Category Archives: writing & Such

Who Knew? Wikipedia Can Be Funny!

Who Knew? Wikipedia Can Be Funny!

(But then, it’s talking about Mark Twain.)

twain-and-kid
Mark Twain and Dorothy Quick, one of his “surrogate granddaughters” (he had no grandchildren of his own, and filled that role for the daughters of some friends.) One can imagine a bit of dialogue: Quick: “Grandpa Mark, won’t you ever stop smoking those cigars? They’re so stinky.” Twain: “Why certainly, my dear, if it pleases you. After all, quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I’ve done it a hundred times.”

One of the favorite books of my boyhood — back in another century, a different millennium– was Huckleberry Finn. Read it several times.

It’s dispiriting to see articles about schools these days putting Huck in the literary dustbin, because of concerns over trigger words that were authentic to the culture Twain was portraying.  But then, that’s happened a lot to other classics too. Continue reading Who Knew? Wikipedia Can Be Funny!

Dog Days Tale: Honesty Is the Best Policy – Mostly

Dog Days Tale: Honesty Is the Best Policy – Mostly

My brother Mike picked up the ringing phone: Nonantum Times,” he said, listened a moment, then handed me the receiver.

I put my hand over it and raised an eyebrow at him. “Ted Epstein,” he whispered.

Ted Epstein was a lawyer in downtown Boston. He was also a board member for the Nonantum Times, the new low-budget suburban weekly newspaper of which I was the founding editor. That is to say, he was one of my bosses.

Nonantum-Map

“Ted!” I said into the phone. “Got any good news for me?”

There was an awkward pause on the other end. Then, ”l’m afraid not, Chuck,” he said. 

“Oh no,” I said, “don’t tell me our first big investigative scoop isn’t gonna happen.”

Continue reading Dog Days Tale: Honesty Is the Best Policy – Mostly

Dog Days Stories: Who Needs A Machine Gun?

Dog Days Stories: Who Needs A Machine Gun?

[NOTE: This is the first in a series of “summer reading” posts, for the “dog days” of August. Taking a break from current politics, religion, and other disasters, most are personal reminiscences, mainly true.]

When I was a boy, it seemed like I was always outgrowing things, especially shoes and pants.  Even though I was pretty hard on clothes, scuffing up shoes and wearing holes in the knees of my jeans, sometimes there was still some wear in the clothes when I outgrew them. 

Then my mother would sigh and say, “Well, at least we can still get some use out of them,” and hand the shirt or the pants down to one of my brothers.  Logo-CF-Dog-Days-box

Since I was the oldest, though, there was no one to hand clothes down to me.  I liked that.  It meant my new clothes would really be new.

Often enough, when I needed new clothes my mother would bring out a thick catalog from Sears of Montgomery Ward and order them by mail.  To do this she unrolled the measuring tape from her sewing box and measured my arm and chest and the length of my leg.  To figure out my new shoe size, she had me stand with one foot on a piece of paper, while she placed the side of a knife against my big toe, my heel and on both sides where my foot was widest, and then made a mark at each spot with a pencil. Continue reading Dog Days Stories: Who Needs A Machine Gun?

Spilling The Two Secrets I Know About Garrison Keillor

Spilling The Two Secrets I Know About Garrison Keillor

About now, I figure, Garrison Keillor has about wrapped up his last PHC show, at the Hollywood Bowl, the one the rest of us get to hear and blubber over tomorrow evening.

imageA friend of mine was at last week’s Tanglewood show, and texted that half an hour after it was off the air, the place was still going nuts and he was doing curtain calls & encores. Of course the rest of us didn’t get to hear that. I bet the same thing is going on now at the H-Bowl; wonder if it will make it to the website later.

The thought of all those encores just rubs in the separation anxiety. Makes me wonder if he’s letting it all hang out on this very last time. Maybe if he’s even telling those two secrets I know about him.

Well, to heck with wondering: I’ll tell them here, to all three of you who might pause to read them here . . . .

Continue reading Spilling The Two Secrets I Know About Garrison Keillor

New: A Religious Autobiography From “Interesting Times”

New: A Religious Autobiography From “Interesting Times”

“May you live in interesting times.” 

That’s a curse, remember? And 2016 marks fifty years for me among  Friends–a half century of almost nonstop “interesting times.” 

I’ve begun putting my experience of this era on paper, in a “religious autobiography, called Meetings. It’s now available.

If I believed in reincarnation, I’d be burning incense & spinning prayer wheels asking that on the next go-round, could the higher powers arrange for the times to be  possibly a bit less interesting? Say with fewer wars, more time to catch my breath, smell the roses, take the long walks on the beach–

Cover-FRONT-Meetings-SM-Rockwell

Who am I kidding?

Continue reading New: A Religious Autobiography From “Interesting Times”

A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

Recently, there’s news about how the Japanese prime minister is about to dump the antiwar provisions of Japan’s constitution — which have kept Japanese troops from fighting in other countries for seventy years.

Hey — what could possibly go wrong?

There have been loud street protests there against this impending change. Good on them.

Japanese-antiwar-protest

 

Continue reading A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

wanting the Best of Everything: Including Opinions

We Interrupt These Lenten Meditations for a Few Stray Words of Wisdom:

I’ve not read any of Saul Bellow’s novels, or non-fiction either.

But the following quote from a new book of his essays may force me to banish this ignorance. It comes out of his reflections on life & culture among the outwardly well-educated, usually solvent and seemingly liberal:

“People who have the best of everything also desire the best opinions. Top of the line.” He added: “As the allure of agreement — or conformism — grows, the perils of independence deepen. To differ is dangerous.”

That says so much in so few words, one can only add a few more of his stray comments:

image

image

That is all. Have a thoughtful day.

 

How To Be A Writer — “Sponsored” & Not

 It’s Simpler Than You Think. (I Didn’t Say “Easier.”)

So in Salon, writer Ann Bauer spills her guts. If you think you can bear it, this is her opening:

<< Here’s my life. My husband and I get up each morning at 7 o’clock and he showers while I make coffee. By the time he’s dressed I’m already sitting at my desk writing. He kisses me goodbye then leaves for the job where he makes good money, draws excellent benefits and gets many perks, such as travel, catered lunches and full reimbursement for the gym where I attend yoga midday. His career has allowed me to work only sporadically, as a consultant, in a field I enjoy. >>

Yeah, okay. Here’s my life as a published writer:

I’m now retired. I get up when I need to. I live pretty cheap, within the Social Security checks that come in monthly. As a result, I can write full-time and FTW.

The output? In two years – plus, five book titles. More to come, until something gives out, probably me.

SS-check
The “Sponsor” of my current writing status. You can gain such sponsorship too; just hang in there, and don’t let the Right wreck it.

 Ann Bauer continues:

<< All that disclosure is crass, I know. I’m sorry. Because in this world where women will sit around discussing the various topiary shapes of their bikini waxes, the conversation about money (or privilege) is the one we never have. Why? I think it’s the Marie Antoinette syndrome: Those with privilege and luck don’t want the riffraff knowing the details. >>

Well, crass or not, you, dear readers ain’t riffraff, and I don’t mind you knowing a few more details.

Marie Antoinette
Nope, I don’t look even a little bit like her.

First point: I am NOT Marie Antoinette.

My current “simple luxury” way of life is, as mentioned, only a couple years old. And before that, I had to work. Help raise four kids. Cope with various ups and downs — getting laid off, divorce, publications folding under me,  presidents named Bush, wars, rumors of wars, yada yada.

And even so, I wrote and published a bunch of books. (I mean, who needs to sleep?)

Continue reading How To Be A Writer — “Sponsored” & Not