Thursday, April 18, 2019

Six Minutes with Singer/Songwriter Mary Lee Kortes, Author of Dreaming of Dylan

Mary Lee Kortes with full band. Photo: Jim Marchese
This past month a friend asked if I'd seen Mary Lee Kortes' Dreaming of Dylan: 115 Dreams About Bob. I'd not, but the concept certainly had me intrigued. When I acquired a copy of the book I was more than impressed. It was seriously fun and I proceeded to write about it.

The NYTimes and Rolling Stone are among the many who had this to say about Mary Lee the performer:
"Songs so meticulously crafted they sound completely natural."
--Jon Pareles. The New York Times
“Mary Lee Kortes's voice—the high mountain sunshine of Dolly Parton with a sweet-iron undercoat of Chrissie Hynde."
--David Fricke, Rolling Stone

The following interview should give you a pretty good glimpse of Ms. Kortes's spirit. There's a link at the end to her website as well as to Amazon where you can get a copy yourself.

EN: First off, the production values on this book are A++. Who did the design and layout? How did the look and feel of this book come about?

Photo credit: Barry Sutton
Mary Lee Kortes: The designer is Mark Melnick. When I conceived the book, I always wanted to have a mix of original art/drawings/paintings to illustrate the dreams, along with some other visuals, like lesser known Dylan photos. I also didn't want it to look tidy; I thought there should be some chaos to it. So as the dreams came in, I gathered up illustrators I knew (Rina Root, Kevin Walters) and got recommendations from friends for some others (Stanley Mouse, Jerry Pagane, Jenny Laden). I didn't want there to be just one illustrator—part of my chaos theory. Then I selected dreams that I thought might match up well with different designers and sent them out, something like a casting agent you could say.

Also, I'd met up with Mitch Blank several years ago. He's a Dylan archivist with a collection of Dylan memorabilia and artifacts that is quite stunning. (He's now officially an archivist with the Dylan archive in Tulsa, although he still lives in NYC.) At the time I started putting the book together, my publisher, Kate Hyman from BMG, was coincidentally meeting with Mitch about some Dylan photos for another project. We went to his apartment together and realized that we could photograph a lot of his collection and use it as part of the visual component of the book. It was definitely kismet: One of the dreams in the book (dream #12, "A prom with Bob") features both Dylan and Rick Danko. When we were roaming through Mitch's apartment that day, we came upon a glass cabinet with a collection of baseballs signed by famous non-musicians. Side by side, smack dab in the middle of the case, there sat two baseballs—one signed by Dylan, the other by Danko.

So we brought photographer Daniel Root to the apartment along with Mark and photographed everything we could. That's the source of most of the photos you see. Mark played with some of them to combine other elements, etc.

EN: The concept is fab, of course. There are a lot of Bob Dylan books, but what’s fun is seeing the variety of approaches. Yours knocks my socks off. When did the concept emerge and did you imagine you could pull it off?

A bit of Dylanesque playfulness.
Photo: Barry Sutton
MLK: I had the idea so long ago I'm embarrassed to get specific! The Foreword tells the origin story, which is really something, particularly with my Dylan connection that came after I'd started having dreams about him, and long, long after my "television hallucination."

I wasn't sure I could pull it off, although my early efforts were good and encouraging. I was able to collect over 60 dreams and a few illustrations after I first started working on it. I'm not sure how long I had been working on it when someone offered to share the name of an agent with me. I sent it to him/her (I can't even remember anymore if it was a him or her! Been that long.) That person told me it wasn't a book, it was a blog, or something else less substantial.

I think I was going through a hard period at that point and so the project faded onto the back burner of a back burner and sat there simmering invisibly for quite some time. Then in a meeting with Kate one day she mentioned BMG had started a book division doing books only related to music. I smiled and tilted my head. "I have a book related to music," I said. I reviewed what I'd done and was surprised to realize just how much work I'd already done on the book, sent BMG a sampling, and we were off to the races.

EN: How did you get all these dreams? Did you just talk to lots of people? Crowdsourcing?

MLK: Initially, I posted only on and told my friends what I was doing. Later on of course, I used Facebook and everything I could think of.

Photo credit: Lisa Lyons
EN: Not only is the book concept original, but also the mixed up way you present the dreams with 106 then 17 and 103. Whose idea was this? What gave you this idea?

MLK: That idea was actually my husband's, Eric Ambel. Maybe he was feeling my wish for a bit of chaos! He's very smart and very perceptive.

Mary Lee's Corvette. Photo: Jim Marchese
EN: While putting this all together, were there some stories that you especially enjoyed? Can you share a couple favorites, or is it like children where you feel obligated to love them all?

MLK: I do like all these dreams and I have some favorites because they're funny or moving or weird. I love dream #38 "Dig it" because the whole thing is sort of a punch line; it's the zen koan of the book. Another is dream #103 from a dreamer who withheld their name but clearly grew up with the Smothers Brother's TV show. I also love dream #22 "Unwelcome Guest" for how it reflects people's view of the reported grumpier side of Dylan (his hood is up in the dream).

I'm personally biased towards one of my own, dream #106 "Wrong key." I had this dream after I'd gotten the publishing deal. I was afraid I might stop dreaming of him, but lo and behold I had one of my favorites. I'm rehearsing for a show where Dylan is my accompanist on a Townes Van Zandt song I've sung many times in real life (I always sing it in the key of D). Dylan starts the song in some weird key and I ask him what key he's playing it in. He says, "The key of I." I get horribly perturbed and tell him, "There's no such thing as the key of I." "That's the key I play it in," he replies. Images in these dreams and others were the inspiration for a song I wrote called "Dreaming of Him" (video to be released on Bob's birthday!). I'm really proud of it.

EN: You opened for Bob… once or on several days or weeks of a tour? Sounds like quite a privilege. How did it happen and what did you learn from this experience?

MLK: I opened for him once at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. There had been a blackout on the night of the originally scheduled show and the regular opener already had a gig on the night it was rescheduled for. So they called me! He came on stage during my soundcheck, which I didn't know until I turned around to talk to my drummer and saw him standing at the back of the stage. He was wearing a cowboy hat and tipped it to me. What a moment! What did I learn? To enjoy the moment.

Related Links
Dreaming of Dylan: 115 Dreams About Bob
Dylan's "You're A Big Girl Now" by Mary Lee Kortes

EdNote: We're one month away from the 2019 Duluth Dylan Fest. There's a another strong lineup of events in store. Here is the schedule. If you see us, say hello.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Four Marketing Lessons from the Battle of Vicksburg

Gettysburg has been cited so frequently as the decisive turning point of the war that it seems to be common knowledge. The tagline for the 1993 film about this important battle was this: In 1863, the Northern and Southern forces fight at Gettysburg in the decisive battle of the American Civil War.

James Arnold, in his insightful book Grant Wins The War, begins by arguing that the Battle of Vicksburg was the the  decisive victory that broke the back of the South. When the Union Army captured Vicksburg, they effectively took control of the Mississippi River, cutting off all supplies from the West so that with the blockades it would only be a matter of time and the Armies of Northern Virginia would be depleted and defeated.

Arnold's intro notes that of the twenty most brilliant campaigns in military history, more than half were by Napoleon. Only two were conceived and executed by generals in the U.S. Civil War. The first was General Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Campaign. The second, Grant's victory here at Vicksburg.

Here are three important marketing and leadership lessons that stand out from this battle. Each could be elaborated on with illustrations from businesses today.

U.S. Grant. National Archives.
1. Fight the Right Battles
James Arnold begins this book by presenting the significance of the battle of Vicksburg. A key to success, whether in war or business, is not simply winning battles but in fighting the right battles. What propelled Grant to fame was not winning victories alone, but recognizing the importance of the objectives he pursued. Vicksburg, in Arnold's estimation, was even more significant than Gettysburg in bringing down the South.

2. When Your Plan Isn't Working, Change Your Strategy
In assessing the situation, General Grant observed that the firepower and high ground that Vicksburg controlled overlooking the Mississippi made it impregnable from an assault from the river side. After much consideration the first plan conceived was to re-route the river. The objective was important enough that time was less important than speed. In May 1863 digging commenced. After a while it became apparent this was an ill-conceived plan that wouldn't work. General Grant abandoned the idea and produced a superior strategic initiative.

3. Learn from Previous Experience 
Like many generals of the Civil War, U.S. Grant participated in the Mexican War a number of years earlier. There were two generals he served under and from each he learned something invaluable. From General Taylor he learned how to manage a big operation, how to maintain supply lines including food and munitions and how to coordinate movements. From General Winfield Scott he learned about taking initiative and the power of speed and the unexpected. With a small army and a sudden surprise appearance in Mexico City, his hundreds of men terrified tens of thousands of Mexican soldiers.

Here's how this played out in Vicksburg. Grant decided to bring his forces downstream for a similar surprise maneuver, abandoning his supply lines. In a series of skirmishes Grant's army remained mobile and could not be located by Confederate forces because they survived by foraging. He also sent a small raiding party southward as a decoy, generating rumors that kept the enemy confused and fearful. They seemed to be here, there and everywhere.

4. Know the Condition of Your Troops
General Grant not only made sure the men were fed, but also rested. In addition, he was very much in touch with the morale of his troops. For example, at the beginning of the war, he wanted his untested troops to come away from the first battle with confidence. He knew, from Mexican War days, that General Hood was a bit quick to run away from battle in order to preserve the numbers under his command. Grant used 1000 men to conquer a fort in which 500 of Hood's men were stationed. Hood fled as expected. Grant told his men that they just defeated an army of 2000 with minimal losses. His objective -- give the men experience in battle without undermining confidence -- was achieved.

Here is a story from Vicksburg that illustrates this point as well. The army had to cross a narrow wooden bridge at one point. He went first, parked his horse on the other side, facing his men as they came across. As they marched passed he greet each one, looking them in the eyes, assessing their morale, their readiness for what lay ahead. 

* * * *

Much more can be said about this significant victory for the North, but my aim here has been to draw attention to several features that make it a useful model for business lessons today, especially in marketing.

For more, here are Four Books on U.S. Grants
Related: Lessons from Desert Storm

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A 3-Day Ride with Ryder: Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled Is an Achievement of the First Order

“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

What happens when a world-famous pianist who comes to town to perform an important concert is forced to come to terms with who he really is? Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled has the feel of a cross between Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and the magical realism of Jorge Luis Borges. Like each of these authors, he has created a work that defies categorization.

The Unconsoled is the story of Ryder, a man who has achieved international fame. It opens with the pianist checking into a hotel whereupon he encounters character after character in scene after stretched-out scene in a manner not unlike Alice’s encounters after dropping through the rabbit hole. By means of their behavior toward him, and his internal attitude and responses, we get to know Ryder’s character in ways that at times become both hilarious and excruciating.

As I noted in my recent blog post The Identity Question, about how our identity is not fixed but varies based on context, we get to know Ryder—among other things--as deferential, modest, self-centered, selfless, anxious, overbearing, over-confident, and sensitive.

As we walk with him through this three-day ordeal, the events serve to reveal his entire life, especially his strained relationships with parents, family and fame itself.

The manner in which the story is told is surreal. The critics panned it when it came out, but near 25 years later it is hailed as one of the great novels of the last part of the century.

Readers will be cognizant that the storyline is becoming increasingly muddled, time stretched, situations absurd. But is that not what life can be like for one who is on the road, traveling, mushing through time from scene to scene to scene through setting after setting? I can't help but think here of the author himself perhaps, or of the Grateful Dead's traveling road show that inspired Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour. What is this kind of life really like?

* * * *
My guess is that if the critics didn't like the book it's because they may have tried to read just enough to pin it down, much like pinning a butterfly into a display case and labeling it. The book defies such easy categorization. If you strap yourself in and go along for the ride, you'll experience all the drama of a roller coaster, emotional highs and lows, along with the tension of an overwound watchspring about to explode, a rope about to snap, or overstretched rubber bands. The tension mounts, is released a bit and mounts again.

What's exhilarating is how deftly the author paints all these characters and the scenes within this bizarre adventure.

In the story you will meet, in this order initially, Ryder, the hotel manager Hoffman, the bellhop Gustav, Gustav's daughter Sophie and her son Boris, a washed up conductor named Brodsky, the hotel manager's son Stephan, and an assortment of incidental characters who serve as foils in various ways.

One of the striking features of the story, for me at least, had to do with the porters. The manner in which servants and porters appear so prominently in both this and his heartbreaking Remains of the Day is quite interesting. The contrast between classes in both these books--which brings to mind another powerful story, Vatel--makes me curious if this theme is a recurring one in other Ishiguro novels.

The deference of Gustav to the powerful or more important people he serves, is all the more so because it is a very different culture from what many of us were used to growing up. If you grew up black in the Jim Crow south, however, this deference to whites was an unwritten and harshly enforced code. To a greater or lesser degree this same deference is ingrained and expected of busboys and bellhops in premier hotels, restaurants and country clubs to this day. I believe middle class Americans are surprised the elite still require this kind of stroking.

The story elements which cause much of the tension for readers are Ryder's constantly striving to remember where he is supposed to be and missing appointments because he is continuously allowing himself to get "off task." That is, when he is supposed to be here, he is asked to go take care of this other matter there, which leads to yet another diversion and another. Why does he not assert himself? It becomes an unbelievably frustrating experience for both the reader and himself and he repeatedly gives in to the expectations of others. Is his self-importance and the significance of this concert real or imagined?

The hotel manager's son Stephen is a developed character who resembles a young version of Ryder, exceptionally talented but unable to please his parents, somehow stifled by the context of his life. Ryder recognizes Stephen's frustration and through the lens of experience strives to help him. This theme strikes me as an echo of a Borges story in which Borges sits on a park bench and discovers, through a warp in time, that he himself as a young man is seated at the other end of the bench. He avoids making eye contact but strives to help this younger Borges.

For the reader who accepts the absurd features of Ishiguro's story, there will be many rewards. I saw myself in both of these characters, Ryder and Stephen. Perhaps you will find a little of yourself, too, in your own way.

* * * *

Related Links
Ishiguro on how he wrote Remains of the Day
Ishiguro on Dylan
Remains of the Day, A Review
The Identity Question: Who Am I?

Monday, April 15, 2019

Understanding Failed States

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash
This past week I stumbled on a Medium article titled Why Some States Fail by a writer named D. Andre. It was immensely fascinating for me because it presented in a fairly concise manner the causes of failed states.

"Failed state" is one of those phrases that gets bandied about by that many people do not have a clear definition of in their minds. Ib fact, there are a lot of things that get talked about in which words or ideas are used, but people have fuzzy ideas about. For fear of appearing stupid that don't dare ask (let's say it is a meeting or work or just a bull session) and later the moment slides and we're flitting into other activities.

As a result, people absorb all manner of ideas uncritically, even without fully understanding their implications.

All this to say, Failed States can be defined in this manner:
A failed state is a state whose political or economic system has become so weak that the government is no longer in control.

What I like about the Medium platform, and blogging in general, is the opportunity to engage the author, the ease with which you may comment and request sources or links to additional reading.

There are people who have studied these kinds of topics in depth, but like economics in general, it seems tedious and boring compared to Monday Night Football or (choose your poison). And yet, 97% of the electorate will make decisions as regards our country's leadership with limited to no understanding of many basics essential to what makes a country succeed or fail. This is a potential downside to democracies.

* * * *

THE ACTUAL REASON I want to write about failed states today though was not for political purposes. Rather, it was because as I read Andre's article, along with a Foreign Policy article 10 Reasons Countries Fall Apart, it stimulated my thinking as regards reasons why companies fall apart. I wondered if failed states and failed businesses have some things in common. For example, why did GM and Chrysler require a federal bailout and Ford did not? (There are reasons!)

If, however, I am to use failed states as a metaphor for failed businesses, it seemed a useful idea to lay the groundwork here so that in my next exploration of this theme (failed companies) I can refer back to these articles and ideas related to failed states.

Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace have been annually publishing a Failed States Index, listing the most vulnerable or broken countries in the world. It's eye-opening, and many of the names are familiar to anyone who has been followed the news these past 40 years. Observers have noted that failed states have a number of common attributes.

A fragile state has several attributes. Common indicators include a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.  

I know that we are unhappy with our potholes in Duluth. Things could be worse.


* * * *

Related Links
10 Reasons Countries Fall Apart
Failed States Index
Why States Fail

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Rainer Maria Rilke: Exquisite Beauty from the Pen of a Mere Mortal

Nearly everyone who reads and appreciates poetry is familiar with Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). Some of the most beautiful lines in the English language were written by him. (Just kidding. He wrote in German and French.) Fortunately, the beauty of his ideas has not been lost in translation.

Just as I discovered the Wiki Quotes page on Picasso this past week, so have I been exploring others, with Rilke one of the first I looked up.

It is my pleasure here to share a few poems and lines from Rainer Maria Rilke.

* * * *

A Walk 
My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has its inner light, even from a distance—
and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;
a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave . . .
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

* * * *

"Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything." 

* * * *
Autumn Day
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Let thine shadows upon the sundials fall,
and unleash the winds upon the open fields.

* * * *
As I read a passage like this next one I am conscious that it is written by someone whose life and being has been so utterly foreign to the fast-paced mad rush rat race so many Americans have accepted as a normal life. Success is achieved by hustling. But what happens to the soul?

from The Book of Hours
I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my will, and I want to be with my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
I want to be with those who are wise
or else alone.

This next one I have taped on the wall of my office perhaps 20 years ago and it still inspires me, speaks to me in a way that is deeper than words. 

I Live My Life In Growing Orbits
I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God,
around the ancient tower,

and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don’t know
if I am a falcon, or a storm,

or a great song.

* * * *

The following is a section from a small volume called Letters to a Young Poet, which I downloaded to my Kindle several years ago. It stands in stark contrast to the loud, busy world we live in today where the radio or television are always on and the myriad ways we bury ourselves in diversions to escape from ourselves.

from Letter Seven
It must be immense, this silence, in which sounds and movements have room. And if one thinks that along with all this the presence of the distant sea also resounds, perhaps as the innermost note in this prehistoric harmony, then one can only wish that you are trustingly and patiently letting the magnificent solitude work upon you, this solitude which can no longer be erased from your life; which, in everything that is in store for you to experience and to do, will act as an anonymous influence, continuously and gently decisive, rather as the blood of our ancestors incessantly moves in us and combines with our own to form the unique, unrepeatable being that we are at every turning of our life.

* * * *

Just as photographers are skilled at capturing the natural world, likewise great poets and writers have fine tuned their lenses to capture our inner landscapes.

Related Link
The Panther
Rilke Wikiquote Page

Saturday, April 13, 2019

For My Artist Friends: Rich and Rewarding Insights Directly from the Mouth of Picasso

Public domain.
"When I was a child my mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso." (1)

This isn't the first time I have been to Wiki Quotes, but it is the first time I've explored it. For years, whenever I looked for a Picasso quote I would find the same few, like how it takes a lifetime to learn how to paint like a child again, or this one from Life Magazine in 1964:

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

At Wiki Quotes I found a gold mine of Picasso quotes, and furthermore, they reveal deeper layers of this man who by virtue of his fame became a caricature of himself. Here is a great insight from that page as regards understanding Cubism, or any other contemporary art movement.

Cubism is no different from any other school of painting. The same principles and the same elements are common to all. The fact that for a long time cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it, means nothing. I do not read English, and an English book is a blank to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist, and why should I blame anyone but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?

The highlighted part is rich. A lot of people don't "get" modern art or abstract art. As Picasso points out, there is a language to some kinds of art, and if you are not well-versed in the language,  it may not speak to you.

Here is another insight.

Picasso in front of his painting L'Aficianado, 1912. 
I also often hear the word 'evolution'. Repeatedly I am asked to explain how my painting evolved. To me there is no past or future in my art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was. Art does not evolve by itself, the ideas of people change and with them their mode of expression. (Paris 1923)

* * * *

When I read this next quote I thought immediately of Dylan, whose lyrics at times have been often considered obscure and not easily understood. As many Dylan fans and scholars have repeated over the years, Dylan doesn't like to or feel it necessary to explain his songs.

It isn't up to the painter to define the symbols. Otherwise it would be better if he wrote them out in so many words! The public who look at the picture must interpret the symbols as they understand them.

Here's Picasso's response when asked to explain the symbolism in Guernica.

...this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse... If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are.

* * * *
Here's another interesting observation about understanding a painting.

Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don't they try to understand the song of the birds? Why do they love a night, a flower, everything which surrounds man, without attempting to understand them? Whereas where painting is concerned, they want to understand. Let them understand above all that the artist works from necessity; that he, too, is a minute element of the world to whom one should ascribe no more importance than so many things in nature which charm us but which we do not explain to ourselves. Those who attempt to explain a picture are on the wrong track most of the time. Gertrude Stein, overjoyed, told me some time ago that she had finally understood what my picture represented: three musicians. It was a still life!! [Boisgeloup, winter 1934].

* * * *

(1) As quoted in Life with Picasso, by François Gilot, 1964, p. 60
For more details on the quotes cited above, visit Wikiquote Picasso.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Miscellaneous Notes and Quotes--Writing Prompts?

Lake Superior Sunrise. Photo courtesy John Heino
I've been on another cleaning jag in my home office. In the process I found envelopes filled with scraps of paper containing notes, quotes and observations.

As any long term reader will attest, I especially enjoy collecting and sharing quotes. In a couple places I have card catalogs full of quotes from 40 years ago or so, and on my bookshelf a notebook that I purchased in Mexico in which I collected quotes from my readings.

This week I wrote a brief defense of this habit of collecting and using quotes which was published here at A Philosopher's Stone. It begins, unsurprisingly, with a quote... from Montaigne.

All this is lead in to these scribblings and scratches which I found in those envelopes in a shoebox. This is hardly all, but it's a start. In fact, much was pretty worthless and here's why. The scrap of paper had an idea but the idea wasn't sufficiently fleshed out so that I can't recall--40 years later--what prompted it. TIP: If you are a writer and you have an idea that strikes you in a profound way, don't write, "Story Idea: The Rings of Saturn." This is not a story idea. It was a note that may have been triggered by a story idea, but it's going to be useless 30 years later unless you include more details.

I know that some of these were probably written down from dialogue in a film, so it would be hard to take credit for all of them as my own. Nevertheless, they can still be used as writing prompts. Or as a starting point for a discussion. Or...

* * * *

Is efficiency always better?

* * * *

"A man needs the truth at least once before he dies."

"He didn't need the truth. He needed comfort."

* * * *

"You speak so eloquently, yet you say such appalling things."

"That's been the story of my life. Everybody appreciates the form but is frightened of the content."

* * * *

The history of the world is a history of people doing improbable, even impossible, things.

* * * *

Mapped Life Series. Kentucky. By the Author
The Temple of Doubt
Skepticism and two kinds of questioning: to mock or to know.

* * * *

A man who needs nothing can afford to risk everything.

* * * *

"A wavering mind cannot produce a stable life."

* * * *

"Indecision binds even a strong man."

* * * *

"No one can lower his standards without reducing himself as well."

* * * *

"It is better to be drawn by a vision than to be driven by ambition."

* * * *

Diary of a Water Bug

Today two boy humans spent half an hour bombarding me with missiles.

* * * *

What are some ways people signal their need for help?

How can we become better at recognizing these signals and what can we do about it?

* * * *

For what it's worth, there so many great websites that collect quotes. One of the more comprehensive now is Wikiquotes. (It even has quotes from every season of Seinfeld.)  I like it because it identifies the sources and doesn't select what some person or committee has decided for you to be the 23 Best Quotes by >INSERT FAMOUS NAME HERE<

I've been listening to an audiobook of 50 Philosophy Classics and if one wanted, they could go to Wikiquotes and bone up on the ideas of each person you've just read about.

For what it's worth, I will close off here... with a two more quotes, observations by Nobel Laureate Andre Gide

"It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not."

"The artist who is after success lets himself be influenced by the public. Generally such an artist contributes nothing new, for the public acclaims only what it already knows, what it recognizes."

* * * *

Related Links
Writing Prompts at Reddit
365 Creative Writing Prompts