Bartlett's on habits

Bartlett's on habits
Last week was a turbulent one in my life, which was turbulent enough already. I won’t bother you with what went on; in the spirit of “Epistle to a Young Friend” by Robert Burns, I shall keep that to myself. But except for my habit of writing privately in my diary every night, the turbulence... Read more »

State of the Union? I'd rather see the president try to hold up to 'Question Time'

State of the Union? I'd rather see the president try to hold up to 'Question Time'
I used to watch the president give the annual “State of the Union” speech with great interest. But 2009, the year when Joe Wilson, a congressman from South Carolina, called out “You lie!” to President Barack Obama, left me thinking the speeches wouldn’t be as interesting after that. I tried watching President Donald Trump give... Read more »

The difference between normal and usual

The difference between normal and usual
I’ve been reading about a variety of things, as usual — as I always do. But part of my reading is looking for new things to entertain myself during the cold snap, which is one for the history books. It’s normal for Chicago to be cold at the end of January, but this is taking it... Read more »
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My Imaginary Writers' Room gets a poet: Robert Burns

My Imaginary Writers' Room gets a poet: Robert Burns
Like many Scots and those of Scottish heritage around the world, I’m getting ready to celebrate Burns Night on Jan. 26 — our committee holds its “Nicht Wi’ Burns” (or Night with Burns) on the Saturday closest to the poet’s birthday, Jan. 25. Of course, I thought of writing something poetic to honor the occasion.... Read more »

Forte vs. fort -- there should be a distinction

Forte vs. fort -- there should be a distinction
Sometimes watching or listening to something familiar at an odd time can unearth distinctions to words that were unnoticed before. That’s what happened to me this morning when I had a little time for my personal “Insomnia Theatre.” I was tired of the news, but too tired to sleep, so I put on a rerun... Read more »

A reply to Christopher Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune: I have problems with cliched language, too

A reply to Christopher Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune: I have problems with cliched language, too
I was delighted by a headline in the Chicago Tribune today (Jan. 15, 2019): “Cliched language is, well, problematic.” For those of you who missed Christopher Borrelli’s column under that headline, here’s a link. (The headline that caught my eye was the print version; the online version contains different, but still bothersome, words.) Borrelli refers to... Read more »
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Speak slowly -- I can't listen any faster!

Speak slowly -- I can't listen any faster!
I keep thinking of the old, old joke about someone writing a letter: I’m writing this slowly because I know you can’t read very fast. How about the same consideration for listening? I’m speaking slowly because I know you can’t listen any faster. That would work for me, as both a speaker and a listener. So... Read more »

You lost me at 'accompanied by dazzling images'

You lost me at 'accompanied by dazzling images'
As I was getting started this morning, I heard an ad for a concert I might have liked. But then it said “accompanied by dazzling images.” I’m out. I can’t even remember what the concert was to be anymore. If you don’t have enough confidence that the music will be the “dazzling” part, concert promoters,... Read more »

Anniversary arithmetic for a new year

Anniversary arithmetic for a new year
I’ve started hearing about new anniversaries coming this year. One radio station I listen to is advertising its anniversary of doing something — not a round number like 100, but significant in a way that one fewer year, as in 2018, would not have been. It reminds me of the first time in 2018 that... Read more »
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'FEAR' and New Year's Eve: a poem

'FEAR' and New Year's Eve: a poem
Author’s note: What follows is a tribute to the work of my esteemed colleague and friend, Aquinas Wired, in the style of his outstanding blog, The Quark in the Road. Now it’s December thirty-first and politics seem at their worst. (Do not give yourself a rash, of course I’m aping Ogden Nash.) I’ve read all... Read more »