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Highlights from American Dreams: ZZ Packer

posted Apr 23, 2017, 11:52 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Apr 23, 2017, 11:54 PM ]

During American Dreams: The Festival, the Black Mountain Institute and The Believer Magazine put the American Dream on trial. Author, judge, and soon-to-be justice ZZ Packer gives her new take on some bestselling books.

Fault is in the Stars

A terminally ill underage girl has one last wish, to visit her favorite author. The septuagenarian would not let her down to make her wish become reality, or at least a reality TV show, but not before he launches an investigation into how three million people, some dead, voted illegally after masterminding the Bowling Green massacre, thereby taking jobs away from hardworking, tax-paying, A-list celebrities who would otherwise have starred at his inauguration. When he finally remembers his promise to his underage siren, it's too late. She's no longer of this world. The septuagenarian  spends his nights wandering the halls. He gazes up at the stars at night, vowing revenge against those that declined to attend his inauguration, and sure of one thing: the fault lies with them.

Go the F to Sleep

Every parent knows how frustrating it can be when their infant cries, whines, tweets throughout the night, refusing to fall asleep. Attempting to take away any sort of attachment item from him, be it a favorite toy, cell phone, or blue Tweety bird, could end in disaster. With the baby trying out its newfound autonomy, trying out new words to express his emotions, suddenly everything is sad, bad, glad. Whether you're a parent or in loco parentis, you just want your baby to go the F to sleep.

Highlights from Walter Kirn's Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture

posted Mar 5, 2017, 8:21 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Mar 5, 2017, 10:37 PM ]

Essayist and novelist Walter Kirn, Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture, Black Mountain Institute at Doc Rando Hall, in the Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center, UNLV, 02/23/17
  • I am by nature against anything.
  • What's an elite? I define it this way: a group of people, often quite well educated, who truly think they're better than anyone else but are too polite to say so except to those who happen to agree.
  • The most popular of these fake stories garnered more shares, likes, and other interactions than the most-read real political articles of the left-leaning fifteen news outlets combined. That's a fact. You can look it up on Buzzfeed. (laughter)
  • Seekers of public office and producers of filthy videos face a common challenge: how to keep audiences with a product that tends to, over time, make numb. Pornographers solved this problem by continuing to intensify the weirdness of their imagery. Politicians, the smart ones, do something similar. Trump could shock. Nor did he worry about consistency.
  • Big story of convention: a real estate magnate was about to secure nomination of a political party, ushering in what many people feel was a new era of neo-fascist rule, and yet all CNN and Fox could talk about was verbal pilferage by his trophy wife.
  • News took radical turn toward bizarre. PizzaGate: evidence was appearance of supposed code words, much of it based on Podetta's association with avant-garde performance artist.
  • It's all a click away, the true and false, real and ridiculous, Washington Post and Infowars, and they're all next door to one another, saints and sinners, cardinals and crooks.
  • In the real world, the cost of deception is real harm: people shun you, they often punch you, but on Internet they can't find you.
  • Let's trust ourselves instead of offloading responsibility of separating fact and fiction on computers and cable networks, let's focus on refining our own judgement. Let's rely on our instincts, not someone else's algorithms and remember that the Web based global village, like every village, is overflowing with gossip: there's not much to see in a small town, but you sure hear a lot.
  • Fiction provides us something that even real news sometimes can't: perspective, news that stays news. Sinclair Lewis's "It Can'tHappen Here" from 1935 is more relevant now than ever.

The problem with fake news

posted Mar 2, 2017, 11:30 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 11:51 PM ]

Walter Kirn, Q&A after Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture, Black Mountain Institute at UNLV, 02/23/17
Walter Kirn book signing at UNLV
Fake news isn't just something that has the wrong information or is poor reporting. Instead, it is entirely made up.

Fake news exposes the structure of the thing it satirizes, the exaggerations that go into headline-making in general. I'm also not sure that anybody has trouble distinguishing what's fake news. I think we read it often because it's fun.

Here's a problem with fake news. It started as a vehicle for injuring Hilary Clinton and helping Donald Trump and a lot of it came from foreign places or the fever swamp of the alt right. But Donald Trump turned the tables recently and started calling major organizations like CNN and the New York Times fake news, so now it's a right wing attack concept and what each side calls the other's stories.

Both sides belief the other side is lying and we can't agree on reality itself—maybe they never agreed. My fear is that anger and suspicion and distrust grow to the point where violence follows. Propaganda usually precedes violence. It's a way to soften up people to do things they wouldn't do before.

The economics of media no longer encourage on-scene reporting. Stories about comments on Twitter costs a network exactly nothing. Commenting, pitching attitude don't constitute reporting. It's a form of spitball throwing. I wish the places that have the resources dig a bit deeper, look longer at their subjects, and try to produce more content instead of waking us every day with outrage.

The Fourth Estate as a check on the powerful

posted Mar 2, 2017, 11:26 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 11:37 PM ]

Walter Kirn, Q&A after Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture, Black Mountain Institute at UNLV, 02/23/17

Walter Kirn at UNLV

Political reporters and their subjects are married. Their kids go to school together. They eat in the same restaurants. The fake fights they stage for TV audiences end when the cameras are off. The coziness of the press and the truly powerful is a problem and truly exists. Reporters use people as sources and they protect them instead of telling the truth about them sometimes.

There are fantastic stories people in Washington are holding back to guarantee their sources. One of them would be Ted Kennedy's alcoholism. I attended a party where Kennedy was the drunkest human being I have ever been in the room with. His shirt was off. He was up against a wall and a teenager was licking his hairy self. Walter Kronkite was right there. This guy nearly became president and I very much doubt this alcoholism started several month ago. Now what in the hell is going on there? We weren't being told something that may be crucial. I've seen more relationships that do more to protect the powerful than expose them.

Yes, it's a check and especially in times of crisis, but it's also sometimes a danger. We wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq if a reporter for the New York Times wouldn't have gullibly had a relationship with a government source that was feeding her basically misinformation.

Make the book consumable

posted Dec 17, 2016, 10:45 AM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Dec 17, 2016, 11:19 AM ]

People want a sense of accomplishment. Make the book consumable, more eye friendly.
  • short chapters
  • graphs, pictures to break up big blocks of text
  • paragraphs no more than 7 lines
👀 Boomer market has failing eye sight, so don't use 9-point font. Help them get through that book.

Bret Ridgway, Publishing Success Summit interview (may require payment)
#writingtips #writers #authors

Winner, Weirdest Story Award, 2016 Sin City Word Hoarder’s Holly-Daze Writing Challenge

posted Dec 13, 2016, 10:34 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Dec 13, 2016, 10:55 PM ]

Zeroth Contact

Stardate -307951.1

I flew to the biggest light source, the surest indication of a wealthy advanced civilization. A bright beam guided me to a pyramidal structure completely unsuitable for a landing, but I found a space in the city demarcated by orange cones, next to a sign the computer translated as "The Atomic Testing Museum."

The aliens in their rolling conveyances all converged on the strangest chapel I have ever seen, a huge cuboid structure jam-packed with merchandise of all sorts. Logically, one had to conclude that their King advertised what tribute to pay, but this unusual civilization was not so.

Instead, a male with white facial hair, decked out in red and white, presided on a throne as worshippers filed in and expressed their wishes to him--most blatant attempts at bribery. My computer strained to translate the incomprehensible requests.

A jumpy male child said he “had to pee” and ran away.
One female of the species, who turned many heads when she sat down on the rulers lap, requested Botox so she could live in sin.
Another alien, in leather, prayed for a collection of music from a long departed King, Elvis.

An elder male asked for what he called a "stripper," but resigned himself to a lumberjack shirt when his female partner, wearing colorful feathers around her neck, stormed the throne. She slugged him hard, propelling him into me. I regret to report that I dropped and lost my auto-writer.

These primitive, corrupt aliens, in my opinion, are unsuitable to join the Vulcan Federation, and I recommend against First Contact.

Facebook Author Page Up

posted Jan 10, 2016, 9:43 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Jan 10, 2016, 9:44 PM ]

View my Facebook author page at

No Facebook account necessary

Life's a Rewrite

posted Nov 28, 2015, 2:26 PM by Wolf O'Rourc

After more readings and more soul-searching, I have rewritten the openings for both Zazztra books--again. That's the writing life. They are posted in the Writes section now.

Title Taken

posted Apr 13, 2014, 3:01 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Apr 13, 2014, 3:27 PM ]

I can't believe it's not butter some author stole my title "Word Magic for Writers" ten years ago. How dare she? Nevertheless, after extensive Amazon soul searching, I did the gallant thing and changed mine. As they say in good ole Britannia, "The Magician is dead, long live the Wizard." Here is the new, improved cover with the new, improved title "Word Wizardry for Writers," which, besides having a (sort of) double alliteration, also has the much cooler acronym "WWW," not to be confused with "World Wide Web" (www). Yes, a new package should have new content, but seriously, how many more pages do you want in this already heavy tomb? If I make it even bigger, I will have to remove the warning "Not suitable as a doorstop," which means another cover and more content and so on and so forth. So, same content, new title, new cover. You do get a new ISBN as required.

Word Magic for Writers Available

posted Apr 1, 2014, 1:55 PM by Wolf O'Rourc   [ updated Apr 1, 2014, 1:59 PM ]

Word Magic for Writers is now available at Amazon with full table of contents in Look Inside! and at my CreateSpace store.

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