Don’t blog a dead horse


Although I am fairly, or unfairly, new to the world of bloggery, I have already learned that people don’t want to read another post about how hard it is to blog. It’s a dead horse.



You know the kind of posts I mean. The ones that say, Look everybody, I blog. My pinky aches from hitting the delete key, and my head is killing me because last Thursday I had to think of something to write and didn’t. Also, I have to chew my food, with that whole up and down jaw thing. And don’t even get me started on the walking, with the feet, first the right, and then the left. Just the chewing and the walking is hard, but add the blogging, and people, you have no idea.



I am like that, only worse. My brain is completely empty. I just stepped out of my mind for a moment and when I came back, I discovered that someone had broken in and stolen everything, including all the fixtures.  Now I can’t access any water or use the toilet. You know how you hate it when everything in your life goes down the toilet; well, trust me, it’s even worse when it doesn’t.



So, yeah, everything is fine if your definition of “fine” means sitting on the couch, holding your knees, and rocking back and forth while humming the song “Mama from the Train (A Kiss, A Kiss).” The rocking motion (my mother called it “bonking”) helps dislodge any stray thoughts the thieves may have missed.



That song I’m humming was popular when I was a small child. Its most unforgettable line is “Throw Mama from the train a kiss, a kiss.” My mother, unaware of how the refrain would burrow into my brain, allowed me to listen to it on the radio. I have no doubt that its misplaced indirect object made me what I am today, a teacher of English language learners. Now I am doomed to spend most of the day hauling indirect objects from one end of a sentence to the next; rescuing modifiers that students leave dangling over verbal cliffs; and removing fragments of sentences, which explode on the pages of my students’ writing.



The singer who popularized “Mama from the Train” started life as a Fowler, a name closely associated with Henry and his famous A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Then Miss Clara Ann Fowler changed her last name to Page, a word associated with blankness and a demand for words. Like me, the newly formed Page suffered from bouts of alliteration and chose Patti as her first name. Forever after, she was known as Patti Page, The Singing Rage.



Do you see the connections? In case you don’t, here they are. Long ago in land much like your own, only called Oklahoma, a woman forsook her tenuous link to modern English usage and declared herself a Page (the writer’s nemesis). The Singing Rage then crooned a tune that formed my destiny and left me wrapped in a blanket, rocking back and forth on the sofa, doing my best to escape the blank page on the computer and the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.



So you see, my inability to post anything today makes perfect sense. Or maybe my inability to make sense is perfect today.




Photo: DN-0081968, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.



Windbreaking News: White-collar crimes


My imagination has been investigating the case of Maureen O’Connor, the felonious former first female mayor of San Diego, who “donated” two million dollars from a philanthropic foundation to a number of casinos she frequented. Apparently, she misunderstood what the casinos meant when they told her they “worked with” people who have gambling addictions.



Ms. O’Connor’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, had this to say:

 This was not, we think, a psychiatric problem or a characterological defect because there is substantial evidence that during this same time, there was a tumor growing in her brain, in the centers of the brain that affect and control, logic, reasoning and, most importantly, judgment.



Due to these extenuating circumstances, Ms. O’Connor will undoubtedly receive a lighter sentence. However, word has leaked out (snuck out by my imagination from the unexplored part of my brain) that her lawyer, Mr. Iredale, is facing charges of his own.



Like his client, Mr. Iredale is being accused of misappropriation. In her case, it involves money and affects a limited number of people; in his case, it involves suffixes and affects all of us.




As an attorney, Mr. Iredale has long lived in a lavish environment of polysyllabic diction (lots of big words) and now feels compelled to include at least one seven-syllable word every time he talks, even if it means stealing suffixes from legitimate, hardworking words. In the article on the CNN website, Mr. Iredale (now incurring ire over dale and hill) sticks a stolen “-ological” onto “character” and comes up with “characterological defect.” His crime may affect millions. Now that he has put that so-called word on the internet, people may start using “characterological,” which will cause other people to want to poke their ears with sharp sticks; and those poked-out ear people will need otolaryngological help, which will only be available if that particular suffix isn’t stolen. Clearly, this man must be punished.



Several local groups have laid claim to the suffix that Mr. Iredale so wantonly pilfered. The local San Diego Archea-……. Center insists he stole it from them. However, the Gastroenterology Department of the San Diego Mercy Hospital contends that the suffix belongs to them. Dr. Gutzman, head of the department and the man leading the probe into what happened to the tail end of their medical word, says he has been unable to treat any gastroenter-…….. problems since Iredale’s “appropriation.” In addition, Morton Liebig, has brought suit against Iredale. “I’ve been a path-……. liar all of my life, and since that article appeared on the CNN website, I have been diagnosed with WCTS (Washington’s Cherry Tree Syndrome) and can no longer tell a lie. I’m a lawyer, too, and now I’m out of work.”



The court, of course, will have to sort through these claims and make the final decision as to whose suffix Mr. Iredale stole.



According to sources in my own living room, Mr. Iredale plans to have an MRI to check the part of his brain that affects and controls “logic, reasoning, and most importantly, judgment.”



Ironic, no? Or as Mr. Iredale might say, “Ironicological, isn’t it?”



Photo: DN-0080053, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.


Windbreaking News: Uncle Sam’s secret recycling program


Helping you out since 2001.


Welcome to Windbreaking News, where I sniff out the news for you.


Reliable sources, who just happen to live in my head, informed me of a huge recycling effort that the U.S. government operates on behalf of its citizens. Of course, it’s a clandestine operation and doesn’t look like a recycling program because it’s more fun that way.


What the government doesn’t know, but I do (thank you, sources in my head!) is that if someone informs the American public, the recycling program will take off like never before.


In 2001, Uncle Sam set up an agency and sent its workers throughout the country to help Americans recycle. In order not to alarm anyone or alert the public to their true purpose, these uniformed helpers pretended to be angry, rude gropers at security checkpoints in airports. But underneath that façade are a host of recyclers tirelessly working on behalf of the government and us, the Mer’can people. We salute you, Uncle Sam!


Since most Americans do not understand how or when to recycle, our fearless leaders set up TSA (Taking Stuff Away) to help us. These trained professionals spend day and night going through your stuff, identifying items to recycle, which you, the great untrained, failed to properly dispose of. The shame!


Agents representing the U.S government (All Your Base Are Belong to US) remove unnecessary items from your suitcases, such as electronics, jewelry, and cloth. Few people realize that your so-called “money” is a cotton and linen blend that needs to be periodically recycled.


Does this grieve you? Are you outraged? Are you asking yourself or yourselves why your weren’t informed about this earlier so you could so something about it? Well, grieve no more and stop bothering yourself(ves) with so many questions. It’s not too late. You can help the government recycle more.


The next time you fly, put your broken electronics in your suitcase. Take that awful fake ring Aunt Ethel gave you and put it in one of those velvet jewelry bags. Be sure to place it on top so the agents don’t have to dig. It’s time to participate, people. Be creative; the sky’s the limit. We can be the world champion recyclers, crushing our contenders like so many empty soda cans.

 Recycle. It’s the American way.


Full disclosure: I support the TSA and have participated in their recycling program. A while back, agents were kind enough to recycle an iPad from my backpack at a checkpoint. Unfortunately I didn’t notice until I got on the plane so I never got to thank them. I salute you, TSA!


Warning: If the egregious use of exclamation marks (aka “bangs”) in this post causes heart palpations, nausea, or ringing in your ears, please stop reading immediately; call your psychiatrist or a friend, even if he or she is imaginary. If your imaginary friend likes the egregious use of bangs, go here.




Photo: DN-0088741, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

The calling


Dream world



Do you hear it

in the dark


before you slip

beneath the cover

of sleep?


Does it murmur

you awake

call you back to




between the worlds

do you hear

your heart whisper

what you must do?


You begin to see

there is an end

to the long tunnel

of time,

and your heart says,


before it is too late

let’s look

just one more time

for those dreams

we’ve heard so much about.