Monthly Archives: April 2012

Harry Potter and the National Debt

October 5, 2003 I always have a number of books on the “to be read” stack, but this summer, my reading list came to resemble a log jam. Here I was with two P.G. Wodehouse Blandings Castle novels (as I strive to relive the moment when Lord Emsworth falls down the stairs); a Leila Hadley […]

My Old Flame

I began the dalliance shortly after arriving at college. I was finally away from home, a young man itching to wear a tweed jacket and read scholarly works in my chambers. Syracuse University being a “dry” campus, I was not able to accompany my studies with a glass of port or sherry. Pipes, on the […]

College Days

:: The Great Race :: Watching an Olympic marathon, I was swept back to one of the highlights of my own athletic career, the Great Race during Hell Week. We pledges were to run five laps through the fraternity house, the winner to receive extra hours of sleep. Five of us were pledging in the […]

The Mix Master

April 19, 2004 I once worked with a gentleman who had a gift for mixing metaphors, for combining popular expressions into delightful, and sometimes startling, new phrases. Some were simple. One day, “bus stop” and Harry S Truman’s famed “The buck stops here” came out as “The bus stops here!” On another occasion, “run through […]

Larry McMurtry and Charles Williams

June 11, 2007 The other day I was thinking about tarot cards, and books about tarot cards, and I recalled my search for The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams, and how it came to involve Larry McMurtry. The Greater Trumps is a novel, first published in 1932, and not the easiest title to find. Williams […]

The Conversation

August 8, 2003 In the dictionary under “writer,” it should say “see also eavesdropper.” In restaurants especially, I delight in catching bits of conversation, the words “Eli Whitney” over dinner in Chagrin Falls, for example, or three women in the same restaurant discussing how to move wealth to grandchildren without a tax penalty. But for […]

Tales from Church

… and Other Episodes on My Journey of Faith :: Disillusioned :: Some Sunday in 1950 In the church of my childhood, Kenmore Baptist Church, in Kenmore, N.Y., I experienced my first disillusionment with organized religion. One Sunday, I realized the adults did not know the hymns by heart. They were reading the words off […]


December 22, 2005 My father loved bells, especially on long silk ropes with four or five bells tied at intervals, a strand to hang on a doorknob, bells that played with every coming and going. In college, this made my Christmas shopping easy. I would walk down to Marshall Street, to a shop where they […]

The Art Collection

March 27, 2004 Many years ago on a hot summer Saturday, I helped my wife’s mother’s second husband clean out the home of his first wife’s aunt, an elderly woman he had looked after for many years, hurrying over to close her windows when a thunderstorm was coming, doing her grocery shopping, driving her to […]

Rolling Wheels

Summer 1981 Even before they reach you, there’s a rolling cloud of dust and hot gas, billowing yellow, orange and red through the lights high over your head. The bleacher seats vibrate, and the air pops and crackles. There must be twenty or thirty of them, cars, barking and roaring to be let go. Then […]