A Scene…

Here’s a bit from that pile of writings I was looking over yesterday. This is a scene from the second half of the novel from 30 years ago of which I’ve found an outline and about 50 pages. There are scenes I remember writing that are not in this folder; and some scenes I don’t remember at all. So maybe there’s another stash; perhaps, all told, there might even be 100 pages somewhere in the papers.

One scene in particular that I don’t remember writing follows. Background: Dr. Smarrita, evil genius, is the original bad guy, a unscrupulous fellow who was a teacher of both Warner, the space jockey, and Sue Fallon, his most brilliant student from whom he stole most of his best ideas. Fallon is 4’6″ tall and somewhat crippled. Warner and she once had a fling when they were both Smarrita’s students; even though Fallon was nothing to look at, she’s the quickest wit, strongest character, and most brilliant mind Warner had ever met. Warner, in contrast, is the classic jock/leading man type.

Now all three are captives on a ship run by two symbiotic and vaguely insect-like species. The Firsts seem to be in charge; the Ranks seem to do their bidding. Chief characteristic: the only sense of aesthetics or morals these aliens have is based on bioengineering: an individual is just an expression of a certain bio-mechanical concept, and judged by how well they fulfill the design. Thus, they judge the very few individual humans they’ve seen as both models and ideals. Fallon and a dead crewmate were their first examples; Smarrita and Warner were the next two. When it becomes apparent to them that Fallon and to a lesser extent Smarrita, are in fact far from the fit, athletic ideal they see in Warner, the aliens decide to fix them – standard operating procedure for them. They have just lead Smarrita away – they will work on him first, then, if successful, come for Fallon, whom they have found valuable, and whom they had ‘repaired’ a little when she first was captured. There is no saying ‘no’ to this, it might kill them or be utter agony even if it works.

Fallon and Warner are left alone.

CH 8, II

Warner looked at Fallon, who was peering after the three creatures as they lead Smarrita away.

“I don’t know if I should hope they succeed or fail.” Fallon turned back inside. “I should pray they succeed, for the good Doctor’s sake, but, if they do, I’m next.”

Warner walked up next to her. “Look, I know you don’t take any guff about your body. I’ve known you for some time now, and you’ve never asked for any slack or played for any sympathy. But, now, out of the blue, you have a chance to be made whole. If this works on Doc, I don’t get it – why would you object?”

Sue continued to look away, out the opening. “I don’t hate you, and I don’t wish you any harm. But, Bud, I don’t have to tell you anything.”

“I’m not asking for some great confession.”

“Oh? You want to know why I would object to having those disgusting creatures so much as lay a hand on me, no matter how much I may get out of it? Or do you think I don’t want to be ‘whole’, as you put it?”

“I haven’t known what to think about you for some time now.”

“OK, Bud, I’m gonna tell you something, a little for your own good, a little just because we are unlikely to get out of this alive, and little to just to have said it. Yea, I have wanted to be whole since the first time I understood that I wasn’t. I wanted to be the pretty little girl. Run and play, blow kisses and blush, the whole mundane deal.”

“But, no. The envelope of current medical practice has been pushed – what you see is what you get. On the upside, God, in His infinite perversity, gave me a very fine mind. I, in turn, used this mind to get to the highest levels of intellectual achievement, where, I naively
hoped, being a little crippled and a little ugly wouldn’t matter so much.”

“But, whom should I meet at the University? The good Doctor, for one. His genius is only surpassed by his ability to recognize genius in others. I felt I had found a mentor, friend and father, all in one. He pushed me, led me to discover how far I could really go. True, he
then promptly and without a lick of remorse stole my ideas. Imagine my pride in seeing him get that Nobel for my work! And all my school work records purged – how very thoughtful of him!

“But my real discovery at the University was – ready now? – you, Bud. You actually seemed to like me. What a couple! You, the dashing athlete, with me, the brainy cripple!”

Warner looked at the floor. “You think I didn’t care for you? You have some theory for why I spent my time with you?”

She continued to look out the door. “No, no, Bud, I found out how well you care for me-very well, by your standards. What we had was, rather, a breakdown in communication standards. Protocol incompatibility, you know.”

Warner looked over, “Can’t you stop being so goddamn smart for a minute?”

Fallon straightened her crooked frame just a little more, turned her face just a little more away from his. “Maybe not, Bud. Let me be smart for just a little while more – it is my strong suit. You recall the Incompleteness Theory from math?”

“My strong suit, you may recall.” Warner was getting hurt and angry, though he was hardly aware of it.

“It has interesting implications for communication – if there are propositions that cannot be proven or disproven from within any given mathematical system, then, perhaps, in any given system of communication – say, for example, two lovers – it may just be that there are thoughts or feelings that cannot be communicated.”

“That’s hardly profound, Sue. Why don’t you just say we didn’t see eye to eye, or some other cliché?”

“Now you’re loosing the thread.” Fallon voice was gaining an edge of urgency. “It’s not that we lacked a basis for communication, or that we had a basis, but reached an impasse. It’s that the proposition that we were setting out to prove was unprovable from the given
assumptions “

“I didn’t think I was trying to prove anything.” Warner was struggling to keep the hurt down, aware only of the growing anger that covered it up. “The only assumption that may have been a leap was that you are a woman like all others.”

“No need to get vindictive, Bud.” Fallon paused to regroup. “The proposition is hard to put into words – I’ve tried on occasion for the past 4 years. At the heart, we assumed that each of us was our own self to give, that we could give our selves to each other in measured, controllable increments. We set out to prove that we could pull back from the giving whenever we wanted, and take our whole selves back with us – no harm, no hard feelings. Well, maybe we can’t. Maybe nobody can.”

“You’ve lost me. I’m just a math guy turned swash-buckler – you’re the genius philosopher.”

“You underrate yourself, Bud. You held your own in Smaritta’s class – graduate level Universal CommSys Theory is not exactly P.E.” Her back was still to Warner. “You did use the ‘help me with my homework’ line quite successfully.”

“You still can’t believe that I cared for you?”

“On the contrary, I think you still care for me. I still care for you. It’s just that, within the system you’re in, the price of that – let’s go all the way and call it ‘love’- is too high.”

Sue turned to face him. Her voice cracked around the edges. “You know, when they rebuilt my face, the tear ducts sort of got lost in the shuffle – I don’t cry too well.”

Warner began to reach for her. She stopped him. “No, don’t touch me, and for God’s sake don’t say you’re sorry.”

“I still don’t get it, Sue. Why do you do this? All I ever did was treat you like a human being.”

“Did you treat me like a woman? You don’t make love to some generic ‘human being. Yes, you did- I felt like a woman in you arms. But then. you could not go further, and I did not know how.”

“So, what is this – you’re telling me now that you did not want me to make love to you?” Warner was exasperated.

“OK, William, here’s the real deal.” She touched his face with her hand. “There have been two occasions in my little life where my body has been given over to someone else’s mercy. The first time, no one asked me, and I couldn’t have said anything but yes had they.
I ended up in a trash can, a new born baby battered to the edge of death. My body is the work of God, modern medicine and a crowbar, according to theology, my doctors and the police reports. So much for a mother’s tender mercies, “

Warner began to open his mouth. Fallon spoke rapidly: “SHUT UP, William – don’t say anything!” She spoke softly now, “Then, there was you. This time, I was asked and I did say yes.”

She looked him in the eye. “I can’t say what it meant to me. Can you? That you would want me – ME! – and touch me so tenderly.”

She turned away. “But Paradise comes complete with a snake.”

First pass rough draft from 30 years ago.

More Archeology, Writing Division

(Update: I tried WordPress’s ‘verse’ format option, then mucked with the excerpts below until it looked right, only to discover it looks right only some fraction of the time, and runs off the page and is otherwise unreadable the rest of the time. Sigh.)

The neurons are finally coming back on line, as much as they ever were, after the physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting clean-out of the old house. Almost ready to start worrying about the next phase: finding a new place, and all that that entails.

In the meantime: found some more stuff I’d packed away and all but forgotten. Part of which is:

Files.

These files contain writings going back to about 1990. Among other things:

  • Pages of limericks. There was a time in my wasted youth when I practically though in limerick format – ta Da te ta Da te ta da and so on, such that spitting out a limerick was almost like breathing. They are mostly terrible. (Aside: people who don’t or can’t seem to follow limerick rules just – I don’t know what to say. Write something else if this is too hard. Sheesh.)
  • About 50 pages and an outline for a novel, a retro-space adventure. Swashbuckling space pilot, evil scientist, deal gone bad, frantic escape, insect-like aliens. The only deviation from standard is that the love interest is a crippled dwarf, a woman who is a genius and wit, but not a looker, with whom our dashing space pilot had a fling. Now, only she can save his life! It’s – not terrible. The main problem: my outline is far too spare for me to figure where in the heck I was going with this, 30 years later. On the plus side, the parts I did write I kinda liked…
  • Some Trek fan fic from the mid-90s. At the time, I worked for a company that had a proprietary sort of chat software running on its internal systems. Basically, you had a group on a message, and each new message was appended onto the last, such that you ended up with a massive run-on discussion. Social Media, circa 1993. So the geeks talked about Trek, and I used to mock it (in a sympathetic, friendly way – I like Trek!) by throwing out ridiculous plot outlines that were not quite unbelievable. In honor of Rodenberry, I’d find ways to get people naked as much as possible. It was a hoot, so much so that when I left that job, I killed a tree to print selections out.
  • A pile of short stories. Some are OK. When I start my new author-centric, politically silent blog to promote the fiction I want to sell, I may throw some of them up there.
  • Tons of song lyrics. Mostly, attempts to be hilarious, but some more weepy/emo ones as well. Hey, I was young at the time! And stupid!
  • Some poems. Yikes!
  • Some more music.

But I should share a little. Why should I suffer alone? Here are snippets of lyrics and poetry from way back, starting with something really old:

Stone Age

(Circa Reagan. To the beat of marching soldiers. Call and response)

I don't like no Gorbachev! (I don't like no Gorbachev! - and so on)
Give me Ruskies like Molotov! 
This Cold War thaw thing do us in  
I'd rather wear those leopard skins

(In a Jack Nicholson type voice over some distant apocalyptic explosions and Fred Flintstone sound affects – yabadabado, etc.)

Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age.
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age. 
Just bomb 'em back to the Stone Age.

And so on. Dated, yes, but maybe funny if you’re old enough to remember…

Shootout at the Whirly Wash

Face down in some laundry stenchy
Bullets flew past the change machine
The bastards just put a bullet in Frenchy
bleeding like crimson red cotton sateen!

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
God, somebody just winged Michael
Cover me, Shorty, I'm going in
Like a red sock in a hot cycle

She dropped her basket, looked over me
Her trigger finger was twitching
So what if I got some Shout on her  T?
I don't need to listen to her bitching

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
Doc's covering the detergent dispenser
Lay down some fire! I'll head for a dryer!
Ol' Bessie's lead will convince her!

Fabric was flying and tempers ran hot
We had 'em pinned down by the phone
When the manager lady fired a round of buckshot
I guess we'll just fold 'em at home

Shootout at the Whirly Wash
Long may its infamy reign!
A tip if you ever get into that spot:
Use COLD water on a blood stain. 

Finally:

That Bug Might Be Your Mom

I used to be a Western boy with microscope and gun
But since I've gotten older, it's just not as much fun
Instead I want to take a tour of the Nothing that's my mind
For peace and love and happiness - what cool stuff I might find!

Careful! Careful! Easy now! All my desires die
Which is good, because I don't want to come back as a fly
Which brings us to a tricky point, a poser through and through:
what if that cockroach I just crushed was someone that I knew? 

I can sit with my legs crossed until both legs fall asleep
I can become Nothingness, and nothing want or keep
I can bank good karma by the pound with effortless aplomb
But I just can't stop worrying: that bug might be your mom. 

Yep. That was me what wrote that stuff, some thirty+ years ago. And I’m not sorry! Careful, or I’ll publish some more.

Quick Update: Fixin’ to Move, Music, etc.

1.Still crazy busy. The realtor says: you want anything the prospective home buyer is likely to touch to work. Seems reasonable. Trying to fix everything that a prospective home buyer is likely to lay hands on is proving expensive and time consuming – go figure. We’ve lived, sometimes for more than a decade, with:

  • doors with glitchy nobs, like there is a trick to getting them to open and close;
  • a downstairs shower that is broken – have been stashing the cat food, kitty litter and back-up TP in it for so long, we’d almost forgotten it was there. Do have two working showers, but
  • other showers have tricky ‘features’ as well, like one which drips if you turn it ALL the way off, but doesn’t if you turn it ALMOST all the way off, and another which has lost the relationship between the ‘H’ and ‘C’ settings and the actual water temperature.
  • broken light fixtures

And so on. And. of course, a plethora of broken stuff, including

  • cracked windows
  • broken cabinet doors
  • ratty blinds
  • wobbly banisters
  • warped baseboards

And on and on. PLUS – the Endless Brick Project of Doom. On which I’ve made huge progress with the help of my youngest son, younger daughter and her husband. Pics to follow soon. I even added a project, because of course I did:

There was no step by the south side door. So I built one – out of bricks.
Came out OK.
Had some Mexican tiles lying around, so I sort of decided I stick ’em places. Looks kind of cute.

None of this repair/replace/finish work compares in magnitude to the sort/clean/pack work. Can’t even think about it. That’s coming up soon.

2. Turned 64 on St. Joseph’s Day. Threw myself a pizza party, invited some friends and our younger daughter’s in-laws. Big family, in both senses – a good sized batch of kids, and dad’s a about 6’5″ and built like the former college offensive lineman he is; a couple of his teenage sons tower over 6’2″ me. Nice folks, we had a blast. Our youngest son took over the pizza making duties so I could socialize more, and did a great job. Torch-passing ahoy!

64 seems old in a way 63 or even 60 did not. This, despite my being in better physical shape this year than the last several. Lost 35 lbs so far; got another 65-70 to go. I’m feeling the obligation to get healthy and stay alive to help my kids and grandkids in any way possible. Granddaughter #1 is a little over 4 months old, and a real sweetheart. I expect more will be on the way, given our kids love of kids.

3. Realistically, if I can get into shape and lose the weight, I might have another 10 years of more demanding physical projects in me. This is good, as we hope to buy a ‘hobby farm,’ which sounds like a LOT of back-breaking work, if one is to make it work as one hopes. Big garden, big orchard, some chickens, maybe a pig. Youngest daughter wants a milk cow – fine, if she takes care of it. I want a hobbit-hole style root cellar, with a walk-in fridge and freezer space in the back. Because I’m insane, why do you ask? Then get some solar power to make sure it stays cold….

Then, God willing, I might have as much as another 10 years to work on less strenuous hobbies. My mom and dad made it to 87 and 88, respectively; my mom had her complete mental faculties to the day she died. Dad, not so much. So, best case, music and writing can continue for another 20 years.

The take-away: do it now. Don’t stop. Push. Get it done. And thank the Lord for every single day.

4. On the writing front, I’ve begun to pack all my education and history references up into boxes to be moved to our next abode, almost certainly a rental. No plans to do any writing until we get at least a little settled.

Musically, however, I’ve been greatly inspired by the almost 40 year old music I dug up while packing. It’s both inspiring and depressing – I think I have some real talent which, instead of being developed over the last 4 decades, has moldered. So, now, as an old man, I’m trying to rekindle the fire. All I really want is to give it one big try, finish a small set of compositions, and send them off to some real musicians for feedback and – a guy has got to dream – perhaps performance. It either works or it doesn’t, but I owe it to myself to give it a shot.

So, I’ve been working on some pieces, usually in the morning after breakfast before I get going on home projects, and in the evening after I’ve cleaned up the day’s work. So far,so good. We’ll see.

Further bulletins as events warrant. Both Severain and Briggs have been on fire lately, but I have little time to comment. And I still want to comment on the comments made here lo, these weeks ago now. Maybe after the move?

Writing Research: MHI

Reread Larry Correia’s first novel, Monster Hunter International, this time looking for answers to the million dollar question: what does a highly successful first novel look like? What can I, a very modest writer with 1 – count ’em, I mean, it – *1* paid work published in my soon to be 64 years on this earth, learn from it?

A lot, it turns out. *Spoilers ahoy!*

First off, the overall structure is what you’d expect: epic fight scenes tied together with character introductions and character building. The only surprise, perhaps, is the use of visions and flashbacks to fill in the blanks. So the story looks like:

  • Epic Battle
  • Vision
  • Character introductions/development
  • Prep for next epic battle
  • Repeat to finis.

It’s not quite this clean, as many of the visions are broken up into segments by more connecting tissues. Also, what I’m calling here character introductions/development always involves actions that move the story forward – Correia is way too good to put in very much stand alone yakking. But that’s the overall shape. Starts and ends with an epic battle; key characters are introduced and slowly revealed in a very satisfying way.

Many characters are drawn well enough to make you emotionally invested in them – major characters, including the protagonist Owen, his love interest Julie, fellow newbies Trip and especially Holly, as well as any number of minor characters such as the Orcs Skippy and Gretchen, and Agents Franks and Myers, are generally deftly and sympathetically drawn. The Old Man of the visions and many of the other characters are stereotypes but not, generally, in a bad way. In most cases, they are fleshed out enough to make them distinct enough personalities that you grow to like or loath them as appropriate over the course of the story.

A few don’t quite work as well. Earl Harbinger is supposed to be mysterious, which works to his disadvantage as far as making him likeable or sympathetic. It’s more like you know he’s supposed to be likeable and sympathetic rather than those emotional ties developing more organically. Being utterly indestructible without a Lois Lane weakness to offset it also dampens one’s emotional investment. The elves, intended as comic relief, fall flat, unlike the orcs, who quite literally rock. The difference might be that Skippy and Gretchen get fleshed out and have heroic moments, while the elves are simply appalling.

But these are minor quibbles. Most emphatically, the characters work. The battles are all epic and emotionally (if not always logically) satisfying.

Characters are a major strength in this book. It’s almost the anti-Asimov approach: while the old master tried to wow the reader with cool ideas so that they overlooked the cardboard characters and their often numbingly dumb motivations, Correia alternates between blistering action and getting the readers to invest in the characters. The stand out for me was Holly Newcastle. She is fearless, remorseless, irreverent – and a former pole dancer built like a brick house. By the end, it’s impossible not to love her.

As far as the plot goes, stuff done got blowed up good. The conceit – that B-movie monsters are very real, and we’re being kept in the dark about them because people can’t handle the truth – makes for a lot of hilarious banter, and epic battles. That some monsters – some orcs, one lone werewolf, a Wendigo – might be good guys or at least not bad guys, is a nice touch. But in general, the bad guys are cannon fodder, meant not to elicit any sympathy when they meet their generally gruesome demises. Correia goes out of his way to mock the whole sparkly misunderstood vampire thing, which I appreciate.

Correia lavishes attention on the weapons, which was part of the appeal to his original target audience – other gunnies. I had no idea what he was talking about much of the time, and looked up some guns just to get an idea. Evidently, his descriptions of the gunplay is dead on, which, again, appeals to his target audience.

The way the story unfolds is just amazing upon rereading. Even though I’d read it before, I still was kept hanging: each bit of information about what’s going on and who these people really are is, itself, a cliff-hanger. We are left wondering how much more we don’t know after each bit or clue is revealed. Correia is juggling a lot of pieces, and rolls them out just an inch at a time, yet, by the end, we feel satisfied. The twists revealed in the final battle are all set up nicely. Lord Machado is righteously despicable but not incomprehensibly so, and ends up being the dupe. That Owen ends up being the hero of the prophesy made more sense on this rereading, as the clues were all there.

The magical elements are simply used as needed. I’m usually not aa fan of magic, for precisely this reason – it tends to be an easy out. How do we escape from this inescapable situation? It’s MAGIC! Here, it’s used about as well as anywhere this side of Lord of the Rings. Magic is important, as is the nature of the beast, but not overdone. Character reigns supreme.

The only parts that fell a little flat for me were the elves as mentioned above, and the rather loose logic of the last battle. Stuff just kind of happens a lot of the time. Only once was I taken out of the moment, however. Skippy rescues Owen and Julie who are falling to their deaths from – a mountain in a pocket Universe? Just how does one fly a helicopter into such an event? And figure it out fast enough that you’re already up in the air and ready to go when it happens? And you see it happen? In a story full of vampires and zombies, that was the only time I went ‘O, come on!’ – which is pretty impressive, when you think about it.

I don’t know which would be more impressive: plotting all this craziness out in detail before hand, or winging it an yet making it come out in the end. Either way, this is some good work.

So, what are the take-aways? What should I do to increase the chances that my first novel will find some readers?

First off, on the non-novel side, Correia had a ready-made audience for his writings through his involvement with the gunny community. This only worked because he understood what they wanted and gave it to them.

Next, Corriea is a very intelligent guy, extremely well-read. This allows for him to add all sorts of detail. He writes scenes in modern day Alabama, WWII Germany, and ancient Mesoamerica with Conquistadores and native Indian civilizations. It would be easy to lose people with false steps, but, at least for me, he made none. It all seemed real.

On to the writing itself. The strength of the story for me is the characters. It’s almost a fish out of water story, given the fundamental goofiness of the premises. What we have are a group of somewhat normal people from all walks of life who 1) survived being attacked by B-movie monsters; 2) get trained up as commandos; and 3) face constant life-or-death challenges. The key that makes this work is Correia’s convincing portrayal of the Monster Hunters as real people with understandable motivations and emotions. We get why Owen turns out to be a great hunter, why Holly is fierce and fearless, even why Skippy considers Owen royalty, and so on. It’s a trick, and Correia has mastered it.

While loving care is lavished on the fight scenes, and they are great, it’s really in the visions and most especially just the ‘normal’ interactions of the characters that the story is made. The trick of ratcheting up each battle is largely achieved by ratcheting up the emotional stakes. It’s not just more stuff getting blowed up good, or even the ultimate ‘the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance’ battle, it’s the Hunters having believable emotional stakes in the outcome, especially in the survival of their comrades. The characters care about each other through all their flaws, and so we care about them and identify with them. I need to study more how he does this.

Finally, and I’ll need to think about how universally applicable this may or may not be, but Correia rarely lets a page go by without some sort of comedy. His dialogue is often pretty brilliant and very funny.

What I need to try to do:

  • Never let an opportunity to make a character more sympathetic and human pass;
  • Put them in situations that reveal their character without having to talk about it;
  • Go easy on interpersonal interactions that don’t move the story forward at the same time;
  • Write humorous dialogue where appropriate.

And blow stuff up good.

Year End(?) Update: Wedding, Writing, Stuff

I’m going to use the following feeble excuses for not writing here for over a week:

  1. Younger daughter is getting married in 3 weeks;
  2. I’m ‘working,’ mostly in the sense of worrying about and planning, the sale of our house in (we hope) March;
  3. It’s the week before Christmas.
  4. Volunteered to help the Caboose execute his Eagle Scout project, which tied up the better part of the last 2 weekends.
A local cemetery, managed by our parish, has suffered from neglect and vandals for many years. It is the resting place of many of the pioneers of our town, with graves dating back to the mid 1800s. The local historical society as well as the parish and some of the neighbors have been trying to fix it up. The Caboose’s Eagle project: put in two benches, replace the vandalized and missing cross from the central monument, and clean up. Above: one of the benches, concrete still wet.
An epoxy resin cross (getting granite was not in the budget) affixed atop the central monument, from which vandals had destroyed the original. It came out way better than anticipated – this angle distorts the scale and might make it appear too small, but it’s not.

Other than that, I got nothing. What I have been doing:

A. Making Christmas gifts for the family. They are coming out nice, but, since it’s possible some of the recipients might read this blog, I’ll have to skip the pictures and of course any further details until they have been delivered.

B. Finishing the Gloria I’ve been working on, and working on the Kyrie. I’m at the point where I need to let the Gloria sit – I can keep tweaking it forever, but I probably will just let it go.

I switched over completely to composing in Musescore. It – just works, and revisions are so, so, much easier. Sigh. All that time mastering buggy whip making writing fair score by hand is now useless. My son-in-law swears by Musescore as a composition tool, as you can get instant playback as you go and the fair copy is a print command away. Beats stomping stuff out on piano, which is my usual method.

Sheepish request: any musicians out there with Musescore who would like to hear it/offer feedback? It’s all of 4 minutes long. If so, send me an email at yardsale of the mind (without the gaps) at G-mail dot etc. and I will email you the file.

C. Watching a Youtube series on counterpoint and fugal writing, based on Fux’s Gradus ad Parnassus. On the one hand, I know some of this stuff; on the other, I’m largely an ignorant fool. As I think Nadia Boulanger once said: composition is not theory, but technique, and you get technique by practicing. Will I live long enough to work my way through all of Fux’s and Gran’s exercises? Writing in this style – counterpoint and fuges – is highly technical and mathematical – there is structural stuff you need to work out before you get very far . I’m very bad at that part. Don’t know how many times I’ve written myself into a corner…

D. Had this very vivid idea for a story. Of course, I’ve got half a dozen other writing projects I have not been working on, so now I get another idea. Saw a meme the other day, where this writer is musing something like: “Some people got to bed and *sleep*? They don’t toss and turn working out the plots for a 7-book series? And then they wake up *refreshed*?” I haven’t slept well in years anyway, seems I just need to get mor4e productive about it. I may throw up a chapter as semi-flash fiction when I get a minute.

F. 3 years into involuntary semi-retirement. I need to get a job. Don’t need the big bucks anymore, just something reasonable.

Aaaand – that’s all I have time for at the moment. Tomorrow and Friday begin the annual Great Christmas Cooking & Baking Event. With married kids, we have multiple Christmas/New Year’s/Epiphany parties to go to/host, my beloved is in demand as a pie maker, and I’m always making something, too. So, maybe catch y’all next year.

Have a happy, holy, and blessed Christmas season, not to end before Epiphany at the earliest!

Year-End Update (a little early)

A. First of all, gratitude to all the readers of this blog. Not sure why the beloved 100 readers (on a very good day) come back for more, but thanks. Just know that you’re only encouraging me.

The writing here has come out even more unfocused than my original intent, which was pretty broad. “Culture. Religion. Politics. Science. Philosophy.  Music. Art.” was the original charter 11 years ago. We do do that here, but also a lot of Home Improvement Projects and blithering about the books I intend to write. Which brings us to:

B: The ‘I should write a book about that’ books I’ve worked on here on the blog, ones where I might be qualified to have an opinion, are:

  • A book on the origins of the Catholic schools here in America, and how they have arrived at their current sorry (with very few exceptions) state
  • A more general book about the origins of schooling in America, circa roughly 1700 – 1940. An expose of the clowns and poseurs involved, and the paper-thin fantasy world that constitutes the foundation of all modern ‘scientific’ education.
  • The How to Think About Science book.

Starting with the last one first: as the Crazy Years progress, it’s painfully clear that ignorance of how science works is so far downstream from the real problems as to be all but irrelevant. The best case scenario, where someone reads my book, reexamines his world view, and changes how he thinks about things – sigh. Not happening in the real world.

And it’s not even the rejection of logic, which you have to have at least some grasp of in order to begin to understand how science works. Underlying both logic and the science is the notion that the world makes sense. That the world IS. Our well-schooled contemporaries specifically reject the very idea of shared objective reality in favor of a world willed into being by their own narcissistic selves. That any such world is definitionally inconsistent, and conflicts necessarily with anyone else’s similarly constructed world is not a problem for the dedicated narcissist. That they hold both to the sacredness of people’s self-constructed reality AND bow and scrap before the altar of social and political conformity isn’t a problem – they never expected the world to make sense. It’s Will all the way down.

When my teeth are set on edge by patently anti-science claims of ‘settled science’ and ‘scientific consensus’ or people doing as they are told claiming they are ‘following the science’ which they haven’t read and wouldn’t understand if they did, I imagined the problem was the general lack of scientific literacy, and thought I might be able to help a little by writing a book about basic science.

Silly me.

Therefore, I’ve reconsidered the point of this proposed book, why I would write it and who it is for. I’m reading Kreeft’s Socratic Logic now, and perhaps will write this book as a sort of follow-on with a focus on the specific application of Aristotelian logic used by modern science, insofar as it has any legitimate claim to our acceptance of its conclusions.

So, basically, a high-school level book. (Kreeft’s book is also supposed to be a high school level book, but it’s pretty tough. He, an expert, isn’t leaving much out, and there’s just a lot of logic that’s not obvious or simple. Good, but tough.)

Time frame: Once we’re moved and settled.

The other two books I get bugged by my kids to complete. They’ve heard some of the points I make about schooling from the cradle, and have found them to be true in the world. They’d like there to be a book (or two) summarizing these things. These works have been in the works for years now. It is time.

Time frame: Once we’re moved and settled. I’ve recommenced reading source materials. as evidenced by the last post.

#magnus pyke from Old School Science Fiction

C. Then there are the fun books I’m supposedly writing. Well, I set a goal for this past June for the first of several speculative fiction books I hope to write, and got thousands and thousands of words into them…

But I didn’t finish. May 2021 was when the insanity finally began to get me down. It started taking work to just get on with it, whatever ‘it’ happened to be at the moment. As it became clear I wasn’t going to get any of the spec fic done by June, I got distracted by a musical composition. Why? I have no idea. Writing music and writing stories really are very similar: you get an idea, you pound it into some sort of shape, you write the next part and the next part and so on, sometimes skipping ahead to more fun/clearer ideas, and then backtracking to write the connecting scenes. Then read it out loud/play or sing it, rewrite as needed, then get other people to read/listen, and take their feedback…

And I’ve gotten maybe 5 minutes of a 6-part Gloria written, with a minute or so more to write, plus outlines/sections for a Kyrie and Agnus, and a idea or two for the Sanctus. Haven’t even thought about a Credo yet.

Why I found it possible to write music and not possible to write fiction is anybody’s guess.

Time frame: I’ll keep working on the Mass while we pack up and prep the house; the books I’ll take up again once we’re moved and settled.

D. We gotta get out of this place. We had the house tented a month ago; getting quotes for painters. Spoke with the Pods people, looking to start loading out in January.

Yesterday, picked up 10 bags of ready mix; today used 8 of them to put in what I intend to be the last segment of the vast, endless front yard home improvement brick project. Scaled it well down from the original plans – no grotto, less fancy brickwork. Sigh. Need it simply not to look ugly and unfinished. So, simple wall topped by some redwood lattice.

Aaaaand – a million other things need to be done. Not to mention the final pack what’s left up and get out of Dodge push in a couple months. Then finding a new place to live….

E. In a somewhat round-about way, I’m looking for a job, specifically, seeing if a new Chesterton Academy that is to open near where I’d like to live might hire me to corrupt the minds of our youth, after the fashion of Socrates and Aristotle. And quote a lot of Chesterton. It would be nice to teach, and have a little income.

F. All in all, I’m very grateful, and have gotten past letting myself get too down about the current insanity. For the most part. I used to pray in thanksgiving for getting to live in a land of plenty in a time of peace. Now? I pray that God will remember His promise of mercy, and, for the sake of His Name, for the sake of the Blood shed by His Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, He will not judge us as our sins deserve, but rather forgive us yet again. That He will send Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent, Joseph, the terror of demons, and Michael the Archangel to lead the heavenly host down to cast Satan and his minion out of our lives, our nation, and our world, bind them and cast them back into Hell where they belong. Then, that He may grant us the strength to endure whatever we must and the grace to die to ourselves and live only for His Will.

Otherwise, who can stand?

Have a happy and holy Thanksgiving!

Flash Fiction: Caryatides

“Is the pressure getting to you, dear ?” The tone of Lady Forthwith-Huntington’s question was not solicitous.

Lady Forthwith-Huntington stood in the middle of a vast unwalled pillared chamber, on a dais of polished serpentine, around which flowed burbling waters. Four dark towering fountains, intricately carved in the shape of fantastic animals and inlaid with glowing gems, fed the waters. Surrounding the fountains lay a narrow beach of black sand, behind which in every direction stood a dark tropical forest. On all four sides of the chamber, the forest ended in mountain ranges, cunningly fashioned to provide the illusion of great distance and height.

Above the mountains, a thin band of the sky glowed pink with the last moments of twilight. In the dark above the twilight as in frames, the heavens were filled with the beauties of the universe: a spiral galaxy dominated one, a glowing, ghostly nebula another, a galaxy cluster another, and a ringed gas giant the last.

In each corner stood an onyx column, slender, deeply fluted, with a florid Corinthian capital, set, like the fountains, with glowing gemstones. Across the ceiling spread the Great Galactic Wall, strands of galaxies like pearls against a field of black. The entire structure, a thousand meters to the side and a thousand tall, was alive with subtle movement and sounds at the edge of hearing. The Construct was, it had to be admitted, beautiful.

Mistress Elizabeth Boward-Campanile knelt atop one of the black columns, her forearms held parallel above her bowed head, holding up the capital. Three other women topped the remaining columns in similar postures, their onyx bodies motionless.

“No, m’lady.” At that moment, a slight tremor passed through the entire structure. “Then what was that, pray tell?” One of Lady Forthwith-Huntington’s hands now rested on her hip.


Intelligences that might be called life forms gathered in the dark voids between the luminous galactic filaments. Presences were projected; some were present to the others merely as persistent ideas. A few had even arrived in space ships. The Greater Intelligences did not judge, but accepted whoever came in good will.

The gathering had taken 500,000,000 years; the decision a mere 100,000,000. The preliminaries had been surprisingly easy. The Greater Intelligences were able to provide a syntax suitable for discussions among the varied intelligences. Coordinating ethical systems had taken less than a million years. Analysis took the most time; possible courses of action were presented and discussed, and, finally, a plan was chosen and commitments made.

The Great Galactic Wall was an artifact indistinguishable from both magic and nature. The subtle science of the Greater Intelligences had seen its true and artificial nature 10 billion years ago. Others had seen hints, which when studied and piled together for a million years or so, gave more and more dire hints.

The Great Wall was truly a wall, a wall to keep others out. Dark matter had been manipulated to create it, and had shaped and arranged the galaxies behind it. Inside, the insatiable appetite for energy, the dreams of a Kardashev IV civilization, drove its builders.

Outside the wall, stars died too soon. Kardashev II civilizations died before their times, outside the Wall. Energy was being drained from what to the Builders of the Great Wall were the hinterlands. The gathered intelligences decided that this must stop.


Another tremor shook the Construct. This time, Mistress Katherine Barbican-Allbright, on the column diagonally across from Mistress Elizabeth Boward-Campanile, noticeably sagged under the weight of the sky. Despite the conceit of the Construct, the four Mistresses and Lady Forthwith-Huntington could see and hear each other in detail across the distances.

Mistress Elizabeth spoke: “M’lady, when may we be relieved?”

Lady Forthwith-Huntington sighed. “I am here to witness the Fall. You may not leave until I see it.”

“We are to die.” I was a simple statement.

“Come now. You – we – are all going to die.”

“We might live millions of years more. The Fall will be long.”

Lady Forthwith-Huntington sighed again. “Very well. I suppose a triviality like a few millions years more life might be important to some. I grow tired of this life. Our sad little imaginations cannot keep up with our abilities to satisfy them.” She shook her head. “What difference does it make if the barbarians breach the Wall? Let them come! You are dismissed.” She vanished from the Construct.

The four caryatides heaved together, impossibly thrusting the ceiling up off their forearms. The leapt from the columns as one, and vanished as they fell. The ceiling followed them down, the columns crumbled, and the Construct flickered and died.


Trillions of intelligences, wielding subtle engines, breached the Wall.

The looting began.

Reading Interlude/Update

Still have the second half of Painter’s book on Luther’s role in education reform to review, and a few SciFi classics. Need a break.

A. One problem: I read slowly, in my dotage. This has something to do with reading a lot of philosophy and history, where speed kills, so to speak. It dawned on me- slow on the uptake – that I don’t really need to read SciFi or, mostly, these education books super carefully, as the points are generally not that subtle or evasive.

While I was never one of those blazing fast 3 novels a day type reader, as a kid, I was certainly a faster reader than I am now. So I consciously decided to read much faster.

It works. While there are definitely works that warrant a slow careful read, most of the stuff I’m reading now doesn’t. This one small trick has halved the scary pile of unread books (literally, I had to move stacks to the floor when cleaning up the other day) in terms of reading time.

Of course, the book on the top of the stack was Kreeft’s Socratic Logic which is one that needs to be read more carefully. But most of the pile can be read pulp speed.

B. Interesting times. We have 2 weeks to get the house ready for fumigation, as part of our efforts to sell it. Since we need to vacate the premises anyway, and a friend got us a couple tickets at no cost to us, we’ve decided to attend the Thomas Aquinas College 50th Anniversary Gala in Beverly Hills. Black tie. Not the usual shindig for the Moore family.

Fortunately, as a tenor who has sung in a number of choirs, I already own a tux. Bought it used 25+ years ago, haven’t worn it for years – but it fits. So I’m in with only a dry cleaning expense + I indulged in a new shirt. But my 17 year old son needed suiting up. I can recommend Dunhill, a seller of used tuxes. We ordered him one for under $100, found the coat was a little too large, they sent us a replacement no questions asked before I’d even returned the too large one. Good folks.

And it looks great. I was surprised at how nice it is, does not look used at all. A fit young man like our son looks awesome in a tux. Bond, James Bond.

As for the womenfolk, grandma owns a number of nice formal dresses. My beloved did the classic thrift store route, where she ran into another shopper who was totally into helping her get the right dress. Women are different. I can’t imagine a male stranger deciding he needed to help me, for example, get just the right suit, nor that I would not be weirded out by such attention. But this nice woman saw my wife shopping, and just sort of jumped right in, offering suggestions and reviews, looking for shawls that would look good with the dresses – and she and my wife seemed to have a good time doing this.

So my wife came away with two thrift store gowns, both of which passed muster with our daughters, who have picky good taste in such things. Huh.

C. The history class I’m teaching just completed week 4. Things are sticking a lot better the second time around for me, which is nice, plus I don’t have nearly the amount of prep to do, I can mostly just use what I did last year. So it’s a lot less exhausting and more fun.

The kids are great. The two oldest have spearheaded efforts to bring tea and snacks for the Thursday seminar. We’ve had shortbread, some sort of custard tort, and cucumber sandwiches so far. Homeschool kids for the win!

D. Whatever creative energies I have left after the above activities I have been directing at getting this mass setting I’ve been writing done. I don’t know why, exactly, but I got a (long-suppressed) jones for composing out of nowhere, and ran with it. The Gloria is maybe half a dozen measures from done, and the Kyrie and Agnus are started. I only have an hour or two a day to work on this, tops. I need to get back to the novels and non-fiction projects, but for some reason this mass seems urgent. Huh.

Shade (Monday Flash Fiction)

Kleon wiggled his way through the muddy-green foliage to join the press of worshippers. He knew that far ahead, the throng moved toward a blinding light he could not see. He could not see because he kept his eyes averted and closed. To look upon the Face of God is death.

Above him, only sky, from which dripped a steady light rain.

He was now swept past a Pillar of Heaven, an almost unimaginably large shaft disappearing into the sky far above. The Angels had set up these posts upon the Founding of the World, to keep the sky above in place. For God had decreed: At acceptable times as told by the Prophets, all may look upon the Side of My Face. At such sacred times, I will turn away, in My mercy, to spare My people. To look upon the Deep Heavens any other time is death.

Kleon had a Name – Kleon. This placed him among a select few of the advancing throngs. To have a Name was to be a person. To be sure, much of scripture was devoted to the duties and, indeed, love, to be shown by the Named to the unnamed, so anything short of gentle care for the poor mindless hordes was a sin. In more primitive times, a Named who showed contempt for the nameless was condemned to be thrown into the Outer Lightness, and die.

Kleon did his part as a Named Person. His pheromones helped direct the Unnamed forward in a calm state. Once the throngs started moving, excitement would grow. Unless the Named did their best to keep the poor unconscious calm, millions might rush into the Light. Sometimes, even a Named was carried thus to his death by the throngs.

Kleon sensed that there were many Named nearby, enough to maintain order. He found he needed to work to keep his own mind calm. For this was the Great Feast, the Awakening, the memorial of the First Naming. All of his kind would get to see the Profile of the Face of God! Many would die from sheer joy, and be counted happy, although all were strictly forbidden by scripture to desire such a death. Joy like that was a pure, unearned gift of God!

Excitement grew as the Light, sensed through closed eyes, began to slowly fade. Billions of eager worshippers had now surrounded the Circle of Light. Pillars of Heaven were here arranged in a majestic curve, trailing off to the left and right in a grand arch. Just beyond these Pillars, the sky ended.

This was a time of prayer. For endless hours, the Light faded, and each Person thought, and each Unnamed felt, the growing Presence in its more gentle form. Soon, one might see the Profile of the Face of God – and live!

Horrified, Kleon sensed that an Unnamed had been unconsciously jostled into the Light. Because the Light had already faded to less than half His full intensity, the poor creature’s death was comparatively slow. It released a cloud of pheromones as it desiccated, of both excruciating pain and utter bliss. Kleon and the other Named nearby strained to keep the surrounding Unnamed from throwing themselves into the fading Light, and succeeded. God would be pleased.

Finally, the Light almost completely withdrew, leaving only a gentle glow a little brighter than the endless misty gloom of the World. The Named, using all their strength, kept the Unnamed in place, for their safety and in order to maintain a decorum appropriate to this Feast.

Finally, the Named allowed the throngs to move. Slowly, they advanced. It was all the Named could do to keep the front ranks moving, although it hardly mattered – the following ranks simply climbed over them. But piles of creatures were unseemly, so the named did their best to keep the creatures in the front moving.

As the Named and Unnamed came out from under the sky, they turned their eyes to the heavens, and saw the stars.


“This is a little creepy.” Diana sat in a control room of the power plant, looking out the window. A million square kilometers of the solar array, visible in every direction, disappeared only where they dipped below the distant horizon. 90% of this desert hell-hole of a planet was paved over in solar cells. The last place the planet’s surface was visible was the clearing around the power plant itself, a ring about a kilometer in radius. Her eyes were on the edges of the clearing, where motion could barely be detected in the gloam, disappearing to the naked eye as the night settled in.

There was nothing else to do but look. Her team had been dropped off to inspect the alien power plant, their work was all but complete, and the system’s new cyclers would not be back by to pick them up for another 18 months.

“This plant is old!” declared Bob, who had entered to control room. “Well, yeah,” said Diana, “that was obvious from space.” She tried to be a good team player, but she and the other 5 team members aside from Bob had quickly determined what they had come to this God-forsaken system to find out. The plant was perfectly operative; its panels were of an unknown design and slightly less efficient than current Empire standards, but it would hardly be worth the effort to upgrade them. Instead, the Empire could enjoy yottawatts of found power, left by long-gone engineers. An uplink to an orbital laser, for example, could power acceleration and deceleration of light sails…

“No, I mean, really old!” Bob was pacing. “We’re talking at least 50 million, maybe 150 million years old. Maybe more.”

“This is a quiet backwater, geologically dead, not much in the way of space debris or weather to disturb things.” Williams, the team’s geologist, had entered the room. “Thin, inert atmosphere. Almost no water. And a nice slow 153 hour day. Local sun beats down on these panels for 76.5 hours a day like clockwork.”

“That’s what I’m trying to say,” continued Bob, “this is a near perfect place for a huge solar array – and has been for a billion years. Somebody figured this out maybe 100 million years ago, stuck this array here, and built it to last. It could power all kinds of repair spiders, all kinds of cleaning and maintenance bots, while hardly putting a dent in net output.”

“We haven’t seen any bots,” said Diana, “seems deserted.”

“Build it right, and the spiders and bots only need to come out every century or two, or even less.”

“Or, better, build it to evolve.” Jommy, the senior engineer and Diana’s boss, looked up from a deck he had been examining. “You build the total system with enough AI, and enough intelligent intervention, analyze what goes wrong, fix it, analyze the fix, rinse, repeat.” He put down the analytic probe he held like a wand. “How many years do you need until it just don’t break anymore?”


Kleon saw the light in the window in the central tower far above, and his heart stirred. Scripture spoke of angels visiting the Heavenly Ladder, coming and going with nothing to say to the Named. Not once, since the original Naming, had angels interacted with his kind. But not in thousands of generations had an angel visited…

Billions of his fellow creatures paved the circle of light surrounding the Ladder, compound eyes heavenward, antennae raised. Here was the Time of Ecstasy. In a few hours, the Named would gently herd the Unnamed out of the Light and back under the sky. Even under the stars, his kind tended to dry out if they spent too much time unprotected. They needed to return to life beneath the sky.


“Good God, Ppillimt, why do play with those disgusting bugs?” His mate looked down upon his crouching form, two of her four hands on her hips, and shook her head.

“One, what else is there to do on this rock? The array never breaks; the uplink never falters.” He picked up a palm-sized beetle-like creature, which lifted it forebody on multi-jointed legs, and further lifted its ‘head’ to look at him. “And, two, I think these things are much more intelligent than we’re giving them credit for.” He could feel his mate’s chagrin, so he changed the subject. “How is the investigation going?”

She sighed. “We may crack their script, but it’ll take some time. We have a pretty good grasp of their math. But the big find: their star charts. We were able to determine the age of this facility by apply know rates of motion to known stars on their charts, and calculating how long ago those stars would have been in the positions indicated – this thing was built 47 million years ago!”

Ppillimt carefully put the bug down, then stood. “Whoa. Yet it runs perfectly. These founders must have been quite the engineers.”

Tzapotlz continued, “We also found a biology collection. We can’t yet make out the text, but the pictures are interesting. Seems this planet did have some zoology. The most advanced creatures by far were something like sand fleas, just little specks somehow surviving in the scorching sun and bitter night.” She looked down at the bug Ppillimt had just been holding. It sat at attention. “That little guy there evolved, I’d guess, from the sand fleas, over millions of years since the founding.”

“Yea, and evolved under these solar panels. They’re all but air-tight except around the uplink towers. It’s a lot more temperate and lot more damp under there.”

“I went under there once,” Tzapotlz looked disgusted, “those slimy plants cover everything, and those bugs are everywhere.”

Ppillimt picked up the bug again. “Damp and moderate temps would certainly be a lot more favorable to life as we know it, in general.” He looked at the bug, which had again raised itself on its front legs and was staring at him, in what appeared to be rapt attention.

“I like you,” he looked at the bug, then spoke over his shoulder to his mate. “I think we need a pet.”

Tzapotlz rolled several of her eyes. “Ugh!” She turned to walk back to the tower.

Ppillimt looked again down at the bug, which never waivered in its attention. “I think I’m going to call you Kalliq.” He carried Kalliq with him as he stood to follow his mate. “Wonder if I can teach you any tricks?” Kalliq tilted his head.

Update to the Update: Moving Plans, etc.

A. Thanks for all the kind thoughts about our upcoming move. We’re not planning on being out of the house before March, 2022 – our youngest needs to get his Eagle Scout stuff done, and I agreed to teach another year of history/literature. The meeting with the realtor was just to help me establish priorities and a to do list. First order of business: get the house tented for termites (minimal damage, but they’re here) – and that’s not until mid-October. Then, exterior paint, some tree trimming, lots of relatively minor repairs, etc. By end of March, we hope to be out of here. Probably rent a house near Sacramento, to get to know the area. Or, if the insanity escalates, go check out Iowa/Midwest.

We’ve got +/- 6 months to pack up the house. Sigh.

B. Have tons to do to prep for classes starting Tuesday, so of course I did a quick but utterly unnecessary woodworking project instead. Behold! A charcuterie board!

I readily admit I had no idea what charcuterie was maybe 2 years ago. But – it’s good!
Made from walnut form the tree we cut down in our front yard maybe 8 years ago. Chose heavily figured pieces. The wood is too warped to make big things out of, but one can wrestle it into small projects like this.

Walnut is not usually used for food tools – cutting boards, rolling pins, that sort of thing – because the grain is too open. But I figure, one, we’ll call it a board, not a cutting board, to reduce the usage and wear, and, two, I don’t care. Still needs last coat of butcher block oil and good buffing. Looks pretty good now.

C. The writing projects ground to a halt this past month and a half. Sigh. BUT! Hope springs eternal! I again find myself thinking about them – the SciFi work and the Science Essentials book – when doing other things. So:

Rather than just being me venting on our rampant scientific illiteracy, I think I’ll rework the science book into something more like Essentials of Science, and aim it at high school and college age people. Tone it down, introduce a bunch of history, focus on the basics that apply to all sciences worthy of our respect. Then maybe pitch it to the homeschooling/ catholic schooling crowd.

The other book just needs work. Have to ram it through.

But, hey, my life is shaping up to be: teach class, pack up the house, get items off the punchlist, read every day, and – write. I’ll need the change of pace. We’ll see how it goes.

D. Weirdly, out of nowhere, I started writing an a capella mass in Latin about 6 weeks ago. When I was in my 20s, I wanted to be a composer. What I liked to compose was a capella pieces, the market for which is small, to say the least. By my late 20s, I also wanted to get married and raise a family, so I consciously set the music aside. Now, after a nearly 40 year gap, I find myself, sitting at the piano pencil in hand, writing out 6-part vocal works in a dead language.

About 2/3rds of the way through the Agnus, maybe half way through the Gloria. My style (I laugh to myself) is basically a poor man’s John Williams meets a homeless man’s Faure, and has an ugly child. This is a pretty intensely inside joke: Williams loves mediant and sub-mediant modulations and horn-call like melodies, and Faure loves odd modes and half-step changes, and intense dissonances within his voice leading. I love all those things, too! I just don’t have anything near the training and talent of either of those guys. To put it very mildly.

Trying to live well, stay sane, and enjoy life. It’s the only way out.