Fandango’s Provocative Question #191


Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

There was a time in my life when I was a voracious reader. Yes, reader, not eater. I was never a voracious eater. But I digress. My point is, in the days before the internet, before WordPress, before Facebook and Twitter and TikTok and YouTube and binge-watching on Netflix; in the days before having the world at you fingertips with newsfeeds on mobile phones, before…well you get my drift…I used to devour between three and five books a week. Mostly novels.

But these days, I don’t read books much anymore. Maybe I read three to five books a year, not three to five a week. But I don’t think I’m that unusual in that regard. Or maybe I am, which brings me to this week’s provocative question.

With all of the distractions mentioned above, do you read books as much nowadays as you used to ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Why or why not?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Blogging Insights — Easily Distracted

Blogging insightsFor this week’s installment of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya wants to know about distractions. She asks…

What distracts you from blogging? Apart from family and work (unless yours is a business blog) what factors or forces prevent you from creating content?

What I find interesting about this question is that, for me, anyway, blogging, in and of itself, is the ultimate distraction.

Creating content for my blog serves to distract me from the political, social, economic, health, and environmental disasters that are happening all around me. I can escape from — at least temporarily — all that crap by creating posts in response to writing and photo prompts. And I can read the fascinating and imaginative posts written by other bloggers in response to my various prompts. For me, writing stories and tall tales and all sorts of flash fiction posts is a really effective way to take my mind off of the real world.

Even posting about the bigotry, hypocrisy, racism, white nationalism, divisiveness, and the unenlightened self-interests of Donald Trump, members of the Trump Administration, most Republicans in Congress, and how they are all destroying the country I love, helps me to cope. The very act of ranting, whining, and venting about their injustices, inhumanity, and immorality is cathartic for me.

So my answer is that nothing distracts me from blogging. Instead blogging distracts me from becoming overwhelmed and depressed by the harsh reality of the world in which we are living in 2020.

Oh wait, now that I think about it, there is one really big thing that distracts me from blogging: the WordPress block editor. But, surely, you knew I would say that, right?

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — January 3

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?

Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 3rd) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.

This was originally posted on January 3, 2013 on my old blog.

Reading is Fundamental

6D858B2A-593D-49FF-A0C9-FBE09D6B6E32Here’s something few people know about me. I once was a voracious reader. Yeah, I know. Looking at how I spend my discretionary time these days, that’s hard to believe. I bet my own kids have never seen me pick up a book and read it unless it had something to do with my job.

Seriously, though, back in the day, when I was an avid reader, I immersed myself in suspense and conspiracy as I devoured books by authors such as Robert Ludlam and Ken Follett. James Clavell transported me to the intrigues of feudal Japan and the early days of Hong Kong, while James Michner guided me on exotic adventures across the globe spanning eons.

Robin Cook thrilled me with medical mysteries and John Gresham and Scott Turow got me all tangled up in legal shenanigans and courtroom chicanery. Stephen King and Dean Koontz sent chills of horror up and down my spine.

Philip Roth, JD Salinger, and John Irving helped me put into perspective the angst of growing up and the struggles and challenges of being a flawed human being. Issac Asimov, Ray Bradury, and Frank Herbert launched me through the time and space continuum to worlds beyond my imagination. And JRR Tolkein introduced me to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and the Middle Earth.

During my reading days I would leverage the 30 to 60 minutes on the commuter trains each way between home and work to travel to far away places. On flights for business I would spend my time not only getting to my reality destination, but also being carried away to other times, other worlds, and even other identities. And rather than automatically turning on the TV each night, I would pick up a book and read myself to sleep. I typically got through maybe two to three novels a week back then.

Who Has Time to Read Fiction These Days?

But that was before myriad cable channels beckoned and DVRs turned us all into time-shifters. That was before the proliferation of laptops, netbooks, and tablets that you carry with you instead of leaving behind at the office or at home. That was before BlackBerrys, iPhones, and Android devices transformed us into always-connected workaholics or gossip-mongers needing to know what every one of our hundreds of “friends” is doing in real-time via our addictions to Facebook and Twitter.

Oh no! I forgot to “check in” at the place we ate dinner last night.

Now, as a telecommuter, I work from home, so I no longer have time to kill (and read) on commuter trains. When my job requires me to spend hours on an airplane, most of it is spent on my laptop, preparing for the meeting I’m about to attend, or documenting my notes from the one I just attended. Rather than picking up a book in my “down time” at home, I catch up on all of those TV shows we recorded on our DVR.

Reading for pleasure seems like a distant memory to me. And yet, in the far reaches of my mind, I have this vague recollection of delightful escapism when I sat down with a novel that transported me to times, places, and events far and wide; that introduced me to all kinds of wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful, but certainly colorful) characters.

New Year’s Readolutions

As it’s that time of the year to make resolutions, I have decided to resolve to read no less than 24 books this year. A wide variety of books, but mostly novels of all kinds — historical, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thrillers, humorous, whatever.

To that end, I downloaded the free Kindle app on my iPad and, being the cheap son-of-a-bitch that I am, immediately went to the “free books” section.

I “bought” two books, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and a murder mystery by an author I’d never previously heard of, L.L. Bartlett, called Murder on the Mind.

I admit that I could barely make it through the first few pages of Hugo’s sweeping novel that served as the inspiration for my favorite stage musical. I decided to shift gears and try something a little less formidable for my initial reentry into reading for fun, and the Bartlett novel was perfect…a quick, engaging read.

So let’s see if I can manage to read at least two books a month this new year. I’m feeling pretty confident. And maybe I’ll even be able to get through Les Mis before the year is over.

Diversions and Distractions

96253C6D-DB0C-4D9A-A314-4198B8066B76When you read this post, you’ll probably think I’ve gone off the deep end, or that I’m extremely cynical. You may say I’m a skeptic, maybe even paranoid. And some of you might suggest that I’m hawking a crazy conspiracy theory.

But consider this. So far there have been 12 pipe bombs delivered or mailed to some very high powered Democratic politicians, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Maxine Waters, and Eric Holder. Some of those bombs were sent to Trump critic and former CIA Director John Brennan, the liberal billionaire donor George Soros, and outspoken anti-Trump actor Robert De Niro.

The good news is that none of the pipe bombs detonated and no one has been injured. The FBI confirmed that these were “live” bombs (i.e., not fakes), but there are questions, based upon the way they were constructed, about whether or not they would actually function (i.e., detonate).

Now consider this. The stories of these attempted bombings have dominated the news over the past three days. The bombings have essentially pushed some other very disturbing stories off the news:

  • The brutal, barbaric murder of Saudi journalist, Washington Post columnist, and permanent U.S. resident, Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, which was likely sanctioned by Jared Kushner’s good buddy Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • While Congress is in recess, Mitch McConnell is pushing through young, very conservative judges to fill lifetime federal judgeship appointments without any hearings or input from Democratic senators.
  • Trump insists on using his personal, unsecured iPhone (the one he tweets from and from which he talks to close confidants, including Fox News personalities) even after he’s been told that Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies are certainly listening in.
  • GOP candidates are falsely claiming that only they will save the pre-existing conditions provisions from Obamacare even though they have consistently voted to kill Obamacare, including protections related to pre-existing conditions.
  • Republican politicians in red states continue, less than two weeks before the midterm elections, to play all kinds of dirty tricks designed to suppress the votes of primarily minority voters. And in Texas, a number of voters who attempted to vote the straight Democratic ticket saw their votes for Senator going to Republican Ted Cruz.FBFD46AA-29F6-4ADA-A287-6889DAA48A8A

So why am I bringing up these items that would otherwise be making headlines but aren’t because of these pipe bombs? Well, might it be possible that we are dealing with a real life “Wag the Dog” scenario? (If you’re not familiar with “Wag the Dog,” click here.)

Could Republican political operatives — with or without Trump’s knowledge — be behind these “bombs” in order to distract us from other, more important issues? Could these apparently poorly made and possibly incapable of detonating bombs merely be a way of diverting attention away from all of the other awful things that Donald Trump and his administration are doing just below the radar?

Yes, I know…I’m nuts. But is it any more inconceivable that Republican operatives are behind these bomb attempts than, for example, Trump’s claim that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” traveling with the group of Central American migrants moving north through Mexico toward the U.S.? Or Mike Pence’s statement that “It’s inconceivable there are not people of Middle Eastern descent” in the migrant caravan?

Seriously, as crazy as it sounds, nothing would surprise me anymore.