Ray Bradbury on libraries and universities

Surprise in life should be everything. You shouldn’t know what you’re doing. You should go into a bookstore to be surprised and changed. So that the bookstores change you and reveal new sides of yourself. That’s the importance of a used bookstore.”

This is from an interview with Steve Wasserman of the LA Times on July 28, 2008. Bradbury died in 2012 at the age of 91, and had suffered a stroke sometime prior to this interview, which stroke left him with a slight speech impediment. (You can read the transcript of the interview here.)  Wasserman seems rather obtuse and more eager to defend his newspaper and newspapers in general from Bradbury’s criticism, and generally he talks too much. I skipped all the parts where he’s speaking and just listened to Bradbury.

I don’t know if what I’m doing online is the same as what Bradbury refers to here, but I recently discovered Gene Wolfe by accident when reading an article by Michael Moorcock, and I discovered him by accident in a YouTube interview with Neil Gaiman (on which writers influenced him when he was a young reader). I’d also never heard of Moorcock, I’m embarrassed to say, despite having been a devourer of science fiction in my early teens. And today, reading about Bradbury’s influences, I learned about two more SF writers I haven’t yet read – Theodore Sturgeon and A.E. van Vogt. (Some of van Vogt’s writing is available at free SF online. )

I was thinking on and off today about why I prefer Bradbury’s writing to Neil Gaiman’s, fascinating tho Gaiman can be, and I think it’s because Bradbury as a strong moral sense that seems lacking in Gaiman.

Bradbury identified with Verne, saying, “He believes the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world, and he believes that we can triumph by behaving morally”.

…In a 1982 essay, he wrote, “People ask me to predict the Future, when all I want to do is prevent it”.   (Wikipedia)

Gaiman is capable of writing a scene where one character shows mercy to another, in a story which has been singularly bereft of that virtue, and not realize its significance. Perhaps Gaiman doesn’t understand what virtue is, except as some vague thing that leads to happy endings, and is therefore suspect, or “only to be used in emergencies”. His short story “The Problem with Susan”also seems to me a highly immoral, or possibly amoral, tale. (I can’t decide if Gaiman has corrupt morals or none at all.)

Back to the interview (and again ignoring that annoying interviewer):

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Ray Bradbury on how he came to write “The Martian Chronicles”

Continuing my Bradbury spree, today I highlight a part of a talk Bradbury gave at UCLA back in 1968. Towards the end, Bradbury takes questions from the audience, and a man asks him what prompted him to write “The Martian Chronicles.” This launches Bradbury into another one of his animated monologues about how and why he writes. I found this inspiring. Here are some highlights:

“The Martian Chronicles was written without knowing it, as a series of short stories that I tried out on my subconscious one after another. I word-associate constantly at the typewriter. A good 30% of my stories are word-association stories. In other words, I type things like ‘the Dwarf’, ‘the Knight’, ‘the Wind’, ‘the Desert’, ‘the Frog’, on paper. And I say to myself, ‘What does that noun mean? Why have I put it on paper? Let’s bring some people in to talk about it.’ So I bring in two people and they begin to talk, and a few hours later I have a short story.”

Jon Rappoport, painter, poet and journalist, recommends a similar writing exercise which involves writing dialogues with archetypes, such as the Knight, the Trickster, the Wise Woman, etc. This is a very interesting and richly rewarding writing activity. (Check out Rappoport’s audio collection “Exit from the Matrix” in which he describes that and many, many other imagination exercises. Another introduction is here: Exit from the Matrix – the Great Adventure)

“The subconscious is waiting to be dredged! There’s so much in each one of you, you see? I have such a personal desire for each of you to bring this out of yourself, ‘coz if it stays in there, it’s going to drive you crazy!  You’re going to be insane. You’re going to need help in your forties. You’re going to have all kinds of problems. But if you keep throwing up from now on, bringing it all out in the open, saying ‘Ah-ah-ah!  I’m afraid of that! I love this!’

“How did I write Dandelion Wine? I began a series of associative experiments. I’d write a page about tennis shoes. For no reason. Just, let’s write everything I know about tennis shoes in the summertime. Let’s write everything I know about grass. Let’s write everything I know about the smell of the wind. Ah! Let’s write a short story about the day I discovered I was alive for the first time! It happens to all of us when we’re 9 or 10. Suddenly we look around. The wind is a certain way, the temperature is a certain way, and we look at the hair on the back of our arms and we smell the air, and we say, ‘My God! I’m alive! Why didn’t I know this before? Why haven’t I ever declared it? And on that day, we declare, and it’s a panic. It’s a dreadful elation and fear almost. Because you’re trapped in this body and I didn’t ask for this but God! It’s great! It’s wonderful! And you go around feeling everything. And a couple of years later, when you’re 12 or 13, you discover you can die. You! Can die some day. And the great black bulldog seizes you with his teeth and won’t let go!”

And you can hear a pin drop at this point. He definitely has everyone’s attention!

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I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Reading and writing program – Day 2

Yesterday (Day 1):

Today (Day 2):


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ray Bradbury on imagination

I’ve got a huge buzz and inspiration from listening to this man. I’ve spent hours in his enjoyable company thanks to YouTube. Here’s some gems  from just one interview.

2:20 “The ability to fantasize is the ability to survive. The ability to fantasize is the ability to grow. Boys and girls at the age of 10, 11, 12, even 13 right on up through, the most important time of their day or especially at night before going to sleep is dreaming themselves into becoming something, into being something. So, when you’re a child you begin to dream yourself into a shape. And then you run into the future and you try to become that shape.

“When I was 10, 11, 12, I began to dream of becoming a writer. And the rest of my life has been the task of reshaping myself into that boyhood thing.”

Hmmm. What was I dreaming of when I was 9, 10? How about you? And did those childish dreams become “the father of the man” (or woman)?
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I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Writers on writing – Martin Amis interview 2014

Responses to a 2014 interview in Chicago of British author Martin Amis, focusing on his novel The Zone of Interest (2014, and Amis’ 14th novel, Wikipedia tells me). At this point, I haven’t yet read anything by Martin, but I did read his father Kingsley’s Modern Classics Lucky Jim (Penguin Modern Classics) many years ago, and I laughed till I cried. I wonder if it would move me so, today. (Henry Miller wrote of reading “Three Men in a Boat”: the first time “I laughed until the tears came to my eyes. The other day, after a lapse of thirty years, I picked it up and started to read it again. Never have I tasted a shoddier piece of tripe.”)

4:30 “If you tell this story backwards, the arrow of time turns out to be the arrow of morality with amazing consistency.”

That sounds terribly deep and profound, but when you think about it all he saying is that awful deeds turn out to be beneficent (to use his word) when told or shown in reverse! Well cover me with brown sugar and call me for breakfast! Who’d have thunk it?!?

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I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” – a personal response

I recently read British horror-fantasy writer Neil Gaiman’s epic (600+ pages) novel, American Gods. A thoroughly good read. Gaiman knows how to tell a story all right. This was my third Gaiman novel,  and I read it immediately after finishing the first two (Coraline and Marvel 1602: 10th Anniversary Edition).

This one was a little violent for my taste. It has been made into a TV series (which I haven’t seen except for the trailers on YouTube), with (predictably) all the latest technology used to portray blood, gore, violence and horror, in close-up and slow motion. (Is this really the best human beings can do with all their intelligence and creativity, come up with more ways to horrify, with  in-yer-face violence? Personally, I have a vivid imagination, and I really don’t need to have cinematic, full-colour renditions of what is described on the page. And even some of the written descriptions were too much for my squeamish stomach, like the embalming scenes, and I closed my eyes and flipped ahead. But that’s just me, and judging by the sales numbers, many disagree.)

Here’s the trailer for the dramatization.

The basic story is about a war between the old gods and the new in America, the new gods being Media, hi-tech, TV, video games, etc, and the old gods being ones from the various “old countries” – they came over with the immigrants, you see – mainly Norse gods like Odin, Loki, etc. Gaiman has obviously had fun with renaming these gods so that their identities are not immediately obvious: Odin, for instance, introduces himself, when asked his name, by asking, “What day is it today?” “Wednesday.” “Well, then, you can call me Wednesday,” which is of course Woden’s (Odin’s) day.

Short version:

The story was well paced and kept me reading to the end; the dialogue was good and sometimes very good and funny; there was one small scene of mercy that seemed to me to totally un-pagan and much more Christian. Details below. The story also reminded me of earlier writers who became infatuated with Norse myths, such as CS Lewis.

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I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wisteria and Vaughan Williams memories

Traveled to north Kyoto today to visit an old friend.

Last time we’d been this way was over 20 years ago. Along the way, we saw many flowering wisteria trees. They reminded me of the ones in St. Edmund’s Hall, Oxford. Vaughan Williams’ “Variation on a theme by Thomas Tallis” was playing on the sterero. “Teddy Hall” was my father’s college, and the Vaughan Williams was one of his favourite pieces. He passed away 2 years ago this spring.


I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Password tips from LastPass

I’m a premium user of LastPass to manage my passwords across my devices. Today, I was alerted to a new LastPass feature – the username generator. I’d felt the need for random anonymous usernames since several years ago and had been using LastPass’s password generator to create usernames but it was a bit clunky, so i’m delighted to hear of this new function and will be using it from now on.

The latest blog post also alerted me to some other useful tips: use LastPass to fill-in credit card information and stop leaving my credit card information on shopping websites. This is not a new last pass function but the blog post has prompted me to take steps to remove my credit card information from my various shopping sites. I have no confidence that shopping sites are using hashes to properly secure my credit card information. They don’t need my entire credit card number; all they need for identification purposes are the last four digits. However I doubt that most of them do this.

Here’s another recent LastPass blog post:

Looking to protect your bank accounts? One of the most common security options is to send one-time codes to your phone. Every time you log in, a new code is texted to you. But what if someone steals your phone number, so they receive your codes instead? Today we’re going to chat about this threat and the steps you can take to protect yourself from these so-called “port-out scams.”

Read more here.


I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

So many things we love in our lives; what is the one thing that makes loving possible?

4:12 “ So many things that we love in our lives. What about loving that one thing, by the courtesy of which all that we do has been made possible?”


I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

You are looking for peace – and peace is looking for you

Stand still. Stand very, very still. So that the peace can find you.


I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”