Wednesday, November 30, 2011


First quote of the day:

"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work."
— Chuck Close

That is especially meaningful to me, since I have been lolly-gagging around, waiting for inspiration to strike before getting off my keister and getting down to work.

My own work is something I choose to do, my writing. Currently, I am working on five different projects: a novel, a short story, a screenplay, a memoir, and a self-help joke book.

But lately I have been waiting for inspiration, which comes seldom enough. I’m starting to realize that my work is just that, work, and I need it. I need something meaningful and challenging to do every day, and not just when I feel like it.

Part of the challenge and the benefit of work is doing it when you don’t feel like it. So yesterday I just worked, regardless of inspiration, whether I wanted to or not. It was a good feeling. Inspiration comes more often when you concentrate on the work, more than when you fart around.

I used to have unlimited energy for my work. Lately, not so much. I used to believe it was going to change my life (for the better, ha-ha-ha). Now I know you can't count on that.

As Gertrude Stein said,  “An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work.” 

Gotta go. Back to work. 

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


There is no doubt in my mind that "Prime Suspect" with Maria Bello is the best show on TV.
You know why I say that? Because it's not stupid.

It is so much better than "NCIS," the top rated drama on TV, that it isn't funny.

Yet, "Prime Suspect" is number 79 in the overall ratings, while "NCIS" is number 2.

Why is that? Is everyone stupid? Or have they just not heard about "Prime Suspect"?

I don't know, but it sure is a shame. Below is a link. I believe you can watch full episodes online:

Catch it before it goes away.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle


Yesterday, in the NY Review of Books, I read the following startling quote from the famous artist Willem de Kooning:

“In art one idea is as good as another.”

Hmmm. Let us think about that. What difference does it make whether a painting is figurative or abstract? A nude or a flower?

There are great paintings of all types, of all subjects, from flowers to protraits to the horrors of war (at least great drawings).

Now, does his startling revelation apply to works of literary art? What is the weight or importance of theme in literature?

Let us examine some of the great works.

"Hamlet" in my opinion is the greatest of Shakespeare's plays. It is about a young man, college age, who comes home from abroad to find that, apparently, his father's brother has murdered his father the king and married his mother the queen.

Who, baby. Incest. Fratricide. Regime change. It seems the stuff of soap opera or telenovela. What is the theme of "Hamlet"? Ambition destroys both family and kingdom? Perhaps.

What is the theme of "Moby Dick"? Madness kills? Obsession destroys?

OK, but so what? We writers need themes on which to build our stories. But does it matter which theme?

What is the theme of "Macbeth"? According to Lajos Egri, the famous dramatic theorist, ruthless ambition leads to death and destruction.

What is the theme of James Joyce's "Ulysses"? Perhaps that one man's journey of one day in one city is equal somehow to another man's journey of thousands of miles over the seas and through dangerous adventures.

My argument is that you have to have a theme, but that it doesn't much matter which theme you choose. It just has to make sense.

Theme is just one element. All the other things matter just as much or more: good writing, interesting characters, the exploration of the human condition and human consciousness, a story problem or difficulty that raises a strong dramatic question, the experience of reading or hearing or seeing the work of art.

Theme? Anything of import will do. One idea is as good as another.

What do you think?

(Of course, like any other subject, I reserve the right to change my mind.)

-- Roger
Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I am getting more and more disappointed with "Hawaii Five-0," the new remake of the old TV cop show that I never saw. When a friend first said, "Book 'em, Danno," I had to ask what that meant.

The new show has gotten more cartoony and more nonsensical. The plot-lines are goofy as hell. If you think about them, they fall apart, like wet newspapers in the rain.

Last night, I watched the show that ran Monday, Nov. 21. It was so goofy that I turned if off in the middle and almost didn't watch the rest. I canceled my scheduled recording of the series and then later reinstated it. This episode had some good moments in spite of the silly plot. But it barely redeemed itself.

Here are some of my notes, about two of the episodes: 


I really enjoyed last night’s episode until the climax, when the explanation made absolutely no sense. The guy who was dying of cancer killed the lovely young Customs investigator why, again? I even rewound and watched the explanation scene again. Cuckoo. I never could figure it out. It had something to do with smuggling exotic animals.

But why go to all the trouble to kill her and then put her in a plane and fly her halfway to somewhere and bail out of the plane?

And how would you make sure to hit the spot where you left your motorcycle in the jungle? Huh? Let’s try that again. I think the jungle looks pretty much the same from the air, and why go to all that trouble?

The writers set up all these fascinating mysteries without giving any thought to their solutions, hoping that we don’t care.

Good luck with that. 


        Just watched Monday night’s episode. It was goofy and cartoony and over-the-top. The not-hot woman worked for the CIA and she’s trying to find her fiancĂ©, but the CIA won’t help her, right? Huh? Is that a spy thriller convention, or does the CIA really abandon its people? Somehow, I doubt that they do that.

        She’s gone three months, pretending to be in D.C., but she is really hiding here in Hawaii. Huh? Why? None of this makes any sense. Then McGarrett flies with her to North Korea, with a bunch of off-duty Navy SEALs on their own hook. Say what?

        And she finds her fiancĂ© and I guess he is dead, although I couldn't tell. She digs into his flesh and pulls a pin out of his knee. Say what? How the hell does that work? Sweet Jesus, doesn’t anyone think about these scripts? Cuckoo-cuckoo. Realism is not one of their concerns, I guess.

        I don’t find these stories believable. And it’s hard to care about these characters, they are so cartoony.

        I wish I could find something better on TV to watch.

        Good luck with that.

        I don't know how much longer I can keep watching this show. I wonder how other people feel. Hmmm. Why do people watch this stuff?

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Monday, November 21, 2011


Last night, Taylor Swift won a swift-boat load of awards in music:

I think my granddaughter Bippy likes Tay-Tay, as she calls her.

So I went on YouTube and tried to listen to some of her music:

Good God, am I an old geezer or what? I found it so boring! Yargh! I couldn't stand it. I tried two songs and that was enough for me. Nyet. Nein. Non. No. I could wait to hit the pause button.

I find a lot of so-called art sucks these days. Why is that? Is the work crap, or is it me?

I can't stand most pop novels and most so-called literary novels and most mystery novels and most literary short stories and most popular music and most new visual art.

Is it me, or is the culture drowning in crap?

You decide. And let me know what you think.

(Don't disappoint me now. You know the right answer.)

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Quote for the day:

“It is permitted, in a time of great danger, to walk with the devil for awhile, until you have crossed the bridge.” – Balkan proverb, quoted by FDR during WWII.

I think FDR was talking about his alliance with Stalin.

Don't know how this applies to our situation today, but it must.

Maybe it's Obama and the Republicans.

-- Roger
Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Monday, November 14, 2011


I was listening to a radio show today, on KCRW, the local NPR station, about Hollywood and the movies.

They were talking about the Academy Awards and various gossip around town.

My thought was, who cares? Honestly, does anyone even go to the movies anymore? I sure don't. Haven't for years.

When I was a kid, I loved the movies. They were my escape from my unhappy family. I learned how to be a grown-up from watching the movies. Silly, I know.

Even 12 or 15 years ago, I went to two or three new movies a week in the theater.

Then, for several years, I watched two or three movies a week from Netflix.

Now I just don't care. I'd rather read.

How long has it been since you saw a movie you loved? One that transported you and changed the way you see the world?

I used to come out of a movie with new eyes, as if looking through that filmmaker's camera lens.

Not anymore. I find the movies so boring and so badly done, I just don't care. The movies have lost me, I think forever.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Like a lot of other poor misguided morons, I watched the big UFC heavyweight championship fight earlier tonight between challenger Junior Dos Santos and champion Cain Velasquez on Fox Sports.

After all that hype, the fight lasted one minute and four seconds. It was the lamest fight I can remember. It's too bad, too, because both these guys have had great fights before.

Junior hit Cain with a roundhouse right and landed not as a full fist, but on the middle knuckles on his hand. It didn't even look like a real punch. It caught Cain above the ear on his left side. He said later he lost his equilibrium. I guess so, but it sure wasn't pretty.

Cain fell on his back, and Junior swarmed him and threw a flurry of heavy punches. Cain apparently could not defend himself and turned over, a bad mistake. The referee stopped the fight.

I was really disappointed. I didn't go out on the town with a friend tonight, so I could stay home and watch the fight live, in real time.

Too much hype, too big a letdown. Makes the UFC look bad.

I am sure it will recover. But I won't go out of my way to watch another big fight live soon. I usually record them and fast-forward through the boring parts.

This fight was all boring parts.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I just finished reading "EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON" by S.C. Gwynne, the best non-fiction book I have ever read.

This book is to non-fiction what Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" is to fiction. It's big, glorious, and compelling, a hell of a read. It covers everything.

It doesn't oversimplify anything, not the characters, not the events, not the sweep of history. The trouble with many N-F books is that the authors don't respect the readers. They assume we are children and can't handle complexity.

Gwynne, a former reporter and editor for Time Magazine and Texas Monthly, doesn't skimp on the details or the moral ambiguities.

I got so excited I looked up some Comanche songs on the web. Here is a good one:

And I plan  to read more books on Native Americans.

I grew up in Wichita, Kansas, but I didn't learn much about the true history of the Old West. Also, I went away to Camp Rio Vista, near San Antonio, Texas, for two summers when I was a kid, so I am somewhat familiar with the Comanche hunting grounds.

The Commanche were truly the lords of the Great Plains. Their history is a great, sad, tragic story. Their fate, at the hands of the white man, makes me sad, but I recommend this book highly. I couldn't put it down.

This is not only the best non-fiction book I've ever read, it is one of the best books I've ever read.

-- Roger
Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle