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Showing posts from June, 2011

Musing on My Muse

Often on a Thursday afternoon as I leave the writing class, my muse is waiting. She will be sitting in the car; her eyes beguiling; her smile alluring; her attire revealing. I slide in behind the steering wheel, and she leans toward me and nibbles on my ear."How's that big stud writer of mine?" she says."Come on," I say. "I'm not much of a writer.""But you are a stud."Modesty, one of my many, many admirable qualities, prevents me from saying, "Well, that's true." But as an honest man, I cannot deny it, and so remain silent."What's your assignment this week?" I tell her. She moves closer to me; she's almost sitting on my lap as she fills my mind with ideas. The excitement is unbearable. I have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road as she seduces me with inspiration. Once I get home, I rush to the computer, and within an hour the completed assignment appears before me. I spend the rest of the week cul…

Mornings in Retirement

Wonderword, a word search puzzle, is a daily feature in the Plain Dealer that I got hooked on after I stopped working. The theme of Monday's puzzle was "waste time." Now, I waste time, way too much time, each day on the puzzle pages of the Plain Dealer and the Star Beacon, but the most thoroughly wasted of all that wasted time is the half hour wasted on Wonderword.

In a shamefully self-serving oversight, David Ouellet, the puzzle's constructor, failed to include "word search" and "wonderword" among the three dozen or so time-wasting words solvers were expected to find, Monday. To make matters worse, he listed "read" and "write" among the horde of bona fide life-squandering activities.

Well, let me tell you Mr. "The left over letters spell the Wonderword" Ouellet, the constructive hours of my day, if there are any, are spent reading and writing. And about a year ago I used a couple of those hours to construct a sestina l…

What's in a Name?

My mother's maiden name was Ziegenhein. It is a good name, but one I never learned to spell, which wasn't entirely the result of my innate laziness. I didn't learn to spell it because I didn't need to. All the Ziegenheins in my life were former Ziegenhiens. Mom's father, Edwin Ziegenhien, died while Mom was still in high school. Grandma remarried around the time I was born, and her name became the orthographically less challenging Krahl. Aunt Jean, Mom's older sister and only sibling, married Mr. Turner.If I met any Ziegenheins along the way it was when I was quite young. I can remember a few visits with Mom's aunts and uncles. They all looked to be older than Methuselah, and they occasionally conversed in German. But I think they were Bieswingers. Bieswinger was Grandma's maiden name, and she took great delight in telling people her full name was Hildegard Caroline Bieswinger Ziegenhein Krahl. Whether or not I've spelled Bieswinger correctly is ano…

Sunday Evening

Like a dusty, ill-lit room, Sunday was drab. The sky wasn't dark, angry and ominous; it was merely gray, dull and lifeless. Mother Nature at her most uninspiring.

But late in the afternoon, the clouds moved on and sunshine filled the void. The subdued tones of the overcast day turned dazzling and bright. Cuddles, our cat, awoke from her daylong nap and gave herself over to her predatory instincts. Crouched on the floor she stared, waiting for a circle of reflected sunlight to dance across the wall. When one did, she gave chase, sometimes pouncing on it but never capturing it.

Across the street, Patty came out to protect her sidewalk from the encroaching lawn. She sat on the ground and used a small spade to remove the offending vegetation, which she then dropped into a large paper sack. Finished one spot, she got up, took a few steps down the walk, sat down again and trimmed some more.

A young family walked by. The father, in a gray sweatshirt, denim shorts and a baseball cap, pushed …

Start the Music

Whatever happened to elevator music? It seems to have become extinct, at least in public places, which is where elevator music performed its greatest service.

Sure, the music was as bland as warmed over Cream of Wheat, as insipid as a Nicholas Sparks’ novel, but that was its great strength. Elevator music could be ignored. It was easy to ignore. Like one of those nettlesome tasks that you really ought to do, but which no one will notice if you don’t, it begged to be ignored.

Elevator music was the accompaniment to the unpleasant but necessary. Exposure usually came when you were somewhere you didn’t want to be – a waiting room, for example, biding your time until the nurse announced that the proctologist would see you.

Hugo Winterhalter, Andre Kostelanetz, Lawrence Welk, Enoch Light, Nelson Riddle and the rest were ideal waiting-room companions. If you wanted to read, or solve a crossword puzzle or share your medical history and all its nauseating details with the stranger next to you, t…

A Letter, Heaven Sent

Dear Russ and Beth, my dear children,

The trouble with Heaven, it turns out, is that the place is so darn heavenly. I'm not sure what I expected, besides not expecting to be here. That's not to say I was disappointed when Saint Peter shook my hand and welcomed me to eternity. And I certainly wasn't going to ask how he and the admissions committee arrived at their decision, lest a second look result in Pete taking a cue from NFL officials and announcing, "Upon further review..."

But now that I'm here, I'm beginning to wonder why anyone would want to come here for an extended stay, let alone forever. The truth is, as a place to spend eternity, Heaven ain't so hot - no pun intended. Perfection is overrated. I'm OK with being perfect. But what good is perfection when everyone around you is perfect? When I walked among the mortals, if a man casually mentioned that he had correctly answered every question on the SAT, I would be grudgingly impressed and, a…

In Politics

We must remember, with innuendo
the speaker is apt to be indiscreet,
while being boring, dull and incessant.
That is so true. With his thoughts still inchoate,
the politician spews inconclusive
facts, and his lying is inveterate.

The world's best liars are inveterate
ones, and they rely on innuendo
to appear wise, sage - not inconclusive.
The real secret is to be indiscreet,
leaving the truth temptingly inchoate
in a haze of chatter quite incessant.

Politicians are great at incessant
yammering, and they are inveterate
promoters of slick ideas, inchoate
policies, and fans of innuendo
that makes their opponents look indiscreet.
They don't want to appear inconclusive

while all the while being inconclusive,
just firing away with an incessant
attack, and denying they've been indiscreet,
which they have been more than once; inveterate
philanderers hawking innuendo,
pretending their ideas aren't inchoate.

But all their ideas must be inchoate,
so they seem frank while being inconclusive.
Why talk ideas…