© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I apologize in advance to all people who grt annoyed by filling out the word verification for making comments. I took it off because Braja said she would refuse to send me any more comments if I left it on. Since I took it off I have received multiple daily "comments"such as the following.
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I was receiving them constantly after removing the word verification the first time. That's why I readded it. That's why I'm adding it again. If you don't want to comment, just know I'll miss hearing from you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Newest Poem

For those of you who missed it, here is my latest poem published at Carcinogenic Poetry.

The Last Day of His Life

The last day of his life began
like all the rest except
he found some pills above the sink
and took them down to stare
into their white infinity
then said out loud, Why white?

The last day of his life he packed lunch for his children
and stood waiting at the door while each one filed by
taking the brown bag from his hand and smiling
as he admonished them to study hard.

The last day of his life he kissed
his wife and told her not to worry.

Getting in the car he drove
until he couldn't be seen from the house
then followed the long narrow path through the field to the beach
with its white sand that seemed to stretch into infinity
and sat there watching white clouds disturb
the sky with shapes that had no permanence,
with weight that wasn't there,
and wondered once more Why white?

First published at Carcenogenic Poetry July 24, 2011
Copyright 2011, Joseph Saling, the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blogspot
All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Man of God, angel of vengence and death, maker of changes

Daniel Silva has a new novel -- Portrait of a Spy. It's the thirteenth book in an ongoing series of books about Gabriel Allon, an art restorer who is also an Israeli spy and counter terrorist assassin. Some of you may remember I've written about Silva and his skill before.

It isn't easy to write about the same character doing the same thing in novel after novel with the same supporting cast of characters. Len Deighton, another of my favorite writers of espionage thrillers, wrote a trilogy of trilogies that began with Berlin Game and ended with Charity that I would highly recommend to anyone. The problem is, though, those nine novels demonstrate the difficulty. Because while each book must stand on its own, it also must put itself into context with the preceding novels. And my feeling by the time I got half way through the nine books was that for much of the time I was rereading the stories I'd read before.

Silva, on the other hand, is a true master of three important creative traits. The first is letting his characters age naturally from novel to novel. So in a sense, they actually become different characters. The second is giving just enough information about the recurring characters and their past exploits that you don't have to know what happened earlier to understand who they are and what they are like while at the same timethe reader who does remember them can recall the earlier story. The third and most important trait is describing the character in such a way that you don't need to have known the character at all to get an image of who and what the character is.

One of the most important characters in the books is Ari Shamron, who is legendary within the Israeli intelligence community, the man who recruited Allon as well as Allon's father figure and linchpin for what happens in each novel. He often isn't introduced, other than in brief allusions, until midway through the book. Here is how Silva introduced him in Moscow Rules:
There is a VIP reception room at Ben-Gurion Airport that few people know and where even fewer have set foot. Reached by an unmarked door near passport control, it has walls of Jerusalem limestone, furnishings of black leather, and a permanent odor of burnt coffee and male tension. When Gabriel entered the room the following evening, he found it occupied by a single man. He had settled himself at the edge of his chair, with his legs slightly splayed and his large hands resting atop an olive-wood cane, like a traveler on a rail platform resigned to a long wait. He was dressed, as always, in a pair of pressed khaki trousers and a white oxford cloth shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. His head was bullet-shaped and bald, except for a monkish fringe of white hair. His ugly wire-framed spectacles magnified a pair of blue eyes that were no longer clear.

Note "like a traveller on a rail platform resigned to a long wait." In Portrait of a Spy Sharon is older, supposedly retired, but still at the center of Israeli operations. Half way through the book, Silva introduces him this way:
A few minutes after the speech ended, a message arrived from the Operations Desk at King Saul Boulevard. It was just four characters in length -- two letters followed by two numbers -- but its message was unambiguous. God was cooling his heels in a Montmartre safe flat. And God wanted a word with Gabriel in private.
Then on the next page at the start of the next chapter we get this description of God:
The door to 3A hung slightly ajar; in the sitting room was an elderly man dressed in pressed khaki trousers, a white oxford classic shirt, and a leather bomber jacket with an unrepaired tear in the left shoulder. He had settled himself at the edge of a brocade-covered wing chair with his legs slightly splayed and his large hands bunched atop the crook of his olive wood cane, like a traveller on a rail platform resigned to a long wait. Between two yellowed fingers burned the stub of a filterless cigarette. Acrid smoke swirled above his head like a private storm cloud.
An angry storm cloud above the head of an angry God waiting to have a private word with his archangel Gabriel. (One meaning of Gabriel is man of God.) As much as I want Silva to write about other things, I hope he never stops writing about Allon and Shamron.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2012 election

Got this today from a liberal mail list I'm on. Too good not to share. I enjoy good biting satire (and sarcasm):

 I really don't think that we have to worry about Obama getting re-elected. I'm pretty sure he's a shoe-in. The reason being that he'll get most of the votes of the Democrats & Liberals and I can't see why Republicans wouldn't vote for him since he gives them pretty much everything they ask for.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Notable quote of the day.

From Roger Ebert's review of the remake of Straw Dogs about "David's" and "Amy's" first day in their new home -- the Mississippi small town where she grew up:
Their first day they go into a bar and grill where any sensible person would know to make an immediate U-turn and walk out again.
BTW: Our local newspaper -The Atlanta Journal Constitution -- which often picks up Ebert's reviews, and which is the only local paper I've disliked more than the Manchestser Union Leader,  printed an intellectual comparison of the the original Peckinpah movie from a new York Times article. In it's guide to movies that it prints on Fridays, it gave only the briefest summary of the movie and said "not reviewed for publication." But the AJC should be the topic of another post.

Enjoy the weekend.

Saturday, September 10, 2011