Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tiered Flat Tax - the Solution?

It's that time of year again when all good little citizens pick up their tax forms, their pencils, their speed dials or their online tax filing alternatives, trying to understand all the changes in the laws and make sure they don't miss a single deduction. The tax code is cumbersome, complicated, and filled with little loop holes that either thrill you when you find them or devastate you when you learned you missed one after you turned in your forms. It also means a healthy return for some, paid back by the government for taxes collected, but without interest on the amount the government got to use all year that really belonged to you. Of course, interest was a bigger issue when there really was some.

This brings me to a thought process: simpler is better, or so they say. In that spirit I think we safely could strip the tax code down to basics. If you earn, you pay. I think the flat tax idea, bandied about for so long and usually shot down with flaming arrows, deserves a modified look. I would suggest that we adopt it, but not straight across the board at one rate. Instead, make it tiered, as follows (only a suggestion):
Income under $10,000 pays a flat 10%
Income 10,000-49,999 pays a flat 15%
Income 50,000-249,999 pays a flat 20%
Income at $250,000 and above pays a flat 25%

All sources of income should be lumped together and subject to the tax. There should be no deductions and no exemptions (with charitable donations a debatable point), and therefore no need for cumbersome tax forms and multitudinous expert help. Just simple math. This may cause accountants, tax consultants, and the employees at the IRS a little concern, but I am sure they will still be needed, perhaps in monitoring how Congress spends all that revenue.

You may ask, why should I pay more just because I earn more? Why should someone pay more who earns less? I believe that we all have an obligation to the society in which we live, to help that society take care of all its citizens. If that society has provided you with a healthier income -- be it through hard work, sound investment, inheritance, or luck -- you should and must pay a higher share to run that very society.

Besides, 75% of a million bucks is still a lot more than 90% of $10,000. And remember that if our society breaks down, you will have nothing. The so-called one percent needs to understand that they need the other 99% a lot more than the 99% needs them -- to make things, buy things, build things, rent things. If the one percent should ever falter, there are plenty who would replace them.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Three Blog Night Again

Hello, everyone! The weekend hit and things got busy and i neglected my blogging. So, to make up for that I would like to present three blogs.

Friday: My Book, My Gift

The events detailed in Amber Waves happened not long ago – well, some of them happened a very long time ago – in the days after 9-1-1 and the infamous shoe bomber, when most of America began looking for terrorists under every bed in a manner that would have made Joe McCarthy – look him up – proud. The one positive thing I can see to come from it all is a radical increase in foot cleanliness spurred by airport security concerns and resultant required shoe removal. You might call it pedophobia, if there is such a word.

In the context of that time, our travelers found themselves in a place that just didn’t give a damn. The people who lived there had their own set of priorities, and clean shoes were not of paramount concern. But, then, what was worth blowing up in Amber Waves, Nevada?

Many of the events that take place in this book actually happened as part of the historical record. Some did not. I have taken liberties with them all, for dramatic effect. Or comedic interpretation. Or poetic license, or shits and giggles.

Replaying Jason Edwards’ life was like running a highlights reel: although he had many ‘lives,’ re-inventing himself again and again, memory best recalled the most dramatic ones that found him encountering the famous and notorious. The rest were not dull, exactly, just tame and peaceful. And you, Gentle Reader, prefer to hear about the tumultuous and confrontational. Admit it, you do – it makes for better storytelling.

The results are the stories in this book that I have given you.

Saturday: The Disney Movie That's Still On The Shelf

I may have written about this before, I do not remember. Even so, the question bears repeating. The Walt Disney Studios have produced arguably the best animated films of all time. If we add Pixar to the mix, the best recent films join the list.

Every one of these films is readily available on DVD and most on Blue-Ray, at least whenever the vaults are opened to sell them to the next generation. These are timeless classics, like Bambi, Dumbo, Snow White, and more recent classics like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Up. Yet one remains mysteriously missing. Of course I mean The Song of the South.

I saw it when I was a kid, and that was already a theatrical re-release. I whistled and sang Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, literally, for years, and always felt joy when I did. But the film disappeared. Pirated copies exist, I am sure, but Disney decided to pull the plug on any push to put this one on tape or disc. Why?

The answer seems to be a matter of image, if I understand it right. The image that Uncle Remus presents to young people of African-American decent turns out to be a negative one, an Uncle Tom image of the placating, put upon old Black Man (before our current era of political correctness one might have used the “N” word and meant it in every sense possible, especially the ironic ones), subjugated by the white community around him. At least, Disney seems to think so.

Perhaps I saw a different movie. I saw a man of color struggling to retain his dignity while at the same time giving the young white child who loves him and admires him every scrap of education Remus could. I saw a man who was put upon by the society around him, no longer owned as a slave but often treated like one, yet remained the true font of wisdom in the story. I saw the real hero of the story being that marvelous black man, who saved the boy’s soul as well as his life.

Maybe it is reverse discrimination that has kept this fine film on the shelf: maybe the film is so good at portraying how life was for people like Remus that the white community is embarrassed to admit it. But today is a new age, filled with new awarenesses. Disney ought to release Song of the South without explanation or apology. It was the product of its times, and a reflection of a specific chapter in American history but, more, it is a wonderful vehicle for telling every child who will listen that, in the end, it is the clever and witty Br’er Rabbit who will outsmart Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear every time.

Sunday: Silly Men in Training

My grandson is great fun to be around. He will be four years old in March. Already, he displays a remarkable sense of humor and an easy, infectious laugh. Watching his funny bone at work, and admittedly encouraging it at every turn, I have come to a conclusion: either Xander is very sophisticated, or my own humor operates on the same level as a three and a half year old.

Diane says, “No comment.”

But sometimes she can be a real pooh-pooh head.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Acceptance and Rejection

I accept that there is evil in the world.

I accept that we must combat it.

I accept that sometimes evil will win.

I accept that this maxim is true: killing is always bad, but sometimes it is necessary.

I reject utterly that we must become evil in order to combat it.

When someone tells you to hate, it has to do with personal gain. And it is not what Christ or Buddha or Mohammad were about.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Not A Diet

So many people are having success with their weight loss programs that I thought would throw us into the ring. Diane and I were both very overweight. In 2007 I went to Holland with my brother, and when I saw photos of myself taken during that trip I realized, really for the first time, that I had gone out of control. Di already knew. We worked hard for the next three years, trying to be a bit more careful about quantities and what we were eating, and slowly dropped a bit of weight. But in April 2010, on the invite of a friend, Di went to Weight Watchers and I went along for the ride.

Doctor Oz reports that WW has the best record for weight loss AND maintenance. We both were morbidly obese when we started. Diane had considered gastric bypass surgery until she learned she would have to give up her Celebrex and her doctor agreed that was a deal breaker. Still, it wasn’t until I turned 60 and she was nearly 59 that we had the necessary mind set not to go on a diet but to make a substantial change in how we approached the food we ate. The first thing was to identify the trigger foods that caused us to overeat and simply refuse to have them in the house. For me thyat included peanut butter and mayonnaise. Second, came tracking what you eat. Third came portion control, and fourth came the support network the meetings provided Di, and through her, me.

I have lost 96 pounds altogether and have remained virtually the same goal weight for over a year. Di has lost 142 pounds so far, 122 on WW, and is still working to lose a bit more. Better still, I have lost the Nexium, Lipitor, and blood pressure meds I was on. Di lost her blood pressure meds as well and has not taken a Celebrex in months, this despite the Montana winter.

WW is not for everyone, but it is a wonderful resource. Whatever gets you to your goals is a wonderful resource. The key is not to go on a diet, as I said, but to look at what you are doing as a new lifestyle focused on eating the right things, making good choices. And guess what? You still can have fun!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Van Gogh Equation

What I have learned, or remembered and relearned, is that if I put my work out there, in front of everyone, it has a chance to be remembered itself. Even if no one reads it today, someone might discover it tomorrow. Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime, but that did not stop him from painting. And today he is thought to be one of the best, if not the best, artists of all time.

Jan van Gilse – my newest hero – saw his countrymen resist his music as too Germanic, then saw the Nazis ban all performance and try to destroy his manuscripts. Nicholai Miazkovsky composed 27 symphonies, most performed briefly in his homeland Russia, then, like Haydn, chucked aside awaiting the next. They had no staying power, even in Russia, and were ignored abroad == but now we can hear all 27 if we want.

Then there’s Mahler. Always there is Mahler, who rarely got rto hear one of his elaborate and beauty-filled symphonies performed but knew he would be remembered for them someday. Today we consider him one of the greats.

Thousands upon thousands of works of art go unrecognized or enjoyed only by our closest friends and families. I thank you for that, by the way. But fame or value, even after I am dead, yet may come. It’s like the Lotto: you can’t win if you don’t play. You won’t gain an audience if you hide your work. Or, to paraphrase that famous line from “Field of Dreams”: if I write it, they will read.

In that spirit I must be less shy, less anxious, less afraid. Rejections aside, failure would be failure to try.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back to Writing About Writing

In 1975 I completed a biography of the man whom I considered to be one of the greatest musical geniuses of the Twentieth Century, Dmitri Shostakovich. The book was more than a biography. It was a fun trip through the world of modern symphonic music, written for laymen, like myself.

Soon after I finished the book Shostakovich died. I sold the manuscript, but to fit into the publisher’s series format, the book had to be changed. And changed. The fun went out. What was left was a valuable (of course) biography and musical discussion of Shostakovich’s symphonies, critically well received.

Between sale and publication, four years elapsed. Shostakovich’s own Memoirs came out at the same time as my book, adding vistas to my understanding of Shostakovich the Man and the Artist. After a lifetime of devotion to this man and his music, now I make of him a character in a novel. A ghost, if you will, who wrote music, although it is the ghosts who spoke to him that you will meet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

More Political Digressions

The philanderer beat the businessman. The Constitution came in fourth. Maybe the Republicans ARE as confused as the Democrats.

Now we are being set up to hear the President of the United States say, “He turned me into a Newt.

Meanwhile, Congress is ineffectual, even invisible, except when its members are posturing. I mean, has anyone seen or heard from Al Franken?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Daniel Bartle

It is with great sadness that I have to report the loss of a fine young man, Daniel Bartle. USMC Csptain Bartle died in a helicopter crash along with five fellow Marines in Afghanistan. Mechanical failure is suspected as the cause of the crash. Daniel was 27 years old.

He was a fine person, a proud American, and an accomplished pilot. Diane and I remember him as a young boy, around the same age as our grandson is now, as one of our day care kids. Our memories of young Daniel are filled with smiles, but today our hearts are heavy.

John and Sandy, we cannot know the depth of your loss, but we share in it. War is tragedy, we all know that, but today that tragedy has come home to us. It makes all the rest seem unimportant.

W. H. Auden wrote:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song:
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the word;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

At least, that’s how it feels. God Bless you, Daniel, and bring you Peace, and may you be there to guide us home when our turns come.

And this one, from me to you:

Life goes on.
The living prepare
Their Sunday snacks
For armchair football
The snow needs plowing,
My grandson needs my help
Building Duplo towers
Just to knock them down.
The trees drop wet burdens
Like small avalanches
Right where I need to be,
And all I can think about
Is a helicopter crashing
A million miles away
That took from us a young man
I’ve known since he was
My grandson’s age.
The game has lost its thrill today,
The score is unimportant.
The film is not that funny;
The comedy falls flat.
I cannot taste the food;
Even odes to joy ring bitter
For a while life will have to go on
With me on the sidelines, sobbing.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Digressing Into Politics

Is it any wonder that Americans increasingly don’t want to vote? Looking at the Republican circus, it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. One of these guys is going to be their choice to run for President. Romney was a shoe-in a few days ago. Now he hasn’t even won the first test that he won. Gingrich is moving up on the outside – depending on how voters view his alleged open marriage proposal. Santorum – who exactly is this guy? And Ron Paul is simply too set in his Constitutional ways to appeal in a general election.

There people are running to be the leader of the Free World, still the most powerful position in the world. All too often the voter has been left with choosing the lesser of two evils – and all too often, we choose wrong.

Maybe the convention will be deadlocked and the Party will draft Chris Christie.

The irony in Washington today is that our government works by gridlock. Checks and balances assure that nothing outlandish is done, at least not before it is watered down or explained to death and is no longer outlandish – or helpful. Gridlock protects our democracy, but there comes a point when, as one observer suggested over two centuries ago: revolutions happen when nations move forward but governments stand still. Gridlock may work when the country needs as little interference as possible, but is deadly when we need help. FDR saw that and acted on it, letting the dust settled after. Everyone in Washington today seems to be in love with gridlock and non-performance, from the White House on down, and we the people are stuck watching individuals with money and power run against each other.

We decide. Sure. Give me one candidate who doesn’t want the job. Oh, yeah, I think one name came up in there someplace, but he’s a Republican . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My First Book Leads to My Next

In 1975 I completed a biography of the man whom I considered to be one of the greatest musical geniuses of the Twentieth Century, Dmitri Shostakovich. The book was more than a biography. It was a fun trip through the world of modern symphonic music, written for laymen, like myself.

Soon after I finished the book Shostakovich died. I sold the manuscript, but to fit into the publisher’s series format, the book had to be changed. And changed. The fun went out. What was left was a valuable (of course) biography and musical discussion of Shostakovich’s symphonies, critically well received.

Between sale and publication, four years elapsed. Shostakovich’s own Memoirs came out at the same time as my book, adding vistas to my understanding g of Shostakovich the Man and the Artist. After a lifetime of devotion to this man and his music, now I make of him a character in a novel. A ghost, if you will, who wrote music, although it is the ghosts who spoke to him that you will meet.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ghost Music - The Plot

Two men meet in a park, in Dresden, in 1960. One is the conscience of a brutalized generation playing back fear and hope in equal measures. The other is a warrior whose life and deeds condemned that generation to its hell. One is Russian, the other German. For that one brief moment, they reach, remembering the tragedy of Dresden a mere fifteen years before, that seemed a mere microcosm of the tragedy of Man at War.

Ghosts sing to them, many shared between them, yet until this moment they had never met, and, alive, they would never meet again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Odes to Joy

One of my characters in my new project is going to say the following: Does music have to say anything more than, “I’m glad to be alive”? Or, more simply, Let’s dance!

I struggled for a long time to understand just that aspect of music. So much is tied to a program, or lyrics, or a subtitle, or even the moment in the life of the composer during which the piece was written. We look for meaning. Sometimes there is none, and in music that is just fine..

Music is the only medium I know that does not have to be about anything and still reach you. Even poetry, which supposedly is about the words and their sounds and how they interplay, has to have a subject or object to draw us in. And abstract art is the exception that proves the rule. You look at a Pollack and somehow it moves you, or possibly nauseates you, but it does something –- without reference points. That would not work for a Rembrandt or Vermeer; trust me on this.

Poetry, and anything using words, creates imahes to follow. Music, when it is not anout anything specific, allows us to create our own images from the influence of the notes. It has been said the observer brings his or her preconceptions and expectations to the table when viewing a work of art. But the art always gives you directions, hints. In music those hints are more emotional, more visceral, and the observer’s reaction more complete.

Take for example the coda at the end of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. After all that has preceded it – a funeral waltz, a crushing march, a playful contest and a declaration of Self – this last outburst explodes in the joy of being alive, against any logic. It says everything words cannot.

A song without words, a symphony without subtitles, a joyous celebration or a desperately sad sound, all touch us profoundly, often to tears. And I have to ask: does music have to say something to say something?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Knowledge is Power, or Have We Forgotten?

Dealing with the histories of so many ghosts whose only choice in liberty was between living under tyranny or being killed by the tyrant, I am mindful of how precious liberty is. If you don’t use it, you lose it. But if you don’t know you have it, you won’t think to use it.
"Knowledge itself is power." -- Francis Bacon

Knowledge is power. When this phrase was coined, the concept meant that, in order to navigate through the realities of the world, you had to understand them first. The more you knew, the more you understood, and the farther you would go. Modern society has lost this key interpretation.

Knowledge as power does not mean better knowing an App. It is inclusive knowledge of the whole world: history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, politics, morality, religion, science, art and music. It is not good enough to know where to find answers -- without the curiosity to ask questions or the foundation of knowledge to drive that curiosity.

Knowledge as power belongs to the individual: equally to a postman as to a university dean or a king. Do not surrender your knowledge or your equality. Your liberty will follow, and with it your sense of individuality.

I leave you with this final quote:

"Knowledge is good. It does not have to look good or sound good or even do good. It is good by just being knowledge. And the only thing that makes it knowledge bis that it is true. You can't have too much of it and there is no little too little to be worth having." -- Tom Stoppard

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In Praise of Shostakovich and Myself

The other day I got a Great Courses catalogue in the mail. These are wonderful opportunities to brish up on areas of little or long ago exposure, like the basic star map, or explore new curiosities, like how and when to serve what wine. I am always curious what is being offered, so, with no intention of buying a class )I have a star map and I serve whatever wine I happen to have), I peeked through.

One class was called “The Thirty Greatest Orchestral Works.” Being wrapped up in classical music (since I was a kid), I just had to look (having written a book). I found myself agreeing with most of the lecturer’s choices and was particularly pleased to see Shostakovich represented not once, but twice, with his Fifth and Tenth Symphony.

The Fifth is an obvious choice to me: it was the single most performed symphony of all that were written in the 20th Century. But the Tenth is a more obscure choice. Although in my book I called it his masterpiece. I thought of it as the Fifth in Retrospect – filled with sadness, anger, pathos, self-determination and ultimately joy. I like to think that perhaps I had a little influence on the decision makers with my own assessment.

Well, if we don’t toot our own horns, who will?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dealing With Iran

One of the major issues that we likely will have to face in 2012 is Iran’s nuclear program. We know what everyone is telling us about that – and how UN sanctions are not having much effect in stopping or curtailing what the Iranians plan to do. With Iran listed as one of the rogue nations about which we are continuously concerned, facing this challenge has to be one of the primary targets of US foreign policy.

A solution exists, if we think outside the box a little. This is how we should deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions – embrace them. Invest in them. It would not be the first time US economic interests dictated foreign policy, nor the first time we engaged beneficially with a power with whose politics we disagree. And besides, if we invested American capitol and perhaps even American labor in Iran in this way, we could monitor their programs better if we were on the Board.

Iran says they are seeking only peaceful uses for nuclear power. Sell them our own expertise. Sell them our own materials. Help them build that peaceful program, then hide bugs and cameras nation-wide to spy on them. It would be better than looking for WMDs that are not there, or, worse, watching a threatened Israel launch pre-emptive strikes against Iranian power plants and thereby perhaps alienating the entire region.

I know you aren’t listening, Mr. President and members of Congress. But you should be.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the Thirteenth/

This is one of my favorite days of the year because it gives me the opportunity to use a big word and make people say, “Boy is he smart!” The word is triskadekaphobia.

Trouble is, I always called it stristodecaphobia. Close, but no cigar. And Di thought it was tridecaphobia. Her logic was sound: tri for three, deca for ten = thirteen, and phobia means fear of. In aother world that word would do. But the wordsmiths decided to make it even more elaborate and obscure by using the Greek word for thirteen, “Triskadeka.” How fearsome is that?

Anyway, Happy Triskadekaphobia Friday to you all!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Looking at the Upside for 2012

I have been feeling down as this new year arrived. I have looked at myself with regret, thinking about all the things I want to do but do not have the means to pursue. In so doing, I forgot about the things I have done and am still able to remember with a fond heart and a clear – or nearly clear – mind.
This is part of it:
I have been so fortunate in my life. I have gotten to do things most people never get to do, see things most people never get to see, and share all of it with a partner who has managed to stay with me and put up with me for 37 plus years, and counting. I have walked on a hillside where Charlemagne once stood overlooking his empire. I have watched Christiaan Huygens’ pendulum clock working in his father’s summer house. I have seen The Girl With The Pearl Earring—so close I could have reached out and touched her. I have found Delft Blue dildos in Amsterdam’s flower market and screamed in bemused delight. I have walked on the Third Floor at the Belleek Factory in Northern Ireland and survied driving on the wrong side of the read.
I have gotten to travel, not once but several times, to the land of my birth and the land of my wife’s ancestry. I got the travel bug and always am itching to go back. My regret is that travel is only a distant possibility. My joy is in knowing what I am missing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Soul of a Poet

Ultimately, I think of myself as a poet, with a poet’s soul if not his talents. I think I am talented, but I have very little opposition. I have sold poems in the past, although many many more were rejected than accepted.

Still, talent or no, I write. Nothing stops me from writing. Millions of things stop me from submitting.

So bear with me if I decide to put some of my poems together into a volume or chapbook for publication on Kindle while working on my ghosts. As I say elsewhere, it has come time for me to put my Self and my Stuff out there where people can choose to read it or not, and if they choose not I have to accept that it’s their mistake.

My mistake would be to sit on it forever.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Montana Milestone

My second blog of 2012 is an apology to my new home state of Montana. A major change has come to you, one that you have managed to avoid for your entire existence. Your population surpassed the one million mark, and I know that two immigrants from the Salinas Salad Bowl contributed to this new statistical level. Whether you are proud or a little disappointed, we, Diane and I, are a bit sorry but majorly glad to be here.

Now, for perspective, the entire state population is still less than the population of the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and just about the same as the city pf San Jose in California. The area we escaped from, Salinas, has 144,000 people all by itself and is considered a smaller town by California standards. So, Montana, we may be more than a million strong, but we’re still spread out, less stressed, and definitely more friendly on average, and want for nothing.

Now, as for winter! We are still waiting. Personally, I am not unhappy that there isn’t a foot of snow on my driveway, but we came up here expecting a long hard winter like they told us they had last year. It’s January and yesterday the thermometer tickled 50. many are promising that we will have a tough spell yet, but I am at the believe it when I see it stage. My friend Clint reassures me, though, that precipitation is at 80% of normal already, with the season still going strong, and the snowfall above 5000 feet will provide runoff for the summer. Last year they wound up with 175% of normal and flood issues.

It comes down to this: we added to the population and we may have brought a bit of moderate weather along with us as well. At least for now. Sorry, but not.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Beggar In Montata

Welcome to the year 2012. We have seen the interesting and difficult 2011 pass away, and, oddly, the world did not look very different Sunday morning from how it looked on Saturday. I think I remember saying that 2010 was an interesting and difficult year, too. And 2009, 2008 . . .

I begin 2012 looking toward my writing, with some trepidation. To commit to the creation of a book length manuscript, as I have done, is daunting, as I am sure I have said. I also plague myself from time to time with doubt, that horrible monster that lurks in everyone’s closet. Will the book work out? Am I the right one to write it? Once written, can I sell it? Will anyone ever read it? Those doubts ring inside my head, sometimes more loudly than the voices begging me to write down their stories. And then there are other projects that await in the wings, so to speak, that would be easier to finish. And there are poems and reviews and stories I could be writing for Helium and other publishing alternatives. I have been ignoring that part of my craft.

Which brings me to something that occurred to me on New Year’s Eve, I need a patron. That would make life easier, and would allow me to focus on the writing much more intently than I do even now. I need to find a generous, flexible patron of the arts willing to gift me around $20,000 for the joy of seeing their name in the acknowledgements, or even in the dedication. If you know someone just itching to give that kind of kindness to a struggling writer, let me know. Better still, let them know my plight!

It could be two patrons at ten grand each, or five at just $4,000, or ten at two grand each, or twenty investing a thousand bucks in my future. Hey, if you don’t ask, you will never receive! Am I begging? No – I am offering solid product for any genuinely philanthropic human or humans who believe that artists and writers need to be encouraged.

To the patrons I do not have -- Wouldn’t that be nice?