Sunday, August 31, 2003

Saving Sunday Splendor

How Papers are Trying to Save Sunday

More people read newspapers on Sundays than any other day of the week. That's the good news.
The bad news is that each year an increasing smaller percentage of the population thinks the big Sunday bundle is worth the bother.
Here are some highlights from the E&P story, an overview that doesn't address why readers are giving up on Sunday and what, if anything, is working to retain them.
· Readership "editors are shaking up content; the right mix for the modern, time-challenged reader -- eliminating some features, and tweaking or dramatically revising others[Editor & Publisher via TimPorter]

Sunday Watching
I love reading, as I was born and bred to absorb signs and symbols, so my Saturday is consumed by indulging for hours and hours inside pages of great reporting; especially the The Sydney Morning Herald which I suspect had been created to throw light on darkish subjects. The Herald is an amazing maze salted and peppered with easily digesteded first drafts dealing with many truths of our fragile life on earth. Toss in book reviews, impressions of newly released movies and all those incomprehensible cutural and political trends and world is my tropical oyster. However, on Sunday I seem to finish fluffily composed newspapers in less than an hour; Lately I add to my constitutional Sun Herald and Sunday Telegraph another newspaper called Sunday Mail (in order to read shortish, but amusing column by the great man who introduced One Book for Brissie, Jim Soorley. Seriously, it was my suggestion ... and I have email to prove it (smile)!).
Generally, but especially when my family is enjoying a weekend in Sydney, my Sunday read takes place between sipping coffee, admiring the panoramic views of Moroton Island and all those ad breaks on that engaging Channel 9 Sunday Program.

· The Asylum Game [Jana; The Great Sunday]
· Proof that the Hollywood (My Villawood) isn't like the rest of the World [Sunday Splendor @ Nine] NB: Harvey Pekar (Pekar, like my grandfather's surname Pekarcik) means baker in Slavic language)

Q: Who is your favourite author or has influenced your writing?
My Answer: A former Australian Ambassador in Vienna, James William Cumes, has written a book Haverleigh. One day soon this story about WWII and Kokoda Trail will become an epic like ‘A Fortunate Life’ by Facey. I am still amazed that it was an Australian writer, Thomas Kennealy, rather than some European writer who weaved a testing tale about the Czechoslovak, part saint and part sinner, Schindler.

Sunday Rereading & Reediting
As far back as I can remember I have felt James Cumes' Haverleigh had the soul and guts and truth of a classic of Australian Literature. Haverleigh is a lot of things. It's a love story, a war story, the story of an improbable and impossible era peopled with all too probable, all too possible, all too real human beings. It's fraught with pain and love and irony and affection and disaffection. You will be different for having immersed yourself in it. Czech out this review:
Haverleigh is a great read for a weekend at home. It could easily
be the script for a mini series and who knows, maybe one day it will be just that!
Review by Bronwyn Mitterecker
From Bookworm, in The Australian Connection September 2003
· To Have or Not to Have [James Cumes, born and bred @ Beenleigh ]
· Soulful Review [Dual Loyalty]
· OnLine Editing: Taking Risks [Troppoarmadillo]

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Dedicated People

Truth prevails How a Small Group of Dedicated People Might Actually Do Something

Well, you've heard that wonderful Margaret Mead quote about how you should never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, and that, indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Well, I think it's time we stopped repeating that quotation and came to some agreement about what we happy few might do over the next five years or so. That is the purpose of my remarks today.
· People Power [CommonDreams]

God chose me to write this book, writes satirist Al Franken in Lies and the Lying Liars. This isn't hubris. I just happened to be the right vessel at the right time.

Many, Many, Rejections are the Right Vessels

Today, it is hard to imagine literature without the work of Primo Levi; but immediately after the war If This Is a Man was an extraordinary challenge to publishers. Nobody wanted to read about the Holocaust, perhaps because of horror mixed with a lingering anti-Semitism, and publishers knew it. One took the risk - a small house called De Silva - and printed 2,500 copies, of which they sold half. De Silva folded shortly afterwards, and only in 1958, after a handful of further rejections, did Einaudi take the book on. The plight of Anne Frank's diary was similar: it was turned down some 11 times before going into print.
· I have been constantly reminded that omnipotent God is a large publisher [Telegraph(UK) ]

Thursday, August 28, 2003

August Burden: Wayne Wood

August Burden: Wayne Wood

People are made to feel sorry when they should feel uplifted by the efforts of the patient in overcoming adversity.
· A lyrical intuition of the mysteries of the soul [Troppoarmadillo]
· There were some days when we would sit here and cry and work [USAToday]

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Heart of Stories

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts...
-- Will Rogers

Heart of Europe: What Good is Swimming in such dangerous water

I was born 14 years after my 16 years old auntie Zofka was declared a missing person, and 10 years after my auntie Ota escaped to West Germany and the Communist dictators confiscated all my grandfather's properties. However, as a child I was not only scared of German Nazis and Soviet communists, but also Spis raftsmen.

Number one, they are raftsmen and have learned to fake sincerity from the time they began smuggling illegal goods across the Poprad river.

Raftsman Mato Oberta pushes the wooden raft (plt) filled with tourists away from the bank of the Vah river, jumps in and grabs an oar. Then he turns to the passengers and says: If you fall in the river, nothing's gonna save you. The lower currents will pull you down, no matter what you do. I cannot swim, but what good is swimming [in such dangerous water]?

Symbol of national history Girl of Dowina

Devín Castle is one of the oldest castles in Slovakia, Devín, sits on a huge rock overlooking where the Morava river meets the Danube river . The name Devín probably derives from Dowina, which in Old Slavic meant girl.
No blogging of Slovakia would be complete without posts about castles. The countryside is bursting with them - from the squat block of Bratislava Castle, to the fairytale towers of Bojnice Castle and the sheer scale of Spis Castle.
It is no surprise that Slovakia has such a wealth of castles, considering its position in the centre of Europe. The armies of Rome (Rim), Hungary (Madarsko), Poland (Polsko), Turkey (Turecko), Austria (Rakusko), Napoleon, Germany (Nemecko), and Russia (Rusko) have taken turns invading the country for thousands of years, with varying degrees of success. The fact that Slovakia exists at all is in part testament to its castle-building tradition.

· Kezmarok, Town of my birth to Maria and Jozef described as a miracle (smile) [CityBlog ]
· Roman Empire: Great Moravia [Sloval Spectator]
· Great Human Power [Sloval Spectator]
· Castlelated Country: 300
· Slovakia is riddled with almost 4,500 caves
· Nitra: Mount Zobor The Mount of my Czechoslovak army years
· The fort of pride and beauty
· Cerveny Kamen (Red Rock); Unnot in Schauffhausen, Switzerland
· Tam okolo Strecna, cesta nebezpecna
· Lubovna Castle: Memories of my Grandmother Katarina
· Spis Castle lords over the village of Spisske Podhradie
· Orava Castle
· The City of Fashion, as Trencín
· Liptovsky Hradok
· Lietava Castle
· Ghosts and Spirits at Bojnice Castle
· Orava Castle
· Strazky Chateau: the place of my tertiary studies
· Tatra wanderers: Childhood playground
· High Tatra Activities of my childhood
There are few swimming pools in the High Tatras mountain area, best know is the one in Vysne Ruzbachy. The complex at Vrbov in the Presov district has seven thermal pools and there are plans to add two more pools and another thermal water spring.
· Thermal Pools built on my grandfather's land
If Nagyvazsony was a happy surprise, Kezmarok was a miracle. This town, at the gateway to the High Tatras, a branch of the Carpathian Mountains bridging the Slovakian-Polish border, was settled by Germans from Sexony (sic) in the 13th century, brought there by Hungarian rulers to augment the local rural Slovak population against numerous and diverse invaders. The Hungarian king, Stephen V, gave the town and others in the region, called Spis, unusual privileges of self-government and autonomy. These boons lasted almost 600 years.
· Town of my Birth is a miracle

PS: My folkloric teacher, Marta Chamillova, used to sayIf you want to set something afire, you must burn yourself. I jumped into Morava river instead and almost drowned myself...
· Prague's Second Spring [Current Affairs Bulletin March 1990]

Habitually heartless.

The moral test of a government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life - the children; the twilight of life -the elderly; and the shadows of life -the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
- Hubert Humphrey

A bad case of superiority Children freed after years behind the wire

Some are either habitually ignorant or they are habitually heartless.
The Family Court has freed five young siblings detained for 32 months in immigration centres, saying they had been exposed to violence and other inappropriate behaviour.
· Victory for commonsense [SMH ]

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Mysterious Things

Advantages of a great sorrow is that nothing else seems painful.

Only The Lonely Know The Way I Feel Tonight A dyslexic Alpha Male walks into a bra

How To Become An Alpha Male in 18 Easy Lessons" series, so here are all the links so far. I figure no book exists that will ever explain the wonderful, crazy, sexy, charming, powerful, mysterious thing known as a man.
· What SNAGS Want!!! (Scary Stuff:: Read @ Your Own Peril) [HalleysComment ]
· Imrich and Fantastic in bed!!! (As Seen on Ka!! Video Network) [HalleysComment]

Friday, August 22, 2003

Up Close and Personal

· Heard of the Unexamined Life being like Totally Not Worth Living?

As we examine our past, we realise how much it is likely for the future to repeat itsef upon us. Waves of the certainty, often classified as change, continue to break on the shores of our creative lives. In the midst of this onslaught, the way forward can seem confusing and chaotic. Yet, as we enter a new era, beyond the information revolution, the opportunities, as Frank so rightly points out, are endless...

Rich Streams of the "new" Creative Leadership Up Close and Personal: Eternal Spring of Creativity

MD's Note: The following is the text of screenwriter/director Frank Pierson's commencement address to the 2003 USC film school graduating class.
We have to remind ourselves that this viewer is only another aspect of ourselves, that we have also in us-as he does-a better part, that needs to be cultivated and to express itself. There is no single audience with a single personality. There is the larger audience-currently under-served-that has vast variety of appetites that we can, we must, satisfy.
Liberal critics have raised the alarm over corporate censorship, the exclusion from theaters and TV of anything except what seems marketable and the eliminations of anything that might offend somebody anywhere. But the danger of censorship in America is less from business or the religious right or the self righteous left, than to self-censorship by artists themselves, who simply give up. If we can't see a way to get our story told, what is the point of trying? I wonder how many fine, inspiring ideas in every walk of life are strangled in the womb of the imagination because there's no way past the gates of commerce?
You are now our future, and this is the challenge you face. It is a bigger challenge than it seems because you cannot recapture something you never knew. It is your gargantuan task to create this spirit out of thin air, in the face of resistance and lack of interest, in your own style and out of your own imagination. Something new and as yet unknown.

· Creative Capital: To Reach and Touch the Angel in the Beast [Alternet: Are We Crazy Enough? ]

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The námêsti,

The námêsti,
the square that bears your name,
bore the names of soldiers
of the young Red Army—until nineteen
eighty-nine, the year no one had to die,
not God nor Kafka, for whom the fire

to warm the icy world was words.

Soviet invasion of Prague Be Not Afraid: As the Universal Solidarity of Freedom Always Prevails

Tomorrow will mark the 35th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Prague, a vile act which put an iron blanket over freedom in Central Europe for the next 21 years.

The solidarity of the Czechoslovak underground was deeper than the fear of secret police my countrymen shared. Freedom transcends geography, culture and generations. It especially the solidarity of young (naive) romantics, like Jan Palach, who at the age of 22 dreamt of and sacrificed for liberty.
As my folkloric teacher, Marta Chamillova, used to say If you want to set something afire, you must burn yourself.
In history there are times when action has to be taken, Jan Palach said from his deathbed.
As B Webb of the Guardian observes: 'Exchanging brutalism for another is not what Havel and his kind have in mind nor do such prescriptions fit the democratic habit of the Czechoslovak temperament, formed long before communism's arrival to power.
· Prague's Second Spring [Current Affairs Bulletin March 1990]
· The Tyranny of Fraternal Normalisation [MediaDragon]
· An Invasion Remembered [NCA]
· Tanks Rolling into Prague [BBC ]
· Communism and freedom cannot coexist [Boston ]

Sunday, August 17, 2003

The falling digital drops at last will wear the stone

The falling digital drops at last will wear the stone along the ancient Cold River.
--Lucretius misquoted

Paging Double Dragons Hello Kind Reader,

Somewhere in the near future, you will read a book that hasn't been produced in the way books are normally produced - i.e. printed on paper and bound. Digital books or ebooks exist in cyberspace as bits and bytes, but they're no less "books" for being represented by small electric currents. Many literary masterpieces can be read online and are accessible from myriad sources, some free and some for a fee.
Sexed up, extensive Australian site, Project Gutenberg of Australia, offers 250 free ebooks, including works by Australian authors and titles which are associated with Australia (although not necessarily written by an Australian).

· Godfather of the book: Guten (Betterberg) read [SMH]
· Welcome ArmadilloCon and Double Dragon Publishing Visitors! [eWise]
· Three men with courage to escape make a majority [eEscape]

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Primitive Escapes Are Magical because they are Shaped by Terror

Cold War's Forgotten Shapes

A Czech is asked, Do you consider Russians your brothers or your friends?
My brothers, of course,
the Czech replies.
Why 'of course'?
I get to choose my friends.

Soviet-era joke. The Tyranny of Fraternal Assistance

Next Thursday will be the 35th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Prague, a vile act which put an iron blanket over freedom in Central Europe for the next 21 years.
· Most people probably could not point to Czechoslovak High Tatra Moutains on a map [Reason via The Volokh Conspiracy]
· Cold River is microcosm of the Cold War. Big Brother's cold hand drowned two young souls in the Morava River. [Saloon: Mr Michael Orthofer, Managing Editor ]

For those who may not have come across it yet, BookCrossing is threefolds giver of joyReader's River

Releasing Books Into The Wild River The problem With Publishing Today – Is Primitive Terrors like Me

Bookcrossing has hit Manchester. On Saturday, hundreds of books will be released on to the streets of the city. Being a virtual writer makes as much sense as escaping communism across the Cold War River.
· Bookcrossing- But Can It Keep Its Soul? [The Guardian (UK)]
· It took over 50 years to finish his book [TRFTimes ]
We're the Girl Scout cookies of the literary world.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Tragedy was more philosophic than History

What Use Is Literature?

Literature, a dead art? Hardly. It will instruct and inspire long after books by our angry, arrogant, and obtuse generation of critics have turned to dust, says Myron Magnet
Aristotle perhaps didn’t go far enough when he said that tragedy was more philosophic than history, concentrating as it does on what might be rather than merely on what had been. He might have gone on to say that tragedy—or, more broadly, literature—is more philosophic even than philosophy. It is a form of knowledge that draws on all our ways of knowing, rather than on ratiocination alone. And it is a more intense form of knowledge, since, unlike philosophy, it isn’t constantly taking its own pulse, or checking its instruments, anxiously asking itself how it can know this or that.

· As Dickens would say, it just goes and knows it [city-journal ]

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fundamental truth of life

Truth is ugly

Nietzsche said it: 'We possess art lest we perish of the truth.' The only virtue left in this day and age is courage before the hopeless. The only art is one whose symbols will catch the fundamental truth of life, its tragedy. Primitive art is magical because it is shaped by terror.'
· Ironically, Seek My Beauty [SMH ]
· Everybody Has A Story [Suntimes viaPoynter]

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Run River ... Run Run Run

This is the kind of exposure all publishers and writers dream of ... A great stroke of luck.
--eBook born out of 22 year old silence

arts & cultures: Crossing the same river twice: Run river. Run river. Run. Run. Run... Run Ondrej. Run Jozef. Run Milan. Run! Run! Run!

As writers (and likely as perfectionists of our own work), how do we decide when a piece is finally finished and ready for publication? Having my first daughter born exactly 9 months after the Velvet Revolution was, perhaps, one of the most remarkable illustrations of how hope can spring from the most appalling of tragedies. Authors are also aware of another birth. The birth of their story. A story which is much more important than their own survival.
Under communism Iron Curtain was a sacred and mysterious space, a boundary not to be crossed. Transgression of this boundary was the act of a criminal and a heroic nature. Iron Curtain was the ultimate line between fragile me and the rest of the wonderful world because like nothing else the curtain embodied liberating ideas of a particular time and place.

· Welcome ArmadilloCon and Double Dragon Publishing Visitors! [eRun]
· Three men with courage to run make a majority [eWisdom]
· I particularly relish the opportunity to share this review [WomenOnWriting]]
· As a taut wire cuts through cheese [Rushdie: YaleReview]
· Embargo This Book [Potty Harry]
· Ask and ye shall receive! Steal This eBook [Cold River]

Friday, August 08, 2003

Author of His Own Destiny

Author of His Own Destiny Hardworking Authors

A lot of writers prefer to remain above the actual business of selling books. Christopher Paolini is not numbered among those. In fact, the young author has gone to great personal lengths to get his book into the hands of as many people as possible.
· Paolini [CS Monitor]

Reason #10625 why I use a Mac
· Mac [News ]

Thursday, August 07, 2003

My Maiden Review

I come from a fertile family almost completerly stacked with women, consisting of four sisters and twelve aunties, who taught me how to survive in a totalitarian (and even the publishing) world. Two of my aunties, Zofka and Ota, also chose to live in exile at a very young age rather than face the daily absurdity of life under communism. So I hope that one day I might share their extraordinary journeys on the road less traveled in more details with people who seem separated from my Pecharcik & Imrich families by more than two degrees.

Book Review Cold River

Jozef Imrich's escape is breathtaking and mind-boggling. It is hard to imagine this, and, yet, with the gift of a talented guide, one is left well able to not only imagine it, but to feel it. He gives a very human face to Communism. As the book progresses, the common humanity the reader feels with the writer ceases to be unsettling and becomes enlightening.
· I relish the opportunity to share this hearty review by Janet Schmidt [Women on Writing]

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Devil's Disciples

Loyal Henchmen The Devil's Disciples

Louis Menand has a very interesting essay in the New Yorker on totalitarian regimes and the people who live under them:

Few puzzles in political philosophy are more daunting than the Problem of the Loyal Henchmen. The Problem of the Loyal Henchmen is a subset of the more familiar Problem of Authority. Why does authority command obedience? A man who tells you to pick your gum wrapper up off the sidewalk is generally ignored; a man in a uniform who makes the same request, even if it is the uniform of a bus driver, is instinctively obeyed. People wearing white lab coats and carrying clipboards, with no other evidence of expertise, have succeeded in persuading subjects in psychology experiments to act in the belief that they are torturing other human beings. In these cases, people can persuade themselves that the authorities they obey are benign ... that picking up litter and torturing other human beings in a laboratory are in the interests of civic order and scientific progress. The Problem of the Loyal Henchmen arises when people willingly obey authorities everyone knows to be evil. Why, after the villain has fled in his private submarine, and while the high-tech palace crashes and burns, does the last unincinerated member of the villains private militia risk his life to take a shot at James Bond? Loyalty to Blofeld? Loyalty to the principles of Blofeldism? What could that mean?

· And it gives plausibility to the henchman who sacrifices his life to take a final shot at James Bond [NewYorker]

Monday, August 04, 2003

I want to hear your story...

Somebody once wrote that there's no more seductive sentence in the English language than, I want to hear your story...

Literature The Power of Editing

Editors also validate, deep-down listen, plan, trust, and -- in a myriad of other ways -- make great writing possible. Editors testify to the power to lead, shape, encourage, check, prod, teach, above all, to communicate.
· Unique marriage of civic clarity and literary grace [Pynter ]

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Leges sine moribus vanae

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

The big thieves hang the little ones
-- Czech Proverb

Three virtues: humility, docility and responsibility Ethics is everybody's business: The sad decline of ethics in business, politics and the media

Humility is in reality, a strength and involves acknowledging both our abilities and our limitations.
Docility, usually perceived negatively, literally means easy to teach. Learning should be a lifetime experience.
Responsibility, to those less fortunate than you, to your community, to your country, to the world. And he cited Penn's motto, "Leges sine moribus vanae" (laws without morals are meaningless).

· A lack of ethics erodes confidence in our primary societal institutions: government, business and the press [Daily Pennsylvanian]
· The promises of authors are like the vows of lovers [ Guardian]
· 'Libraries are as much about losing the truth ... as about discovering it [National Post (Canada) 07/31/03 ]
· The desire to cast off oppression and create a better society seems to bring people everywhere closer together; despite characters like "The Thresher" [The Prague Post]