Printer Ink

I bought a printer ink cartridge this morning at the drug store and it has me feeling like some kind of a commercial hostage.

a printer on a box of books

Photo by Blue Bird on

The price is exorbitant… 32 dollars for a little black ink that will probably only last a month or two, and I am a very sparing user of printers, mostly because I hate the damn things. I think they were developed by a consortium led by Voldemort and Sauron in a chilly basement below one of the inner circles of hell. Salesman of the Week is Count Dooku.

Ten minutes,  scissors and a sharp knife were required to get to the actual cartridge. It was sealed, as they all, are in a combination cardboard and plastic package reinforced by industrial glue mixed with titanium. 

The instructions for opening the package were not much help because there weren’t any. 

The word ‘hostage’ fits accurately here because I feel like there is no choice but to go through this angst every few months in order to do the little printing that I do. If I were a heavy user I could research refillable cartridges. If I was a business I would have the joy of bringing my printing elsewhere. 

I am a writer. Most of what I write is sent into the void through the magic and mystery of the internet, and promptly forgotten. But, on occasion, someone will ask me for a hard copy of a document. 

I know now why it is called a ‘hard copy’. It’s because it is so hard to make a copy.

Ah, ahh, aaahhhh …

I never sneeze once. I don’t know why.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on

cold man people woman

Sneezing was never a particularly noticeable aspect of my life until recently. Covid has changed a lot of things and not for the better. As a kid it was a simple two step process; Achoo—god bless you, and then move on with your life. No longer.

Lately, it is an event, and as you can see, it is one I think worthy to write about.  I do not have, and have never had, Covid. That isn’t the point of this essay. Like most of what I post under Canny Curmudgeon, it has no point, other than the joy of putting words in a row. 

Eight sneezes in a row is my record, four is average. I don’t keep detailed records, but that’s fairly accurate. Often, but not exclusively, it is while I am driving, but it’s sometimes at home too, so no real salient clue there as to causation or origin.

Sneezing has become a serious topic of late with the introduction of Covid-19 to the world. (Earth, this is Covid-19. Covid, say hello. Hello. World!— hello covi…oh never mind, please go away—). Early on, a sneeze in a crowd could get you a lot of dirty looks. Now, especially if you wear one of those dopey red hats, it is a source of pride and even camaraderie.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer used the sneeze as a metaphor for sexual orgasm… and that image has its merits, but also its terrors. 

There is a lot more to be said about sneezing; medically, socially, physically, comically, but you’ll have to excuse me now, I need to get another box of tissues.



I haven’t written in this blog for a while, being occupied with books; writing them, editing them and promoting them. The writing and editing skills seem to be developing apace. The promotion piece is not. Occasionally, I try to care about promotion, but I really don’t.

I just posted an entry on another blog,, and plan to add to it at least once a week, perhaps twice. I have three books accepted by a reputable independent publisher,; one published called Mcguffin, another due out in December and a third due out in May. And I am working a a fourth. 

Happy to say, too, that my other novel blog, Mcguffin, is alive and well and living in a state of delerium. 

And the purpose of this blog entry is to announce to the world that I’m back. I’ll start posting meaningless and poorly constructed blogs on this site again. This will be where my flotsam and Jetsam land, or what Kurt Vonnegut called wampeter, foma and granfaloons

Be prepared. 








Available from


Mcguffin_SPINE copy

A few rainy hours into the Woodstock concert, the Incredible String Band refused to play, so twenty-two year old Melanie, to her surprise, went on instead. She played her acoustic guitar, alone on a stage in front of a few hundred thousand people, in the rain, and sang. She described it later as an ‘out of body experience’.

Later, she wrote a powerful song about the experience; Lay Down (Candles In The Rain).

My favorite line:   We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace

Melanie Safka

Pete’s Ax

At the end of The Who’s set at Woodstock in 1969, Pete Townshend bashed his guitar on the stage a few times, and then toss it into the crowd. What happened to it after that?


Mcguffin_SPINE copy

“I was at Woodstock…” Andrew said

“So was I…” she said.

“And one morning I was walking back to my tent…”

“Yes!” She said. “I was coming out of the medical tent…”

“And I saw this,” he pointed to the picture. “I saw this man…”

“… This cat,” she said and then winced.

“Climbing a tree, you know?”

“I dig, yeah, I dig. What else?”

“I was behind him, so I couldn’t see his face, but he was halfway up the tree, and he was shining. Not shining, glowing. Just like this. And I thought it was Jesus.”

Published O.M.G (Part 3)


Mcguffin_SPINE copy


The third component of my publishing adventure, and the reason I am here right now, is PROMOTION. 

Yes, the least commercial minded human on the planet is now engaged in the exhausting and often mendacious enterprise of touting his novel. Fortunately for me, no giant conglomerate has arisen lately, for example Amazon, to subsume the publishing industry and make “books”, sometimes loosely bound pages of pablum, available for a song. Or a click. The market for a good read is certainly, assuredly, not flooded. Nope, not a bit.

My endeavor has not traversed Amazon’s digital flea market. My book was evaluated, okayed and edited by a sharp-eyed, experienced agent of an independent publisher. Wings ePress is small compared to one of the five giants of publishing, but focused on quality rather than quantity.

The book will be available on July 1st from in both a downloadable version, and a Print on Demand paperback. The paperback is sold through Amazon because Amazon has become not only omnipotent, but ubiquitous. (sigh).

So much for the tale of my odyssey. The opening bell is about to ring.





Published O.M.G (part 2)

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The act of actually signing, electronically, required a dance partner, DocuSign, which was no Cakewalk, but I managed to scrawl my name in an acceptably legible fashion, and found myself  officially contracted. Mild hyperventilation ensued.




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Editing the work came next. The book, Mcguffin, is sixty-eight thousand words, or about a hundred and fifty pages, single spaced. I had gone through it carefully three or four times, and felt that it was ‘clean’; reasonably error free and ready for the printing press.

Ha! And ha! again.

The editor at Wings did her version of an edit, and found an average of two corrections per page, which put a dent in my ego. Their procedure is to use the Microsoft Word ‘markup’ feature which allowed me to dispute changes. Like I would. She found good reasons for spelling, punctuation, word choices, and verb tense changes. I learned that I was overly fond of the word, ‘that’ and also that one of my characters mumbled a lot. But, as Plato told Socrates, ‘You learn something every day, unless you’re careful.’ I learned, and am still learning that the craft of writing is more re-writing than writing. And, having edited this blog entry, I realize that the word ‘writing’ occurs in that sentence three times.

Another edit was done, and a third one called the ‘galley proof’. I didn’t know what a ‘galley proof’ was, but for some reason it seemed a golden and special phrase to me. It sounded so professional, and prompted me to say with pride, “I just finished proofing my galley”.

More hyperventilation.

Link to my FB Author page :


Published, O. M. G


  • I finished writing the book, Mcguffin to my satisfaction on the 11th of December

  • Sent a query letter to a couple of independent publishers, including Wings ePress. The original letter was addressed to a Linda and I started the query letter, ‘Dear Sir’. Not to mention, but I will, that I asked for ‘representation’ for my book which was wrong. An agent will represent, but a publisher will not. They will publish, but not represent.

  • However, and life turns on these little ‘howevers’, about two days later I got a return email from the ‘Executive Editor’ of Wings ePress asking me to send the complete manuscript. O. M. G. Capital O, capital M and capital g.

  • About two days after that she wrote back and offered me a contract for Mcguffin. So, within five days, counting a Sunday, I went from being a wannabe to having an actual book contact in hand. Well, on hard drive, but same difference.

  • Anyone who has struggled to get published the old fashioned way, i.e. not through a ‘vanity press’ process, knows that book agents and online magazines can be black holes for an unknown author’s magnum opus. Or even not-so-magnum opus. Response time to a query letter or a story submission is often three months, often six months, and sometimes only a vain hope. To go from zero to a book contract inside a week was like winning the World Series in June. I remain gobsmacked.

And… here we go.