Winter Campaign

The state of affairs having displeased me, I drove up to New Hampshire on Sundays to volunteer for one of the candidates. This was my most substantive engagement with a presidential campaign since reading What It Takes. On my first afternoon, I walked in and introduced myself to another volunteer. Amiable guy, and we talked […]

Three Wise Men

The other day I remarked to a colleague that because I’m teaching English, History, Science, and Math, I feel like a polymath, or at least the 6th grade version of one. Look on my adequate integration of knowledge and understanding, ye Mighty, and despair! *** A while back I read a biography of Paul McCartney. […]

Look Up Challenge

  Our school recently took the Look Up Challenge. This reminded me of a previous such challenge. I was at the National Gallery of Art admiring a collection of inkstands when the guard came over. Now, usually when museum guards approach me, it’s to hassle me about my cleats or cigarette. So I had to […]

Enjoy / Celebrate

  This week’s vocabulary words got me thinking that English could stand some joyous calibration of noun and verb. E.g. “Joy to the World” seems rather different from “The beverage you’re about to enjoy is hot.” You don’t get that imbalance with celebration and celebrate, do you. Anyway, to make it sticky, as we say in […]

1979

  There’s a list of books I mean to write, and this one is somehow on it, even though I couldn’t bear to write it, let alone research it. It would be about how in one year three of the world’s worst tyrants – literal madmen – lost their jobs. In Equatorial Guinea, Macías Nguema […]

ObitCon VI

  I went to the sixth conference of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers in Washington, DC. Below are some highlights. I’ve left a lot out, but must record this: it was the best conference I’ve ever attended. Kickers The kicker is to an obit what the punch line is to a joke. Matt Schudel discussed […]

Arma Virumque Cano

  It is my twentieth year of teaching, and I shall share my accumulated wisdom with you now. First, popping into colleagues’ classrooms and telling them to hold off on starting their lessons because there will be a fire drill momentarily is an indisputably hilarious April Fools’ joke. Second … well. This one is so […]