Verbiage? No Way!

Verbiage is often pronounced – mispronounced – to nearly rhyme with garbage, something with which it has a bit in common. Hold onto your hats. Here comes another language-related rant. This one’s about the widespread misuse and mispronunciation of the word verbiage. I can’t tell you how many times, as a writer, I’ve been asked […]

A Rose by Any Other Name … Well, Maybe Not ANY Other Name!

Margaux Hemingway While recently browsing the wine aisles, I spotted several moderately priced bottles of Margaux (but not Chateau Margaux, the queen of all wines in that exceptional appellation d’origine, which commands a correspondingly exceptional price). Like many other incidents in life, this find somehow prompted my brain to shift to a new, but only […]

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 […]