The Thing From Bloggy Swamp

"Music is real--the rest is scenery." Fats Waller

GREEN RIDGE, Mo.  Sam Jones has been a grain buyer in this small town for nearly four decades, but he wears an expression of concern as he watches farmers arrive at the local grain elevator to sell their crops.  “If I had the money right now, which I don’t,&r… Read full post »

NATICK, Mass.  The start time for one of the Boston area’s many charitable walks is fast approaching, but while other fund-raisers are stretching and filling water bottles, one couple remains in their car, the distaff side with her head in her hands.

“Why did you have to say tha… Read full post »

As I stuff a load of glasses into the dishwasher I try to make enough noise so that people begin to get the message; they don’t have to go home, but they can’t stay here. It’s last call, and I don’t need the City of Boston Licensing Board coming down on… Read full post »

There are maybe five conservative American poets, not one of whom can safely show his face at a writing conference for fear of being angrily doused with herbal tea.

David Orr,Read full post »

GLZORP, Freedonia.  By day, Ksiusha Milda is a housewife with a one year-old daughter.  By night, she is something completely different; a blues singer of sorts, a practitioner of this country’s traditional folk song, kalek.

Lithuanian woman - Julia
Ksiusha Milda:  “It is not enou
Read full post »

RIPON, Wisconsin. The National Forensic League, the organization that regulates high school debate in the U.S., has selected a musical topic for this year’s tournaments, catching coaches and participants by surprise.


Ready to rumble!

“Generally, the subject is either international… Read full post »

Today, with the signing of a lease and payment of first and last month’s rent, security deposit, key charges, broker’s commission and the short-term national debt of Finland, my younger son became a man. For there is no step that so clearly marks the crossing of the threshold from childho… Read full post »

AUGUST 19, 2014 8:06AM

The Gertrude Stein Look-Alike Contest

We’re getting up in years, we few forthright men who revealed to each other that we wanted to write back in our youth.  It takes a lot for a guy to open himself up that way to another man.

 


Is it Ed, or Gertrude?

 

There’s the odor of the… Read full post »

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.  Lyle Carroll is the starting left fielder for the Cape Girardeau River Rats, a AA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, but opponents’ scouting reports paint a pessimistic picture of his chances of reaching the big leagues.  “Can’t hit curve ball,”… Read full post »

AUGUST 17, 2014 11:09AM

Our Hypoallergenic Night Out

End of summer means it’s a lot easier to get a reservation in a hot new restaurant in the Boston area, so last night found us with our friends Ted and Sally at Nourriture, which is French for “food.” Tres simple! as we used to say in Madame Clooney’s 10th… Read full post »

SOMERVILLE, Mass. When Evan Winslow earned his bachelor’s degree in film from New York University last spring he had visions of being the next John Huston, or at least Peter Bogdanovich. “You spend four years in college exposed to nothing but works of genius,” he recalls a bit ruefu… Read full post »

NATICK, Mass. Emily Adams is a twelve-year-old who will be entering sixth grade at Mosi Tatupu Middle School in this western suburb of Boston next month, and today finds her with her mother taking advantage of a sales tax holiday as they shop for back-to-school needs.


“Let’s see&ndRead full post »

AUGUST 15, 2014 8:11AM

Whither Butter Sculpture?

It has been several years since Norma Lyon, the pre-eminent practitioner of a uniquely American art form–butter sculpture–died, and the deep impact of her passing becomes more clear with each passing day.


“I can’t believe it’s not Jesus and the 12 Apostles!&rRead full post »

AMARILLO, Texas. Joe Don Mergen has just two weeks of freedom left before he begins the school year as a sophomore at Darrell Royal High School here, but he says he’s looking forward to Labor Day even though it will mean a return to school books and an end to summer… Read full post »

AUGUST 14, 2014 1:24PM

I Am the Poetic Kiss of Death

In the six years since I began writing poetry seriously–and comically–I have persuaded editors to publish eight of my poems.  If I’ve got the math right, that’s an average of 1.33 a year, just slightly more frequently than I have birthdays.  I&rsq… Read full post »

BOSTON.  Massachusetts is known for its tight-fisted ways when it comes to charity, regularly ranking far behind more religious areas of the country in terms of per capita giving, but one local bank is trying to change that.  “At First New England we’re part of the communit… Read full post »

It was a steamy summer three decades ago. I was working for the federal government at a scandal-plagued agency alongside a veteran bureaucrat named Fred. Fred wasn’t going any higher on the org chart, but on the other hand–because of Civil Service regulations–he was never going to b… Read full post »

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.  This city has been home to a thriving folk music scene since the 60s, when Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, among others, performed regularly at Club 47 (now Passim) and other hole-in-the-wall venues where fans listened attentively to both traditional ballads and thoughtful o… Read full post »

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah.  The Osmonds, the wholesome musical group known for its family-friendly fare, takes to the state fair circuit this week with a new repertoire that will come as a shock to long-time fans; an entire set devoted to the music of Jimi Hendrix, the acid-rock guitarist who ha… Read full post »

WASHINGTON, D.C.  It is, say public finance experts, a looming crisis whose significance has been overshadowed by the so-called “fiscal cliff” the nation fell off of in 2012, spraining its ankle; a trillion-dollar liability that would kick in if publishers, magazines and literar… Read full post »

AUGUST 11, 2014 2:50PM

Consuela, Your Love Chaperone

Dear Ones–

The waters of romance are treacherous seas.  Consuela is prepared, once again, to serve as your chaperone through the shoals and eddies of love’s tempestuous currents.  Here are the distress signals she received this month:


“Dippity Doo (click . . . clickRead full post »

HOXIE, Arkansas.  This town in Northeast Arkansas is drawing an unusual amount of attention as this fall’s mid-term elections approach with the announcement by the Department of the Census that it has become the mean center of the nation’s mullets, a hairstyl… Read full post »

VATICAN CITY. Pope Francis I today named Wladislaw Orzacg, a Polish brewer-bishop, as a candidate for canonization as the Patron Saint of Light Beer.


“We’re all out of the IPA–would you like something lighter?”

“The requisite number of miracles having been associ… Read full post »

CHATHAM, Mass.  This picturesque seaside community on Cape Cod is a vacation dream spot for many extended families, and for good reason.  “There are tons of playgrounds for the kids,” says Courtney Phelan, a mother of teen-aged twins.  “There’s fishing for my hu… Read full post »

A Friday in August and, like a lot of other paper-shufflers in Boston, I sneak out of the office for the 4:30 train from South Station. I’m just about to settle into my seat when I notice the Old Curmudgeon, who usually drives into work–the better to burn fossil fuels… Read full post »