AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, VOL. 3

University of California Press, Berkeley, 2015.

Read this volume not for the spectacularly funny, poignant passages found in volumes one and two. Instead, the author knows this manuscript will be the last major work. There are outrageously funny, humorous passages in this volume, but there’s a lot of day-to-day stuff.

The text presents some cleaning up, making words and life straight, suggesting half-cocked philosophies, responding to misimpressions and asserting what this author perceives of life. Throughout those efforts the reader can gleem the foibles and imperfections in the profession which should be an artist’s life.

There are personal touches. Fans send him small checks, $1.50 so he will endorse them and he will give out his autograph. His house was burgled so Clemens wrote a note for the next burglars saying there wasn’t much of value in the house, but directing attention to items of interest. One of the burglars, not convicted, wrote a letter. Clemens read it – familiar words and sentences. He finally realized he wrote the first draft himself in Life on the Mississippi. Twain set out the whole thing not accepting the flattery, but the whole episode is impertinent and rude!

Twain was a celebrated banquet speaker, but as years passed he could no longer start at the beginning: cocktails, dinner (multiple courses), speeches. For the last six years of life, he arrived after dinner for his slot to speak. Twain gave an example of the errors of scheduling, a banquet for Carnegie, 9:00 p.m. speeches began. Twain arrived at 9:15 p.m. Dinner did not finish until 10:45. Twain did not speak until 11:15. At least ten speakers followed him.

Summer 1907 Twain traveled to Britain to accept a Doctor of Letters award from Oxford University. The entries are repetitive and lengthy. He mentions the persons, the halls and houses, the grand food; speeches by himself and others. It is six weeks of tiresomely meeting Lord That, Lady This, Professor So-and-So, Rector etc. The British are exceeding polite and receptive, yet Twain is caged and on review. The moral of the story seems, if a writer accepts awards, placards or that-a-boys, have an escape route.

A sense of sadness and mortality comes into the Autobiography. Not much of life intrigues him. He writes of President Theodore Roosevelt, not a fan. Note though that his fast friend, benefactor and financial savior is Henry Rogers, second in command at Standard Oil, a Roosevelt target. Criticisms of Roosevelt don’t last; without the notes of this critical edition, no one would know what the issues were. Most of the diary was dictated. In earlier volumes, Twain edited the typewritten drafts, more vigorously it seems. The sentences in this volume are longer, exceedingly long. The text seems less cared for.

The end of the Autobiography ends in tragedy. Clemens’ third daughter, Jean, is a epileptic; she drowns in her bath on Christmas Eve. She had planned a whole wonderful Christmas – presents, visitors, festivities. Twain saw all the preparation, and now he is alone. He handwrites, not dictating. He admits, I am writing to keep my heart from breaking. Twain simply puts powerful sentiments, one about a man looking back on friends and family, who have predeceased him. He wants to see them again. It won’t happen. Like the woman in the coffin, downstairs, his daughter, there no more life. There is a sense that Mark Twain died that day. In four months Samuel Clemens was dead.

This volume also presents about 50,000 words about two assistants in the Clemens’ household. The woman (Lyons) was Twain’s private secretary and became the housekeeper. She was foremost a drinker. “She had hysterics, not just occasionally but frequently, not merely frequently, but very frequently. Hysterics – that was Ashcroft’s name for it. But the truth is, she was drunk. Drunk daily…”(337-338) The man (Ashcroft) was Clemens’ business manager and employee in the Mark Twain Company. Ashcroft and Lyon stole money, booze and tried getting everything else from Twain. Everyone in the Clemens’ household and outsiders (visitors) knew this pair was no good. This manuscript tells of Clemens’ realizations and actions, learning what had happened, firing, lawsuits, settlement.

Lyons and Ashcroft got married. Twain was invited. It was before their thievery was discovered by him. The writing is afterward revelation: “The church was cold and & clammy, which was quite proper. Miss Lyon’s mother was there, some Ashcrofts were there, the two Freemans were there, I was there. Also Mrs. Martin W. Littleton, and God. If God, He, was there, Reverend Percy Grant intimated that He was, even said He was. Nine in all.” (p.354)

DASH & LILLY

This 1999 movie (A& E, Granada) about Dashiell Hammet (Sam Shepard) and Lilly Helman(Judy Davis) starts at the beginning of the relationship. They have three activities in life – drinking, writing and love.

I have no idea why either of them loves the other especially in the early years, through 1945 after Hammet is discharged from the military. After Dash’s power to write fades, the tone of the movie changes. Lilly displays her mothering instincts. “I love him.” “Why?” The answer is in the stars, or Dash is no longer a mate; he is helpless.

The next activity is drinking, which is an everyday activity in his life; she isn’t far behind. She makes the point that drinking affects her powers to write and she is stopping. He is not interested. She returns to the bottle. There is no development on this point – how alcohol (or any other drug) might affect the relationship or writing.

Next comes writing. When he writes at the beginning, she cannot write. When she writes in the second half, he cannot. Neither of them do what writers do – read, talk about ideas, discussion words and visions. There’s very little reading of books. He spends three years in the army during World War Two and apparently doesn’t keep a diary or a notebook. The idea of writing from each of them seems, I like my ideas and writing to come spontaneously. There is no link between the decline of writing and booze.

There is a scene where he gets her into writing plays, but except for successes that process is not developed and constructed. Later when he suggests changing dialogue at the end of new play, she throws a fit. Every writer knows or should know editing, rewriting, rereading are not the same work on draft ten as on draft two. Yet, Lilly’s character reveals a complete lack of understanding of this comprehension. Indeed, one must wonder if the screenwriter knows, or the screenwriter was required to remove all the writing stuff, which makes much of the script unintelligible.

There is no love, and no understanding of writing but loads of drinking. There is a concentration on the Congressional blacklist hearings which is not a big part of the relationship. The script fairly depicts that writers in Hollywood were careless and ignorant. Hammet allowed his name to be used for an organization he had never met with. When a Writer’s Guild gathering is made during the Thirties, a clown is talking about Karl Marx. No one needs to know anything about Marx to start a union. Contract law is a much better beginning.

The sets are good, the camera work is fine, the direction is first rate. The movie might be improved if it were longer, more stuff about writing, loop those themes around to pick up the love and liquor.

RELIGION AND THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY POLITICIAN

GOD’S ENGLISHMAN, Christopher Hill

Normally, I would not review or comment about this excellent biography. Oliver Cromwell is nearly four centuries old. He was an excellent general who would rather use diplomacy. He had complete power less than a decade, 1649-1658). While involved in affairs of state, he contended with religions, factions of Protestantism, left and right; Catholics who he always declaimed but left alone; Jews whom he allowed to return to Britain.

Much happened while Cromwell was in power. England had no king; the government was less corrupt. Commerce expanded. Wars against the Dutch (after diplomacy failed) were commercially motivated. The court system was limited and became more independent. Universities were founded and supported. Within a decade after Cromwell’s death Isaac Newton published. The English people had a better sense of nationhood. England was respected by all nations in diplomacy and commercially.

Cromwell was unable to remove tithes; he could not expand the franchise. From the beginning of his rule, members of his army, Levelers (wanting to iron out inequities in Britain, NOW!), pressed Cromwell with their agenda which no one else supported. Knowing that the Levelers could not succeed, Cromwell promised and let time pass. England finally enlarged the franchise 170 years later, and gave the vote to all men in 1908; all women in 1928.

Cromwell had opinions about the Levelers:

“‘The expressions …are very plausible,…if we could leap out of one condition into another. But how do we know, whilst we are disputing these things, another company men shall gather together, and they shall put out a paper as plausible perhaps as this.’ What Cromwell wanted was not a perfect theoretical scheme but that that, as before the Lord, I am persuaded in my heart tends to uniting us in one to that that God will manifest to us to be the thing that he would have us prosecute. ‘It is not enough for us to propose good things, but it behooves honest men and Christians only to make proposals that they think will work. Professions of confidence were not enough. We are very apt all of us to call that faith that perhaps may be but carnal imagination and carnal reasonings.'” (p. 95, Chapter 4)

“‘I do not condemn your reasonings. I doubt them. It is easy to object to the glorified actings of God, if we look too much on instruments… How hard a thing is it to reason ourselves up to the Lord’s service, though it be so honorable, how easy to put ourselves out of it, when the flesh has so many advantages….’ [C]onfidence in the Cuase enabled [Cromwell] to transcend mere human reasonings. Such reasonings, where God is concerned, may miss the main point.”(page 245, Chapter 9)

A politician trying to meet religious criteria while deciding problems and handling persons is distracted. Religion sometimes becomes a crutch, a diversion, an excuse not to know and understand a problem and reason through it but to avoid responsibility. Seventeenth century Britons were mired in religion. Twenty-first century Americans should reject it.

REVIEW: CLOSING THE AMERICAN MIND, BLOOM

When this book came about nearly 30 years ago, it caused controversy. I recognize it is an important subject, but Bloom has analyzed it badly and written it poorly. He does not know how to write. He got Saul Bellow to add a Foreword which rambles and never approaches the topic.

Earlier than World War Two it was recognized that technical training in universities and colleges reduced the abilities of human beings to understand society and the world in which they lived. Students exposed to those disciplines were not only affected, but also persons outside those disciplines were equally deficient to understand society and humans. Those Americans identified it as a problem of German education, which had emphasized technical training since the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

So what is the Closing of the American Mind? In a chapter entitled The German Connection relevant to my understanding of the primary issue, is found, after wasting 1000 words discussing Woody Allen’s Zelig,

The popularization of German philosophy in the United States is of peculiar interest to me because I have watched it occur during my own intellectual lifetime, and I feel a little like someone who knew Napoleon when he was six. I have seen the value relativism and its concomitants grow greater in the land than anyone imagined. Who in 1920 would have believed that Max Weber’s technical sociological terminology would someday be the everyday language of the  United States, the land of the Philistines, itself in the meantime become the most powerful nation in the world? The self-understanding of hippies, yippies, yuppies, panthers, prelates and presidents has unconsciously been formed by German thought of a half-century earlier. Herbert Marcuse’s accent has been turned into a Middle-Western twang, the echo Deutsche label has been replaced by a Made in America label; and the new American lifestyle has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family…(page 151)

There are so many shortcuts and cliches in this paragraph and throughout the book, it is incomprehensible. I wonder if that paragraph can be translated into German. I guess Max Weber’s “technical sociology terminology” like “far out,” “off the pigs,” and “I want to hold your hand,” tells knowledgable readers more about the author’s communication than if the author had removed all adjectives and adverbs and tried to make the otherwise convoluted mush comprehensible to ordinary Americans. I’ll never have any idea was Napoleon is doing in that paragraph.

I have written about James Madison in a history published on the iBookstore, Particular Friend, Michael Ulin Edwards.

When Madison got everyone going about the American Constitution, he knew exactly what he was doing. Insure individual freedoms for American citizens. He was not worried about how a certain line of thought would meld with indigenous customs and habits, like philosophers in Europe and elsewhere did. Indigenous customs and habits were irrelevant in the United States where individuals had freedom.

Examine Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments. This petition is partly the basis for the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights, the Establishment Clause. The government cannot tell American citizens what to think; no institution or force can. American citizens can submit and can consent to believe and have faith, whether one thing is wrong and another is correct. But unless statutes are broken, the government does not get involved and society as a whole usually remains neutral.

Contrast government involvement under the Constitution with German history since 1780. German philosophy became more obscure and bizarre as one nut-job tried to define new theories to out-do his predecessors. The Germans ended up with Hitler and the Russians following German philosophers (Marx & Engels) had Stalin. A pair of socio-psychopaths has never been timely coincidental, but it all came from Germany. Each fulfilled his side of German philosophy and killed millions of his country’s citizens. Why? None of the dead persons thought as the Leader did. None would do what they were told by the government.

If someone tries to do that to an American, they’ll start a shooting war.

What advantage is it to anyone to read Madison’s Remonstrance? It is a historical document of 1785. It significantly changed the minds of thousands of Virginians. It is a well-written political document about a religious subject. The document is also an excellent polemic. It is a document whose arguments are impossible to refute. To one thousand arguments against, Madison is ready for the 1001 argument.

What else might the document provide Americans? It is the primary example of the considerations necessary to construct a freedom or a liberty, as opposed to interpreting a freedom. The difference between construction and interpretation is known to some. When words or a situation is accepted by the parties, a solution comes by interpreting events, words and customs. But when a situation is not settled, anyone called into to resolve it must sometimes hear from everyone and put together the rule before issuing an interpretation.

This is exactly what happened in 1789 when James Madison, member of the House of Representatives, looked at lists of offerings from various states to include Rights in a Bill of Rights. Some of the states had sent Madison dozens of Rights. Madison looked around and determined what would pass and what would not. He presented 17 Amendments to the Constitution, reduced to 14 (I believe). The Senate returned 12. The States ratified 10 Amendments; later in 1992 they ratified one of the original amendments to the Bill of Rights (27th Amendment). The subject matter of the last of Madison’s 12 amendments was subsumed by the 14th Amendment.

The advantage of learning and reading, analyzing and discussing the Remonstrance, is learning the process. Compromise and agree. Words in the Constitution mean something. What is being fixed, or what are the amenders trying to remedy? If a word says this, it does not mean that. Amendments like their human authors and interpretation are not prefect. No amendment grants absolute rights, and it does not bestow rights on some and not others.

If anyone were looking for a way to educate Americans to broaden their minds, put together a Constitutional Amendment, and sell it as often as James Madison did. But it is not helpful to refer to German philosophy.

Looking further in Bloom’s book, I happened upon,

The reality of separateness has existed since Kant, the last philosopher who was a significant natural scientist, and Goethe, the last great literary figure who could believe that his contributions to science might be greater than his contributions to literature. And, it should be remembered, it was not that they were philosopher and poet who happened to dabble in science, but that their writings were mirrors of nature and that their science was guided and informed by meditation on being, freedom and beauty. They represented the last gasp of the old unity of the questions before natural science became the Switzerland of learning, safely neutral whose life bridged the last epoch where gentlemen…(page 351)

Rather than dwell on Germans, the book is about the American mind. Contemporary Americans to Kant and Goethe actually provide better examples. Their work in the sciences is more significant; their work in politics (statesmanship) is among the best: Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. How important is Franklin as an example providing philosophical and psychological direction? Davy Crocket had one book which he brought to the Alamo: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin and Jefferson were new men while Kant and Goethe were living in a world trying to represent the fantasy inclinations so appealing to the Germans, all the while avoiding any statements about politics or social matters which did not support indigenous customs and habits. On the other hand, Franklin and Jefferson were superimposing and replacing customs and traditions with direct, complete thinking and acts, hoping to raise the dignity of all human beings.

It is surprising that Bloom spends little time on America and Americans. He says there is a problem here. But someone who has stored up gobs of European customs, manners, traditions and cliches likely will reject one elementary American custom: change the rules, make your own rules, act, adjust. Americans know they must read the future to live and to be happy. It is difficult to anticipate and to act accordingly. It is annoying. Individuals may be wrong and have to change. But it is an American phenomenon.

Change is what Americans know will happen. Americans cannot learn that philosophy and psychology from non-American sources. Bloom believed otherwise and drops loads of names, rendering his analyses archaic and useless. He is incapable to addressing the problem.

AND THE SHOW WENT ON, Alan Riding

This very readable book presents an excellent survey of art and performance in Paris during the German occupation, June 1940 to August, 1944.

Who were the artists? Who stayed and who left? What did they do, produce or perform? What were the contacts with the Germans, and the resistance? Who was arrested and had to be released through appeals to the Germans?

The book eventually breaks into specific medium, and each art is discussed. Of course of all the artists writers proved the most problematic. Painting and sculpture may be too avant-guards but what does it mean? Poetry can mean nothing, even to the poet. Music can be dissonant or advanced twelve-tone stuff, but what’s its meaning? Dance retained it classical roots; opera of the fantasy kind always drew German crowds; drama was widely performed but suffered by the departure of the best playwrights. But writing has to mean something.

The Germans were onto writers, and after the War writers were as harshly treated as anyone except politicians – more than Renault who made money assembling tanks for the Germans. Mostly the French were civilized. Afterwar declamations and stinks seemed not to last long. There was disgrace and discomfort but by 1950 most recriminations had fallen but the way side.

Two problems arise from this survey. First there are references to parody, analogy and metaphor within specific art forms revealing disapproval, nasty anti-German messages. Admittedly a more complete exposition of these points would lengthen the book. The bibliography and few end notes may help – they are arranged by chapter. [An example of this criticism: The American broadcaster William L. Shirer reported from completely censored reports from Berlin. The Germans were happy until they learned Shirer had changing the meaning with intonation, inflection and inference inherent in English but not German. Shirer was close to arrest when he left Germany in December 1940.]

Second, there is no exposition of the mindset of the French people to culture especially before the War – what the French considered and what they disregarded. An understanding of a nation’s acceptance of culture and entertainment goes a long way to explaining how the French survived and why the Germans failed in their attempts to reduce French culture. E.g. An example of a cultural expectancy in the United States today a primary component of culture and entertainment is expediency.

One misstatement of fact, p. 313, Chapter 15, the American Army was in Paris a day before the French Army marched in in August 1944. See Andy Rooney who wrote about it for Stars and Stripes, and discussed the fact on Sixty Minutes.

AfterWord, Dale Salwar, Ed.

University of Iowa, 2011

The editor has collected articles of essays and fake interviews with various writers, each piece being a communication with a dead writer.

Various literary means convey the writings but usually by dialogue which is poorly written.

There are questionable assertions:

“Do you accept the view of Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, that you were the first indigenous American to write about American manners rather than European ones?”

EDITH WHARTON: “That’s probably quite true…”

WRONG. Mark Twain wrote about American manners when Edith was a girl. Perhaps the questioner was actually asking about the American Eastern pretense to manners, but other American writers also wrote about those before Edith.

EDITH WHARTON complains (p. 151) she had no formal education. Melville had no formal education. Twain went into the sixth grade. But I agree that WHARTON would have been a far superior author if she had taken the Creative Writing Classes at the University of Iowa.

Edith could have done that. Her family was filthy rich. Edith’s maiden name was Jones and because neighbors like the Rockerfellers and Whitneys always tried to keep up the pace, “Keeping up with the Jones,” became a cliche.  The Jones were the first family with electricity, telephones, flatscreen TVs, and iPads. They never saw an app they didn’t like.

In her interview Wharton complains that Pearl S. Buck got the Nobel Prize and she didn’t. Sour grapes. “Edith, Willa Cather didn’t get a Nobel Prize, either.”

There are statements in some chapters demonstrating an appalling lack of knowledge about the author: Joseph Conrad, who is not all Heart of Darkness. Conrad had no humor in his books. Anyone who hasn’t read Lord Jim should not be writing an essay for this compilation entitled, AfterWord. Anyone who doesn’t know the butterfly chapter in Lord Jim, God help them.

RADS, TOM BATES, 1993

This excellent book recounts anti-War and anti-establishment activities at the University of Wisconsin (`1965-1971), including the bombing of the Army-Math building on campus causing one death and five severe injuries. They used a fertilizer bomb costing less than $100.00 packed into an Econoline Van. It was a smaller version of the Oklahoma City bomb in 1995. Divisions of various academic subjects were destroyed including decades of work in physics, mathematics and in other disciplines unrelated to Army Math. Army Math which dealt with a bunch of transitory subjects was inconvenienced.

An amazing fact was the location of Army Math in a building on campus. There had been protests and riots, some close to the building. Yet, there was no security, except a guard with a time clock. The building was a convenient open target.

The individuals made unrelated events the basis for the bombing in August 1970. The individuals and friends were moronic; no one broke any IQ records. Within 24 hours of the bombing law enforcement had the names and identities of the four suspect. The FBI’s arrogant attitude screwed up immediate arrests which led to manhunts which brought three bombers to trial. It is postulated the fourth bomber was a police informant who either did or did not alert anyone about the bombing. Either decision he made plus the bombing of the building was a death sentence for the fourth bomber.

The three remaining bombers were pleasant, not threatening, socially capable and able to light a joint, take a suitable toke and graciously pass on the remainder before it became a roach. That may have been their most admirable social quality. Intellectually, they knew Castro was in Cuba, Che was bleeding somewhere, Ho had something to do with Vietnam, and Mao was good on Sandwiches. These sorts of persons were par for the course in leftist, youth, culture and riots. No one else in their right mind would suck in that much tear gas and pepper fog emissions.

For good reason the book lacks discussion of a theoretical basis for the bombing. Instead it presents a robotic quality of the trio. These people did not read, ponder, conceptualize, intellectualize theory and discuss it. They heard a cliché and but it into action. These bombers were incapable of doing otherwise. Many Leftists like to supply the theoretical basis which never existed. No one could ever explain why it was reasonable to get the little people, ants, greasers, women and stooges to act.

On a personal note the book returned me to attitudes I once had. Exchange glances with someone, and have a gut reaction: Do I trust that person? NO. I would not trust any of this trio, and certainly none of the leaders who preached hatred, violence and death.

There are reactions to facts in the book. Page 101, “police provocateurs” in Chicago were dressed in “Al Capone suits.” Page 239, meal of “vegetables and brown rice.” In Berkeley add bean sprouts and wonder why more of the boomer generation did not die of arsenic poisoning (the rice) and salmonella poisoning (bean sprouts). Page 220, First Earth Day in Berkeley was set [and upset] on April 22(23?) 1970, not April 18, 1970.

Page 138, Fred Hampton, Black Panther killed in Chicago, December 1969, “denounced the Weathermen as ‘anti-people.'” Hampton agreed with SI Hiwakawa who said, “I can talk to the Black militants; they want to get something done.” It was the white radicals were wanted to destroy everything.

Page 131. “Affinity groups.” In a riot five to seven people would move and act as a unit; they would care and look out for one another. Later in Rads the cops began using “anti-affinity” groups.

My first year at Berkeley I was surrounded by 30 days of street rioting. Occasionally I participated, but usually I was just passing through – going to and from class or appointments. I saw friends and acquaintances in the action. Carrying a book meant I was a non-participant. I have never heard of an “affinity group” until reading Rads.

Page 407. “The visitors reminded [Tom] Hayden of his previous support for Karl [one of the bombers], and for a moment he weakened. “Don’t worry, in public I’ll back Karl to the hilt. I can’t let Jane say anything though.” The “Hanoi Jane” label had become a drag on them both.”

This realization was known to Jane Fonda in the autumn of 1973. Six months before, [Spring 1973] she was in her pride and glory, being quoted about North Vietnamese treatment of American prisoners of war: “Walking through the streets of Hanoi with their heads bowed in front of a woman with a bayonet might be torture.” Daily Californian, April 12, 1973, p. 1; Berkeley Barb, April 10, 1973 for more Jane Fonda statements on the torture of American POWs. See also Holzer, Henry, Mark and Erica, Aid and Comfort: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, McFarland & Co; Hayden, Reunion, p. 455, “Either Tom Hayden or Jane Fonda said about the time of the 1973 Peace Treaty, ‘the POWS were liars, hypocrites and pawns in Nixon’s efforts to rewrite history.'”
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AfterWord, Dale Salwak, Editor., U. of Iowa

Conjuring the literary dead is the subtitle of this book. The editor has assembled articles (essays) (stories) by various writers, each piece representing a communication with a dead writer.

Various literary means convey the writings, but there is usually dialogue throughout. It is poorly written dialogue.

There are many questionable points. For instance,

INTERVIEWER: “Do you accept the view of Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald…that you were the first indigenous American to write about American manners rather than European ones?  EDITH WHARTON: “That’s probably quite true…”

WRONG. Mark Twain published books about American manners when Edith was a teenager.

Edith Wharton complains she had no formal education (p. 151). Melville had no college education; Mark Twain went through the sixth grade. However, in Edith’s case I agree that Wharton would have been a far superior author if she had taken the Creative Writing Course at the University of Iowa. I note that Edith could have done that because her family was filthy rich, unlike Twain or Melville’s families.

There are statements in some chapters demonstrating an appalling lack of knowledge about the dead authors: Joseph Conrad [who is not all Heart of Darkness].  Conrad had no humor in his books. Anyone who has not read Lord Jim should not be writing an article for this compilation entitled, AfterWord. Anyone who doesn’t know about the butterfly chapter in Lord Jim, God help them.

Lord Jim, God help them.

VARIOUS MOVIES

A SINGLE SHOT DON’T SEE. Appalachian man, Sam Rockwell, at the beginning of a divorce, goes hunting. He uses a rifle that looks like a shotgun. Aiming at a deer, he hits a woman in hiding. He’s shocked he killed the woman. He does not know who she is; he does not know she was living in his woods. There is no explanation about it in the movie. Sam is a moron mountaineer although he easily finds where she’s been staying and discovers a stash of cash which he appropriates. He conceals her body.

Next Sam Rockwell has to keep his cool, but he becomes a retard. He spends freely; he seems incredibly social, considering his house which looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since 1998. The boyfriend of the dead girl comes to town seeking revenge. He kills Sam’s dog’s. Since there are two strangers in the one-horse town Sam does not know who is the bad guy. Sam’s house is burgled. The body of the dead girlfriend is put into Sam’s freezer. Sam wonders who is plaguing him.

He wants to resume relations with his wife. Nope. A teenage daughter of a local diary farmer has the hots for Sam. There is a New Age scene where Sam shares a meal with her.

The film gets worse.

This movie need not be filmed in the backwoods, anywhere. It could be filmed in the front woods or along side a road. It might have been filmed in Frisco or in Westwood among the homeless. Sam Worthington would be noticeable by the sign hanging around his neck reading, I’m the biggest moronic, retard-fool on the planet.

The Canal (2013). The film is unnecessarily dark, with a poor story, mediocre dialogue and ill defined characters.

The International – Clive Owen, Naomi Watts. This is a predictable film with an excellent scene of dialogue (four minutes) between Owen and bad guy, Armin Mueller Stahl, which makes those opponents allies. At the end there are also good rooftop scenes of Istanbul.

After Hours – Griffin Dunne, Roseanne Arquette, Linda Floretino, Teri Garr, Martin Scorsese (Director). WATCH. This is as delightful and true a film as when I first saw it.

SUMMER INTERRUPTED

I had a house sitting assignment out of town for three and one half months. I would be comfortable but isolated. No TV; internet was hard to come by. Good time to write. I finished a long novel and entered it into word processing.

I appreciate doing a handwritten draft following by a quick word processing draft. Sometimes I cannot read my own handwriting, but I replace the illegible words with something that makes sense, as though I were editing at that spot. I accomplish with the two drafts a better understanding of the novel, and what may need rewriting or reworking.

Housesitting allowed me to review a novel I wrote a long time ago and entered into word processing in 2014. I was delighted that spelling mistakes, word choices and grammar were the only editing that the novel needed. I was disappointed late last month when I discovered word choices, spelling mistakes and grammar were still needed in the novel. Stupid me, I keep forgetting I’m a fool.

I rolled through a novel, adding words and got it out to a reader, just as part of the summer’s work.

In the middle of June I began a murder mystery, police procedural story. It was short, 41,000 words with little chance that the manuscript would get appreciably longer. I finished the word processing on that novel by the middle of July. So the writing of it went well.

One benefit coming from the summer? I don’t watch as much TV.

HOWEVER, the homeowner came one seven weeks early, and I had to leave. I’ve returned to a secure roof, but I’m somewhat at a loss how to put my state of mind in order. It was pleasant being alone and writing. Since, there have been diverse activities,  people around and other demands. I’ve must adjust to write the third novel, which I intended to put into draft, this summer.