, ever since reading the results from a quiz (at http://www.nature.com/…/three-minutes-with-hans-rosling-wil… ) in the scientific journal Nature, from Hans Rosling.
The quiz contains 8 fundamental questions about the state of the world: questions about poverty, life expectancy, wealth, population, and so on. All big, important questions.
What has me stewing is that respondents to the quiz - I presume, nature.com's readers - do far worse than chance. That is, they would have done much better overall if they'd simply guessed their answers at random (the questions are multiple choice). Only on 2 of 8 questions do respondents do appreciably better than chance. On most questions they do worse than chance, sometimes much worse than chance. A chimpanzee pushing buttons at random would have done better than nature.com's readers.(By the way, I'm not certain the response data is from nature.com's readers. It may be separate data, perhaps from Rosling's audiences. If that's the case, it weakens my argument below.)
I'm not usually bothered by this kind of thing. Media love to bemoan surveys showing lack of basic scientific knowledge among the general population. That kind of thing doesn't alarm me. We're a society in which most people specialize, and it's not surprising if most of us are ignorant in major areas; collectively we can still do pretty well. But this data from Rosling - the Nature survey - really got under my skin. It's a survey of a group (one I'm part of, I guess) that often seems to think it has special knowledge of solutions to big, important problems - things like climate change, energy, development, and so on. And what I take from Rosling's data is that that group isn't just ignorant about the state of the world in some fundamental ways. They're actually anti-informed.
So, why does this matter?
On Twitter, I regularly see people like Rosling, Max Roser, Steven Pinker, and Dina Pomeranz post graphs showing changes in the state of the world. Often, those graphs are extremely positive, like Roser's wonderful graphs on poverty, education, literacy etc over the last 200 years:
(See the images below, or: https://twitter.com/MaxCRoser/status/811587302065602560… )
It is absolutely astonishing to read the responses to such tweets. Many people are furious at the idea that some things in the world are getting better. Many responses boil down to "Nah, nah, can't be true", or "I'll bet [irrelevant thing] is getting worse, why don't you focus on that, you tool of the capitalist conspiracy."
Of course, while those responses are irritating, & illustrate a certain kind of wilful ignorance, they don't really much matter. What bothers me more is that some of the most common responses are variants on "It doesn't matter, climate change is more important than all your graphs"; "Where are your climate graphs?"; "Nukes are going to kill us all"; etc.
This type of comment seems wrongheaded for more interesting reasons.
First, appreciating Roser's (and similar) graphs does not mean failing to acknowledge climate change, nuclear security, and other problems. Roser, for instance, has repeatedly acknowledged that the challenges of climate are huge and critical.
But I think the more significant thing is that graphs like Roser's don't happen by accident. They are extraordinary human achievements - the outcome of remarkable technical, social and organizational invention. If you don't know of these facts, in detail, or if you underplay their importance, then you cannot hope to understand the underlying technical, social, and organizational invention in any depth. And it seems to me that that kind of understanding may well be crucial to solving problems like climate, etc.
To put it another way, the anti-Pollyannas, including much of our intellectual elite who think they have "the solutions", have actually cut themselves off from understanding the basis for much of the most important human progress.
What's the solution? I'm not sure. But this line of thinking is deepening my appreciation for the work done by people such as Roser, Rosling et al. And it's making me think about how it can be scaled up & incorporated more broadly into our institutions.
Actor/filmmaker Ravi Patel explores trying an arranged marriage in this charming comedic documentary.
Last HWC for 2016
Tonight was the last meetup for HWC in Los Angeles for 2016. We’ve managed to make it through more than a handful of meetups throughout the year as well as an excellent IndieWebCamp experience. We also recently managed to get our first virtual meetup off the ground two weeks ago with participants in LA, NYC, Portland, Florida, and Maryland!
Thanks again to everyone (near and far) who has helped to encourage and get the budding Los Angeles IndieWeb community off the ground this year.
Though I’m not personally ready to go all in on #100DaysOfIndieWeb, I am on the verge of committing to 100 Days of Book Donations to Little Free Libraries (or the potentially easier and just as effective 100 Book Donations) particularly as I managed to do 31 days of donations last January.
I’m also seriously considering 100 days of closing tabs which has always been a real problem for me in the past. 100 days of posts also seems relatively interesting as well as doable. 100 days of deleting email toward inbox zero could be useful too.
Following a productive quiet writing hour, we did a quick round of introductions and a short demo or two. Given our group size/composition, we split up and delved right into some building and helping each other out.
I helped newcomer Jeffrey Stewart begin to build a WordPress site on a temporary host which he can later to a personal domain name he’d bought a while back and had resolved to begin using. He’s been siloing his content primarily on Facebook for a long time now, but wanted more freedom and flexibility than Facebook allows. In particular he’s looking forward to a better platform for longer form content as well as better/richer interactions.
In under two hours, we managed to get a pretty significant start on his site including rel=”me” links to his current social media presences. We also set up and configured several IndieWeb related plugins courtesy of the Indieweb plugin to allow for Webmentions as well as future syndication capabilities. With just a few hours of work, I suspect he’ll not only be able to put together his first post and syndicate it to several silos, but he’ll be receiving his first webmentions and backfeed via Brid.gy.
Meanwhile, Angelo Gladding managed to simultaneously work on not only his own site, but assist Thaine Allison with one of his itches. Several years ago Thaine had built a website in HTML3, but he wanted to update it to deal with the demise of Flash and make it more mobile friendly. Despite some difficulty accessing his site due to issues with hosting, they made some reasonable progress.
No photo (Sorry Tantek…)
We all got so wrapped up in what we were working on and discussing, we completely forgot to take a break to get a group photo. In fact, I sadly didn’t think about it until I was in the car and halfway home. I even forgot to “check in” and POSSE a copy to FourSquare, which is pretty uncommon for me lately.
At least this is an area on which we can improve on for our 2017 resolutions...
Happy New Year Everyone!
Directed by Gareth Edwards. With Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen. The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
The Tarkin CGId character was a bit distracting, but not so terrible because of the dim lighting in most of his scenes. His eyes never seemed to connect with his interlocutors which was annoying. He wasn’t as horrible as the Leia CGI character which went deep down into the uncanny valley in large part because of both the close up as well as the bright lighting.
The casting for the older characters from Chapter IV was reasonably good otherwise. The comedic conceit for the robot stole the entire show. I also wish there’d been more of Mads Mikkelsen who is just awesome in almost everything he does.
After a bunch of skin-of-the-teeth escapes throughout the movie, I am left wondering why the lead characters are left to fate at the end. Was it just to completely leave no thought of additional sequels for them?
Pacific Theaters 18, 322 Americana Way, Glendale, CA 91210
Seat: Row F, Seat 27a
It was a dark and stormy night…
In eleven novels in the series, one of them was bound to start off like this, in a sense. Like most in the Fletch series, the story is off like a shot from the beginning, but then just a tad into the first act there’s another huge plot point (suggested by the title of the book) or known by the close reader who remembers Crystal Faoni who was a major (large?) character from Fletch’s Fortune.
I don’t know that I believed the convicts just taking Fletch’s word for where to hide out at the time, in part because the character development to make it plausible didn’t come until later. There was also a plot point involving the sheriff that I saw coming from a mile away that could/should have been much more subtle for a bigger surprise when it was revealed.
My biggest problem was that after some great build up I was expecting something really big or interesting from either Fletch or his son to close out the whole story. Sadly the end of the plot devolved in too quick and short a manner for a really satisfying pay off.
Of all of the Fletch books, so far this one seems to be the biggest influencer for the creation of portions of the movie Fletch Lives, which was otherwise made out of whole cloth based on the character. In some sense Cleavon Little’s character “Calculus Entropy” replaced Fletch’s son and big parts of the plot were heavily rewritten purely for entertainment’s sake.
Of all of the books which mention the seemingly ever-present Edward Arthur Tharp, Jr., this one seems to have more detail about it, particularly as in this story the book has finally been finished and it becomes a method by which Fletch and his son seem to probe each other about it. Oddly there was no mention or parallel between Fletch’s own mother as a writer and his having become a writer.
Fletch’s girlfriend in this piece serves as pure plot and didn’t feel as multi-dimensional as she should have been given her role in the piece. She does serve well as the “better angel” as well as the gut reaction most readers will also be feeling through the story. But as always, one must just “trust” Fletch and his plan of where he’s going, even if he’s not sure himself.
Fletch himself seems to be much the same as we remember him, though I really wonder how and why he seems to have settled down into small town Tennessee life. Descriptions in the book make it sound like he’s still a man of the world, but somehow interesting people come to him instead of him going to see them. None of this really fits into the bigger character to me, but the story continues as if it doesn’t matter anyway.
Fletch’s son plays things very close to the vest, so his motivations and character aren’t really developed until much later in the piece, but in some sense he’s at least differentiated well enough from Fletch to be his “own man” here.
I liked that even the racists here were given some well done characterization so that despite their beliefs that one could actually feel bad for them in some sense. I will say it was relatively interesting to read in the timeperiod of the 2016 presidential election.
Overall this was a middle-of-the-road Fletch installment. (But still ranks relatively high on the mystery/suspense/detective genres). I suspect that it would have been more interesting to Fletch fans who hadn’t had an installment in a few years based on the time it was released. For a potential reboot of the series, or for kicking off a new series, it wasn’t a bad effort.
- 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
- 11/26/16 started reading
- 11/26/16 13.0% done; “Fletch has a son. He’s a convict and he’s on the run after a prison break. Will Fletch help him out?”
- 11/28/16 25.0% done; “We’re off like a shot. Somehow it doesn’t seem terrifically believable that the escape convicts so easily take Fletch’s advice on where to hide, but he does a fantastic job of coralling them in the opeining.
Some of the overt “Southernness” feels overdone to me, but perhaps it was the effect of Mcdonald’s many years living in Tennessee which had a tarnishing effect.”
- 11/29/16 57.0% done; “We’re starting to go somewhere, but I can sadly already almost predict the ending. In particular, there was a ham-handed mention of a car that gave the whole thing away for me.
Of all of the Fletch books, so far this one seems to be the biggest influencer for the creation of portions of the movie Fletch Lives, which was otherwise made out of whole cloth based on the character.”
- 12/1/16 64.0% done; “This is where things begin to go sideways! Here comes the third act… Much of what I anticipated was going to happen has; the question now is how will he manage to extract himself (and his friends/family)?”
- 12/03/16 Finished book
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
“Some villains decided to take themselves a little vacation from the federal penitentiary up in Kentucky, Carrie.”
“Can’t blame ‘em,” Fletch said. “We’ve been advertising Tennessee as a vacation spot. Take yourselves off to Tennessee. Isn’t that the slogan?”
Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:47:45 PM
“Mister Fletcher. Miss Carrie.”
“Howdy, Sheriff,” Carrie said.
“Don’t Francie let you take a shower-bath at home anymore?”
“Says I keep leavin’ wet towels on the bathroom floor. So she sends me out every time there’s a hard rain.
Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:47:59 PM
A few months before, two of the county’s cars had smashed into each other, in a parking lot.
Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:51:46 PM
“I don’t have a gun,” Carrie said. “What do I do if the wolf comes by?”
“What you charmin’ Tennesseans always do.”
“Say, ‘Hydy, Mister Wolf. How’s your pa?’”
“Which paw will I be askin’ about in this case? Right, left, front, back?”
Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:53:09 PM
At first Fletch saw only the back of a soaking wet, lean male in his early twenties. The back of his denim shirt had stitched on it FEDERAL PENITENTIARY/TOMASTON. Fletch tisked. “You kids. You can’t wear anything without some sort of an advertisement or a slogan on it. Wouldn’t the usual beer logo or ‘YALE’ do just as well?”
Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:59:30 PM
“It’s like being a beautician in the land of the ugly!”
Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 11:26:14 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 537
Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:50:34 PM
“Idea is, they could have Ms. Carrie hostage in one room while you’re sweet-talkin’ us.” “Me? Sweet-talk anybody?” Fletch grinned. “I understand.”
Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:51:44 PM
“You got any of those Tharp paintings, Mister Fletcher?” “No. I guess I ran the price of them up too high for me to afford ‘em.”
Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:52:12 PM
In this life, who are the bastards?” Jack muttered, “The fathers, or the sons?”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:01:53 AM
“You escaped from a maximum-security federal penitentiary after only five weeks?”
“I didn’t like it there,” Jack said. “Noisy. Food could have been better. I’d read all the books in the library.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:02:55 AM
Ever since you wrote the book Pinto: The Biography of Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior. That was a big success, wasn’t it?”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:04:44 AM
“Big book,” Jack said. Fletch said, “It took a while.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:05:15 AM
“You believe in straight lines, don’t you?”
“Nature does not love the straight line,” Fletch said. “Man is compelled to it.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:08:03 AM
People here don’t really, really believe frogs drop from the sky in a hard rain.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:11:08 AM
“I could sit here forever,” Carrie said, “feeling you inside me. What would you do if I sat here forever?” On his back, Fletch shrugged. “Send out for Chinese, I guess.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:13:45 AM
“Everything all right?” she asked. “All things being relative.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:14:46 AM
“E=MC2!” Such was Carrie’s expletive. She considered the theory of relativity the most outlandish thing she had ever heard of.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:17:26 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 910
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:06:45 AM
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:10:25 AM
Turning, Kriegel went to Jack and clasped him by the shoulders. “This man is your father! Why didn’t you tell me? He is one of us! We are saved!” “Praise the Lord,” Fletch said.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:12:50 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 1003
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:23:23 AM
Kriegel took a few steps toward Carrie and Fletch. It seemed his intent to take them by the hands. Fletch stuck his hands in the pockets of his shorts.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:51:05 PM
“Shit,” she said. “He’s your son, all right. Clear as a church bell on a crisp night. He’s got your body.” “Oh, don’t say that,” Fletch said. “Last time someone said that about me and someone else, one of us got shot through a window.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:52:34 PM
“You going to get married?” “These days you marry a woman and two lawyers. Beds just aren’t that big.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:57:47 PM
“Hey.” Jack trotted behind the horse. “You’re riding a horse barebacked in shorts.” “Yeah,” Fletch said. “Just like a Native American.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:17:39 PM
“Ah, Fletch. Don’t think of yourself as a Yankee anymore. You’re about gettin’ over it.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:32:04 PM
Jack had been amazed to see Fletch come out of the henhouse carrying eleven eggs. “Wow!” he said. “You make your own eggs!” Then he said, “They’re dirty!” Fletch said, “You think they were hatched already scrambled with milk and butter?” Jack grinned. “I was hatched sunnyside up, I was.” “I see,” Fletch said. “So you scrambled yourself.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:33:12 PM
“For a guitar picker, you sure know some different scales.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:55:04 PM
Having been a print journalist, and someone who had written a book, Fletch persisted in believing there was not much future in electronics, generally.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:00:35 PM
We’re as slick as a boxer after the tenth round.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:12:36 PM
“Describe him.” “Hispanic.” “I’m prepared to call that a good arrest, aren’t you?” “Absolutely.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:14:19 PM
One way and another, Fletch had learned the importance of creating a diversion.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:14:59 PM
Arms akimbo, Carrie said, “What are you? Only God and you know that, and I suspect you’re confused.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:17:38 PM
“Besides,” Carrie answered in a milder tone, “generally, Fletch doesn’t hold much stock in simple questions. He says, when you ask a question all you get is an answer to the question, not the truth. He says, to get the truth it’s best to wait and watch and listen.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:19:58 PM
“Oh, yes,” Carrie said. “Fletch calls you the tactile generation. For short, he calls you the scabpickers. What you know, what you do isn’t important, only what you feel.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:21:24 PM
By golly, Ms.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:26:55 PM
“All three hundred and fifty pounds of white and naked flab you all call Leary is dead to the world out on the back lawn,” Fletch said. “I swear, if we drag him down to the roadside, the slaughter truck will pick him up for the glue factory without even stopping to ask which nature of beast he is.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:28:48 PM
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:31:49 PM
“Come, come,” Fletch said. “Jack and I will be with you. What have you to fear? You know Jack is a karate expert. And I? Don’t even ask. Never have I met man or beast to make me tremble in nose or lip.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:35:15 PM
Pity if you escaped prison just for a zoological experience in a ditch.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:36:00 PM
If biff came to bang, Fletch would be interested to see what John Fletcher Faoni would do.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:36:18 PM
“Yes, I see,” Kriegel said. “Wasn’t it Julius Caesar,” Fletch asked, “who said something about divide and skinny through?” “He said, ‘All roads lead to Rome.’” “That, too,” Fletch agreed. “Quite a phrasemaker, that Caesar feller. I knew you know your military history.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:37:18 PM
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:40:25 PM
Fletch shouted at Leary, “Now, hold on to that little cow!” Standing, with his feet spread, Leary grabbed the bull calf’s tail. As Carrie started the truck down the driveway, Leary’s boots slipped in wet manure already on the floor of the pickup truck’s bed. He landed on his ass. On the manure. Both his hands still held on to the bull calf’s tail. “Hold on to it!” Fletch ordered. “It’s shittin’ on me!” Leary yelled halfway down the driveway. It certainly was.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:41:31 PM
Then Fletch watched Jack choking with laughter. “Oh, hello.” Fletch slapped Jack on the back. “How are you feeling?”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:43:13 PM
Jack smiled. “Shall I sing a few bars of ‘Let the Punishment Fit the Crime’?”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:44:52 PM
Jack said, “I’m amazed at the way you have kept us all weak, incapacitated.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:45:37 PM
In the backseat, blinking slowly, Kriegel was waking up. The guitar was propped up on the seat beside him. Their shapes were similar. The guitar had the more attractive neck.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:47:33 PM
Kriegel asked, “Who is this Professor Josiah Black?” Neither Fletch nor Jack answered. Kriegel insisted. “What did you mean by ‘Josiah Black’?” Fletch did not answer. “It comes from an old American song, sir,” Jack answered. “What’s the name of the song?” Jack said, “‘Ol’ Black Joe.”’ “‘Ol’ Black Joe’?” Kriegel spluttered. “You called me an old, black Joe? Is that supposed to be funny?” “I had to tell him something, didn’t I?” Fletch asked. “Couldn’t say you are Santa Claus now, could I?”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:52:48 PM
“I mean, don’t you realize you are the most despised person on earth?” “Who, me?” “You are the intelligent, educated to some degree, I gather, well-off, middle-aged, heterosexual white male. On this earth, you are distinctly the minority. Yet you and your kind have made the world, as we know it, what it is. For centuries, you have created the religious and political institutions, the businesses, the wars, laws that protect and suit you to the exclusion of others, while exploiting all people of color, Indians, Negroids, Orientals, even those less fortunate than yourself of the same tribe, the laborers, as well as all women and children.” “Wow.” Fletch well knew these sentiments. He had been confronted with such often enough. “And all this time I thought I was just gettin’ along best I could.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:53:56 PM
“What, your being thirsty? Chew buttons.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:55:17 PM
There is no place from the Balkans to the city of Los Angeles where tribal wars are not raging. Am I right? Humans basically are tribal, Mister Fletcher, something your government does not understand. There is the individual. There is the family. There is the tribe.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:01:05 PM
“That tribalism is being used, around the world, by a lot of would-be tinpot demagogues and dictators, warlords, simply to grab power and all the good things for themselves. That that is what really goes on in the world, among whites, blacks, Orientals, women, children, always has and always will: power-mongering based on individual greed.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:02:48 PM
“Ummm.” Fletch smiled at Jack. “Not the first time I’ve noticed that those who lecture, frequently don’t listen.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:04:30 PM
Racism has taken off its coat,” Fletch said.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:08:04 PM
“Best-laid plans,” Carrie said, “often get screwed up.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:11:26 PM
The place looked like a wacky seven-year-old boy’s idea of heaven.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:15:49 PM
“You came to my house to involve me.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:20:02 PM
“Joe Rogers’s wife.” Jack sat to Carrie’s right. “Sheriff Joe Rogers?” Fletch asked. “Yeah,” Carrie said. Fletch said, “Must be a coincidence.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:22:46 PM
Hello, Andy. How’s your head bone?”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:23:07 PM
The governor of California has issued a statement reminding people that most of California is not affected by earthquakes at all. I suspect that bit was written for him by the Chamber of Commerce goaded by amusement park operators.”
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:25:31 PM
Always he had noticed builders in this area of the South never left trees, or any source of shade, in their parking lots. Trees are pretty, give shade, lessen the need for air-conditioning, but golly gee, take up as much as a square foot of ground space.
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:34:09 PM
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:34:52 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2179
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 12:34:21 AM
I hate to accept their food.
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:37:20 AM
She tasted her chili. “Yee! It tastes like chopped horned toads and ketchup! These foreigners don’t even know how to make respectable chili!”
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:38:15 AM
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:39:41 AM
“Fletch, the license plate is from our county.”
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:42:35 AM
She’s out of pocket.
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:45:17 AM
“This kid could be as crazy as a groundhog on ice.”
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:46:16 AM
“I suspect it’s not every man’s dream to discover his son is a cop-killing, escaped convict, racist, hate-group organizer.”
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:46:53 AM
“I always want to know the truth.”
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:47:18 AM
“I am Commandant Wolfe!” “I’m Shalom Aleichem.” Fletch stuck his thumb toward Carrie. “This is Golda Meir, as a girl.” “Doctor Kriegel has warned me of your sense of humor, Mister Fletcher.”
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:49:27 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2326
Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:26 AM
“Ah, Fletch! You’re not going to give me that one-world crap, are you?”
Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:35 AM
Softly, Fletch said, “Since the beginning of time, a few have taken the fact of economic competition, no matter how great the resources, and used it to create hatred and violence to satisfy their own greed.”
Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:56 AM
“How can I object?” Jack said. “I am a result of selective breeding. Aren’t I?”
Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:48:02 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2352
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:08:04 AM
“My, my,” Fletch said to Carrie. “This is being taped.” “‘Vanity, vanity,’” Carrie said. “‘All is vanity.’” “More than that,” Fletch said. “Like their predecessors, they are carefully documenting their own history.” “So later they can deny it, right?”
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:08:59 AM
Ethnic cleansing. Separatism.”
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:11:21 AM
In the wasteland of Karoo, South Africa, Orania is the name of the headquarters of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement.
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:15:46 AM
There, standing, staring at them, openmouthed was their friend, the sheriff, Joe Rogers.
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:18:53 AM
I’ll believe that when catfish meow and climb trees.”
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:19:44 AM
If it were not the nature of these people to blame others for their ills, Fletch reasoned, they would not be here.
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:22:23 AM
I mean, get the E=MC2 out of here!”
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:25:09 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2576
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 1:29:41 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2686
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:05:44 PM
Fletch heard Toninho say,
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:11:09 PM
“Animals? These aren’t the chosen people?” “No. You are the chosen people, Mister Fletcher. All this I do for you.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:16:10 PM
“Never judge a leader by his followers.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:16:18 PM
“We are just using these fools, these psychotics, toward an end.” “‘Using’ them,” Fletch repeated. “Of course. Using them. I wish I didn’t have to. There are many reasons you should be grateful, supportive toward my efforts.” “Sorry, I never carry my checkbook.” “Where would these psychotic fools be tonight, what would they be doing if they were not here bashing each other’s brains out?” “Home baking cookies?” “They have to belong to something, something bigger than they are, something secret, of which they can be secretly proud. By their natures, these fools are gang members. They are incapable, you see, of standing on their own, as individuals. We’re just taking advantage of their natures. We direct their energies. We organize them. They need the discipline we give them.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:17:11 PM
Jack said to Fletch: “What do you know? I’ve killed a cop.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:26:54 PM
Sabotage Corps is
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:44:09 PM
And you know the one thing people never can remain silent about is silence.” Andy remained silent.
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:01:35 PM
Carrie quoted Fletch: “‘We’re all mysteries awaiting solution.’” Fletch said, “We’re all histories awaiting execution.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:05:12 PM
“God! We’ll never get rid of that damned body!”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:07:54 PM
Jack had awoken in time to set up the sound system for The Reverend Kriegel’s religious service, prayer meeting, sermon, harangue, newly scheduled for eleven o’clock.
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:08:54 PM
The Reverend Kriegel then had said a few words over the grave. To the men’s amusement, he commented on the appropriateness of “burying the cook cheek to jowl with roasted beef.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:09:39 PM
we will take just the men you have here—having chosen a small, fairly isolated city, in the Southwest, South, Midwest, West, it doesn’t matter—gather intelligence on it, turn off its power and water, attack it in force, and liberate from that town’s banks and other businesses what I think you Americans call ‘cash money.’
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:28:45 PM
Fletch realized he had the advantage. She was backlit by the fading light in the window behind her. The attendant had closed the door behind Fletch. He could see her amazing outline. She couldn’t see him at all.
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:36:02 PM
“If you had raised a son, he would have rebelled against you, dissented, probably become the opposite of everything you are and everything you stand for. Sons do that.” “Some sons, I guess.” “Your son would have. I’m certain your son would have. Not knowing you, Jack adores you.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:39:43 PM
“His name is John Fletcher Faoni?” “Yes.” “Who’s John?” “You wanted more of Irwin Maurice maybe?”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:40:56 PM
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:45:38 PM
“I’m not clucking.” It was getting dark outside and Fletch’s mind was settling on pizza. “I’m expostulating.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:46:12 PM
For a moment, Fletch was unsure whether it was Wolfe’s idea to shoot at Jack and Fletch, or to shoot himself.
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:07:43 PM
“I’ve heard that about you. You once reported a murder to your editor and asked him to tell the photographers to give the widow time to get home to report the murder.” “Did I?”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:08:48 PM
Fletch said to Jack, “A woman named Slavenka Drakulic, a victim of the most recent Balkan ethnic-cleansing wars, wrote in The New York Times Sunday Magazine: ‘We are the war. I am afraid there is no one else to blame. We all make it possible. We allow it to happen. There is no them and us. There are no numbers, masses, categories. There is only one of us and, yes, we are responsible for each other.’”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:13:28 PM
While Jack studied his ticket, Fletch said to Jack, “A woman named Slavenka Drakulic, a victim of the most recent Balkan ethnic-cleansing wars, wrote in The New York Times Sunday Magazine: ‘We are the war. I am afraid there is no one else to blame. We all make it possible. We allow it to happen. There is no them and us. There are no numbers, masses, categories. There is only one of us and, yes, we are responsible for each other.’” “Got a pen and piece of paper?” Jack asked. “In the glove compartment. Just thought that quote might add something to your story, if it fits in anywhere.” “How do you spell her name?” “By golly. The kid can even work pen and paper!”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:14:06 PM
“I doubt you’d attempt anything without accomplishing it. Even murder.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:15:13 PM
His new T-shirt had a logo on it which read: WHY HUG THE ROAD WHEN YOU’VE GOT ME? He had a choice of either that logo or a beer advertisement.
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:15:45 PM
Carrie answered. “Hello?” “Hello.” “Where are you?” “I’ll be home in a few minutes.” “That’s good. Hey, Fletch! Guess what?” “What?” “I made a firecracker cake!” Fletch said, “Oh, boy.”
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:16:37 PM
Guide to highlight colors
Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Red–Example to work through
The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. Directed by David Yates. With Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler.
I initially pegged Eddie Redmayne as the British Johnny Depp and wondered why they didn’t cast the latter only to realize why later in the picture.
Having seen the movie Sing earlier in the day, I note that this was the second movie of the day to feature a major structure which was demolished and then rebuilt in a timelapse sequence.
Edwards Alhambra Renaissance 14 & IMAX, E Main St., Alhambra, CA 91801