Perverse frowardness

“To understand (the Bible) you need a little intelligence and much intuition– intelligence enough to enable you to read the book, and intuition enough to interpret and understand what you read.” ~ Neville Goddard, from his book Freedom For All

I’ve bookmarked a “random bible verse” website on my laptop, phone and tablet, and any time I feel like I need a shot of inspiration, I refresh the page, and more often than not, what I get is germane to whatever my needs are at the moment.

This morning, when I logged on, the verse on the page was Proverbs 10:32. By default, the site shows the translation from the New International Version (NIV), with alternate translations below that. Here is the NIV translation:

The lips of the righteous know what finds favor,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

One of the things I learned from the most astute biblical scholar I’ve yet read, Neville Goddard, is that I need to read it critically. The Bible, he wrote in Freedom For All, was “written in an Eastern symbolism… by the Eastern mind and therefore cannot be taken literally by those of the west…. Why was it not written in a clear, simple style so that all who read it might understand it?… All men speak symbolically to that part of the world that differs from their own. The language of the West is clear to us of the West, but it is symbolic to the East, and vice versa.”

Goddard cites as an example the phrase “on the rocks.” “The man of the West would unintentionally mislead the man of the East by saying ‘This bank is on the rocks,’ for the expression ‘on the rocks’ to the Westerner is equivalent to bankruptcy, while a rock to an Easterner is a symbol of faith and security.”

This made me aware that I needed to look beyond the surface to glean meaning from the Bible, but then confounding the issue further is the fact that there is not one “Bible,” but numerous (dare I say “countless”) translations of “the same” work. That’s another thing I learned from Neville: I need to both consult multiple translations of the Bible and use a concordance. If a word or passage doesn’t “feel right,” he said, don’t accept it: cross-reference it in multiple editions and look it up in a concordance or another exhaustive scholarly work (The Interpreter’s Bible and The Encyclopedia Biblica are two such works that he mentioned frequently).

The “random bible verse” website presented six translations of the “same verse” quoted above, and I also consulted my own varied translations. Depending on which translation you consulted, Proverbs 10:32 tells you the following:

The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable:
But the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.
(King James Version)

The lips of the godly speak helpful words,
but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.
(New Living Translation)

The mouth of the good utters wisdom
but the perverted tongue destruction.
(Ferrar Fenton)

The speech of good men is a breath of pleasure
but bad men talking breathe out malice.
(James Moffatt)

The lips of the righteous know what is good;
but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse things.
(George Lamsa)

Finally, perhaps the most reliable translation was in The Amplified Old Testament, a work which endeavored, in the editors’ words, “to reveal, together with the single-word English equivalent to each key Hebrew word, any other clarifying shades of meaning that may have been concealed by the traditional word-for-word method of translation.” The translators used parentheses for those “additional phrases of meaning included in the original word, phrase or clause,” and brackets for “clarifying words or comments… which are not actually expressed in the original text.”

The “Amplified” translation of Proverbs 10:32 is…

The lips of the (uncompromisingly) righteous know [and therefore utter] what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked knows [and therefore speaks only] what is obstinately willful and contrary.

That might be the translation that “feels” correct, but I had to go through six others to find it!

The amplified translation pointed me to a word that I found troubling in the other translations: perverse and its forms. At least six editions presented that word choice translated from the original Hebrew word (transliteration) tahpûkâh, which, according to Strong’s concordance, means “a perversity or fraud:— (very) froward (-ness, thing), perverse thing.”

Only the King James (ironically the first English translation of the batch, from 1611) opted for frowardness. That word intrigued me, so I went to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary (even though I have a compact OED at hand; sometimes, though, I don’t feel like using the magnifier!) to get its meaning: “habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition.” That word, although archaic, “feels right,” especially given the Amplified translation.

For as right as froward felt, perverse and perversity felt wrong. It’s not that perverse is not one of the shades of meaning of the original Hebrew word; rather, it’s that to my 21st century mind, perverse and its derivatives have connotations which probably weren’t in the original text.

Merriam-Webster defines the primary meaning of the root word perverse as “turned away from what is right or good,” followed by “improper, incorrect,” “obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable or accepted,” or “arising from or indicative of stubbornness or obstinancy.” Those all seem to be the traditional senses of the word’s meaning, and I’d guess that those senses are what the translators were attempting to convey in choosing perverse.

It was with the fourth sense of meaning, which cross references the derivative perversion, where my problem with the word comes in: “a perverted form especially an aberrant sexual practice or interest”(their emphasis).

That was my gut level response to the word “perverse” in those multiple translations: that it conveys a sense of sexual deviancy.

While that may be the limited modern use of the word, I don’t think that that’s what the original Hebrew text was attempting to convey. “Fraud” (from the Hebrew) seems closer, and “habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition” (from “froward”) really hits home. The Amplified translation seems to capture both of those, without the limited, commonly-held, modern implications of “perversity.”

Interesting: according to Merriam Webster’s website, the original use of “froward” was as an antonym for “forward.” “Froward meant ‘moving or facing away from something or someone,’” which may have led to its other original early meaning: “difficult to deal with, perverse.” The King James Bible was published in 1611, so both of those shades of meaning probably influenced the translators.

Of all the translations, again, the Amplified version not only felt like it resonated with my current situation (that was, after all, the original point of the exercise), but, objectively, it seems to capture the depth and dimensions of the original text’s meaning best, without using words which our modern sensibilities might shade with limited understanding. If I hadn’t read that, I’d go with the King James choice of “frowardness,” which, again, conveys shades and dimensions of meaning that include but are not limited to the most common choice, “perverse.”

It’s a cautionary tale to translators: in translating ancient texts to make them “more accessible to modern readers,” be sure that your word choices are as close to all senses of the original meaning as possible.

Lest the original meanings of the texts get perverted.

To support my blog, buy me a cuppo coffee, why don’tcha?

As Lennon said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…”

Dear Internet,


This one… and that one that says “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears”… and that one that says “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life”… NO! No matter what the attribution you find on Twitter or Reddit, Lennon did NOT say it, nor did he write it.

Lennon did quite a few things in his short time on the planet, but he never worked at Hallmark Cards, which sounds like the source for these and other”John Lennon” quotes I see online.

The problem is, the quotes have been reposted with misattribution so often that it’s next to impossible to track down the original sources.

But as Lennon himself said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… because as he also said, love means never having to say you’re sorry… so, as he so wisely put it, let a smile be your umbrella and don’t get a mouthful of rain– GAHHHH!!!

Make… it… stop…

The making of a TWINS comic: from idea to finished panel

A few weeks ago, on Facebook, someone reposted a screenshot of a tweet from politician Lauren Boebert, apparently in response to an alleged incident where school-aged children were taken to a “drag bar.”

A Facebook friend of mine who worked for a while in the adult entertainment biz (he didn’t “do porn” but worked in the business) posted this in response, and asked “Maybe THIS was what she meant:”

Immediately I realized that Boebert’s utterly clueless double entendre would be great fodder for a TWINS comic. I wasn’t sure exactly what form it would take, but part of the basis of the humor I use in those panels is the contrast between Rebecca’s clueless boldness and Christy’s clueless naivete. So I knew that Rebecca shouting out “TAKE ME TO CHURCH” and Christy misunderstanding it was the basis for a gag. I just had to create the comic itself…

… unfortunately, as writer Edward Abbey pointed out, the problem with being a writer is that one must actually sit down (or stand up) and WRITE. It wasn’t enough to have the idea; I had to flesh it out.

But another thing I learned as an MFA student and have applied repeatedly is the phrase “trust the process.” I knew I had something, but I needed to let it sit for a bit until it germinated.

Yesterday, after a few weeks, I finally sat down to create the comic.

My comics are digitally altered Bitstrips/Bitmoji comics superimposed onto photo backdrops, so the first thing I always do is find a photo backdrop for the drawings. I originally thought “OK, so Christy is in the kitchen; she’s either having coffee with a friend and telling that friend how she’s so happy that her sister is finally getting ‘straightened out’ because the night before she heard Rebecca with her date screaming out ‘TAKE ME TO CHURCH, BABY!’ OR she’s sitting there alone having coffee or tea and she hears Rebecca crying out those words from the bedroom-the couch in the living room-the basement- wherever she and her lover are ‘going to church.'”

I settled on the second approach. More direct and more comic potential, I decided.

So Christy was going to be in the kitchen late at night having a cup of tea, overhearing her sister screwing… so… I needed a photo backdrop of a kitchen. Fortunately, in a couple previous comics, I’d shown “their” kitchen in a couple different versions, so I had a kitchen photo saved in my REBECCA PORNSTRIPS folder already…

Next, the characters. I have a folder of several hundred different “Christy and Rebecca” poses that I digitally alter. Aside from altering the clothing or the outfits, I make changes to their bodies as well. “Christy” is pretty close to the bitstrips originals, but I make Rebecca’s boobs bigger, and bleach her hair so that it’s even more “blonde,” and darken her tan so that it’s tanning bed/spray tan brown, and add purple mascara, and, finally, put her in clothing that, for anyone dwelling outside of a strip club or a People Of Walmart video, would be embarrassingly revealing.

Here’s a side by side of an original Bitstrips and an altered “Rebecca” pornstrips pose.

But for this comic, there was no Rebecca; just Christy… so no need to perform cartoon breast augmentation, spray tanning, hair bleaching, etc.

Christy is easy: I browsed the original unaltered Bitstrips emojis and found one pose that I liked, and one expression that I kind of liked…

… and I combined the facial expressions so that Christy had the “listening with curiosity” expression that I wanted, and then changed the bikini to a nightgown…

I’ve superimposed the drawing on a blue backdrop here for contrast, but the Bitstrips/Bitmoji originals are PNG files, which, whatever that means technically, means that when I alter and manipulate them digitally, if I save them in PNG, the drawings are on a blank background. They can therefore be copied and pasted onto another photo. That’s how I “make” these comics.

So I superimposed “Christy with cup of tea in nightgown” onto the kitchen backdrop photo that I’d selected, and…

So Christy’s listening to (or inadvertently overhearing) something… what is she hearing? Rebecca, of course. This is one of the few TWINS comics where Rebecca doesn’t appear directly in the panel. So… insert a comic balloon…

Of course, just like with Lauren Boebert not getting that “taking someone to church” can mean not only literally going to church, but making your lover cum wildly, the gag here is not just what Rebecca is crying out from the bedroom above; it’s what Christy thinks she’s actually saying. So the next step was to write a caption…

…and if you want to see the finished version of this comic with that caption, I’m sorry. It’s going to be in the next issue of my ‘zine METANOIA, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who reads my ‘zine. If you want to get a copy of the ‘zine (usually a two- or four-page newsletter, actually), it’s PRINT ONLY. I’ll be happy to send you the issue via US Mail if you send me return postage or a self-addressed stamped envelope (Max Shenk; Hotel Coolidge rm 138; 39 South Main Street; White River Junction, VT 05001) OR donate to my ko-fi page.

Anyway, that’s how I make the comic sausage.

And maybe THAT turn of phrase is another TWINS comic.

Inspiration all around…

One of the writing mysteries that non-writers wonder about is “where do writers get their ideas?”

I can’t speak for EVERY writer, but usually the fiction I write is grounded in something that actually happened. I seldom write about it verbatim, but usually something I’ve experienced is the kernel for a story: I live through something, and then I think “How would (my character or characters) react to this?”

This afternoon is a perfect example. I was at the thrift shop and there was only one register of four open, and I was second person in a line that was maybe five people long. When a second register opened, I turned to my left to see that a pair of women had hopped the line to the front. I said “The line is behind me.” One of the women said “They said they’d help us next” and I said “well, there’s a long line of people who have been waiting longer than you have.”

And the other woman said “WHY DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT YOU?”

I felt stupified, didn’t know what to say to that, but at that point yet another register opened, and I was next in line, so I stepped up as they muttered to themselves.

As soon as I left the thrift shop, first I thought of all the things I would have LIKED to have said to those two women… but then the next thing I thought was “How would this have played out with one of my characters… say… Maura?” My 39 year old mom of two living in Stowe. I started parsing it through: “OK… the thrift shops near Stowe aren’t big enough to have multiple registers, so WHERE would it play out? Kinney Drug has the ‘one line waiting for the next available cashier’ system… so… she would be at Kinney Drug… now… how would her having the kids with her (an 11 year old girl and a six year old boy) have affected her reaction? How would it have played out with not just her, but the kids there, watching this woman jump into the front of the line out of nowhere and giving HER (Maura) crap for pointing it out?”

So that’s where the “Facebook Flash Fiction” piece in the two screenshots below came from.

The first screenshot is pretty much “as it happened,” right up to WHY DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT YOU? and the second is where I took the story in imagination given the characters.

What I’ll DO with it is another question entirely (that’s always the question with these “Facebook Flash Fiction” pieces). It’ll probably end up as a vignette in a longer work, or, if nothing else, in an issue of METANOIA (where I feature a handful of new “flash fiction” pieces every issue).

Anyway… this is just an example of where THIS writer gets ideas… 😉


What is METANOIA, and why haven’t you asked me to send you a copy?

The picture above, as they used to say at print newspapers, is my “morgue”: all back issues of my print only ‘zine METANOIA.

I’ve had contact with a couple people who, when I asked if they wanted me to send it to them every couple weeks, seemed to balk, for whatever reason. These aren’t strangers; they’re people whom I consider friends, and yet they seemed hesitant– scared?– to just say “Yeah, send me a copy,” as if NEXT I’d be pestering them for payment, or expecting FEEDBACK of some kind, or they wanted me to send them a link (read again: PRINT ONLY. NO ONLINE!!) or who knows what else… 


This is usually a single page or two pages, two columns, front and back.

So what is it?

The title of this is METANOIA; it means “a radical transformation.” I like the word and I try to embody it in my life and as a writer, so that’s the title I gave it.

I do it for these reasons:

* I am a writer, and writers write.

* Writing, though, is not just putting words on paper or screen. It’s honing a piece, editing it, getting it published, and connecting with readers.

* I’d reached a point, a few years back, where I was writing in my journal and online (mainly through my characters) but not PUBLISHING. 

* I also didn’t like that online writing was ephemeral, too easily ignored.

* I also love getting physical mail: letters, magazines, packages, cards, postcards. I like to hold a piece of paper in my hand that someone thought enough of to send me.

* I also know and have “met” via social media a lot of like-minded people who have given me of themselves in every way imaginable, and I wanted to give them something back. And “gold or silver I cannot offer thee, but that which I have, I will give you freely.” (Or something like that. 😉 ) And as a writer, what I have to give is my writing.

* With all this in mind, two years ago this week, as the first wave of the pandemic hit, I decided to publish this ‘zine.

It would be a writing discipline– I would write, finish, edit, and publish new writing every couple weeks and PUT IT OUT THERE for readers.

It would be print only– that way it wouldn’t get lost in the online weeds of links and blogs and websites– and I would mail those physical copies to people who expressed an interest in me or my writing, or vice versa. 

I didn’t stick strictly to the “every two weeks” schedule the past year or so, as health issues overtook me, but I’m back on that schedule. Issue 31 came out last week; issue 32 will come out NEXT week.

People have paid for it and that is appreciated and it helps me cover the necessary expenses of postage, paper, envelopes, toner, and stuff like this website, but if you want to read it and can’t pay or don’t want to, you’re under NO OBLIGATION to pay.

It’s not a burden on me. It is MY PLEASURE to create this and share it with you.

If you like ME and what I post on social media and on this website, or liked my books, or like my radio show, you will like METANOIA. Each issue contains, generally, an article on something that interests me, a metaphysical article of some kind, fiction pieces from my ongoing character fiction project on social media, a cartoon (yes, I draw that, too; see my posts on The Twins for samples), and whatever quotes I can fit in to fill space.

The topics these past two years have ranged from… let’s see… my uncle Ed, metaphysical lessons in STAR TREK, online shopping, Thoreau’s journal as his TRUE literary magnum opus, John Burns (the “hero of Gettysburg”), the Beatles’ LET IT BE remaster, 60s misogyny in the “good old days,” character development in M*A*S*H, dealing with “Writer’s block,” Penn State football, the silliness of record collecting, how online interactions can sometimes destroy friendships, parenting, French and American cultural norms and faux pas, my process of learning to play a seeming impossible song on the piano, PEANUTS and Charles Schulz and “canon” in story, the lives of blue jays, why I hate the phone, along with the writers and thinkers who stoke me: Neville Goddard, Krishnamurti, Thomas Merton, Henry Miller, Jacques Tati, Orson Welles, and Thoreau (did I mention Thoreau? He is my favorite and appears frequently, even if it’s just a quote).

The metaphysical stuff simply reflects my ongoing life work of reconciling the spiritual with the world. Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do?

Anything in that incomplete topic list that interests you?


It’s print only.

If you’d like to read a copy, here’s the complicated, convoluted process:

Send me your snail mail address and I will send you the latest issue.

That’s all.

If you want a back issue and saw a topic in the list above that interests you, mention that and I’ll send it along. If you want to go random, pick a number between 1 and 31 and I’ll send that back issue.

You are under no obligation to PAY or BUY anything. If you want to subscribe formally (several people have), it’s a buck an issue in the USA. If you want to donate via my ko-fi page, great. If you want to send stamps (as a couple people have), great.

If not any of the above, great.

You’re not even required to READ IT. One of the most bizarre exchanges I’ve had was with someone whom I’d quoted liberally in an issue, and I messaged him telling him and asking if he’d like a copy, since he was quoted in it, and if so just send me his snail mail address and I’d pop it in the mailbox for him. After five or six messages, he didn’t seem to get that I just wanted to give him this. Further, the tone of his replies made me feel like he saw this as ONE MORE ADDED OBLIGATION IN HIS ALREADY BUSY LIFE.

No. This is a gift, from me to you.

If you’re interested, email me ( or use the submit comment feature on this website, or, if you want to pay, you can either get a subscription by becoming a monthy donor or buy back issues.

That’s all there is to it. Honestly.

As my buddy Skip Heller said once about giving away his music on MP3s, a musician’s job is to make music, and a listener’s job is to listen.

As a writer, my job is to write. The reader’s job is to read.

Become a reader of METANOIA!

METANOIA – A print only ‘zine

IMG_20200328_133037_hdrMetanoia is my new print only ‘zine. It contains original work which hasn’t appeared and won’t appear online in any form. The range of topics I’ll cover runs the gamut from metaphysics to music, from Neville Goddard to Mr. Spock, writing process to prayer method, nature, record collecting… all the things that I’m interested in. For as long as I’ve considered myself a writer, I’ve not only always had my work in print (school newspapers and literary magazines, then, later, writing for local and regional newspapers, and, of course, my books); I’ve also always self-published newsletters and ‘zines of some kind, going way back to my Beatles/music newsletter Revolver and in college with my Temple Free Paper, and then the revival of Revolver in the 90s. I enjoy writing online and enjoy blogging, but I missed the physical process of producing a print ‘zine/newsletter: setting a deadline, hashing through rough drafts, laying it out, editing it for style and space, then, finally, printing out copies and distributing them. I also lamented the fact that so much online writing is ephemeral. So I decided to create a new ‘zine: Metanoia. The word, which I learned from Neville Goddard’s teachings, is a Greek word meaning a radical change of attitude. Metanoia will be published roughly every two weeks (I’m aiming for every other Friday), one page, four columns, with a little bit of everything that interests me, plus a cartoon and some very short fiction (pieces from my Facebook Flash Fiction project). I decided to make it print only, so I still didn’t quite solve the ephemeral problem. But I think you’ll understand.

Metanoia is a dollar per issue in the USA and two dollars per issue everywhere else, and, yes, you can subscribe!

To receive the latest issue of it, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Max Shenk 39 South Main St, rm 138 White River Junction, VT 05001 OR You can go to my shop at, where you can get either a subscription or back issues. Or both!

Job: Your Biography

An email to a friend:

Howdy! Hope all is well! I’m sorry I haven’t seen you… I’ve been STRICTLY adhering to my overnight schedule even during a week when we don’t have groups, like this one. It just makes it so much easier. The downside is, I get up between noon and 2 and it’s too late to catch you, darn it. But I can usually make it to PK Coffee by 2:30, which is where I am right now. It’s PACKED.

Subject line = not “Job” as in work, but “Job” as in “the book of the bible.” I’ve been delving into it recently: over the fall, I discovered a Neville Goddard lecture called JOB: YOUR BIOGRAPHY which really hit home and has become my favorite, and that spurred me to delve into it and read it, which blew me away so much that I bought a used copy of this EXHAUSTIVE study bible called THE INTERPRETER’S BIBLE, which is absolutely thick with commentary and expository/explanatory material. (See the photo of a typical page.)  

I think that right now, if I was teaching a writing class, I would do a unit on the Book of Job. By all accounts, it’s one of the great pieces of literature ever written, first of all. (Having not read all of them, and being someone who considers many episodes of STAR TREK to be “great literature,” I feel ill-suited to comment on that assertion.) Second of all, it has been parsed and misinterpreted and mistranslated and misunderstood almost since the day it was set to paper, so that would be fodder for research and discussion. (example: Neville talks about how “the patience of Job” is a complete misrepresentation of the work, “because Job was the most IMPATIENT person on the planet.”) Third, its provenance and history as a manuscript (two manuscripts, apparently written by two or more different authors: the prose prologue and epilogue, and the middle verse “dialogue”) is fascinating. Fourth, the use of language and symbols, and how so much in the manuscript is deliberate in ways that aren’t immediately evident on the surface. Numbers, for instance: all numbers in scripture had significance of some kind, so when, for instance, we’re told that something numbers seven, it may have a surface meaning, but the deeper spiritual meaning was one of “completion.” 

Those just for starters. Just delving into this work on my own has shown me how woefully inadequate a lot of my education has been. Or maybe not… if I hadn’t done what I’d done, I wouldn’t KNOW TO look at this work in the way that I am.

It’s stoking me in a lot of ways, but mainly, unexpectedly, as a writer, and that’s why I’d present it to writers. Right now I’m trying to figure out what direction I’m going to take with a lot of disparate works that are in embryonic stages. I can see at least three books coming out of a nebulous mass of very rough drafts and ideas that I’ve been toying with, and with one of them, anyway, JOB has given me the idea that I should try to write the book in blank verse, and be very deliberate, dreamlike, mystical, with the structure of the book. Without, you know, being full of shit.

All this is what I’d toss at you if I saw you in person, but since I’m sitting here at the cafe, I’m typing it.

Hope to see you and catch up soon! 🙂 m

On the 104th anniversary of Orson Welles’ birth…

Orson 1

2018 was a good year for Orson Welles, even if he wasn’t around to enjoy it. His final, unfinished film The Other Side Of The Wind was finally completed by a coterie of friends and admirers and colleagues, fulfilling Peter Bogdanovich’s promise to Welles in the 1970s: “If anything happens to me, I want you to finish this film.”

Here on the anniversary of Welles’ birth, to celebrate perhaps his best posthumous year yet, I present fifteen quotes from and about Welles, from various books, articles, and interviews in print, audio and video.

*  *  *

Orson 2
“I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you.” ~ Orson Welles

*  *  *

“The content should be more important than the ingenuity of the director.” ~ Orson Welles

*  *  *

“Somebody said that Touch of Evil seemed ‘very unreal, but real,’ and I corrected that statement, and said that what I was trying to do was to make something that was unreal but true, and I think that’s the definition of the highest kind of theatricality, the best kind… and that’s the kind of theatricality that can exist in films, too.” ~ Orson Welles

*  *  *

Orson 3From the book Orson Welles’ Last Movie: The Making of “The Other Side of the Wind” by Josh Karp:

“‘For any given scene, the actor and director each have a responsibility to get it correct,’ (Welles) told the cast one day. ‘Takes one through three are on me. Takes five and after are on the actor.’ “When someone asked, ‘But what about take four?’ Orson replied, ‘Exactly.'”

*  *  *

“…You can get as dirty as you want but not also excite people, because exciting people during the course of a story –exciting them sexually– is changing the subject so completely that you have no more narrative form.” – Orson Welles, on the Dick Cavett Show, 1970

*  *  *

From the book My Lunches With Orson by Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles:

Welles ~ I believe that there is no law, and should be no law under the heavens that tells an artist what he ought to be. But my point of view, my idea of art –which I do not propose to be universal– is that it must be affirmative.
Jaglom ~ Really?
Welles ~ Life-affirming. I reject everything that is negative. You know, I just don’t like Dostoevsky. Tolstoy is my writer…
Jaglom ~ But, wait a minute, Orson, what are you talking about? This is a stupid conversation. Touch of Evil is not affirmative.
Welles ~ Listen, none of my reactions about art have anything to do with what I do. I’m the exception!
Jaglom ~ Oh my God.
Welles ~ It doesn’t bother me, because it comes out of me. I’m dark as hell. My films are as black as the black hole. (The Magnificent) Ambersons. Oh, boy, was that dark. I break all my rules.

*  *  *

“If the film is ever financed and finished, the title isn’t going to be Don Quixote; the title will be When Are You Going To Finish ‘Don Quixote’?” ~ Orson Welles

*  *  *

From Orson Welles at Work by Jean-Pierre Berthomé and François Thomas:

“In his later period Welles made the editing stage the crucial phase of his creative process. His liking for fragmented cutting and rejection of the literal synchronization of dialogue and sound make it impossible to imagine how he might have linked pieces of film between which no link is apparent, inserted dialogue that he would have rewritten during post-synchronization, or mixed atmosphere, sound effects and music that had never been recorded. No finished version, however scrupulously made, can ever offer more than a distant approximation of a vision that we can only know in fragments. F For Fake and Filming ‘Othello’ eloquently prove the efficacy of Welles’ late working methods, in situations where he was able to complete the last details. In other cases he did all he could to ensure that no one could finish his projects without him, preferring the risk of incompletion to that of completion by someone else.”

*  *  *

“Every man who is any kind of artist has a great deal of female in him. I act and give of myself as a man, but I register and receive with the soul of a woman. The only really good artists are feminine. I can’t admit the existence of an artist whose dominant personality is masculine.” ~ Welles to Jaglom in My Lunches with Orson

*  *  *

“I don’t read books on film at all, or theater. I’m not very interested in movies. I keep telling people that, and they don’t believe me. I genuinely am not very interested! For me, it’s only interesting to do… I just like to make movies, you know? And that’s the truth! … There is something in me that turns off once I start to do it myself. It’s some weakness. In other words, I read everything about the theater before I became a theater director. After that, I never went to plays or read anything. Same thing with movies. I believe that I was threatened, personally threatened, by every other movie, and by every criticism– that it would affect the purity of my vision. And I think the younger generation of filmmakers has seen too many movies.” ~ Welles to Jaglom, from My Lunches with Orson 

*  *  *

Orson 4From the book This Is Orson Welles, by Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, which is transcripts of extensive interviews Welles did with Bogdanovich to “finally set the record straight” regarding his career:

PB – This is from an interview with you in France in 1958. (reading) “J’admire beaucoup…”
OW – Move those papers around nearer to the microphone. I want your readers to appreciate the full inquisitorial pressure…
PB – The tape won’t do our readers any good.
OW – That’s a little technical problem you ought to work out, Peter.
PB – (reading again) “J’admire beaucoup…”
OW – Just the French accent alone…
PB – (continuing) “…Mizoguchi.”
PB – Mizoguchi.
OW – What language are you speaking now?
PB – You know perfectly well who Mizoguchi is. I’m quoting you.
OW – I doubt it. What’s that name again?
PB – Mizoguchi. (OW roars with laughter) Come on, Orson– he’s a great director.
OW – I don’t know what I told ’em. They put down what they wanted to hear. I know just how it went: “Qu’est-ce que vous pensez de Meezagooochee?” “Ah!” I’d reply. “Ah!” The big, approving “Ah,” you understand, because I’d be getting too tired by then to compose anything more complicated by way of a sentence in cinematic French. “Mizzagoochi… Ah!” (more laughter)
PB – And the truth is, I suppose, you’re never even seen one of his pictures!
OW – You don’t realize what these interviews do to a man. You experts with tape recorders– just give you enough time, and there’s nobody you can’t break… I guess maybe I’d been belting into (one of Welles’ least favorite directors) Antonioni at the time, and thought I’d better say something good about somebody. In fact, all I did say was “Ah!”…
You have some comment to make? Please feel free to do so.
PB – Well, you’re shameless, but I think basically your taste is pretty–
OW – — low! The truth is, Peter, I really am one of those I-don’t-know-anything-about-art-but-I-know-what-I-like people. If there’s no pleasure for me in it, I feel no obligation to a work of art. I cherish certain paintings, books, and films for the pleasure of their company. When I get no pleasure from an author, I feel no duty to consult him. My interests and enthusiasms are pretty wide, and I do keep trying to stretch them wider. But no strain. No. I am, indeed, quite shameless, as you say, about not straining to encompass what truly doesn’t speak to me.
PB – Well, there’s nothing shameless about that…
OW – You say that without much conviction.
PB – You’re just making out a case for the straightforward, philistine simplicity of your tastes. But here in the files–
OW – Oh, God, Mr. Hoover…! Please don’t quote me anymore. I didn’t mean a word of it.
PB – That’s just what I’m afraid of… You change your mind according to your mood, is that it?
OW – I change my answers according to who’s asking me the questions. Anyway, what do these opinions really matter? Why should I upset a strong Fellini man by telling him I think Satyricon was frightened at birth by Vogue magazine?
PB – Just a few minutes ago you told me–
OW – –that I love Fellini? Well, I do. My point is that, in an interview, if I like the guy, I like to keep him happy. But if he’s very irritating…
PB – What’s my category?
OW – Unendurable– but only for your tenacity. No, I agreed to this so we could get the record straight, so I’m playing it straight… No, you really want to break me, don’t you? You want me to admit I’ve given out some pretty large opinions on films which I have never seen. I got hooked on the habit at those film festivals. All those endless interviews with dim aesthetes from Albania. “What do you think,” they ask you, “of our Albanian motion pictures?” You tell them, of course, that you’re mad for them. But then you’re stuck. “Ah,” they say, “which one do you like best?” So what do you do? You can’t just say, “The one with the blonde in it.”…

*  *  *

Chaplin 1From My Lunches With Orson, in conversation with Henry Jaglom:

“What Chaplin did is– there are two basic types of clowns. In the classic circus, there’s the clown who is whitefaced, with a white cap, short trousers, and silk stockings. He has beautiful legs, and is very elegant. Every move he makes is perfect. The other clown, who works with him, is called an ‘auguste,’ and he has baggy pants and big feet. What Chaplin did was to marry them, these two classic clowns, and create a new clown. That was his secret — that’s my theory… (His films) don’t date because they were dated then. They were period pieces when they were made. The silent pictures always look as though they happened in a world earlier than they did when they were shot. They all derive from the nineteenth century…
“(Chaplin was) totally female as a performer. There was no masculine element there. And he was like that as a man, too, terribly female as a man. It’s that smile, that little female smile. He was so beautiful when he was young. And he didn’t want any of us not to notice it. He beaded his eyebrows. You know how long that takes? He made himself up to be the most beautiful fellow in the world, and then put that little mustache on. Vanity is very much part of that character. He didn’t think he made himself look prissy. He thought he looked beautiful, and delicate and sensitive, and so did all the world. They took it on his terms. I never thought he was funny. I thought he was wonderful– wonderful– but not funny. I thought he was sinister. That’s why I thought of him for Monsieur Verdoux.”

*  *  *

Keaton 1


“I think The General is almost the greatest movie ever made. The most poetic movie I’ve ever seen.” ~ Orson Welles



*  *  *

Henry Jaglom: “I got a call from (Orson) at 2, 3, 4 in the morning. He said ‘I want you to write this down… I know what I want to be on my gravestone.’ I said, ‘Orson, don’t be morbid; what are you doing? It’s three in the morning.’ He said, ‘Write this down: HE NEVER DID ‘LOVE BOAT!’ 

Where to get my books….

All seven books - bestIf you want to support my writing in the way I like best– by buying and reading my work– here’s where you start.

What you’re supporting I’m a writer with (as I type this it’s too early in the morning to count) at least a dozen different fiction and nonfiction titles that are available in both print and e-book editions, so if you want to read my work, it’s AVAILABLE!!! You can start by reading excerpts of both my published works and works in progress here

…and here’s where you can buy it!!! (All links open in a new browser window.)

Ko-fi – I’ve had a “tip jar” on for a while, which enables readers/ radio show listeners/ viewers on my Youtube channel/ others to “buy me a cup of coffee” via donations in three dollar increments. Ko-fi has recently added the capability to sell both physical and digital products, and I’ve started to list my work in my shop there. These are PDF e-books, mainly; I opted for that format because whatever the limitations might be compared to other ebook formats, a PDF will look the same on any device. It’s also printable. Keep checking back, as I plan to add more titles going forward, as well as signed copies of physical editions.

Amazon – If you have a Kindle reader, all of my titles are available for Kindle reader on Amazon, the home of Kindle. You can get the print editions, too…

Brick and Mortar bookshops – ….although why not order the print editions from your local bookseller (like Whistlestop Books in my hometown, Carlisle, PA) or request them from your local library (like Bosler Memorial Library in my hometown, Carlisle PA)? All titles are available for order from Ingram and other book distributors.

What should you read first? – Where to start reading is up to you. As I explain in this blog post, my fiction follows a core group of characters  from their childhood years in the 1960s up through the present day, and it’s always nice to read a unified set of works in “timeline order.” So here’s the timeline. 

Facebook – Of course, I post liberally on my Facebook page, on my characters’ Facebook pages, and on a Neville Goddard page– Neville From My Notebook— and group–Neville Goddard Lecture Discussion Group— that I admin.

Buy me a cuppo coffee – If you read my work or see my videos on YouTube, there will always be a link to my Kofi page, which enables you to “buy me a cup of coffee” via Paypal. Three bucks, as many times as you want, just to pitch in for the time and energy and expense I put out in creating otherwise “free” work (like the Neville Facebook posts, the character Facebook posts, my Youtube videos, etc).

Other venues – I’m in the process of investigating other social media and online artist/writerly venues like Patreon, MeWe, etc, and I’ll certainly update here on my blog as I delve in and create. But for now…

…if you want to support me in the way I like best– by buying and reading my work– this post gives you the GPS.

Thank you! –Max

On Barry Levinson’s PATERNO…

Sometimes I don’t realize what a movie or a story is MISSING until after I’ve read a good critique of it. That was the case with Paterno, Barry Levinson’s movie about the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

paterno002The movie was pretty tightly focused on the last couple weeks of Joe Paterno’s coaching tenure at Penn State: his 409th career win as a Division I coach, and then, less than two weeks later, his firing.

The main criticism of the movie seemed to be that it “didn’t draw any conclusions.” 

But my problem with it was that it left the big question unanswered: how did someone like Sandusky get away with what he did for over two decades before he was finally formally charged? It was a lot more nuanced than just Joe Paterno “looking the other way.”

Sandusky was the founder of a children’s charity which helped disadvantaged and troubled boys. That was where he found his victims. How was it possible that he was affiliated with that charity for over two decades without someone NOTICING that something was “off”?

The uneasy answer is that most of the people who knew him professionally– including licensed psychologists, childcare professionals, and law enforcement officials– didn’t know exactly what they were seeing when they looked at Jerry Sandusky. He was considered not just a noble person, but a hero of sorts as a protector and advocate of the very children he was abusing in private. The idea that he was doing what he did was shockingly at odds with his image.

That is part of the way that child molesters work.

A friend of mine whose parents live in Lock Haven PA told me that after Sandusky left Penn State but a few years before he was formally charged, he was a volunteer coach at a local high school up there. One afternoon, another coach caught him in a compromising position with a teen boy in the gym. Sandusky jumped up and stammered that he was showing the boy “wrestling moves.” No charges were filed, but Sandusky was let go as a volunteer.

My friend said that when the story hit the local paper, residents were outraged, but not in the way you’d think now.

“How dare someone try to besmirch the character of this fine upstanding gentleman who has done so much to help children in this community” was the tone of the outrage.

It seems to me, therefore, that as a writer, if someone REALLY wanted to tell this story, they’d take the following tack: show Sandusky as he appeared to almost everyone around him before there was any hint of this. 

33E2823100000578-3575517-image-m-45_1462503827937Show the seemingly benign, “goofy and childlike” (the words of a former player) children’s advocate as he appeared to his players, family, church members, the college community, and the people at his charity.

Make him look like the saint everyone thought he was, and then proceed from there.

The audience has to be sympathetic to Sandusky and manipulated into dismissing anything that looks the slightest bit unseemly.

Just like most of the people around him were for almost 30 years.