Friday, April 29, 2022

A Dumb Question and a Questionable Action


Put Computer in Tray for Airport Security Check-in

The Question`

At the airport, the desk agent checking me in asked, “Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?”

You’ve probably been asked this, too.

But what answer are they looking for? If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?

More on this in a moment

The Action

When going through my baggage at the airport security checkpoint, the agent discovered a bottle of sunscreen in my bag. It was over the legal limit of ounces for carry on.

She very nicely said that she was sorry, but I couldn’t take it on the plane. Then she tossed it into a large plastic tub filled with other confiscated bottles, tubes, and jars.

My understanding is that these items are appropriated because they might be fuel for an explosive or incendiary device. 

So, the best place to put my potentially explosive 9 ounces is in a tub brimming with other potentially explosive materials? Potentially making a tiny bomb into a huge one?

I was going to ask this question. but my wife shot me the "shut up" look that she's perfected over the years.

I've grown accustomed to seeing and periodically obeying this glare. I shut up


Back to the Question

The last time I was asked, “Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?” my wife wasn't with me. I responded, “If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?”

The agent smiled knowingly and nodded. “That's why we ask.”

I didn't need the "shut up" look.

I smiled back and headed to the nearest bar for a cocktail or three.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Aaron Sorkin on Writers' Block

 In 2016, TV and film screenwriter, playwright, and director Aaron Sorkin was interviewed by Stephen Galloway for The Hollywood Reporter.

Aaron Sorkin on Writer's Block

GALLOWAY: You’ve said that writer’s block is your default position. How do you get over that? 

SORKIN: I take six or eight showers a day.

GALLOWAY: That’s a lot.  

SORKIN: Yeah, and I’m not a germophobe. It has nothing to do with that. I have a shower at home, I have a shower at the office. It’s a do over. It’s a reset. If it’s not going well, if I can’t think of anything, I get in the shower, I take a shower, I put on different clothes, and try again.  On a really bad day, I’ll be incredibly clean.

In 2021, he was interviewed by Sonya Alexander for Script.

ALEXANDER: What do you do to overcome writer's block?

SORKIN: Writer’s block is my default position! Peppered by ‘I have a thing now.’ I allow myself to be miserable for a bit. I like driving around, listening to music I listened to in high school. I talk out loud to myself. Start arguments with myself. When I was doing The West Wing, I received a delivery from Scott Sassa. It was a headset. He told me he was next to me at a light one time and I looked like a madman talking to myself.

ALEXANDER: Did you use the headset?

SORKIN: Yes, I did…!

In 2022, he told Focus on Film:

So which one is it, Aaron?

I suspect he uses these three and a few more depending on his state of mind at the time.

If I ever meet him, I'll ask him. 

But it really doesn't matter.

Cause he deals with it and the result is great writing.


Aaron Sorkin is known for his sharp wit used in writing fast-paced dialogue and rousing monologues. His work includes A Few Good Men, the West Wing, The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Moneyball, and The Newsroom.



The Hollywood Reporter:


Focus on Film:

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Read Read Read Write Write Write

Want to be a better writer?

15 Quotes About Why Writers Should Read

In the words of Cole Schafer:

Reading has changed my life.

It’s a friend that always picks up.

It’s an escape hatch on the afternoons when my mind is heavy with worry.

It’s a mirror to look within myself when my awareness is lacking.

It’s a time-machine that lets me read the thoughts of those that lived before me.

It’s a teacher that teaches me how to live fuller and love harder and speak kinder and be easier (on both myself and others).

It’s a luxury, perhaps one of the only luxuries, that doesn’t cost a fortune.

William Faulkner:

Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.

Richard Steele:

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Annie Proulx:

You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.  


Jan Fortune:

Reading not only expands your imagination, vocabulary and empathy but also your ability to reshape your writing in unexpected ways.

Maya Angelou:

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.

Paul Graham:

You can't replace reading with other sources of information like videos, because you need to read in order to write well, and you need to write in order to think well.

Stephen King: 

The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing; one comes to the country of the writer with one's papers and identification pretty much in order. Constant reading will pull you into a place (a mind-set, if you like the phrase) where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn't, what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying (or dead) on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor. 

André Maurois:

Writing is a difficult trade which must be learned slowly by reading great authors; by trying at the outset to imitate them; by daring then to be original and by destroying one's first productions. 

Mark Twain

The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.

Roald Dahl

If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books. 

Tony Hillerman:

The best way to learn to write is by reading. Reading critically, noticing paragraphs that get the job done, how your favorite writers use verbs, all the useful techniques. A scene catches you? Go back and study it. Find out how it works.

Mary B. W. Tabor:

One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list.

Madeleine L'Engle:

You can't be a writer if you're not a reader. It's the great writers who teach us how to write. 

Lisa See:

Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river. 

Daniel Pinkwater:

Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun.

Ernest Gaines:

The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.


J.K. Rowling became a billionaire writing books.

Jeff Bezos became a billionaire selling books.

Warren Buffet became a billionaire reading books.

What book are you currently reading?

Here's a good place to choose your next one:

Sunday, April 3, 2022

The more I edit, the better I write.

The more I edit other people's writing, the better my writing becomes.

This struck me when I saw this quote from Eddie Shleyner: “The more I edit, the better I write” about editing his own copy.

Eddie Shleyner
Eddie Shleyner
I agree wholeheartedly.

But, until I thought about it, I hadn't realized how editing other people's writing had impacted my own.

When editing another writer's work, I want to be able to justify the edit to the writer, if necessary. So I think about each edit differently (and in greater depth) than when working on my own writing. I believe this process is positively impacting my writing both in early drafts and during final editing.

Guess it's just "exercising the muscle" in a different way.


NOTE: In 2021, I was interviewed by Eddie: Micro-Interview: Scott Frothingham, Copywriter

The Parking Spot Next to the Front Door

“You could sell sawdust to a lumber mill,” said my boss as he threw his arm around Byron’s shoulders. The team applauded as Byron held up th...