A time it was

a woman looks at the mountains through a window on the observation tower.

Once upon a time – what does that mean?

Well, it happened once – but how do you get “upon” a time? Is time something you can leap on, like a horse or a bicycle? Or does “a” time mean that it doesn’t really matter when it happened exactly, it was just one of those days? (And I paused just then – did I mean to ask if it was one of “these” days or one of “those” days, if you know what I mean? And if you know what I mean, why am I trying so hard to explain?) Oh, I hope all of this hem-hawing at the start doesn’t mean I’m going to have a time trying to get the story out.

Ah, well, then. Once upon a time – it was a time not unlike ours but long ago – a time when the rulers were arguing among themselves and people heard them argue, rolled their eyes and went about their business, because a person’s got to eat and squabbling rulers don’t feed anyone except the scribes who pay attention and write it all down as if someone cared – there was a girl. Continue reading “A time it was”


How to fix baseball

Baseball in the Grass

When I was a 9-year-old boy in New Jersey, a brand-new National League team started in New York. Now, to my knowledge, there had never been a National League baseball team in New York … there was only the prideful American League team, the Yankees. Nine-year-old boys like shiny new things almost as much as they like battered old things, and so I was instantly a fan of the New York Mets.

Years later my brother gave me a cassette of a 1965 game between the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Braves. It was wonderful to hear Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy calling the Mets game again.

Two things struck me after the top of the first inning. The first thing was that Lindsey Nelson read a commercial for Viceroy cigarettes. Cigarettes! You can’t even advertise cigarettes anymore. Continue reading “How to fix baseball”

The sudden waltz

the sudden waltz

I always wondered where I would be today if I had stopped to tie my shoe and did not, after all, bump into her as I entered the store. I would have arrived five seconds later, and she would have already walked out the door and started up the street in the other direction.

Or I wonder where I would be today if she had been in a different mood and, when I bumped into her and asked her pardon, she would have said, “Watch where you’re going, moron,” instead of giggling and saying, “Shall we dance?” while grabbing my hand to keep her balance, which led to my swinging her around in a makeshift waltz.

Seventy years later, still holding hands, I’m glad I didn’t stop to tie my shoe, even though the sudden waltz ended when I tripped.

Our lives are magic

willow and dejah - our lives are magic

I study Ray Bradbury because I wish to convey joy and wonder the way he does with his words … or Paul Harvey.

I’ll always remember Paul Harvey describing the amazing car of the future, rhapsodizing about its many features and technological wonders for three or four minutes, and then revealing he had just described his new Oldsmobile Toronado.

Ray Bradbury and Paul Harvey were so good at using words to create that excitement in your chest as you breathe more rapidly because what you’re seeing is so wondrous … to call the reader or listener’s attention to the miraculous right before your eyes … Continue reading “Our lives are magic”

Books like grenades

books like grenades

What is more dangerous than a room full of books? Books, stacked in pules and lined in rows, each with a purpose and a reason, waiting to be lifted up and hurled like a grenade into what once was someone’s unconscious subconscious. Books, dragging her kicking and screaming into consciousness. Beware the book: It will reach from one mind into another and detonate previously unknown insights and concepts.

“Weaponizing books?” he sniffed. “Child’s play. You can weaponize anything if you put your mind to it. Give me a fluffy puppy and I’ll soften a millions of you up for the kill – although I don’t need to kill you, I just need you to go away and leave me to my evil games. Did I say evil? My heavens. No one is intentionally evil; we all are the heroes of our own internal stories, aren’t we?”

The gleam in his eye was unmistakable: Cold and evil.

Wind chimes

wind chimes

He closed his eyes and let the wind chimes take him to a green summer morning with the dew burning off on a day built for T-shirts and shorts and sneakers, even though he knew bloody well he’d be chilled to the bone wrapped in a sweater and thick coat and boots.

(random image jotted down for a future story)

A whole new life

Tuk-tuk, Sumatra, Indonesia - March 13, 2015: Bookshelves on str

“Lord! he said. “When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him just 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean. Jiminy! If I were the baker or the butcher or the broom hustler, people would run to the gate when I came by – just waiting for my stuff. And here I go with everlasting salvation – yes, ma’am, salvation for their little, stunted minds – and it’s hard to make ’em see it. That’s what makes it worth while – I’m doing something that nobody else from Nazareth, Maine, to Walla Walla, Washington, has ever thought of. It’s a new field, but by the bones of Whitman it’s worth while. That’s what this country needs – more books!”

— Roger Mifflin from Parnassus on Wheels (1916) by Christopher Morley, talking about his rolling horse-drawn bookstore.

“A real book, I mean” – even in 1916 there were books and then there were real books.

Feed a man a book and blah blah blah – but offer him a book and you give him a time bomb that may sit on a shelf for weeks, months, years, a century, waiting to make a brain explode with images, adventures and the most dangerous incendiary of all: ideas.

Photo © Aliaksandr Mazurkevich | Dreamstime.com