Saturday, September 18, 2010

"We're Going To Drink Vodka Gimlets." -In honor of Raymond Chandler and wife

"We had three gimlets, not doubles, and it didn't do a thing to him. That much would just get a real souse started. So I guess maybe he was cured at that." ~Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlow in The Long Goodbye.

This is a love story of sorts. It is about best-selling novelist, screenwriter, Raymond Chandler, author of The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, Farewell, my Lovely, and other novels, short stories, and screenplays.

Raymond Chandler was born in 1888 in Chicago. At the age of seven years, he relocated to London with his divorced mother. In 1917 he enlisted in the Canadian Army. After the war he returned to the states and in 1919 was in Los Angeles. It was there he met Cissy Pascal, a married woman. They began an affair and shortly thereafter her divorce was final.

But Chandler's mother did not want him to marry Cissy and the couple did not marry until 1924, only weeks after his mother's death. Cissy died in 1954 after a long illness.

A heavy drinker, Chandler also suffered from bouts of depression. A year after his wife's death he apparently attempted suicide. His career suffered from his drinking and depression, although his books and movies are classics. He died at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, CA in 1959. He was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego. He had wanted to be cremated like his wife, according to Frank MacShane, literary biographer, but without instructions in a will, he was buried.

But that is not the end of the love story. A dedicated fan and historian Loren Latker, who for years has researched Raymond Chandler had discovered that Cissy Chandler's ashes have been sitting on a mausoleum warehouse shelf a block away from her husband's grave. But it would take a court order to reunite the couple.

I quote the A/P article by John Rogers: "Latker's wife, Annie Thiel, is Internet talk radio psychologist Dr. Annie. She approached an attorney friend, Aissa Wayne, for advice. Wayne, the daughter of John Wayne, was so captivated by what she called "a wonderful love story" that she decided to take the case on pro bono."

Although the judge admitted he was inclined to deny the request, when he heard Cissy Chandler's ashes were sitting on a shelf in the warehouse, he ruled in favor of reuniting the couple.

So a scheduled celebration will take place Valentine's Day, 2011 at the writer's grave in San Diego's Mount Hope Cemetery when the two will once more be together after more than 50 years.

Historian Loren Latker states, "We're going to have a toast at the grave. We're going to drink vodka gimlets."

Read more about Raymond Chandler at Loren Latker's site.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Early California History Ebooks, Gold Rush

I'm a native Californian and have always had an interest in California history including the 1849 gold rush and the founding of the California missions. That interest has led me into research and then the writing of Introductions to several books written one hundred years ago or so about that history of California and publishing those books at Kindle. Here is the newest one of mine and because I liked the book so much, including the photograph I found for the cover, along with the design by my web designer Judy Bullard, I decided to not only publish at Kindle but to put it in print through Amazon's Createspace:

These others are doing well at Kindle, so I am not alone in having the interest in the pioneer days, the gold rush, the missions, and the settlement of California.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bookstores: A Sign of the Times

The New York Times is reporting that Barnes and Noble will close there Manhattan Upper West Side store at Broadway and 66th Street, near Lincoln Center in January 2011.

Company spokeswoman, Mary Ellen Keating stated: “Barnes & Noble regrets to announce that we will be closing our Lincoln Triangle Store at 1972 Broadway at 66th Street in Manhattan at the end of January 2011. We recognize that this store has been an important part of the fabric of the Upper West Side community since we opened our doors on October 20, 1995, however, the current lease is at its end of term, and the increased rent that would be required to stay in the location makes it economically impossible for us to extend the lease. We want our loyal customers and booksellers to know that we are ever committed to continuing our search for a new location on the Upper West Side.”

The NY Times article added: "While Barnes & Noble has recently suffered declining foot traffic, it still has a store at the corner of 82nd and Broadway on the Upper West Side, and in July 2009, it opened a 50,000-square-foot superstore at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue.

"Two other Barnes & Noble stores in Manhattan, one on Astor Place and one in Chelsea, have closed in the last three years.

"Barnes & Noble, which put itself up for sale this month, is in the midst of a proxy fight for control of the company."

But the upcoming closing of Barnes and Noble is also affecting another local bookstore, a sidewalk bookstore that belongs to Charles Mysak. For more than a decade, beginning at 7:00 a.m., Mysak sets up his sidewalk bookstore on an old folding table and has sold hundreds of used books from his table and a few crates and boxes. Most books sell for under $5, but he, too, is feeling the impact of the downturn in paper book buying. He does not see it as business failure but as a "reflection of society." He refers to the many customers of the local Apple store who walk out with expensive items and walk out "as if they are in ecstasy."

The NY Times quotes Mysak: “It is apparent that we have a real serious issue, that the life of the mind has been in decline for some time now. Ignorance and indolence is the primary problem. If you take care of the mind, everything else follows.”

I wonder, is the mind in decline? Or, is the mind moving forward to explore and experiment with new ways to read, ways to save a few bucks, and is the mind just enjoying the latest technology that comes along?

Ebooks have found their place, and it appears they don't need four walls and brick and mortar or a folding table on a sidewalk.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Robert W. Walker Interviewed by Andrew E. Kaufman

Andrew E. Kaufman has posted an excellent interview with author, Robert W. Walker about his upcoming book, Titanic 2012-- Curse of the RMS Titanic, and why he decided to leave traditional publishing and move into independent e-book publishing after many years, and many books.

Read the full interview at
Andrew's blog.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Half Moons and Maiden Names by H. Charles Dilmore ... Interview

I'm pleased to have this interview with author, H. Charles Dilmore. His second novel, Half Moons and Maiden Names has been released and is available at Amazon and autographed copies via his website. And again he has written a unique and unusual story as he did in his first novel, My Quirks and My Compass, published in 2009. His titles alone should give you a clue to the uniqueness. I also find a metaphysical/spiritual touch to his writing.

I wanted to interview Charles after reading his first novel and waiting months for him to complete his second book—I was also interested to see if he could reach his goal on time—a schedule he had set for himself—and I believe he did. His writing reminds me of the writing of Robert James Waller, author of The Bridges of Madison County. I say that because of the style and use of poetic prose and metaphor that both men employ in their writing. Also what is interesting about Charles is how he used his blog to twice a week post a brief excerpt of the books as he was writing them, along with a beautiful photograph for each entry.

Linda: Charles, one of the first questions I usually like to ask is did you write as a kid? When did you know you wanted to write?

Charles: I didn’t realize that I loved to write until I was in high school. It felt peaceful to write, so I went to it often. But more, there was something magical knowing that another would read it and might actually enjoy it. And that aspect caused me to take great care with the writing.

Linda: Who has influenced you the most in your life?

Charles: Probably my dad and older brother. Of course, they had very different ways of influencing me—Dad taught quietly, by demonstrating. My brother was much more expressive, encouraging, and everything he imparted was mixed with wild passion and great humor.

Linda: What books have most influenced your life and/or your world view? What books do you believe have influenced your writing? Favorite author?

Charles: Irwin Shaw was probably the first who consistently made me feel like I was not observing a character, but actually living inside one. I loved his Rich Man, Poor Man and Beggerman, Thief.

Ken Follett, Chuck Palahniuk, and John Irving are favorites. But it Charles Frazer’s first novel (a little number called Cold Mountain) that lit a fire inside me. I’d heard him interviewed on NPR, and will always remember that his intent was to write “the best book in my basement,” since that is where he felt his book would end up.

Linda: I like to ask writers how they receive their inspiration. Many writers feel the inspiration comes from beyond them at times as they are working with their characters. Do you experience that in your writing? Your scenes and descriptions are so visual but I will ask anyway, do you visualize your scenes? Do you “walk” in your character’s shoes?

Charles: great question! Both books, for me, were like watching a nine-month movie. I had to be patient if I wanted them to unfold properly! Of course, at the end, when the lights came on, I could not tell exactly what I had in my hands. “Was that a movie? Does it feel like it’s really a story?” We take leaps!

In both My Quirks and Half Moons, I felt everything to a great degree. The former was challenging because the main character is a woman, but it was a beautiful journey for me. The latter was challenging because I wanted to believe that I had learned from the first book and had improved.

In both books, I cried writing certain passages. No, wept! (The things people have to endure in this life!) Cried again when I edited them. And once more when I read them for the audio book! My wife would know when it was okay to walk in… if I’d pulled the hat over my eyes, it meant that I was into something very sad or touching. There’s an agony and a sweetness to both.

Linda: Tell us a little about Half Moons and Maiden Names and what inspired you to write it.

Charles: When I finished My Quirks and My Compass, there was a story that still needed to be brought to life—that of Carter Monroe, the father of main character. So, I went back three generations to learn what had shaped the modern-day Carter. 1860 is where Half Moons begins.

Linda: Of the elements that go into a novel such as characterizations, dialogue, action scenes, plotting, sex scenes, and setting, among other things, which do you find easiest for you personally in your art of writing? In other words, what do you consider your strength to be?

Charles: Description. Aftershave. A stranger’s hand on the arm. The angle of the autumn sun. Crickets. Once I get it staged, I pull back and observe. And I try to report what I observe without editing. As you said, it does come from a place far away… and deep inside at the same time.

It’s relatively easy for me to write a scene, and very challenging to carry it for 6-9 months and make it a coherent, worthy story.

Linda: You have chosen to do what many of us are now doing—self-publishing. What motivated you to publish under your own imprint rather than going the traditional route of finding a publisher? Would you like to tell us about your next project?

Charles: When I finished My Quirks, I sent the typical stack of inquiries. After a while, I sensed that it wasn’t going to happen the traditional way. So, I researched starting a publishing company, and Pensive Pony Media was born. We currently have three books available—not bad for 1 year old.

I wrote My Quirks and Half Moons quickly—each took about nine months from page one to print. That took a fair amount of sacrifice. Come home from work and get right into the writing chair. Everything else fell to the side because this was vital to me.

You mentioned the deadlines that I set for both books. When you announce an availability date nine months out, you are driven to achieve it!

Book three? I’m fiddling with some ideas, but am not quite ready to draw that line in the sand, yet! I’ve planted some seeds. Let’s see which one calls to me.

Linda: I understand you will have an audio book available soon. I enjoyed listening to My Quirks and my Compass on DVD. Have you enjoyed recording your books? Tell me about the beautiful photographs you have used on your blogs. Did you take those pictures?

Charles: Yes, both books are available as audio books at The recording process is fun, demanding. And when I finish, I always go back and add as many sound effects as possible, create the ambiance. I was a little perfection-crazed with Half Moons. I also included the outtakes in both books, as well as a cameo appearance from a voice I enjoy impersonating—the late Barry White.

I took all the photographs on both sites. I’m fortunate to live in Western NY, where hills and lakes are plentiful.

Linda: One last question—what is your favorite quote?

Charles: Thank you for this, Linda!
“Men live in a world of illusion, peopled by the phantasms of their own creation.” Wisdom of the Mystic Masters by Joseph J. Weed

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Linda: Charles, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions and share your thoughts on writing. I love your answers! Good luck with both books, and I look forward to more beautiful photography and more excerpts of your writing as the next book unfolds.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Physicist Stephen Hawking Puts God Out of Picture

"Why do I worry for Stephen Hawking? I suppose it is a fear that I have misinterpreted his moving forces, and that what I have characterized above as "unemotion­al scientific detachment" is in fact an almost passio­nate desire to live in an alternative universe without God. If that be true, to whatever degree, then his inner world will almost certainly be at cross purposes to his work in the outer." ~Don Pendleton, A Search for Meaning From the Surface of a Small Planet.

Physicist Stephen Hawking has made statements in his upcoming book that seems to have surprised many. Apparently in his new book, Hawking claims physics can provide an explanation for many things without there being a need for a benevolent creator who made the universe for our benefit. In other words, he puts God out of the equation. These theories he now holds in contrast to his previous ideas, follow on the heels of another recent statement he made that that we should not try to communicate with extraterrestrial life as they would have malevolent intent to "conquer and colonize."

When I read Hawking's statement about God I was reminded of what my husband, Don Pendleton wrote in his book more than 15 years ago in regards to Hawking and God. Don was concerned about Hawking then, and I would imagine if Don was here today, he would be even more concerned about the man.

At the time, Don's original draft was even a little more harsh about Hawking than it ended up in the book. Don discussed this chapter with me then he decided to soften it a bit out of respect for the scientist, which he did. This is what Don wrote in his Search for Meaning, Chapter 13:

A recent reading of Nobel physicist Stephen Hawking's excellent A Brief History of Time, though it is charm­ing and entertaining throughout as well as provocative in many of its movements, served chiefly to remind me that science still continues its almost desperate struggle to elucidate every possible alternative to God. This is good, I suppose, in that the ongoing process of elimination guarantees that the scientists will not throw up their hands in surrender to an insol­uble riddle; meanwhile they are moving ever closer to the truth and all of us benefit even from their mis­takes. We are, after all, a long way removed from the cave, and the largest strides have been muscled by the advance of knowledge through science.

I do worry a bit, though, about the scientists themselves. It seems to be a human tendency that our inner worlds become ordered or tainted by the work roles that we take on in the outer world. Thus the lawyer may have to guard against a creeping cynicism and a world view based on lies, deceits, greed, avarice and all the other ills that form the working world of the lawyer, lest he become just like that himself. The clergyman may find it wise to constantly remind himself that he serves the problems of earth, not those of heaven, and that his power (professional value) comes from those he serves, not from some supposed mantle of authority which may seduce him into the mistaken con­viction that he is the voice of God on earth, lest he find himself denying his own humanity. The psycholo­gist or psychiatrist, I should think, must be wary of any idea that because he is instrumental in restoring order to disordered minds, he is then competent to dictate order to all minds everywhere, lest he become a bit unbalanced himself in the attempt.

And the scientist, God love him, should be ever so careful in dealing with the foundations of the universe that he not begin to fancy himself the builder, lest he become disdainful of the process or, worse, go a little mad because he is not therefore worshiped for having built it.

Case in point: Isaac Newton. This giant of 17th century science, upon whose findings are based much of our modern world, became a pygmy in his inner world and an insufferably pompous egomaniac in his relations with others. Though the first scientist to be knighted by the British Crown, he was notorious among his peers as furiously arrogant and disputatious, devious, unforgiv­ing and vindictive, and he spent the final thirty years of his life in an obscure political post far removed from the march of scientific achievement. How much more would Sir Isaac have given our world if his inner world had not entrapped his genius?

Albert Einstein, on the other hand, seems to have been a gentle and humble man who turned down an offer to become president of Israel and labored until his death at the age of 76 to develop a unified field theory that would link the big and little of things in one grand theorem. He did not succeed in that, but he'd long since moved the world a quantum leap beyond Newtonian physics and perhaps would have found his grand theorem but for an intrusion from his own inner world. While agreeing with the basic tenets of quantum physics (as early as 1905 he'd revolutionized the theory of light with his proposal that it is composed of individual quanta which behave not only as waves but also as particles) he ultimately rejected the principle of uncertainty inherent in the new physics as absolute because it offended his sense of order, expressed in two widely quoted statements, "God does not play dice," and "God is subtle but he is not malicious."

Perhaps one day Einstein will be proven right, after all, in bypassing the seemingly chaotic condi­tions within the atom, but it seems more likely at this time that he was defeated by a rigid order within his own inner world which would not countenance a creation built of apparent disorder. He gave us enough, cer­tainly–and all built from that same inner appreciation of a splendidly ordered reality, which he equated with God–but I do wonder how much more he would have given us had he sought the possible alternatives to God instead of God itself.

Hawking seems to have the proper approach, an unemotional scientific detachment which objects even to the singularity as another form of infinity, the pure scientist's arch-nemesis. But I worry about him, too, because this brilliant theoretician has begun to mock his own past achievements in physics and now seems bent on proving that this creation we call the universe was not, in fact, created by anything at all. In "solving" the singularity (from which supposedly issued the big bang) by dismissing it, Hawking would erect in its place a universe of two alternate infinities, a uni­verse without beginning and without end, alternately expanding and contracting forever in finite space and finite time but structured in such a way that both space and time would function as infinities.

It is reported that when Einstein first heard the Belgian scientist Lemaitre outline his big bang theory he jumped to his feet with applause and later declared, "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explana­tion of creation to which I have ever listened." The reaction is characteristic of Einstein, who forever sought and found beauty in the universe and thought of such beauty as the firm imprint of God revealed in the mysterious workings of the universe.

One finds no such appreciation lurking between the lines of A Brief History of Time. Rather, Hawking seems to regard the entire business as an intellectual exercise and, where Einstein sought to reveal God through science, Hawking appears determined to shut God out. And I doubt that Albert Einstein would leap gleefully into spontaneous applause in reaction to Stephen Hawking's finite but boundary-less pulsating universe, especially since the proposal concludes: "The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started–it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?"

Why do I worry for Stephen Hawking? I suppose it is a fear that I have misinterpreted his moving forces, and that what I have characterized above as "unemotion­al scientific detachment" is in fact an almost passio­nate desire to live in an alternative universe without God. If that be true, to whatever degree, then his inner world will almost certainly be at cross purposes to his work in the outer. Of course there is also the possibility that the outer world has intruded upon the inner, as suggested in the early examples above, and of this I am even more fearful, for Stephen Hawking–for all his brilliance and intellectual achievements–is a man in strong need of inner peace with his universe. He is a victim of ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, a progres­sive crippler which has reduced him to the use of two fingers for communication with the outside world–and indeed he wrote his book in that condition, using a specially designed computer attached to the arm of his wheelchair.

But I am told by some who know him that he has an irrepressible sense of humor–which, in such an intel­lect, could mean also a finely tuned sense of the ridiculous–so perhaps he is just putting us all on, particularly his peers in science, with the suggestion that it is better to have an explicable universe with­out God than to live in a world under God which is beyond the final reach of science. This latter could be a definition of hell for those who dare not believe in God because otherwise they could not bear to not be God (to paraphrase Nietzsche).

At the bottom of all this exposition into the alternatives to God is a growing feeling that, indeed, many scientists do find frustration in the fact that all their laboratory models of reality point unerringly toward infinity in both directions–up and down, big and little. Infinity is where the scientist is shut out. Perhaps it is more convenient for many to shut God out instead–because God, you know, does not fund research grants, establish endowments for the sciences, or confer academic honors.

Einstein grew more and more isolated from the main­stream of science during his declining years because he rejected the logical inferences that new scientists were drawing from his own brilliant work with relativ­ity and the theory of light. Scientists such as Hawking and his fellows who are engaged in particle physics research are perhaps becoming isolated in turn because they have not yet recognized the full ramifi­cations of their own brilliant work. The reason that they have not could well be because their work has led them to a point very close to the end of their trail–in just a couple of generations the trail has become a rut, and extrication from the rut requires a leap of mind which few seem willing or able to make.

Part of the reason for this was expressed by Tolstoy, long ago: "I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives."

But the problem goes even deeper than that, having to do with the revolution of thought and the ability to see old things in a new way. Einstein looked at the principle of uncertainty and shuddered at the concept of an underlying chaos in nature. A new generation of scientists looked at the same concept and leapt to their feet with applause, as Einstein did when encount­ering the big bang theory, because they saw through the disorder with a new vision that sought patterns instead of particles.

If one bases one's view of the macrocosm upon what is observed from the random collision of particles in a laboratory, and if the view expressed depends entirely upon the interactions observed between particles according to the principles of probability physics, then one is certainly justified in a view that the world is built accidentally by an unpredictable process that builds the most probable reality–not by plan but, as Einstein feared, a roll of nature's dice. A leap of mind, however, that sees underlying chaos as mere raw product for invisible patterns in space, alters the view dramatically and restores plan to the universe.

This is where the most exciting things are happening in science today, for the patterns are there and an excited new generation of science is busily pursuing them.

It is both sad and ironic that Einstein was instrumental in developing and popularizing the original field theories on which the new science is built. Even his explanation of gravity as a result of curved space rather than the force deduced by Newton was a precursor of things to come, since the curved space surrounding a massive object such as our earth or sun is now being understood as the boundary areas of an invisible pattern or field which orchestrates the physical activities within it.

The leap from particle to organizing field seems to be a leap in the right direction for modern science, which has virtually exhausted the resources of particle physics anyway, a fact with which Stephen Hawking almost plaintively agrees. Only time will tell if it is merely another alternative to God–but it really does not matter in the long view because all altern­atives are themselves structures in space, spiraling toward the center, and all will ultimately be seen as pathways to the one reality. The churnings of science are themselves processes of chaos responding each in its own way to the insistent pull of the universe. Let us leap to our feet and gleefully applaud them all.


There was a young muon from Trevyn,
Who sought but could not find a leaven,
He said, "Lone though I be,
I will never agree
With an ugly old gluon from heaven."
There was a bright scientist named Hawking,
Who could not put up with the squawking
Of his brothers in arms,
Or his sisters in charms,
So he gave them a fighting charmed chalking.
If you've found a massless particle,
For a scientific article,
You can give it some spin
for a Nobel prize win:
Introduce it with God parenthetical.

Excerpt from the book, A Search For Meaning From the Surface of a Small Planet by Don Pendleton, © Copyright 2000, 2002 by Linda Pendleton

Don's book is available in print and Kindle at