Jan Notzon's Blog

October 31, 2019

Tastes

I'm finding interesting the different reactions to my novels.

I've gotten a few complaints about the vocabulary. But then I get this from one of my readers:
"Jan has a wonderful way with words and makes you realize what a rich language we have."

A friend complained about too many adjectives in the prologue of my first novel "The Dogs...Barking. So I rewrote it, only to find another friend was disappointed because he liked the first version so much.

I must confess that I do love language and love (perhaps too well) painting a thorough picture with them.

I must also confess that in reading Cormac McCarthy's early (Tennessee) work the imagery was so dense (and I loved it) that I sometimes had a hard time following the story (The Orchard Keeper; Suttree). Talk about vocabulary!

Well, all I can say is that it's a good thing there are so many different tastes. If everyone liked the same thing it would be a quite boring world and we'd all be fighting each other for the one thing that everyone wanted. (Place smiley-face here)
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Published on October 31, 2019 14:13

October 20, 2019

A Proposal

In working on a fictionalized account of my paternal family's immigration from Poland, I have the wife and mother support her husband's wish to emigrate.

In a flash of gender sensitivity, I recognized how deeply offensive the idea was. And to have them immigrate to the existential wasteland that is America, is also unpardonable jingoistic wickedness.

In an effort to make amends for my heinous crime and seek absolution, I have been inspired to make some slight changes to the story.

Here is a brief sketch of what I propose: Emanze Feministisch is an American (and appropriately ashamed of it) of Austrian/Malinois descent. Mother of 12 children and CEO of the now united Microsoft/Amazon/Facebook/Apple, Inc, (Google will soon be added to the conglomerate) she is disgusted with the unfettered avarice inherent in the exploitative capitalist system.

She is also married to a closet homosexual alcoholic who beats her bloody every time they have sex--because he's so deeply ashamed of indulging in heterosexuality. (How they came to have 12 children I will leave to the imagination of the reader. BUT HERE'S A HINT: She named all of them Dave, but when she needs to call them individually, she just uses their last name.)

She ponders how she can find absolution for the depraved sin of making a living (and, horror-of-horrors, being successful!). She considers Cuba, but has read reports from Michael Moore that it has a superlative health-care system, so that would not allow her the proper penance for the expiation of her sin in having a dollar more than the homeless person she gave a home to. (He fits in well with the other children).

She considers Botswana, but finds it to have a successful economy by African standards, so that would never do.

Afghanistan is ideal because women there are treated worse than stray dogs, which in her mind is what she deserves--as do all successful Americans. She also considers Sri Lanka for the endemic malaria, and Nepal for the elevation. (She gets altitude sickness).

While in Afghanistan, she foils two 250-pound would-be rapists using meditation, which of course she is an expert at being a gluten-free, lactose-intolerant vegan. She immediately assumes the lotus positions and "ohms" the two malefactors into submission. As a result of her influence, they become monks, taking a vow of poverty (but not chastity because that would be perverse!)

Despite this, she has a series of abortions even though she's not pregnant to show solidarity with her National Organization of Women sisters.

By the power of yoga and meditation, she
touches the heart of Xi Xinping and liberates the Tibetans who elect her Queen. Which, of course she refuses.

Finally, she settles into a quiet life with her trans-trans-transsexual wife who provides her considerable domestic variety.

Stay tuned for the sequel as her erstwhile husband, Duncan Pittypat, finally comes to terms with his own sexuality, and so becomes the ideal father and greatest social worker in history, saving all of New Orleans.

He's offered promotions and raises but rejects them all saying, "No, I earn enough money. I don't want any more. In fact, I and my 12 children will become homeless in solidarity with the poor."

He does take up an invitation to the White House, traveling with his husband, Tupak Sakur, a college professor who studies gender disphoria among the Hibernian elk of east Africa and Mauritius. He is at present a Nobel candidate for their new category of "most politically correct".

There he will meet with President Hippolyta Castrate and her wife, Too Tall Jones, the first woman to break the gender barrier in the NFL, 11-times all-pro middle linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers (AND SHE'S NOT EVEN A TRANS!!!!) .

From there, he and his spouse will move to the ideal society of North Korea. It was recommended by Michael Moore who went there for medical treatment for obesity. The treatment involves 12 men beating him with nightsticks every time he reaches for anything edible. The therapy is deemed a success as he has, over the last six weeks, lost 1.6 pounds.

BTW, since my psychoanalyst says I must do self-affirmations, I am notifying the Booker, Pulitzer and Nobel committees in advance.
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Published on October 20, 2019 14:42

October 7, 2019

Knowing and knowing

I am fascinated by the phenomenon of knowing something intellectually and still escaping the application of that knowledge to oneself. Perhaps it could be described as the difference between knowing theoretically and actually taking something to heart.
Years (too many) ago when I was still a struggling actor in New York City, I formed the hypothesis that those grand celebrities who take their own lives (Karen Carpenter, Robert Young, Brian Keith, and those who essentially committed suicide like Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe, et. al.) often do so for the following reason: there is an emptiness that they believe can be filled by fame, by the adoration of millions. And when it doesn't, they're bereft of all hope.
The bitter irony is that that mindset describes me. Astonishing to me that I could have that theory so clear in my mind and yet entirely miss applying it to myself.
Thankfully now there are SSRIs that take the edge off the depression and anxiety. Without them, I must confess, I know where I'd be. And there is a group here on goodreads called "Bloggers Beating Depression". I so appreciate them. I'll have to post this to that group.
It took the death of my sister and the loss of our ancestral home built by my maternal grandmother in 1915. (For those of you on the other side of the pond, that's a legacy here in the US).
I had no idea that house meant anything to me. How I could fool myself so completely strikes me as the height of absudity.
I suppose self-delusion is not all that uncommon. At least, I hope it's not just me!
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Published on October 07, 2019 16:46

September 30, 2019

Dogs

Do dogs get bored? I know they get lonely. The reason I ask is that when I go to the Atlanta area to visit my cousin, I cannot believe how excited and happy my dog, Sheba, gets. Sometimes she really seems ecstatic.
She doesn't bother me when I'm writing. Mostly she just sleeps or relaxes on our loveseat. But, she always follows me into the bathroom, the bedroom, my study. If I go outside she always comes with me and will just sit on the front porch while I'm doing whatever it is I'm doing.
I remember when I got my first dog, Alex, I worried when he cried out with excitement when I came home from wherever I'd gone. Then a friend said, "well, that's the great thing about having a dog, they're so excited and happy to see you. Funny that I didn't think about that, because I didn't worry about it after that. In fact, I enjoyed it.
It is a tendency for us to anthropomorphize our pets, I realize; it's quite possible that's a misperception of mine.
But it's something I wonder about.
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Published on September 30, 2019 14:29

September 19, 2019

Scams

As a self-published author, I've become aware of the plethora of scam-artists there are out there eager to draw me and others authors into their webs of deceit.
It is sad for those legitimate entrepreneurs who really have an honest benefit for a reasonable price. (Everyone is trying to make money: it is Adam Smith's "invisible hand of commerce." To wit: I've never met anyone who has turned down a raise, who's said, "No, I make enough money; I don't want anymore.")
It's a shame that those predators spoil it for the honest businessperson.
I was just offered a deal to have my second novel "And Ye Shall Be As Gods", featured in New Reader Magazine. Fortunately, I recently hired a publicist who is doing the investigation into their legitimacy for me.
It is so nice to have someone who knows the business and can make all the necessary connections in your corner .
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Published on September 19, 2019 14:54

September 16, 2019

Rant

I apologize in advance but I need to rant.
I was tasked with executing the wills of my sister, Peggy, and a few years later that of my brother, Michael.
My complaint is with the legal system: I immediately consulted with an attorney in both cases. Despite that, it took over two years to settle my sister's estate. And sometimes I panic at the thought of some new complication arising that will necessitate a whole raft of new legal machinations. Do I still have all the paperwork: the will, the birth and death certificates, the probate letters, etc. etc.?
The problem with my brother's is that two days before he died, he said he wanted his mineral interests to go to our cousin, Rod. In the written will it goes to me. I have been trying for almost a year to get the lawyer that represents those mineral interests to believe that I do not want 50% of the interests, I do not want 40%, I do not want 30 or 20 or 10 or even .01% of the interests. And still I can't get them to draw up a deed for my cousin. It's insane. I get a bunch of nonsensical legalese instead.
Problem number two is that 6 months after a judge probated the will, I get a letter from the judge saying that the court demands an inventory--this after all the property has been disbursed to the heirs exactly as the will indicates! (except, of course, the mineral interests). I have to do it in 60 days or, I assume, I will be drawn and quartered in the public square.
All of this, I suspect, is simply a maneuver to make lawyers richer and the rest of us pulling our hair out. (And I don't have that much left to pull!)
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Published on September 16, 2019 14:27

Rant

I apologize in advance but I need to rant.
I was tasked with executing the wills of my sister, Peggy, and a few years later that of my brother, Michael.
My complaint is with the legal system: I immediately consulted with an attorney in both cases. Despite that, it took over two years to settle my sister's estate. And sometimes I panic at the thought of some new complication arising that will necessitate a whole raft of new legal machinations. Do I still have all the paperwork: the will, the birth and death certificates, the probate letters, etc. etc.?
The problem with my brother's is that two days before he died, he said he wanted his mineral interests to go to our cousin, Rod. In the written will it goes to me. I have been trying for almost a year to get the lawyer that represents those mineral interests to believe that I do not want 50% of the interests, I do not want 40%, I do not want 30 or 20 or 10 or even .01% of the interests. And still I can't get them to draw up a deed for my cousin. It's insane. I get a bunch of nonsensical legalese instead.
Problem number two is that 6 months after a judge probated the will, I get a letter from the judge saying that the court demands an inventory--this after all the property has been disbursed to the heirs exactly as the will indicates! (except, of course, the mineral interests).
All of this, I suspect, is simply a maneuver to make lawyers richer and the rest of us pulling our hair out. (And I don't have that much left to pull!)
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Published on September 16, 2019 14:24

September 9, 2019

Necessity

When in a former life I was a rarely employed actor in New York, making talent agents' lives miserable by incessantly hectoring them to come see an Equity Showcase I happened to be doing, I (barely!) made ends meet by tending bar at a Chinese restaurant in midtown.
A very wise customer named Whit McDowell (funny that I remember his name) said to me when I complained about the truly dreadful part of show business trying to pursue the "business" side of the endeavor, "Jan, whatever job you do, there are going to be parts of it you hate, and you have to do those as well."
This morning I watched local TV looking for opportunities to market my wares. While it wasn't as painful as I anticipated, I would SO much have preferred working on my next novel or the screenplay I'm writing (or trying to) with a director friend of mine.
Well, Whit McDowell, you were absolutely right. And I've just started my research. :-(
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Published on September 09, 2019 14:18

September 8, 2019

Live Interview

The spoken interview I had lately was on the "Something Something Podcast," a production of film makers Larry Sands and Erick Kaslov of "Something Something Films".
As this was my first live interview, I was a bit nervous but had a blast talking with these guys. I was able to talk about the inspiration for "The Id Paradox" being the performance of Richard III I had the privilege of doing at Columbia University in New York.
I'm sure it's unnecessary for this audience for me to describe Richard's consummately evil character. I did the role well enough that the chairman of the theatre department there wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation. The greatest accolade I received, however, was from two audience members who said I actually scared them.
It struck me that I couldn't have done the job I did if I didn't have that character in me: a rather disturbing thought. I wondered if we all have that consciousless primitive part of our natures within us. I wondered (and wonder) if it was a necessary part of us. "The Id Paradox" grew out of that wonder.
Here's the link to the interview:
https://anchor.fm/something-something...
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Published on September 08, 2019 14:14

September 4, 2019

Interviews

Had an online interview that is generating quite a bit of interest:

https://www.writerslifemag.com/single...

I hope when I publish this that the link will come through.

I don't know how substantial the readership is for Writers' Life Magazine, but the website looks quite serious. And, I had a blast answering the questions: made me think.

Also had a podcast interview on the Something Something Podcast, a production of Something Something Films, the child of Larry Sands and Erick Kaslov. This was even more fun: very warm and friendly; I really enjoyed talking with these guys about "The Id Paradox", and they were quite interested in my acting career as well.
They said they want to have me back on. More fun.
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Published on September 04, 2019 12:44