Mark Twain

Reading to Remove Roadblocks

Reading to Remove Roadblocks

From my perspective, there are rare instances when a writer creates a fresh character in literature…

Twittering Twitterer Twit

Growing up in Iowa, back when just a few of the smaller dinosaurs were still scurrying around shopping for sweaters, I thought a "tweet" was some kind of edible reward for being good, such as butter brickle ice cream or a  "black cow" at the A & W stand three blocks down North Second Street from where I lived. Now, I have been educated. Wikipedia defines "twitter" this way:  "Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, "tweets," restricted to 140 characters. Registered users can post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them."

So, why am I telling you this? Starting in April, I will be twittering all kinds of tweets for people interested in what I have to say. And I think all three of you will enjoy my profound insights into life, death, sports, food, books, and dating topics. There will be none on politics or religion. I will be offering up tweets as a shameless act of self promotion for my novels. Marketing experts agree that it is a good idea for writers. So in addition to my blog you are reading and new website at, there will be tweets.

I hope you will come looking for my tweets. I think you will be pleased.

See you in April!

Dream a little dream....

This academic year at my college will be over after Commencement on Saturday, May 3rd. I'll put on my Zorro outfit and the rest of my regalia, line up with my colleagues, and march over to the venue for the ceremony. Once there, and outside, we professors split into two lines and applaud the graduates-to-be as they march into the building. Although some of them should be whipped with birch branches as they pass by, almost all have worked hard to get where they are. I'm not a sentimental person (I'm a guy from Iowa, after all), but it is cool to see some of my students that I enjoyed in several classes over the years stroll by, sheepish grins on their faces, heads held high, enjoying the salutations and applause of the faculty. To me, that is the high point, other than mingling with my graduates and meeting their parents after the ordeal is over.

In between those highlights, I suffer through speeches read by guest speakers and think of Mark Twain's observation about one book as "formaldehyde in print." Then a seemingly-endless line of students march forward to receive their degrees, matched up with verbal outbursts of misplaced pride from their loud, rude, and ignorant guests who act as if they have no sense of decorum. Which they don't.

When it's all over, I saunter back to my office, remove my regalia, lock up, and head home, another year in the books, a summer of writing and a little bit of travel awaiting me.

And you know what? I am honestly looking forward already to next Fall Semester. Call me a dreamer. I don't mind.

Fun with Femurs, Tattoos, Hospitals and Mark Twain

Recently, my wife broke her left leg. A displaced fracture, which means the two parts of the bone did not meet perfectly. The medical profession has a term for it. Discomfort. She had enough discomfort to be immediately admitted into a local hospital. They scheduled her for surgery the next day, less than 24 hours since her accident. The surgeons were expert and she is home and ahead of schedule on her rehab.

I was in the hospital, too, for those three days, and I have one observation to make. The room had a private bath, which was nice, but when I attempted to use the facilities, I lifted up the lid and guess what? Some joker had placed a thin strip of paper right over the middle of the commode. Other than considerable gymnastics to keep from breaking that ribbon of paper, I survived our stay.

To occupy my mind, I would occasionally stroll down the hallway. Each room had a frame outside the door with the patient’s name on a strip of paper in one slot and anything else pertinent to their care on another slight just below. There were instructions about food, special diets, and other elements of care. The slips of paper just slipped in and out easily, so, for the heck of it, I would go around and change the slips from one room to another.

Just for fun as she was emerging from surgery (which included placing a 7” steel rod in her left femur), we taped her comments as she awoke. Her observations were quite pointed and colorful; some would call them shocking. A wide variety of observations on specific people, health care professionals, and other Americana were offered extemporaneously. Until that time, I had never seen a nurse, never mind several nurses, blush.

I pulled a little prank on her, explaining that all surgical patients could receive a free tattoo while unconscious, and that we took up the offer of a freebie tat of the bust of Mark Twain. Winking. On a part of her body she could not see. Since she teaches English, it seemed appropriate. She was not initially pleased with that information.

The best thing coming out of surgery was her hearing the surgeon comment to the nurses that my beloved “has the musculature and bone density of a much younger woman.” I wrote that down and he signed it. The first step, and an enduring one, to complete mobility again.