the poor questioner might infer that I was judging him

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WHEN  I WAKE IN THE MORNING, the first thing I do is make a mug of Cafe Bustelo coffee. I don’t wake up with my brain/mind func­tioning at 95 per­cent as I used to—more like 75 per­cent. As I sip my coffee, I warm up the ol’ ra­ti­o­ci­nator for the day’s writing by pe­rusing Quora and an­swering a few ques­tions. Mostly I give straight an­swers to ques­tions about Elvis or the Bea­tles or rock & roll in gen­eral. READ MORE

blaming God for the bad but not crediting Him for the good

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IT’S QUORA QUESTION TIME AGAIN. This time the ques­tion was about the Cre­ator: “Why do people tend to blame God for the bad but never give him credit for the good?” Even though my ex­pe­ri­ence with my fellow human be­ings who are be­lievers is the exact op­po­site of that, I couldn’t re­sist livening up Quora with an an­swer:

God drops by my house once a month to play Cinch with me and a couple of my neigh­bors from Penn­syl­vania. READ MORE

what turns you off about loaded questions about tom cruise?

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IF I GAVE A DAMN about the per­sonal lives of ac­tors and artists—if I let the things they say and do keep me from their accomplishments—I might not have any books to read, any records to hear, any movies to see. Thank­fully, Wholly Grom­mett in His Fi­nite Wisdom did not create me that way: I don’t give a damn about the per­sonal lives of these people (un­less, of course, they’re mon­sters of some sort). READ MORE

capitalizing articles and prepositions in your title

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IF YOU ARE GOING TO WRITE FOR PUBLICATION, you need ac­cess to at least one Eng­lish lan­guage grammar and usage style­book. No matter how good a writer you may be, no matter how much ex­pe­ri­ence you may have, you will use that book fre­quently. (Un­less you have a pho­to­graphic memory). As­suming you are using Amer­ican Eng­lish (AmE) in­stead of British Eng­lish (BrE), you should prob­ably fa­mil­iarize your­self with William Strunk and E.B. READ MORE

the newsstand’s “house hippie” heads for woodstock

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I WORKED ON THIS PIECE FOR A WEEK! I in­tended to pub­lish it on Au­gust 15, 2019, the first day of the 50th an­niver­sary of Wood­stock. But no matter what I wrote or how I wrote it, ei­ther I came out sounding far more con­ceited than I was in 1969 (ah, but I was so much older then) or the whole thing came out sounding like a sappy Hall­mark movie. READ MORE

people love farts and can’t seem to get enough of them

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PEOPLE LOVE FARTS! Not, you know, en­during them. But they love hearing them and hearing about them: fart jokes will prob­ably be with us until Sheldon Coop­er’s dreams of our brains being moved to non-tissue bodies are re­al­ized. If someone turns their nose up at a fart joke, you’re prob­ably wasting your time in any kind of con­ver­sa­tion with that person. READ MORE

a series of trials, errors, and occasional victories

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BERNI JUST BROUGHT ME a sheet of paper ti­tled “Ten Rules for Being Human.” Un­for­tu­nately, it had been pho­to­copied so many times that the let­ters were all a blur, so I couldn’t read it without squinting like Mr. Magoo. (I’d ask, “Who passes crappily-rendered stuff like this around?” but some­body gave to Berni and she gave it to me, right?) READ MORE

covers of 19 various unrelated books from the 19th century

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ONCE UPON A TIME, we made things with care, with crafts­man­ship, even a touch of art. The number of items so made that were used in everyday life would be a long list in­deed, but here I am only going to ad­dress the front covers of old books. Re­ally old books.

When we see and hold books like this today, it’s not un­usual to wonder why they went to so much ef­fort to pro­duce some­thing so few people would read. READ MORE

shawna mccarthy created a space of her own

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TWENTY ODD YEARS AGO, I was turned on to Glimpses, a novel by Lewis Shiner. I’d never heard of the au­thor but as I don’t keep up with much of any­thing any­more (it’s the old age thing), that wasn’t sur­prising. Be­cause of the source of the rec­om­men­da­tion, I read the book and thought it might be an Amer­i­can­ized form of “mag­ical re­alism.” READ MORE