Tuesday, April 17, 2007

With Apologies to My Mother-in-law

My wife and daughter were visiting my mother-in-law in Denver. I spoke with my daughter over the phone. She told me that her uncle and his girlfriend were coming over for dinner.

ME: Are you having anything special for dinner?

HARPER: Meatloaf. Nothing exciting. A hamburger loaf, that's what it is. Tastes like bread. I'm not too excited.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007

My friend Michael Homer once asked me at a lecture given by Kurt Vonnegut at the University of South Carolina, "This guy is a communist and an atheist, and you're a conservative and a Christian, so why do you admire him so much?"

I admired his mind, and his astonishing ability as a storyteller, as a writer of science fiction.

A grad student, who identified herself as a literature major with aspirations to teach high school Lit, asked him, "What books should I include on my students' mandatory reading list?" He responded dryly, "If you don't know the answer to that question at this point in your education, you're in the wrong field."

In an article about literary style, Vonnegut railed against the use of the semi-colon (never use one) and preached writing simple, clear sentences in order to communicate.

He believed that society's ills were the result of the collapse of the extended family, and theorized that if the government were to reassign everyone in the country to an extended family, we would all be much better off. He was a believer in the love and support net an extended family provides for the individual.

He is among my three favorite novelists, along with Thomas Hardy and John Irving.

He wrote many books and stories. Many were very funny. He was a humanist, most of all, and though our philosophies and beliefs are quite different, he made me laugh, made me think, and inspired me to find worth in my fellow human beings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dateline: New York

I am in New York a couple of days this week for an event at the NASDAQ. The company I work for was invited to sound the opening buzzer.

The event was exciting and memorable, and I am glad I was given the opportunity to attend the event.

At this moment I am in Queens, just off the Van Wyck. My cab driver had to stop for fuel on the way to JFK and seems to have disappeared. He is one of those maniacal ones who uses the horn with great liberality, then apologizes to his fare for his inability to run some out-of-state rube off the expressway.

I am sitting alone in the cab at the pump of a BP station. It is quiet in here. I cannot hear the noise from the Van Wyck. I find myself in the most curious of circumstances. The keys are in the ignition. If the Cabbie does not return perhaps I could take the cab onto the airport. I could abandon it there and catch my flight.

But for now I wait.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

B.C. R.I.P.

Johnny Hart, the outspoken and sometimes controversial author of the B.C. comic strip, is dead at age 76.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter!

Peppermint Patty: Well, Marcie, I'm really sorry. Here it is Easter Morning, and we don't have any colored eggs.

Marcie: I'm the one who's sorry, sir. I guess I'm not much of a cook.

The Easter weekend is thus far much as I remember it as a child. Dying Easter eggs on Saturday, before watching "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" on television. Only two of the twelve eggs were broken, but we got them right from the get-go: no eggs roasted, toasted or waffled. No egg soup. (Poor Marcie just couldn't get it right!) Our eggs are hard boiled like they're supposed to be, in the shell, and colored to perfection with Paas tablets dissolved in water and vinegar.

It's after nine, and The Ten Commandments serves as background as we prepare for Easter Sunday. We'll enjoy a 10 pound ham after Easter services. Then we'll spend the afternoon participating in an egg hunt organized by my six-year-old. This is usually a pretty big production as my daughter has grandiose ideas when it comes to egg hunts.

I've got to get back to the TV. Charlton Heston has returned to the Israelites as a slave. Happy Easter!