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 →

Courtesy of my good friend and fellow bibliophile and author Charlotte, I learned about a great website today. It’s called Word Spy. If you enjoy discovering interesting ways to combine letters, check it out. One of the selections on its “most popular” list is a new one for me – nerdku. It’s defined as a haiku with “a scientific or technical theme” or one “that relates to a work of science fiction or fantasy.” Read about the more traditional Japanese offering of haiku at Poets.org, the website for the Academy of American Poets. These three-line poems with five, seven and five syllables per line, are fun to create. IRead More →

“The Meddler” with Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne is not just a heartwarming tale of a widow and her daughter. It’s a sweet yet effective reminder that one is never too old to make a difference. The power of kindness is immense and the film’s screenwriter Lorene Scafaria does a terrific job in bringing that point home. Based on the true story of her mother’s loss and a desire to stay relevant and connected, this 2016 movie packs a lot into 100 minutes – humor, sadness, love, friendship, risk-taking, introspection and romance. According to an article in Variety, this screenwriter and director “wrote it as a way to process”Read More →

As someone who has been blogging for ten years, I always like to reference earlier posts when discussing a topic that has evolved over time. The problem is that I have written in excess of 1,200 commentaries for Pension Risk Matters and Good Risk Governance Pays and it is not easy to search by key words. Yes, one can sort archived posts by month, year and topic but it takes time. Enter BlogBooker, a service that allows you to quickly convert your blog posts (including photos) to either a WORD file or a pdf file. Kudos to BlogBooker for such a wonderful service and thanksRead More →

National Teacher Appreciation Day on May 3 was a nice reminder of the many individuals who generously shared their wisdom and knowledge with me. One gentleman in particular comes to mind. In charge of my high school Advanced Placement English class, Dr. Graham taught his students about the ups and downs of creative writing. Under his guidance, we had opportunities to stretch our talents as authors, poets and playwrights without the kind of reprisal that might discourage beginners. His feedback was always positive even when it was negative. I realize that now even though I did not always appreciate his candor back then. Still, he must have seenRead More →

Poetry is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of inspiration and enjoyment. A personal favorite (and there are many) is “The Sun Rising” by John Donne. Poet Carol Rumens describes this work as “one of the most joyous love poems ever written.” In only three stanzas, Donne gives life to a “busy old fool” who should bother tardy students and leave young sweethearts alone to idle in bed. His words resonate so well that we see the pesky intruder in our mind’s eye and bid her a quick adieu. Margaret Mitchell was no less influenced by a poet’s pen. According to “10 Fascinating Facts aboutRead More →