Bringing in The Leaves
One of My Stories / November 29, 2016

I’ve been thinking about the phrase “Apres Moi, le deluge.”  It means, roughly, “After I go, everything’s coming down” and if everything refers to leaves, the “deluge” is lugin’ .  It’s amazing.  I mean, if deciduous trees were water, my address would be “Alabama River”. Now this front’s blowing in and my river of leaves has turned into Niagra Falls. Why send me more foliage to rake away, God?  Don’t I have enough to clean up already?Luckily, I’ve been a rake warrior for most of my life.  My hometown was blessed with a ton of elm trees and every fall brought the Battle of Leaves, where each family’s goal was to get those discarded solar panels of photosynthesis off of the grass and over the curb before rain and time glued them to the earth.  There was an undeclared neighborhood competition for the cleanest autumn yard and ours usually came in dead last.  Oh, my mother, sister and I would comb leaves from the  of crabgrass, but our lawn never looked better than “lived in”.   The best lawn on the street was next to ours, an unsullied, emerald crew-cut of grass that was perfect because our neighbor lady removed each leaf as it fell…

How the Other Half Lives
I know a Good Story / November 27, 2016

There’s something in humanity that makes us split ourselves into groups, don’t ask me why. Yesterday, people in my state split into groups for a football rivalry that sometimes resembles a blood feud. When we’re not divided over sports teams, we split apart over divisions like politics, gender, or income.  And too many of us still divide into groups based on ethnic background and/or  skin color. Those divisions still run so deep populations coexist side-by-side as strangers, wondering how the other half lives but too afraid to reach out. Then someone like Randi Pink comes along, brave enough to speak the truth.  That’s what she does in her debut Young Adult novel, Into White.   It’s the story of LaToya Williams who calls herself Toya; a black girl in a mostly-white high school. This kid knows a lot about alienation and fear. It’s not bad enough to be treated like the Invisible Girl by a fair percentage of the students and teachers. It’s not just anxiety about her parents’ marriage.  When one of the few grounded black students picks on her, Toya utters the same prayer every miserable teenager has made: “Please turn me into somebody different.”  The kick is,…

I know a Good Story / November 26, 2016

In the South, we like to decorate for the holidays.  All the holidays.  This is where I first saw an Easter-Egg tree and specialized autumn decor for September, October, and November.  Of course, nothing competes with December and its holiday season.  People began opening boxes and stringing lights down here before their Thanksgiving dinners were completely digested.  So when my friend, Edna said her badly injured back might keep her from putting out her “Santa Collection” I said I’d be glad to help.  I had no idea she suffered from In-Santa-Cy. I walked into a house that, during Decembers, shelters two people, some plants, and approximately a thousand Santas.  My poor friend lay bound the couch by her TENS unit while her niece, Tanya, had been emptying a treasure trove of Santas from stacks of storage boxes  Santas made of wood, paper, plaster, and metal. Santa’s image imprinted on cloth.  Seriously, I don’t remember seeing this many images of Father Christmas when I went to Santa’s Workshop as a child.   Don’t get excited folks; these are just the coffee-table Santas! Kris Kringle was on everything: Santa towels, Santa spoon rests, Santa cups and hundreds of Santa statues.  I gulped a little…

The Real Kings of Broadway
I know a Good Story / November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving is celebrated all over the US but most Americans start out their day in New York City. Virtually, that is.  Long before the turkey comes out of the oven, Americans are in front of their TVs, staring at Macy’s famous parade.  Some watch it for the tradition, some tune in for the bands, and lots of kids can’t wait for the balloons but I watch the parade to see Broadway.  Before the main event kicks off, actors perform excerpts from currently running shows.  The stars seem like the kings of Broadway. But are they?  Actors are the most visible part of theatre but how much power do they really wield in Times Square?  Very few, it seems.  Behind them are the financial and creative engineers behind every show: the writers, directors and composers but even they can be hired and fired.  Behind them are those that can make a show work and invest the money needed for the show to open: the legendary Broadway Producers.  Do you think Producers are the ultimate in show-biz power?  According to Michael Riedel, there’s still one group that’s higher. No matter how good it is, no show can open on Broadway, unless it’s…

A Date That’s Hard to Forget
I know a Good Story / November 22, 2016

Our cultural memory is built around a series of events that resound in our collective memory.  Some of these are good like the date man first walked on the moon, but many are terrible to recall.  Yet we recall them when each anniversary comes around and remember where we were when “it” happened. For my Dad, his first “It” date was December 7, 1941.  His childhood memories were divided by the day he went fishing and came home to a country at war.   For me and a lot of other Baby Boomers, our first “It” day is today.  November 22, 1963.  President Kennedy’s assassination threw such a big rock in our river of memory that the ripples hit our personal lives.   Those ripples are one of the big themes in the King novel titled with that date.  In a way, it’s a normal time-travel tale: a man goes back in time to prevent something bad and finds out success can breed a bigger failure.  In another way, it’s much more than that; it’s a tour of history and a trip through a human heart. King’s research in story tale showed me I don’t know very much about the…

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