National Doughnut Day — Did It Roll Right Past You?

Naomi (here in a forest outside Leningrad, 1977 or 78) in the hooded snowsuit which, with its neck slightly unzipped, prompted a passerby to claim she was “naked” I hope you didn’t miss National Doughnut1 Day this past Friday. If Facebook had not brought it to my attention, I certainly would have. As it turned out, […]

Who Said History Is Boring?

Ilya Yefimovich Repin: Zaporozhian Cossacks Write a Letter to the Turkish Sultan Advisory: Despite this blog’s ordinarily being family-friendly, this post is not appropriate for readers under the age of 18 (no nudity, just language). The painting above is one of the strongest possible refutations of the notion that the study of history is dull […]

Unless You’re Prepared for People to Ignore — and Maybe Sometimes Laugh at — What You Write, You Might Need the Help of an Editor or Copywriter

If you must smoke, please do it quietly! Yesterday a friend asked if I’d like to speak at his Rotary Club in a few months. We tentatively agreed on a topic, namely the title of this post. The following is a preview of some of the territory I expect to cover in this and another […]

Cats & Cakes

Gato* Once upon a time there lived in the south of France a lovely family: a momma, a papa and three young children. One of Momma and Papa’s greatest pleasures in life was inviting friends and neighbors to parties. (This story may begin like a fairy tale, but it’s actually a true story, recounted to […]

Dear Mr. Delta

UPDATE: I sent a slightly revised version of the letter below to Delta’s complaint line the evening of May 16 and received a very gracious and responsive reply early the next morning. (I’d originally written this complaint primarily for the amusement of my blog’s readership, and only later decided to send it directly to Delta.) […]

Furo Adventure

If you haven’t bathed in traditional Japanese style, you’ve missed a great experience. I’ve had a few opportunities to bathe like the locals do in Japan, but none to rival the one I’ll recount below. First though, for readers unfamiliar with Japanese customs, here’s brief intro. In Japan, you get clean before you get into […]

The Limits of Canine Intelligence

  Rin Tin Tin Years ago, when Johnny Carson was the face of late-night TV, he once drew hundreds of outraged letters after he dared to say, in conversation with a guest, that pigs are smarter than dogs. Lassie lovers were not amused. I spent my childhood largely unaware of the limits of canine intelligence. […]

Finding the Easter Basket

It’s only a week after Easter, and in fact the Orthodox churches are celebrating the holiday today, so this post is not yet untimely. This is the tale of an Easter past, when all three kids, in their early teens, were still living with Sandra and me in Honolulu. So … what does a part-Jewish, […]

Kisses and Buses: Do You Know the Difference?

Can you tell the difference between a kiss and a bus? What a crazy question! A kiss is a smooch and a bus is a coach, two entirely different things (that almost rhyme). Do you know any other words for kiss? Probably very few. Smooch is pretty good, and if you want to pile on […]

The Hung Fat Brassiere Company Let Me Down

Years ago, when I was living in the Washington, D.C., area, I spotted an article in the Washington Post about amusing – to native-English speakers – signs and menu items in Asia. The article included a number of funny names, but the only one that occasionally pops back into my head was that of a […]