Who am I?

After months, actually years, of resisting my family's desire to check out my forebears, I submitted to one of those companies that takes one's money in exchange for information about one's heritage.

But money's not all they take. They need a bodily fluid. They supply a little vial into which one places said bodily fluid. Then one waits for a long time to get the results. The company I was gently persuaded into using wanted a bit of saliva for their analysis. But I figured most of the time physicians want a sample, it's urine.

I decided to just go ahead in the real world and supply the saliva and wait. I was brought up being told that I was mostly Irish, with 1/16th Cherokee, and Jewish. I'm expecting to discover that I am Chinese, Lithuanian, and Eskimo. It's enough to make a guy spit up, but I'll let you know what they find. I doubt anyone is interested.

Top Twenty

Top Twenty

I've written before about how writers, even the great ones, suffer from "corrosive self-doubt," a term coined by the great James Lee Burke.

Come Sail Away

I see ads on TV for cruise ships and vacations to beach communities in the Caribbean. You've seen them, too. They all have one thing in common. Everyone pictured having the time of their life is young, fit, and testimonies to extroversion. I cannot relate. Have you ever seen a pudgy, lily-white, Social Security recipient dancing around beneath the tiki torches and scarfing up colorful drinks with little umbrellas in them?

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What We Watch

My long-suffering wife and I enjoy watching British murder mysteries. In fact, we reserve Sunday evening specifically for their viewing. Netflix, Hulu, and other sources provide a smorgasbord of great stories. However, I must admit a couple of things. One is that we watch for different reasons while agreeing that the story's the thing. But my wife likes to point out the gardens while I'm saying, "Look, there's a body over there!"

We have also come to the conclusion that there are only 47 actors in the UK. We'll be watching an exciting episode and simultaneously say, "Oh, she was also in The Midsomer Murders," or "That guy was the killer in Broadchurch!"

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Whack It

"Whack" means "to prune."

Peggy Sue, Bubba, and Billy Bob Walk Into a Bar

I am happy to be back blogging after a brief hiatus to get my feet under me again. One goal I recently completed was the reading of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I am not going to critique it because Woody Allen already did so:  "It's about Russia." A common complaint about the novel, other than its length, is all the confusing names. Obviously, they're confusing and, being forewarned, I decided to give the characters American names; specifically, southern American names, to reduce my confusion. Natasha, for example, became "Peggy Sue," Dolokhof became "Bubba," and Rostof, "Billy Bob." And so forth. Worked for me, anyway.

I must say, however, I took on War and Peace as a chore, an attempt to plug a hole in my literary education, an effort to quell a vague sense of guilt about my never having read it. And I was surprised to discover that Tolstoy is a master storyteller. Look for future hints on how to enjoy classical literature. I am here to help.

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