I just realized tomorrow will be the 1st anniversary of writing what has become the first chapter of this novel I’ve been chewing on ever since.

I suppose it started as an exercise, a challenge to write a character that needed to be brought to life, if only for one very short story. That brief introduction to him was enough to get me hooked and out of it a story was born.

Twelve months (though really only 5), eleven chapters, and 128 pages later I’ve hit that first major milestone, the one-third mark. My two main characters are alive; they’re real and struggling, and more importantly, I’ve finally brought them together despite the unlikeliness of their meeting. I suppose, not knowing I was starting a novel back then, that’s not too shabby.

Of course, after reaching the milestone, it didn’t take long for the ol’ writer’s curse to set in – doubt. On top of the ever present, “No one will ever want to read this,” and “What the hell am I wasting my time for?” I’m now battling all sorts of story-specific questions like, “Are my characters real enough?” “Will anyone actually care about them?” “Have I shown enough of their struggles and strengths?” “Was their meeting too contrived?”

Shadows of such shallow confidence are darkening the path ahead and I’m not sure what to do. I’m still caught in the quandary of going back or forging ahead. Do I throw it in reverse to add the stuff I know I need to add, to change the things that surely need to be changed, and to analyze what’s there to see if it even holds water? Or do I plod ahead, knowing full well that there are things missing in the first third of the story that I’ll have to go back and add later?

There are arguments for both, and I’m stuck between them. I hoping for an inspiration or revelation to push me in one direction or the other, especially since I really want to finish a draft this year.

Man, I didn’t see this coming.


I finally did it.

Last night I watched my last unseen film on the AFI’s original Top 100 list.

If you don’t know, in 1998 the American Film Institute (AFI) polled “more than 1500 leaders of the American movie community” to establish a list of America’s 100 Greatest Movies (they’ve since “revised” the list, which I don’t understand and refuse to acknowledge for a host of reasons which I’ll not discuss now).

I was 24 and living in near-poverty in glorious Jackson, Wyoming in 1998. With few friends and little money, it was fortuitous that the local video store had dedicated an entire wall to the AFI’s shiny, new list. As I recall, 96 of the 100 films were on their shelf (some of these are hard to find) and I set out to watch them all.

At the time, I had seen 48, so I was starting from a good spot. Another 30 or so I had always wanted to see or thought I should, based on historical significance or legendary status. This left about 20 films that I would likely have to force myself to watch.

I dove in and tore off a big chunk of the “always-wanted-to-sees,” watching fifteen of them over the course of that long winter, which, stuffed in between my three low-paying jobs, was actually pretty impressive.

By the summer of ‘99 I had made more friends; I planned and traveled on a remarkable journey; I met my future partner and, I’m pleased to say, my movie-watching was displaced by good times. Eventually, I left Jackson and have yet to find another video store that houses the AFI’s Top 100 within their walls. My noble goal remained unachieved.

In late 2011, many years after discovering Netflix, callings of the list began to haunt me. I dusted off my printed copy from ’98 and set out to finish the goal I’d set so many years before. Two years and four months later (life does tend to get in the way), I’m proud to say I’ve done it. Read the rest of this entry »

It took me a while to get in the Christmas spirit this year.  It’s not that I was down, or reluctant; I’ve just had a lot going on and it seemed like all of the build up evaporated before I hardly had a chance to acknowledge it.

We put up the tree a week later than usual, so that didn’t help (yes, it’s artificial and just the right size for our little house).  And we’ve been in such a “doing” mode all fall, it kind of perpetuated into the holidays and didn’t leave us much time for sipping cocoa (with Bailey’s) and singing carols in the living room.

The sad thing is, I recall having the same notion last year, that Christmas kind of snuck up on me, and quite possibly the year before that. I’m not certain, but it wouldn’t surprise me. That made me wonder if this is now going to be the norm.

I mean, ten years ago, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas felt much longer. And thirty years ago it felt like an absolute eternity, sprawled out like an endless barrier between me and a host of irresistible presents sure to ceaselessly delight and entertain me for the rest of eternity, if only I could ever reach them.

As I’ve grown older my perception of the passage of time, of course, has sped up, as I’m sure will continue to be the case. But in regard to the month of December, it seems it has doubly so. No sooner has the last piece of pumpkin pie made it into my belly, than I am thawing the Christmas kringle to greet us on the morning of the 25th. Thrift! Thrift, Santa Claus! The Thanksgiving-baked meats do coldly furnish forth the yuletide tables. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve had a couple of really productive weeks now, making huge gains on both of my writing days. Once I set things in motion, scenes are flowing out of me rather smoothly and I have a lot of confidence that what is getting down on the page is pretty good, for a first draft at least.

As the story evolves, however, I find myself starting to recognize that some things I’ve written will have to change, move, or even be deleted entirely.  I’ll be working on a chapter and remember that something I had written much earlier might conflict with what I had just put on the page. Then, once I knew about it, it would needle me, popping up again and again in my head, nagging me to go back and change it.

I’ll admit, I did a little of that, the going back and changing. Just a touch. One big conflicting piece that simply had to be moved and edited. I had to in order to keep moving the story forward. But beyond that one instance, I decided to make a few notes and leave the rest be for now.

Mistake? We’ll see. But my logic was based on the fact that I am SO close to reaching a major milestone—basically the end of the set-up and exposition—that to turn back now would be almost entirely self-defeating.  Indeed there is something to be said for the motivating power of momentum.

Here’s the deal: the ten chapters I’ve written thus far all lead up to two significant scenes, likely told in two chapters, one of which I’m ¾ of the way through. These scenes are tough; they involve a lot of careful wording and, since the story is written as a 3rd person narrative with limited omniscience, a high degree of fairness and introspection from the two main characters involved. In other words, I’ve got to adequately and realistically portray both characters’ thoughts, emotions, and inclinations, while still bringing them together in what would otherwise be a relatively unrealistic scenario. But hey, I can do that; I’m the author and that’s what fiction is all about.

In any case, knowing how good it will feel when I’ve finished these scenes and reached the milestone, I want to keep trudging toward that. Then perhaps I’ll take a little break, circle back and see what pieces I’ve left out-of-place or no longer need.

Until then, write on.

I’ve had some really productive days in the last six weeks, despite not typing a single word of my story for the past two.

Life stuff happens, you know? Good or bad (in this case, very, very good), every now and again, something bubbles up that just can’t be pushed aside. Life is a shifting sea. Sometimes you find yourself in calm, peaceful waters; sometimes you’re twisting under gargantuan waves and clinging to the oars as tightly as you can.

So despite my best intentions, turbulent tides have forced my attentions away from my novel for two weeks. Yes, I feel denied. Yes, I feel guilty. But I don’t feel the least bit lazy since I’ve hardly had a moment’s rest in ten days and I’ve got plenty to show for my time. But of course, none of it gets me closer to finishing a novel. Which brings me to my point.

In past years, I would have felt bad putting it off, thinking I couldn’t do it. But because the preceding four writing days had been so productive, I’m not that down on myself.

Hoping not to jinx it, the truth is I’ve been quite successful lately at making the most use of the time that I do spend working on my story. Knowing that life can, and will, get in the way, that sometimes I will not be able to spend as much time as I hoped writing, the secret is not to beat myself up over it. Because when we do sit down to pound the keys, it’s just not going to help if we’re black and blue with self-defeat and frustration.

You’ve got to make the most of the time you have. So when I get there, when I’ve cleared out the obstacles, reined in the perceived responsibilities, drowned out the distractions, and I sit down to actually work, I clear my head deliberately, look at where I left off, step into the zone, and start cranking. It wasn’t easy at first, but after three weeks, it started to almost feel like ability, even skill. Inch by inch, yard by yard, I can tell I’m getting better at it.

It feels good honing myself, finding that state of calm, creative alertness. Hopefully, it will still be there next Friday.

Write on.

Fine, so I’m not as far along as I thought I’d be.

It’s been just over two months since my plotting workshop and the big, hearty boost it gave me. Despite being all gung-ho and “I can take on the world” after it concluded, naturally, that wore off after a bit. No longer spending every minute of every day thinking about my novel, surrounded by interested and helpful writers might have something to do with that. Just as,  I’m sure, going back to work and taking care of a home and having to cook and do laundry and walk the dogs and tie my shoes all played their part.

But I’m really trying not to point to excuses or get down on myself for the modest gains I’ve made. The success lies in that I’ve kept at it, writing at least some notes 2-3 times each week, and writing 5-10 pages every couple of Fridays. Yes, the time I spend at my keyboard is productive all right, I just don’t spend it there often enough.

Nonetheless, I’m making progress. More importantly, I’m making process. After toying with an outline for several weeks after the workshop, I was getting frustrated at not getting any words on the page and still not having every little detail figured out. Finally, I said “to hell with it” and I started actually writing the first third of the story, since that part had the clearest milestones already in place.

It was the right choice. The day I stopped outlining and actually started writing, I pounded out over 10 pages. Pretty good ones too, for a 1st draft.

So, lesson learned. Work the outline as best you can. When it starts to piss you off, start writing. Lets you feel productive again and keeps the muscle flexing. Gives your characters being. Flushes out more of the story. Makes the milestones feel closer together and more congruent. Gives you a sense of urgency.

It’s Friday. Back to the story.

I’m going to do this.

I just spent an incredible week at a fiction writer’s workshop and I’m exhausted.Pen

See, I’ve been having some trouble plotting lately. No, not my nefarious plans for world domination, my novel. It’s not that I don’t have ideas for my plot; I have plenty. It’s that I don’t typically have a lot of confidence when to comes to those ideas. I get all caught up in my own head worrying that what I’ve laid out is uninteresting, or cliché, or weak, or inconsequential, or mundane, or lacks sufficient buoyancy to sustain an entire novel.

Yes, the age-old writer’s curse—self doubt—seems to have grabbed hold of my former amateurish confidence and choked it out like Royce Gracie on a championship night. I’ve been stuck. Floundering in a lack of self-confidence, I would stare blankly at my noble and approachable characters, unable to craft any tasks and challenges that I deemed worthy of them, or worse, of my potential readers.

So on a whim, I trekked to Iowa City for some writer’s respite and much-needed instruction from the “sages of the Foxhead.”

I went hoping that I would acquire some methods and tactics to eventually formulate a plot that could sustain a novel. Instead, I left with an actual sustained plot for my novel!

Granted, it’s a rough one, but when my incredible instructor helped me drop the last significant piece into place, the floodgates opened and a newfound clarity caused the rest of the story to flow out of me so quickly my fingers could barely keep up.

What started as a half-dozen key plot points quickly became a comprehensive outline, which then evolved into a full scene index with several dozen installments. By the end of the week I had all of my milestones laid out before me (well, most of them) and I couldn’t wait to start writing my way down that winding road.

Yes, it was a very rewarding, invigorating experience and for any writers out there, I highly recommend it. Much can be said about just the opportunity and environment: taking a week off to be away from work, home, life, and its responsibilities and dedicating that time instead to writing, thinking about writing, and surrounding yourself with writers who are doing the same. Cliché though it may be, it’s magical.

So with this renewed sense of purpose, and a wee bit of validation to bolster my confidence, I’ve got a roadmap for my newest literary project and frankly, I’m stoked about it.

Why am I telling you? The reasons are twofold. Read the rest of this entry »


Just before the turn of the century, I created an extraordinary opportunity for myself.

Taking full advantage of the privileges of youth, I decided to use my new home in the Tetons as the launching pad for what I would later call my “last great adventure of the 20th Century”.

GNP-GttSr-McDonaldCreekFor eight months I planned, prepped, scrimped, and saved, working a second and sometimes third job to sock away enough dough to take six weeks off (unpaid, mind you) to travel the western US and parts of Canada, free as a leaf on the wind. Well, as free as a leaf could be if, wanting to get the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it had a well-planned route and a fairly rigid schedule to see everything it wanted to in the time it had.

Despite my best efforts, every time I tried to route a shorter trip the main attraction at the apogee was always just a few hours from another “always wanted to see” place. After half a dozen extensions, I had a grand loop around the western third of the US and I knew I couldn’t do it any other way. So in the late summer of 1999, maps and sleeping bag in hand, I hit the road with one close friend and one acquaintance to tackle the amazing and mostly unseen-by-me western US, an undiscovered land that held so much to see that I just couldn’t do it half-heartedly.

A testament to my organized and preparatory nature, I am proud to say that in those six weeks we travelled over 6000 miles, visiting 9 states/provinces, 17 National Parks or Monuments, and 16 cities, almost all of which I had never seen before (nor since). Read the rest of this entry »

I never use the dishwasher.Dishwasher_Vortex

There are a host of reasons why, not the least of which is that I grew up without one and therefore became accustomed to doing the dishes by hand. As a result, I actually find solace in the peaceful process of hand washing, not to mention the satisfaction of seeing the gradual fruit of my labors, which demonstrates a crucial difference between the two—active versus passive, and I tend to prefer action.

When it comes to dishwashers, however, I have numerous complaints about the entire “dishwasher process” not to mention the typically dissatisfying results.

Yes, as a conservationist, I am aware of the argument and research to support the notion that using the dishwasher actually saves water. And whether the carbon footprint of electricity use offsets the savings in water remains uncertain to me. Nonetheless I prefer to wash by hand, keeping the water at a trickle for most of the process.

I should probably emphasize that most definitely I see where a dishwasher has its place. Specifically, when hosting large groups for dinner or assisting a family of 5 or more, I get it. But in the typical day-to-day, for a small household like mine, the dishwasher seems more of an inconvenience, even a nuisance, than anything else.

And so begineth my rationale: Read the rest of this entry »

Immediately after President Obama took office in Jan. 2009, I began to see unsubstantiated bumper stickers appear with slogans like, “How’s all that change workin’ out for ya?” and “Don’t blame me, I voted for McCain!” which I found both hilarious and saddening since the president had not even unpacked his suitcase before ignorant voters were blaming him for the state of affairs.

It was as if the direct links to the previous 28 years of Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush were completely erased the moment a black Democrat assumed office. After all, the president had not even addressed congress, much less signed any new legislation. But sure, the recession, the financial collapse, the burst of the housing bubble, the bank bailouts—all of which occurred before Obama took the oath—yeah, that was all his fault.

In other words, Republicans were all too willing to criticize the president for things that had nothing to do with his administration, and could not have since he wasn’t in office when they happened, and had no evidence (tangible or otherwise) to back up their claims.

If conservatives were so willing to blame President Obama for things that did not happen during his tenure, surely they will be equally anxious to decry the role of government and the office of the executive after witnessing decidedly sharp and notable declines resulting from several years of flawed, foolish, dyed-in-the-wool Republican policy from a puppet governor. Won’t they?

So let us examine the current affairs in the state off Wisconsin, shall we? Read the rest of this entry »

I’m going to tread on dangerous ground today. It’s likely to garner more dissension than anything I have posted about heretofore. Mired in controversy and known to provoke extremely emotional responses, I am already bracing myself for the backlash that will likely result from this post, and others to follow on this same, touchy subject.

It’s not abortion, nor same-sex marriage. Nor is it school prayer or the role of government in society. No, this is something much more polarizing and tempestuous. Today I’m posting about Star Wars.

Interestingly, I actually was going to publish a post on the current status of gun control; but Star Wars, I fear, will produce even more vitriol and ire, into which I shall now dive.

Here it is: Simply put, the Star Wars Prequels suck.

And I don’t just mean they’re bad, I’m mean they are so tremendously horrible that they have now successfully poisoned my 35-year enjoyment of the Original Trilogy (Episodes 4-6).

There! I said it. God that feels good! Why, now, am I making this proclamation? Glad you asked. Read the rest of this entry »

NixonThumbIn our second foray into rating past presidents, we’re going to tackle a political giant, an enigma whose presidency was both enamored with political sagacity and clouded with sordid scandal. Yes, after previously paying homage to one of our greatest leaders, this time we’ll be assigning D&D ability scores to one of our greatest disappointments, Richard M. Nixon.

Don’t worry, there’s much more to President Nixon than his shameful end and the arrogance that precipitated it, so I won’t just be harping on Watergate (in fact, it actually provided a boost to several scores).

This list of ability scores is generated according to the rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons – 1st Edition (again, ‘cuz I’m old). If you aren’t familiar with D&D, that’s okay, you don’t need to be. Here’s the gist: an individual is scored on six innate abilities: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Human scores typically range from 3 to 18 (3 being pathetic, 10-11 being average, and 18 being exceptional).

So here we go, for big Dick’s scores: Read the rest of this entry »

PrintUsually, I try to concentrate on new writing projects. But every now and again, I am compelled to crack open my musty folders full of unpublished stories of auld lang syne and pore over them once again, full of reminiscence and longing.

In many ways they have withstood the test of time. They are still relevant, for the most part; I still like them and believe in them. I typically still like the characters too. And in feeling as much, I find I experience some regret, if not sorrow at their never having been published. And once that starts, I get sucked in.

“Why didn’t it get published?” I wonder. “Can I do anything to it to make it better?” After all, some of these tales are 10 or 15 years old and I freely admit that I’m a better writer now, by leaps and bounds. That being said, what if the story was great, but my talents were simply not up to the task at the time it sprang forth? Sure, I gave it my best, but now that the older and more experienced me has applied his scrutinizing eye, I can see scores upon scores of editorial notes that I know would make it read better. So out comes the red pen and the markups begin. Since they’ve never been published, what’s the harm in touching them up a little? No one would know but me.

But here’s the quandary, these stories have a certain sentimental value in their original state. As their creator, it is now somewhat painful to read them and hear the voice that I once had, laden with crudeness and amateur phrasings. Yet they are still reflections of who and where I was at the time they were written. And certainly they serve as a literary photo album, offering glimpses of past milestones on the road of my maturation as a writer. It occurs to me that, though they might not have been good enough to be published, they still have value, if none other than a stepping stone to the next story, and the next, and so on.

I don’t try to sell my short stories anymore; there just isn’t much of a market for them it seems. And what market does exist is inundated with submissions, slow to respond (if at all), and often governed by ridiculously low word counts. So in the end I suppose my time is better spent on other projects, but the question remains: is it wrong, a betrayal of sorts, to revisit old, unpublished writings from the past and try to remold them with the words from my inner voice of the present? Do an unsold story and its crafted characters deserve the finest presentation I can give them, the best shot possible at ever seeing pages of print? Or is it nobler to preserve the scribblings of my past persona, errors, clichés, and homespun howlings all included, and retain them as souvenirs of the writer I once was?

Perhaps someday I’ll publish a collection of my short stories and an editor will finally help me decide what to fix and what to forget. But until then, I fear I shall be tempted again and again by calls from my past yarns, yearning to be re-spun with the shinier tools I have today.

What’s your persuasion? Should I shine them up or shove them aside?

I practice a sort of thievery.

Not a malicious one mind you, or illegal, at least not yet. And as far as I know my crimes are victimless, and if I do well, often embraced and appreciated. I never plan my heists and never know what tiny observance may spawn one as it may be years down the road that I eventually recognize my plunder. My spoils are random, and often worthless by themselves, and they’re impossible to reunite with their original owners, but nonetheless I stole them.

Yes, in truth, I’m a bit of a thief. You may even be my next victim, and there’s nothing you can do about it; I have immunity. After all, I’m writer.

One of the arcane and villainous joys of creative writing is the license it gives me to draw upon just about anything I’ve ever encountered and use it unabashedly for my own selfish purposes. Read the rest of this entry »

In light of the approaching inauguration, rather than spurting the same old policy drivel that I usually throw out, today I’m going to toy with a new theme. Glancing back through our history, I thought it might be fun to examine past presidents of these United States and generate a list of their ability scores according to the rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons – 1st Edition (‘cuz I’m old and that’s what I learned on).

If you aren’t familiar with D&D, that’s okay, you don’t need to be. Here’s the gist: an individual is scored on six innate abilities: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Human scores typically range from 3 to 18 (3 being pathetic, 10-11 being average, and 18 being exceptional).

All I’m going to do is rate past presidents on these abilities, based on what we knew about them. I think Dexterity will be the hardest, since we typically don’t hear about how nimble or agile our presidential figures have been. But I’ll do my best.

Why am I doing this? I suppose because it’s fun. And once we have a few, maybe I’ll match up a couple in a competition and role-play out a victor. I’d love nothing more than to orchestrate a scenario where John Quincy Adams completely embarrasses W. in a battle of wits or Taft squashes Martin Van Buren under his thunderous derrière.

So I think I’ll start with my most-favoritest President, the great and loveable Theodore Roosevelt:

TeddyLaughSTRENGTH: 17 – Known for his physical exploits, Teddy may be the brawniest of our past leaders. Though far from herculean, he is surely deserving of a near-the-top ranking. Read the rest of this entry »

Just a quick post while we’re still enveloped in the limbo between two year-end holidays.

As with most of my friends and family, my Christmas tradition has evolved over the years to include the dedicated viewing of various motion pictures. Naturally, the collection is greater than the season permits, and so every year at least some of the holiday movies list remains unwatched. However, there are a handful of staples that always seem to make their way onto the docket and so I thought I’d share them in the spirit of the season.

Below please find a list of my top 5 Christmas movies: Read the rest of this entry »

As I have said before, I really love Christmas. Unlike so many Americans, however, it isn’t the gifts or food that warm my heart; nor is it the religious origin of the Christmas holiday, the birth of Jesus and the mythology that now surrounds it. Sacrilegious, I know, but over the last couple of centuries the culture of Christmas has evolved to carry a message entirely its own.

In my heart and mind, I have come to appreciate my own definition of “the true meaning of Christmas,” a meaning with which I am certain you are already familiar. I casually refer to this as “the Scrooge lesson,” or the “Dickensian Christmas Spirit.”

I love “A Christmas Carol.” It has such great characters, images, and lessons to appreciate and it never, ever gets old. And what I consistently take away from it are the very themes that a sorrowful Jacob Marley desperately urges his old partner Ebenezer to embrace: the common welfare, charity, mercy, kindness, forbearance, and benevolence. I also receive the lesson in Scrooge choosing to dine with the friends of his nephew Fred—sharing warmth in the company of others to thankfully appreciate the blessings of fine food, drink, and camaraderie.

Perhaps most importantly, and more subtle, is the general theme of A Christmas Carol that, in addition to charity and revelry, Christmas should also be a time of self-reflection, a time to ponder our lives and how we choose to live them. In Scrooge’s own vein, Read the rest of this entry »

About every six months or so, I write myself into a corner. And I don’t mean that I get caught up in plot or dialog, or while formulating a concise argument; yes, I sometimes have those problems, but that’s not what I am referring to. What I’m talking about is an unreasonable trap in the English language, the lack of a singular, androgynous pronoun for an individual.

“What?” you ask? I don’t blame you. Let me demonstrate.

“The problem with formulating simple-yet-sound education policy is that we’re trying to write a single, universal plan to address every student’s needs, but any given individual student is not the average, or median, or norm. ???? (insert third person, singular pronoun) is just that, an individual, containing thoughts, emotions, experience, and a frame of reference entirely specific to ???? (insert third person grammatical object).”

In the above example, there is no accurate, androgynous, and grammatically correct pronoun to replace the question marks, and that drives me insane!

Think I’ve got options? Let’s look at them: Read the rest of this entry »

The first four years draw to a close. And between a fractured and disjointed Democratic minority, obstructionist Republican lawmakers, and a campaign year of gridlock and Executive foot-dragging on long-since approved regulation, we don’t really have a lot to show for them.

Sure, one of the big cuffs has now been taken off—reelection—but the truth is, what we’ve seen from our “golden prophet” isn’t anything less than we should have expected. After all, the Left has been so hell-bent on finding a figurehead for the Progressive Cause, we kind of didn’t bother to firm up our identity, develop sound policy, or decide how best to disseminate it.

In other words, we found our spokesperson long before we had a product to sell, much less a path to market.

The Right, however, doesn’t have this problem. If there is one thing we know for sure, it is what plans and machinations will be cultivated when the Right plows in a new field of political power, be it Executive, Legislative, or Judicial. We all know what the platform of the Republican party is: supply side philosophy, tax cuts (with the bulk of the benefit going to corporations and the top 1%), deregulation of corporations and industry, reducing the scope and life of social programs, weakening environmental and consumer protections, and finding a way to manipulate policy for their own political gain. Why is it any surprise to us that policy on all of these fronts is already waiting in the hopper and springs to life the day they take office?

Take Wisconsin, for example. After winning the election, yet before taking office, the Walker administration Read the rest of this entry »

Back in the 80’s, I was into sports cars in a big way.

I’m not talking about the average gearhead’s dream of Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs. I’m talking the real McCoys, the top shelfers: the Lamborghini Countach, the Lotus Esprit Turbo, The Vector W8, and the much-hallowed Ferrari F40. I was a loyal subscriber to Car and Driver and though I didn’t yet know how to drive, my dreams of one day operating such a magnificent piece of machinery would enchant me as I poured over the pages.

Of course, it was all a pipe dream. I knew I’d never have $250,000 to spend on a sports car, and even if I did, what a wasteful purchase it would be. But it was the 80’s, the pinnacle of materialism, affluence, and ridiculous narcissism. It was inspiring to fantasize about the untold spoils that may lie ahead in my lifetime.

I recall my parents’ dreams of that time, their own hopes for the future. Nothing too greedy, and certainly more realistic than my visions of sports cars: worldly travel in later life, a small A-frame on a lake somewhere, spoiling their grandchildren at Christmas, possibly an early retirement. Those expectations hardly seemed to be unrealistic to me or to them. Back then the promise of Reaganomics and supply-side policy seemed destined to be profitable for everyone.

What they didn’t know at the time was that wages had reached their apex Read the rest of this entry »

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