In the ink well

Dog Ear

July 14, 2016

The Loaner (DOG EAR)

t’s been a weird sorta a year. Maybe it’s because my site pulls in about 200 readers per blog (not many, but I’m proud of the hits). Or maybe it’s because I’ll chat about books and reading at work and over at the model train club. But I’m known as a writer and a reader, and suddenly this year I’ve been buried in loaned books. Last year it started with The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear, two monster books you can use to chock a car’s wheels to keep it from rolling. And then the deluge […]
July 7, 2016

Double Negative (DOG EAR)

is complexion was dark, the eyes and hair almost black; the former very bright and penetrating; his brow was high, broad and square; his nose was prominent, and there was about the mouth an expression of firmness, not unmixed with kindness. This from Caesar’s Column, a book by Ignatious Donnelly, written ornately in 1890. Now, I understand the baroque dialog of the time and often (as in the case of War of the Worlds) love it. But here it gave me pause. And not in a reflective good-way. No, I had to stop and decode what was being said. So, […]
June 30, 2016

Free to Play (DOG EAR)

kay, trust me on this. You want to click down this link. Yes, this is Robert telling you this: the star-peeping, train-running, cat-petting, bike-riding guy. Have fun!    CLICK TO PLAY MY ADVENTURE.   >>>CLICK TO BUY MY BOOK!<<<
June 23, 2016

Graying over Grey (DOG EAR)

kay, Sherlock, figure this one out. A friend loans me the book Shades of Grey. From that alone, is the writer English or American? My head is filled with a lot of useless rubbish. I can remember scenes from movies so trivial it would make your nose bleed (in the afore-mentioned Shades, there is a reference to the line “And don’t you yell at me, Mr. Warwick!” – I instantly got it). And so, that question – Yankee or Limey, which is it? I read somewhere that that color between black and white, the one with fifty shades? If you […]
June 16, 2016

Upshift (DOG EAR)

t was about the hardest thing I’ve ever read (the review is already up), The Republic. Not that the contents were difficult. I just had a hard time focusing on it. Listening to Plato’s version of oh-so-clever Socrates lay out logical lines of reasoning really became tedious. And with his listener supplying gushing large amounts of “Such is true” and “It is how you say” and “Dat’s a fact, Jack!”. Really, it’s like those times I sit in a diner or bar and overhear blowhards a table or two down talking about a political candidate I simply cannot fathom or […]
June 9, 2016

Opener (DOG EAR)

e’ve talked about the importance of hooks, and how critical it is to draw a short-attention-span audience into buying/reading your masterwork. So how about character development? Shouldn’t we be able to form our character descriptions quickly? Hundreds of years ago, traveling troupes set up archetypes so that ignorant peasants in every village wouldn’t have to suffer the drag of character development. Scaramouch was always the trickster and weaver of plots. Harlequin was the mute jester. And so on. The characters dressed and acted according to their established types and were known immediately to their audiences. So here’s a good example […]
June 2, 2016

Gamebooks (DOG EAR)

kay, this one seems like a natural for me. You might have heard of Gamebooks. These are the branching type of adventures we used to see in all the wargame shops in the 80s. In them, you’d buy a book and read the opening chapter. Perhaps you were crossing a picturesque stone bridge and realized there was a troll under it. The story would break, and you’d see something like If you want to fight the troll, goto page 14. If you want to cross the bridge and continue up the path, goto page 24. Each of those pages would […]
May 26, 2016

Interruptions (DOG EAR)

t’s funny how creative and not-so-creatives view the very act of creation, but it’s certainly differently. See, I see it that I’m working with Squiffy, a sharp little adventure creator. You remember those old adventures where the computer would tell you a scene (“…You are in a path in the forest. The road runs north and south. To the east, there is the sound of rushing water. What will you do…?”) Yeah, back then we played about every Scott Adam’s adventure there was. Anyway, Squiffy lets you do this fairly easily (had to learn a couple of java script tricks). […]
May 19, 2016

New Media (DOG EAR)

eah, I always go after new media. Today on the train everyone was squintin’ and clickin’ (I, sniff-snuff, was reading Plato’s The Republic). But I bash the open changes we’ve seen, from Amazon rankings to cute media stunts to tie-ins to promotions and everything in between. But even I change, even though I resist. Was buying a mouse (for my computer, not my cat) at Best Buy the other night. They are hanging on by their fingertips (boooo, Amazon), which made me melancholy (for a box store – see – that’s part of it). But then I wandered through the […]
May 12, 2016

An unholy experiment (DOG EAR)

he screw was a half inch long, wickedly sharp and corkscrew-twisted. Tossed without thought into a truck bed, it had rattled out as the wheels bounced across the uneven railroad crossing. And there it had lain, piercingly sharp, until I’d wheeled along on the bike on my way to work. Somehow the passage of the front tire set it to dancing, it binged butt-first against the concrete just in time for the trailing tire to strike it dead on. Bang! A reverberating shock shuddered my frame as I rode over it again and again, the tip of the screw hitting […]