Tree trimmers came today to shave the trees of Jasperwood. The foreman told me how much they hated doing that spiky maple, and I asked why.

“The spikes,” he said. “They’re three inches long.” I’d never noticed, but the branches are too high up. An interesting defense mechanism? A tree that evolved for the sole purpose of impaling squirrels? The technical name is a maplus bastardus. Just plain mean, that tree.

Well, I’m sure the trees are happy now, but I’ll be damned if I can tell much of a difference. Except in the wallet. Probably have fewer limbs on the lawn after the next big storm - there’s always something as thick as a wrestler’s forearm on the lawn when the wind kicks up, and it’s supposed to do just that in a few hours. Big red throbbing weather-chancre moving our way, according to the radar. Rain on the gazebo roof -

Hey, that reminds me! It’s season two for the gazebo, and so far, so good. Taking the fabric roof off in time saved it, and the snow didn’t bend the struts; no rust, no rips, no leaks. This one might last.

I just guaranteed it’s going to be hit by lightning tonight, didn’t I.

Busy night of finishing up the novel revision; had some gruesome rewrites involving two scenes that screamed THERE IS NO REASON FOR ME TO EXIST, but had to be there. Found a way to make them work. At the point now where I’m just tired of everyone in the book, and thinking: well, it’s just going to be $2.99 or something, and God knows I’ve read worse by better authors. I have a novel-writing podcast coming up on Ricochet on Thursday - Drew Klaven and C J Box will be my guests, and I’ll embed it here for your listening pleasure.

Speaking of Ricochet: you may enjoy this. Be sure to check the comments.


The Freedom tower is taller than the Empire State Building now. It’s getting rave reviews wherever I look. I think it’s dull. Dull. The only way to save something that ordinary would be to build another, right next to it, just as they did with the WTC. One was unbearable; two was a group of minimalist sculpture, albeit at maximalist dimensions.

It’s better than the original plan:

That one looked as if a great scythe swooped down and carved off the tops of an ice sculpture based on the background in a 1950s comic book. At least the sides weren’t sheer, although I’m sure the glass curtainwall wouldn’t have made the setbacks look like setbacks at all. There’s no balance, no composition - or rather there’s the definite intentional rejection of balance in the classical sense.

Here’s an ad from 1934, interesting for two reasons. One: the way the structure lent itself so well to a stylized view:


. . . and two, the phrase. Confidence! Yes, confidence was back! The economy was starting to recover in ’34, despite everyone’s best efforts to the contrary - it would slip back into a bad recession in ’37 - but at least ’34 was shaping up better than ’32, and the byword was Confidence! I wonder if there was a top-down campaign to get people using the C word - you know, slip it into movie scripts, have them mention it on the radio. If the little people get used to hearing it, then they’ll use it themselves. Well, Confidence is back, don’t you know? I hear everyone saying it.

Anyway: the idea of making the skyscrapers conform to a classic American style is apparently beyond consideration for modern architects. Not all, though - If they’d given this to Cesar Pelli’s firm, they would have gotten something modern and timeless, as he did when he gave Minneapolis its own Rockefeller Center . . . or maybe not; his 15 Penn Plaza tapers rather inconclusively at the top.

This is as bad a period for skyscrapers as the late 60s / 70s, when modernism was starting to curdle, and they were putting towers up on mushroom platforms. We got some nice glass buildings out of it, mostly by Johnson / Burgee, and they started to nudge everyone back to traditional forms. It’s okay, because it’s glass! Old ideas in new media! See? It’s still progressive.

I suppose it’s not practical to build anything 100 stories with a stone facade, but if anything deserved a mix of the past and the future, it’s the building that went up on the site of the WTC. Alas.

Back to work; a dozen or so new Disney Titles. Now the number one Google hit for Disney title card art! Which just shows it was a niche that needed to be filled, I suppose. Also the top hit for Motel Postcards, top hit for non-commercial matchbook sites - that took a while - and restaurant postcards. First page for “the 30s,” which isn’t bad.

Doing okay with this internet thing so far.




















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