A recent trip to the beauty salon turned out to be an exercise in frustration. Instead of relaxing in between deadlines, I found it impossible to tune out two loud customers. Droning on for several hours, they chatted as if they were catching up on twenty years instead of just a few days. Believe me when I say I learned much more about their lives than I ever cared to know. What made things even worse was their nearly constant use of what speech professionals refer to as the “vocal fry.” If you aren’t sure what I mean, check out this two minute video starring comedian Faith Salie. Be warned. Your ears will hurt. AccordingRead More →

According to a recent email from the Authors Guild, there is a worldwide campaign to call attention to the impact of writers on the lives of others. Begun as the brainchild of the Writers’ Union of Canada, readers and authors are invited to reflect on this topic and then post their thoughts to #WhyWritersMatter. Coincidentally, I had already begun an essay about Mark Twain and his observations of the cultural zeitgeist of the late 19th century. The catalyst was my “eureka” moment during a tour of the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island. Until then, I did not know that Samuel Langhorne Clemens (his real name) had coined the term “Gilded Age” to decry his view ofRead More →