Thursday, April 30, 2020

100 Words: The Grumpy Old Man

I’ve read that the cocktail hour is experiencing a resurgence during the plague. Count me in. Yesterday I made us a “Grumpy Old Man”: 2 oz bourbon, 1 oz lime juice, ginger ale. Not bad. Just about what I made occasionally as a grumpy young man. My wife inspired the idea to occasionally make “rough, manly drinks, the kind the bartender has to check his cheat sheet to remember how to make.” She gave me a book, Old Man Drinks by Robert Schnakenberg ( championing retro drinks from the zoot suit, snap-brim hat era. After one I feel downright chipper!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

100 Words: Waiting for the Close-Up

“All they do is brood, dawdle, and get drunk. No wonder poets don’t age well. / Novelists know there’s another plot twist or two or ten down the road…. (Novelists must) do everything. Poets, they just wait for the close-up.” –K.L. Cook, “Poets v. Novelists” (Lost Soliloquies / A response? The ant envies the grasshopper for saying so much with so few words. As opposed to (we fear) taking so many words to say so little. But novelists often write in daylight, nourished by sunshine. Poets often write at night in the dark moonscape of the soul. Yang yin?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

100 Words: Making Sense of Our Lives

In a wonderful just-published essay about a do-it-yourself book tour early in his career, Spalding U. prof Kenny Cook tells of unusual audiences for his talks and readings, ranging from 6th graders in Alabama to prison inmates in the Texas Panhandle. The prison stop was the tour’s best. It gave Kenny what he wanted: “to be in a room with people … who needed stories to make sense of, and to help transform, their lives.” The multi-prizewinning author’s literary trifecta includes three brilliant books published simultaneously by essays (The Art of Disobedience), poems (Lost Soliloquies), and stories (Marrying Kind).  

Monday, April 27, 2020

100 Words: Found My Marbles

Cleaned up an old cut-glass crystal candy jar full of marbles the other day. Not sure where they came from, but they sure are pretty—so is the jar. Never played marbles much as a kid. But my cousin Gary and I used to play a baseball game using Topps Baseball Cards, a pencil, and a button, as I recall. I’ve always been such a jerk about winning games. Never let my nephew Ben beat me at ping pong, for instance, which is lamentable. Ben earned a black belt in karate. My only black belt won’t go around my waist.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

100 Words: One State, 120 Counties?

Recently, we laboriously put together an old puzzle of Kentucky’s 120 counties that had been moldering away in the basement. Why are there so many? I missed taking Kentucky history in elementary school because I was living in California. That’s my excuse. Now I’m too lazy to look it up. I know all about the Mexican War and the missions there. But aside from Daniel Boone and the Indians who hunted in this “dark and bloody ground,” I’m ashamed to admit (especially since I was a history major at WKU back in one million B.C.) that I don’t know the answer. Do you?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

100 Words: Everything Is So Green

Had to cut down the Weigela, a hardy shrub that bloomed profusely for many years. It’s now a huge tangled brush pile, its destruction having required about thirty minutes of steady labor. Hoping new shoots will arrive with spring rains. The rest of our garden is bursting with new life, from the oaks planted last fall to the laurels along the fence. Everything is so green. Heightens my awareness of how light and movement affect what we see. Our small Dave Caudill hanging sculpture turns slowly in the breeze. One minute it’s all red and blue, the next yellow and orange.

Friday, April 24, 2020

100 Words: Talkin’ ’Bout My Generation’

“Hope I die before I get old.” That was then. Now my role model is Uncle Hank, who died this month at 98. At lunch over a fish sandwich and a beer, he’d talk with wonderful lucidity about everything from politics to the theory of relativity. We’d drive through Cherokee Park and visit his parents’ grave in St. Michael’s. “I’m going to be up on that hill,” he’d say, “though I don’t know exactly where.” I still don’t, due to the plague. I’ll find it soon—hopefully after a fish sandwich and a beer in his memory. RIP Uncle Hank.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

100 Words: The More Things Change

Been re-reading Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. Defoe is credited by many as the first novelist AND the father of journalism. Striking similarities exist between today and London in 1665. People were locked up in their homes. The sick quarantined and abandoned with big red crosses painted on their doors as a warning. Cemeteries were bursting. New mass graves were dug until they reached the water line. People embraced amulets and fake cures. No vaccine existed. No belief in science then to develop a cure, either. Only religion. So, has 40% of the population changed since then?