Saturday, December 29, 2007

Goodbye 2007

This blog will likely be the last piece I write in 2007. I don't plan to write anything on December 30 or 31, as those numbers are unlucky for me and I must also take down the Christmas tree before the new year arrives. I must also rid myself of all the Christmas gifts I can't use and could also rid myself of a few pounds. I am particulary in dire need of losing my peanut butter fudge handles and my chocolate and butter cookie belly.

First thing I write in 2008 will be a review of everything I wrote in 2007. That should be exciting, don't you think?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stand Up

About fifteen years ago one of my friends decided he wanted to try his hand at being a stand up comedian. He took me out to lunch and asked me to write a few jokes for him. "You're a funny guy, as far as funny goes," he told me, "and if you weren't a pastor, you'd be even funnier. I think you could write me some good stand up material. Just don't mention Jesus."

Well, I tried. I wrote up three or four little bits about his wife and kids (which were just thinly-veiled truths about my own wife and kids) and told him to give these jokes a try. Somehow, he managed to get on stage at an open mic night at a comedy club where, I'm sorry to say, he was nearly booed off the stage.

One thing's for sure, it wasn't my material. It was his presentation. We still debate the reasons why he isn't now Jeff Foxworthy or Larry the Cable Guy. But with the writers' strike in full swing, its obvious that even the most seasoned stand ups and late night hosts can't do a show without good writing. If these guys can't make people laugh, they'll have to blame themselves . . . not the writers. Just ask my friend, the EX-Stand UP.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reading Christmas Cards

It happens every year. About this time, the only reading I can squeeze into my life is my growing stack of Christmas cards. This year the stack has also swelled with photographs, clippings, and lengthy four-page histories written by those who want to tell me about their children, grand-children, and what they had for lunch a week ago last Wednesday. But I'm reading them all!

Among my cards this year, I have received two sent by bishops.
I've received many from families in the parish.
Everyone in my extended family has sent me a card (along with commentary lambasting me for being the first one to send them a card before Thanksgiving).
I've also heard from old friends.

My mom hasn't sent me a card yet. She gives me my card on Christmas day along with a large, unwrapped sack full of assorted clothing, much of it from Goodwill (she's very frugal). This is where I get my new suits and my supply of underwear for the year.

I can't wait till Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thesaurus 3

Here's my third attempt to write about one of my most-used books: my thesaurus. I'm now on my third one. The other two fell apart from over-use.

I like the thesaurus because it sounds fancy and I like to throw the word around in public. Out to lunch, I might ask the waitress if she's seen my thesaurus. My kids think it is some kind of ancient creature with fangs and horns. I use the word when I talk to my mother on Sunday nights and she thinks I'm asking to talk to my dad.

I find many interesting synonyms in the thesaurus. Witness the following, all on the same page:

hirsute--furry, fuzzy, shaggy
hissy fit--huff, passion, tantrum
hoi polloi--masses, proletariat, public
hoity-toity--grandiose, pretentious

Bored? Read the thesaurus. Keep one in your glove compartment and use it liberally when you talk to the speaker at McDonalds. See what happens.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Thesaurus

Well, writing blogs is fun, if it works well. This blog was originally suppossed to be about my thesaurus. But, alas, it's blank...
Coming thesaurus!
Anyone want to guess what it's about?

My Thesaurus

Friday, December 7, 2007


Pastors write many letters. In 2007 I was asked to write three letters of recommendation for people being considered for the Sagamore of the Wabash--Indiana's highest award. I was honored to do this (really!). In case there are others out there who cherish my good words to the governor, please consider the following. (I've changed most of the details and deleted all the names for the sake of privacy.)

Dear Gov. Daniels,
How are things in Carmel? Do much bass fishing up there? I've got two kayaks and a couple of reels if you ever want to chum around on Eagle Creek. Give me a call.
Anyway...I'm writing in hope that you will give the Sagamore of the Wabash to ________. He's a swell egg and an old friend of mine. Great guy. He deserves it.
Take care, buddy,
Todd O.

Dear Mitch,
You are still my man. I'm writing to ask that you consider __________ for a Sagamore of the Wabash. She's _________ wife. You gave him the award last month, and I think they should have a matching set over their mantle. These awards would look mighty fine with their decor, believe me. They've got one of those singing basses, too!
T. O.
P.S. I live on White Lick creek in Brownsburg. Have you ever considered starting up a Sagamore of the White Lick? Not everyone gets over toward Terre Haute to see the moonlight on that water. Just a thought.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wanna Buy On eBay?

One fascinating book that I read this year was Hemant Mehta's, I Sold My Soul on eBay. It's the true account of an atheist who literally put his soul up for auction on the illustrious web site. The high bidder won Mehta's soul, or, at least got to give him instructions on how he could save his soul and where he needed to attend church. Mehta's account offers his insights into the churches he visited and the people he talked to about all things religious. In the end, not even the best and brightest churches in America could convince him of the reality of God.

But reading Mehta's account of his eBay experience awakened my own curiosity in what I could sell on eBay. Here are a few of the more bizarre, yet very real items, I have in my possession that people might actually be interested in buying. Stranger purchases have been made!

* 1983 Jose Canseco minor league (pre-rookie) baseball card autographed by Jose himself in pre-steroid black marker.
* A palm pilot that needs a new battery.
* Photos of my last place finish in a 2001 body-building competition (no steroids or body hair).
* A large collection of men's after-shave lotions, many dating back to the late 1970s.
* Dinosaur poop.
* Five pounds of ground chuck.
* A weight set I purchased in 1975 and used to create my awesome gut.
* Three broken billiard cues (which my son has destroyed).
* Toenail clippings from last Saturday.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Books in Waiting

Like most people who read, I have my stack of titles that I "intend" to read some day, but just haven't gotten around to pursuing. This past Saturday, I spent a few minutes perusing my library at home and discovered that I've got a least fifty books that are in waiting for me to read: some in piles, some tucked neatly away between other noteworthy books, and a few that I purchased years ago but have forgotten about all together.

I've got several biographies that fit the bill--one thick tome on Mark Twain that I've been intending to read for years, and another on John D. Rockefeller that is nearly 800 pages long (who writes an 800 page book? and what kind of a loser buys a book like this with the intention of reading it?). I also found two histories, one entitled--The Autumn of the Middle Ages--which is a cult classic among Mideaval scholars (who do I think I am?) and 1491 (a history of the America's before Columbus sailed the ocean blue), both of which remain on the shelves collecting dust. Believe it or not, I am excited about the prospects of reading these some day and taking my place among the few, the proud, the isolated.

When I moved to Brownsburg, I purged my library of hundreds of books. But now they have found me again. When I die, my wife won't have to buy a casket. She can just encase me in pages, butter them up, and roll me in a few salted nuts. I'm going to speak to the funeral director next week about preplanning my service in this vein. Got any cashews?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Faithful Readers

I've been amazed by how many people are now reading my blog: family members, old friends, church members, a few people who hate my guts. Thanks for reading.

In case you haven't yet caught the theme of my blog--"Between Pages"--my blog is about the books I am reading and the writing I am engaged in (written, of course, in a humorous vein).

Still, there have been questions--most of them verbal. So let me answer a few of the more pressing questions you've asked of late.

Did you really write all of your Christmas cards before Thanksgiving?
Yes! My dog licked the stamps.
Do you really have a dog that sleeps on your pillow?
Yes! He also licks my stamps.
Do you really watch Andy Griffith Show reruns with regularity?
Yes! It's either that or have conversation with my wife.
Was your son really sick?
Yes! He is sick even as I write this (really). In fact, I gave him the sickness this time.
Do they speak Spanish in Brazil, or Portuguese?
It's Portuguese, gang. And the book is in Portuguese also. I will inform my mother of this so they won't cut off my thumbs when I visit.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanks, Mom

True story.
Earlier this year I received an unexpected package in the mail. When I opened it, I was surprised to discover that the publisher had sent me some copies of my book, The Best Things in Life Are Free, but in a Spanish edition. The book was being published in Brazil (South America) under the title As melhores coisas da vida sao de graca (which translates, I guess, to The Best Things, etc.). Naturally, I was a bit elated.

I placed one of the books on the coffee table and made sure I was home when my kids arrived from school. I show the book to my daughter, she looks at it and says, "Nice, Dad. Can I have twenty bucks for gas?" My son looks at it and says, "It looks idiotic." (Implying, of course, that I'm an idiot, too.) When Becky comes home from work, she looks at the book and says, "Wonderful come you didn't clean the kitchen?"

So I call my mother--the only women who understands me and loves me unconditionally.
"Mom, I just received word that one of my books is being published in Brazil. That's South America. Isn't that great?"
"I hear they still cut the thumbs off of theives in that country. You aren't planning on signing any books down there are you?"
"No, Mom, listen..."
"But if you're going to be doing any travelling, you'll need clean socks. I hear Goodies has a sale next week."
"No, Mom, I've got socks--"
"--I'll buy you a couple of packs of underwear, too. You can never have too many."
"Mom, listen. About my book--"
"--Are you eating enough vegetables?"
"Mom, listen...I've got to go. Someone died and I have to do a funeral."
"That's nice, dear. Preach a good one!"
"Goodbye, Mom. I love you."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

For the Groom

Some years ago I wrote a regular column for a national bridal magazine. It was probably the best pay I ever received for my writing (at least on a $ per word basis), and the focus of the column was to prepare grooms for marriage.

That's a tall order, of course--getting guys fired up to spend a lifetime with one woman. It was fun writing the column, but eventually I ran out of ideas. I mean, how many ways could I write about how to have a successful marriage? So, in the spirit of trying to recapture the highlights of those columns, here is my nifty list of things a man can do to keep a marriage alive. They've worked for me...I hope they will work for men everywhere.

1. Tell your wife you love her every day. But don't just say it...clean something! Women know you love them if you clean stuff around the house. Don't know why, but it's a feminine fetish.
2. Stay away from her side of the closet...give her space. Women don't like it when we rearrange the closet to make room for another shirt and tie.
3. Buy a hammer and wrench. You don't have to know how to use them...but if you can bang on things around the house from time to time and look busy, they'll think you care. When she's not around, call the plumber. Pay in cash. She can't trace it.

If tested these theories, by the way, on thousands of men. They work. Have a great marriage, guys!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Literary Invention

A few days ago the world received news of the death of Norman Mailer--a writer widely regarded as one of the great American literary giants. Most of Mailer's more acclaimed work was written earlier in his life, but his voice has had long-standing clout in literary circles for the past sixty years. There was also a bit of debate as to whether he, or Truman Capote (author of In Cold Blood) had "invented" the non-fiction novel. Capote liked to claim this distinction, but many of Mailer's novels dealt with historical events and verbatim accounts.

Writers, no matter their distinction, like to claim that they invented something of impact, and that's why I'm claiming that I was the one who invented the "lucky seven exclamation point". For example, here are some sentences I have written as case in point.

Get that dog off the couch!!!!!!!
Honey, I'm Home!!!!!!!
Who ate my sandwich?!!!!!!!
You did what to the car?!!!!!!!
Get that dog out of my soup!!!!!!!
I'll be upstairs for some sweet love as soon as I finish my sermon!!!!!!!
Get the dog off my pillow!!!!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007


I've enjoyed reading Frank Warren's latest coffee table book, A Lifetime of Secrets...his collection of original postcards that people have created and sent to him, postcards revealing their innermost secrets. Some are funny, others poignant or crazy. Some are incredibly sad and frightening. Mine would be boring.

In case you don't know much about me, here are a few of my secrets that you might find intriguing.

When I am alone, I watch reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. Goober's my hero.
I have eaten an entire package of black licorice while watching a movie.
When I was a kid, I had fleas.
I hate winter.
I am even more boring in person.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writing Sick Notes

Some years ago, E.L. Doctorow (author of Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, and The Waterworks) noted that writing a sick note to a child's teacher can often be the most challenging test of a writer's skills. It's difficult to say what you mean, and mean what you say, when you have only a few words (kind of like blogging). I felt this way last week when I tried to write a sick note for my son, explaining his absence due to a 24-hour flu bug.

First try: "Dear Teach...please excuse my son's absence due to the Hong Kong flu..."
Second try: "Actually, I'm not sure it was Hong Kong, it could have been that rancid Kentucky bug that's going around..."
Third try: "Dear Teacher, I am painfully sorry to inform you that my son will be unable to take your quiz today: Review of American History from 1770-1945 and Memories of Ike, he claims to be ill."
Fourth try on back of used envelope with bird stamp: "To Whom It May Concern: During my son's recent illness, I stayed by his bedside all night and we reviewed all fourteen chapters of his social studies assignments while he threw up, periodically, in a bucket. He'll be back in your class tomorrow eager to retake his test."
Final version: "If you get this note, give me a call. I'll explain everything."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Writing Christmas Cards

Of all the material I feel compelled to write every year, Christmas cards are the worst. What do I say to people who are on our family mailing "list", but I haven't seen in twenty-five years? How about all the cretins, all the parents out there whose children are much more intelligent than my own? Do I weave together a Christmas greeting revamping a year filled with space exploration, vacations in the Alps, etc., or do I just tell the uninspiring truth about how boring and incredibly average our family really is?

I finished writing my cards yesterday and told my wife, "Got 'er done!"
"What did you write?" she wanted to know.
"The truth," I said. She looked worried.

I can't wait for her parents to get my card. When they do, they are going to realize (at last) that I saved their daughter from a horrible life, that they are lucky to have a son-in-law like me who has impacted the world of molecular physics, who knows how to roast a turkey, and regularly changes his socks. They are going to realize how important their grand-children are and that my kids have broken all of the school records and have really taken after their old man, who is, after all, a real winner!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reading the Phone Book

Sometimes, when I need to grab a quick book for the bathroom, I just pick up the phone book. It's fascinating reading. For example, did you know that in the Indianapolis white pages there are more than 50 prophets listed, including a Monty & Betty Proffit--who obviously don't know how to spell, a Carol Satre (she must have little tiny wings) and at least twenty Angels? There's also a Messiah listed (but he can't spell correctly either "Messiha"?), but no Devils.

My mind races with the possiblities. I mean, if I had a last name like one of these, instead of some innocuous name like "Outcalt", I could be using some good pick up lines with my wife like:

"Hi, baby . . . I'm a prophet. Want me to tell your future tonight?"
"Want to go to heaven, sweetheart? I'm an angel you know."

But what have I got? Nothing. About all I can manage are lines like:

"I've been reading the phone book and wondered if you were tired tonight?"
"After I get through reading the "L" section, perhaps we could discuss some romantic options."
"Have you seen the yellow pages?"

By the way, my family doesn't touch the phone books anymore.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Attacking Sponge Bob

About a year ago I wrote a satirical piece for The Wittenburg Door magazine (a religious satire mag that I've submitted to for over twenty years) attacking SpongeBob Squarepants as a tool of the devil. The satire was intended to poke fun at folks like Jerry Falwell, who had then recently mentioned that the purple Tellitubbie was gay and was harmful to children, and others who were espousing that Harry Potter was leading tens of millions of children into witchcraft.

What followed was one of the largest influx of letters to the editor in The Door's history--and I was glad to be a part of it. These letters came from as far away as India and most were sent in to show support for the little yellow sponge. The editors attempted to remind people that the piece was satirical (humor with an edge) but they would hear nothing of it. They were certain that the author--ME!--was completely off his rocker.

Well, let me clear the air. I love Spongebob. He's not the anti-christ. He's not evil. He's a drawing. A cartoon.

Actually, I'd love to live in Bikini Bottom. Patrick would be my best friend. I'd drive a boat. Eat Crabbie Patties. Live in a pineapple. Are you ready kids?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Danger! Danger!

This past summer I purchased a book that I thought my fourteen-year-old son and I could read together. It's a best-seller: The Dangerous Book For Boys--written by two British brothers. But, alas, since my son can't read, and he doesn't like danger, I ended up reading it by myself. It's a book that reveals all of the boyhood secrets I wanted to know about when I was his age: how to make stink bombs, how to build a tree house, how to do a set of good magic tricks, how to juggle, amazing baseball facts.

But I was most interested in the practical jokes. That was my youthful passion, and I was good at them. Especially at school. Which leads me to sharing the following secrets which worked very well for me.

1. Put a tape recorder in a school locker with periodic sound bites of someone yelling, "Let me out of here!!!" Gets the teachers every time.
2. Before the teacher gets into the classroom, place the chalk (or dry erase markers) and erasers on top of the intercom. I was the only white boy in my high school who could jump that high (and, come to think of it, the only boy who wasn't drunk or high when he got to school) and my classmates egged me on. I liked doing this stunt for the cheerleaders (and it's how I won over Becky's heart, too). She still likes to see me jump.
3. Spray paint the principal's name all over . . . (no, wait, that one got me expelled! Don't do this, boys!)
3 1/2. Take all the toilet paper out of the bathroom stalls and put it in the school trophy case in the shape of an Egyptian pyramid. (I got an "A" in social studies for this project.)

I'm always glad to share my secrets with the younger generation and hope these dangerous secrets dont' get into the wrong hands. Keep reading and have fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Brains

Every now and then I come across a volume in my library that I intended to read years ago, but never did. Such was the case two days ago when I discovered (high up on my shelves) another book about brains: How Brains Think. It's a biology book, very cerebral, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. But then, it's a book about brains.

Why am I stuck on brains all of a sudden? First there was the biography of Einstein, then I had to read a follow-up book about the stealing of Einstein's brain, and now this. Am I thinking straight? Do I have a brain in my head? Am I thinking too much about brains?

I know! I should go back to Evansville, stand in line at the Fall Festival (run by the West-side Nut Club nonetheless), and order a brain sandwich. Ever had one? They are for real. Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Wife's Other Man

A few months ago, I pitched an idea for writing a magazine article about my wife. A few weeks later, the editor called me. "We love the idea of doing an article about your wife," he told me. "She's an amazing woman. But we've looked into your background, seen what you've written, and discovered that you're an incompetent. So we're sending another writer to do the article about your wife."

Of course, I was devastated. After all, how could another man possibly write about my wife? I mean, I know this woman. We talk two or three times a month, eat dinner together twelve to fourteen times a year, and have spawned two children in our twenty-three years together. I know her moods, her looks, and the taste of her meatloaf. And when she comes home from a hard day in the classroom, who's going to be there to rub her shoulders and tell her that the garbage can needs to be emptied? This other writer? Hardly!

Well, two can play this game. I'm going to see if I can pick up an assignment writing about some supermodel, or maybe a construction worker with large, rose-colored tattoos. And as for my wife's other man . . . I can't wait to see what he's written.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

At the Mall

As the holidays approach, I usually get a few phone calls from book store owners/managers wondering if I'd be willing to do a book signing. Since I don't have any new books to sign this year, I doubt I'll be doing any (thank God).

Thinking about signings, though, brought back one memory. I was at a mall bookstore, sitting at a little card table with a stack of my pre-marital titles, when a guy walked up with his girlfriend and started screaming: "I know what you're trying to do! You're not fooling me! You're just trying to trick me into buying one of your books!"

The irony wasn't lost on me...I guess he wanted to make sure his girlfriend got the picture. Merry Christmas, sweetheart! Good luck with your dude!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Reading Starbucks

Today I was reading my Starbucks coffee cup: "The Way I See It". The quote was: "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help women." Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state and ambassador to the U.N.

Now, I don't know too much about special places in hell, but I thought I'd add a few of my own to the list. There also might be a special place in hell for:

The guy who invented the reality T.V. show
Pro athletes who don't like dogs
The person who invented the vegamite sandwich (have you tried one of these!!!)
Dentists who enjoy working without novacain
The guy who coined the phrase, "There's a special place in hell..."

Oh, and I'm now saving my coffee cups as souveniers. I've got fourteen and I won't stop until I fill up my garage with slogans.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Identity Theft

True Story.
A few years back I was perusing in a world-famous bookstore in Denver, Colorado when I happened to spot three copies of one of my books. I removed them from the shelf, walked over to a store manager (a young, peach-fuzzed dude with so many body piercings I thought he might spring a leak), and said, "Hey, I'm the author of these books. I'd be happy to sign them if you think it might help them to sell."

The guy looks me over, takes one of the books, studies the photo on the back cover and says, "Yeah, I can see a resemblance. But I'm afraid I'll have to see some ID."

I'm thinking: Does this guy really think I fly around the country, go into bookstores, and do author impersonations just so I can sign a flyleaf or practice my caligraphy?

I put the books back on the shelf, signed them when he wasn't looking, and walked out. Any other writers have a horror story to share?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Last night I finished reading the 400 page tome, All the Money in the World--How the Forbes 400 Make, and Spend, Their Fortunes, by Peter Bernstein and Ann Swan. It's a book about billionaires, and I began to think: how long would it take me to become a billionaire?

So I emailed one of my old high school friends who is good in math (actually, he's a taxidermist who has an expensive pocket calculator with trigonometric functions) and asked him to calculate the year I'd become a billionaire, based on my current salary, savings, value of my 1991 Caprice wagon, and the extra money I hope to raise this fall by selling cracked walnuts from my front yard.

He came up with the year 2259. So there you have it. By 2259 I'll also join the Forbes 400 list. I am already making plans to spend my money. I'm going to eat pheasant under glass every day, and I'm going to buy some new socks, a paint-by-number set, a vacation home in Greece, and a large supply of scotch tape (I never seem to have any when I need it). I'll be the guy in Wal-Mart wearing the Armani suit, the $1000 silk tie, and the fashionable earrings.

I have no idea what my wife and kids will be doing.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Book Titles

Have you ever noticed how a book's title can either entice you to read it, or put it back on the shelf? I'd be more apt to want to read, A Streetcar Named Desire, than I would The Firm (no offense to John Grisham). For years, though, James Michener gained the respect of millions of readers for his one word titles like Chesepeake and Hawaii. Roots has been an international-best seller for decades.

I'm not good with book titles--especially one word titles. But here are a few I might begin working on:

Jim (the story of Jim)
Ketchup (the history of a condiment)
Buster (the life and times or our lazy dog)
Peek-a-boo (a children's book)
Insignificant (a book about attitude)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Who's Counting?

Every fall we United Methodist clergy must complete continuing education forms detailing the number of hours we have spent in various seminars, workshops and events to further our knowledge. Reading also counts as a portion of our education...and I'm glad. Filling out the forms, I discovered that I have read nearly sixty books so far in 2007. That's more than a book a week, which surprises me (when little else does).

Sifting back through my catelogue of books, I lift up just a few that I completed this year--a rather motley assortment of fiction and nonfiction, light and academic. For example, I read C.S. Lewis's science fiction trilogy (probably his most Christian fiction of any of his works), as well as work by Dorothy Sayers (another Oxford academic), Joan Diddion, and Mark Twain. I read biographies of Einstein (2) and Mother Teresa. I read the Pope's latest tome. I also read two books on Islamic fundamentalism, three books by Eugene Peterson, and two by Brian McLaren. I read three books on clergy "burnout" (am I burning out?), and several fun mysery novels and lite fare, including maybe six or seven short story collections. There were also a dozen or so "business" books, which I continue to discover as having crossover elements in the church and leadership. Made to Stick, The No Asshole Rule, and What Got You Here...Won't Get You There--were three excellent examples. I also read portions of over a dozen presidential biographies (which I won't count, since I didn't read them cover to cover). The best of the memoir/science books I read this year would be: The Tall Trees, by Richard Preston.

As I got to thinking about where/how I read all these books, it occured to me that I always have the following: A travelling book (which I carry with me in the car and read when I am waiting for kids, or when I can drive with my feet and read at the same time); a TV book (which I pick up and read during commercials or lulls in programming); vacation books; and a stack of bedtime books (which I tackle most evenings since my wife won't touch me).

Well, you get the picture...there's more than one way to read. I wondering...if I really made a concerted effort, could I read 100 books in a year? Would I? Should I?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Love Poems

Every week at least one person asks me, "Are you writing anything these days?" They assume that I'm working on another book (I always have at least one in progress) or that I've got a column or article about to be published in some journal or magazine (perhaps). But I must confess that it's been tough writing longer works given the time demands of the church and this stage of life that comes with having two teenagers at home. However, I have been writing a lot of love poetry to my wife lately. Great stuff. Heavy breathing verse. My lines often make her swoon in public.

My hot petunia,
We are out of cottage cheese,
And bread, and peanut butter.
When are you going to Wal-Mart?
I pine for a sweet roll,
Something soft and delicate, like you.
Leave me a note
For our paths shall pass again tonight at eleven.

Or this one:

You are the fabric softener of my life.
You, loading the whites and solids.
Me, stuffing mounds of dirty BVDs down the chute.
I think of you as you set the rinse cycle.
My dumpling . . . when can we go for another spin?

It has been lines such as these that have earned my wife's devotion and loyalty through the years. She knows I care. Sometimes we actually talk. Yes . . . I am writing. I have my agent on high alert. And one of these days I'm going to write something so stupendous that my wife will want to read it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Ted Giesel

Last night I was reaching for an encyclopedia (I frequently read these tomes while I watch TV) when Green Eggs and Ham fell off the shelf. Not food--the book . . . written by Dr. Seuss. The good Dr.'s alter-ego was Ted Giesel, who was just a plain jane guy who liked to illustrate kid's books. He tried writing one himself--The Cat in the Hat--which turned out to be a rather large hit.

Reading this book again brought back many memories with my kids. This was one of our favorites. Still is. Or it's one of my favorites, anyway.

Somewhere in all of us, there is a little Sam-I-Am who is fearful of trying anything new. That's why I tend to wear the same socks for weeks at a time, why my dad has cut my hair since I was two, why I'm still married to the same gal after twenty-three years. I'm afraid to try anything new.

Next time I eat an egg sandwich ("The Big Daddy") I'm going to put a little green food coloring in the yolk and see how it turns out. I might just like Green Eggs and Ham after all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Brains of the Outfit

After reading the biography of Einstein, I was intrigued by a little known fact that Einstein's brain was removed during his autopsy. In point of fact, the brain disappeared, only to reappear years later in the possession of the doctor who had performed the autopsy. The doctor kept Einstein's brain in a tupperware container and distributed it in various sized chunks to pathologists around the world. Eventually, what was left of the brain was offered to Einstein's family, but they refused it.

Considering Einstein's brain in a tupperware container, I got to wondering about my own brain. For what greater purposes might my brain be preserved for observation and study? Well, I think my wife might want to pickle it. She's got a number 10 pickle jar under the sink (in which she saves bacon grease) and I think my brain could fit into it. Add a little food coloring and I think she could make it match the decor in our home, and it would be a great conversation piece. That way, there's a part of me that would live on, and she could continue to ask me questions after I've departed.

I think my brain might also warrant preservation due to my vast knowledge of the Andy Griffith Show. As long as the show lives on in the hearts (and minds!) of faithful viewers, then Goober will never die. My brain could be on display in Mount Airy, North Carolina along with a plaque that reads: The Mayberry Brain. Or it could be a travelling display.

Finally, I could allow my brain to remain in the church office, as there are so many people who drop by every week to ask, "Could I pick your brain a little?" This way, they could actually see something tangible rather than receive my unhelpful counsel and advice. Come to think of it, I may actually be of greater value to people after I've gone. A brain is a terrible thing to waste.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Einstein's Brain

While reading a mammoth biography about Albert Einstein, I was often reminded of my grandmother, who was not particularly impressed by my intelligence. "You're no Einstein," she often told me. My mother often accussed me of having "half a brain." And my wife has been known to call me a "brainless twit."

Not being among the Einsteins of the world, I can say that reading about intelligent people makes me feel practically useless. I've missed out on so much--splitting the atom, gaining notoriety for some advanced theory, building a better rocket. Whatever this kind of ingenuity requires, I certainly don't have it. About the only thing I've invented in my life is a fried egg sandwich which my son makes every morning. He calls it, "The Big Daddy," in honor of his father. Thank you, son!

There are so many questions I'd like to ask uncle Albert E.: Why is my prostate getting smaller? Why can't I talk my way out of a speeding ticket? Why does my wife still love me? I have no answers to these and other universe-altering questions. But my egg sandwich breakthrough does give me a little comfort. E=mc2...that's egg, plus mayo between two slices of crunchy bread. Got it?