The Commencement Speech You’d Really Rather Hear

Graduation season is again upon us. The season for speechifying. As a professional speechwriter, I’d like to offer the following text for the featured speaker at whichever graduation you’ve been invited to attend: “Good morning, graduates, parents and guests. To provide some unexpected relief, I’ll be brief. I’ll simply answer a question many of you […]

Mother’s Day Memories

As I write this post in the week preceding Mother’s Day, I’m sifting through memories of my mom, trying – but failing – to come up with something as amusing, or at least as memorable, as some of the stories I’ve told in this blog about my dad, who was a certifiable character. Mom – […]

Courage and Fear

The defeat of evil: burning a Dusshera effigy of Ravana In the late summer of 1970, as I was nearing the end of my Peace Corps service in India, the local Peace Corps office asked if I would be willing to stay on for another three months to help train a new group of volunteers […]

Woolly Mammoths, Saber-Toothed Bunnies and GMO Puppies

You can hardly look at your newsfeed these days without coming across something about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or bioengineering. It’s a topic that comes in right behind Trump, climate change and gluten. Some people claim that edibles containing genetically modified ingredients amount to “Frankenfood.” The scientists who research and create GMOs, on the other […]

Sky’s the Limit for Hotel Tax? Ask Icarus!

  I wrote this opinion piece (op-ed) in response to an article that appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of the North Bay (California) Business Journal. It was published this week’s (Jan. 23) issue, which was delivered to my mailbox yesterday Jan. 21. (The published version appeared under an additional headline – “Visitors pay hotel […]

May I Help Who’s Next?

Have you ever been in a store needing assistance when a clerk or barista who’s just finished helping another customer asks, “May I help who’s next?” It’s happened to me more times than I can count – umpty-ump times at least, if not skatey-eight, as my mom used to enumerate such things. In checking to […]

Tired of the Oxford Comma Debate?

Oxford, Harvard, Serial or Cereal Comma? We’re tired of the tiresome “Oxford” – or serial* – comma debate, whose annoying persistence seems largely the doing of the Oxford proponents. Proponents say that when you don’t use the serial comma, you can introduce ambiguity into a sentence. Serial comma opponents point out that when you do […]

A Tribute to My Dad, Danelectro Founder Nathan I. Daniel, on His 104th Birthday

Nathan I. Daniel, Danelectro Founder, 9/23/1912 – 12/24/1994 A lot of people know about Danelectro – especially the now-retro-looking electric guitars, which have become collector’s items and have even given rise to that sincerest form of flattery, a company of the same name as the 1940s, 50s and 60s Danelectro, which manufactures reproductions of the […]

9/11/2001 – 9/11/2016

Fifteen years ago today, with the al-Qaida attacks that murdered nearly 3,000* innocents in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, the world changed. Since that horrible day, perhaps even more ink has been spilled on those events than blood on September 11, 2001. I will waste little additional ink here. Readers can find plenty more on […]

A Linguistic ‘Insight’ That Was Not Terribly Insightful

An article recently posted by a Facebook friend about the “ancient kinship” of Sanskrit and Russian brought to mind a linguistic “insight” that popped into my head several decades ago. Ever since I learned, as a graduate student, about the great prehistoric migrations of people out of the Eurasian steppes, westward into Europe and southward […]