• Books,  Miscellaneous,  Writing

    Across the Table from David Sedaris

    This piece was originally written in November, 2016 and first published on US Represented. Friday before last, I went to see David Sedaris read at the Center for the Performing Arts in Denver. For those who don’t know, Sedaris is an American author, humorist, and radio contributor best known for his delightfully skewed slice-of-life essays and articles about his family and life abroad. Going in, I hadn’t been sure whether Sedaris would be doing a signing that evening or not, so I was happy to find out that I’d be able to get him to sign a book. Hopping up from my seat, I clambered over my wife, friends, and…

  • Miscellaneous,  Writing

    A (Last) New Year’s Resolution

    As the new year recedes in the rear distance, at least every other advertisement I see is related in some way to weight loss: gyms, home exercise equipment, diet plans ranging from sensible to so drastic I’d need to swear off tasty food for the rest of my natural life. In that place where capitalism intersects with insecurity, everyone banks on everyone’s desire to lose weight, tone up the flab, and feel sexy. Or feel sexier, at the very least. I mention this because this is the time of year when I’m usually contemplating resolutions right along with everyone else, and they’re all at least marginally health related: lose weight,…

  • Miscellaneous,  Writing

    Flash Fiction Challenge

    I’m participating in this competition, the 11th Annual NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. It sounds like fun, and it’s also a good way to get me to write, write, write. Entries close at midnight Eastern Time. Check it out at http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/FFC/Challenge.htm

  • Miscellaneous,  Music,  Writing

    Another Navy Story: Old Milwaukee, Tighty Whities, and the Music of Bruce Springsteen

    When I was in U.S. Navy A School, I knew a guy named Walter. In many ways, Walter was an average late-teen-to-early-twenties navy recruit: homesick, restless, impulsive, and far too immature to be taking on any significant responsibility. That was all of us in those days. Unfortunately, Walter was also prone to getting drunk and inexplicably winding up in his underwear. I’m sure there were a lot of steps between Walter’s descents into drunkenness and the shedding of his outerwear, but none of us knew what they were because we never went out with him. We were young and stupid, and we were known to enjoy a beer or five,…

  • Miscellaneous,  Writing

    Finding Happiness in What You Carry: A Bit About Mother’s Day

    If you ask me, most holidays are much ado without any substance. Take Valentine’s Day. If you aren’t some kind of jerk, you’ve probably been halfway nice to the person you claim to love above all others. If that’s not the case, dinner and chocolate isn’t going to suddenly set it right. Despite soft-focus commercials about exotic weekend getaways and advice about the portion of one’s salary suitable for purchasing jewelry items, Valentine’s Day could just as well be called, I don’t know, Tuesday. How about Christmas? Whether we’re talking about its Christian or pagan origins, it’s hard to see how any of what happens today relates to any of…

  • Miscellaneous

    Don’t Be Part of the Problem: Just Let that Rumor Pass on By

    Brace yourself for some bad news, folks. This week, famous bad guy Charles Manson endorsed Donald Trump for president. Also, it’s been revealed that Ted Cruz was once best friends with Fidel Castro. On top of that, Bernie Sanders has announced a plan to ban all trucks in the U.S. Yes, trucks. He might as well outlaw lunch buffets. All of these bits of information would indeed be surprising if they were true, but they aren’t. I didn’t make them up, either. They’re just a few examples of fake news stories floating around cyberspace this week, and they’d be funny if people hadn’t actually believed them enough to pass them around.…

  • Miscellaneous

    The Non-Resolution Resolution

    Two days ago, after three or four hours of driving around town looking at houses, drinking Mexican lattes, and chasing cell phone signals, my wife and I decided to go to the gym. We were worn out, but if we didn’t get our workout time in, we’d have trouble justifying all the Friday night snacking we’d planned for later. That’s basic science.   Our gym is a good place to exercise, but it isn’t perfect. They have nice, well-maintained equipment, but they also have televisions hanging from just about every available square inch of ceiling, all of them tuned to FOX News, CNN, ESPN, and A&E. Lucky for me, when…

  • Miscellaneous,  Writing

    George Orwell and Truth for Truth’s Sake

    Sometimes, I ask myself this question: What would George Orwell say if he were alive today? I mean, what would he say other than “Man, I’m really old, which is surprising, not in the least because of that whole tuberculosis thing.” At any rate, I’m sure he’d have some other interesting insights. As John Lennon once said, these are strange days, indeed. I’m not the only one thinking about Orwell. As you might have noticed, folks are throwing around the word “Orwellian” like they’re earning double royalties on its usage. Saying “Orwellian,” in fact, has become shorthand for most of the ideas Orwell cared about. This means, by the way, that using…

  • Miscellaneous

    Teachers and Doers, or: Those Who Can Do May Also Do Teaching

    Maybe you’ve heard the old saying about teachers not being competent enough to actually do the thing they’re teaching. After all, the logic goes, if someone is proficient at their craft, why would they forgo fame, acclaim, and the ability to purchase frighteningly expensive houses just to slum it as a teacher? The horror. I don’t buy it. It makes no sense to assume that being a teacher disqualifies someone from being good at their discipline. Sure, in some instances the old adage may be true—as is the case with many clichés—but I often wonder about the folks who feel compelled to offer up this nugget of wisdom. Do they…

  • Miscellaneous

    The Road to the Whiteboard and the Power of Pretending

    This week has been a flurry of activity for me. Lesson plans and rosters need attention, and I’m working hard to memorize my new class schedule. Another semester has blossomed, and another round of students now sits before me, each with a new name and face to be learned. For the next sixteen weeks, I’ll have the constant suspicion that I’m running behind, and I’ll be right. But all that’s fine by me. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. Unlike some teachers I know, I didn’t grow up wanting to become one. In fact, from what I can remember of my life as a teenager, I didn’t have a…