This is berry confusing

Still trying to digest (pun fully intended) the concept of the pumpkin as a fruit, not a vegetable, I now am told the eggplant is … ready for this? … a berry. Just like blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries? Well … I heard this preposterous claim about the eggplant on a cooking program my wife was watching on TV so I looked it up, and sure enough, scientists, at least the ones quoted on livescience.com, verify the eggplant as a berry. According to the website, berries fall under the general category of fruits. “To botanists,” the site explains, “a berry is… Continue Reading

Molasses in January

What’s the slowest thing in the world? An escapee from a nudist colony going through a barbed wire fence. That joke was around when I was in seventh grade. I still find it amusing, if not funny. It sort of makes sense. That person sure would move slowly and cautiously. But I’ve discovered something far, far slower. Kids getting on a school bus in the morning. Dear. Lord. And if you just happen to be running a tad late, well, they become even slower. It’s almost like they can sense your urgency. Watching them take their good natured time the… Continue Reading

Yesterday came suddenly

I believe it was Esquire magazine that every now and then several years ago published little vignettes under the general title “Signs armageddon is upon us.” They were not serious items, but rather preposterous things, the stuff apt to make you shake your head and ask “What is the world coming to?” Today they might include such wonderments as pizza wrapped in bacon (Does it come with a coupon for a free angioplasty?), or just about anything that comes out of the mouth of Kanye West. And most assuredly Paul McCartney not being able to get into a post-Grammy Awards… Continue Reading

Divine intervention

My old friend Bill Corcoran always joked that he did not own a snow shovel. He said he believed in the Biblical method of snow removal: the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Thinking of it always made me chuckle … until Tuesday morning when I found myself laughing out loud. Beginning just after nightfall Monday, the snow started. It seemed light at first but before long, the ground was covered, and by the time I headed for bed sometime after 10, it sure looked like I better get up early and clear the walks. Boy, was I wrong.… Continue Reading

The heart of the matter

How heavy the days are. There’s not a fire that can warm me, Not a sun to laugh with me, Everything bare, Everything cold and merciless, And even the beloved, clear Stars look desolately down, Since I learned in my heart that Love can die. The above is by Herman Hesse, German-born Swiss poet and novelist best known for the work Siddhartha. I’ve shared this poem with hundreds of people, mainly my students and most importantly my two children. Their first reaction is Why? Why expose us to something so dark, so sad? Because, I tell them, it’s the most… Continue Reading

He’s no Joe DiMaggio

If you watched the Super Bowl you saw Carolina quarterback Cam Newton shy away from diving into a crowd of players to try to recover his own fumble at a crucial point in the fourth quarter. A day later he said it was because he didn’t want to get hurt. To be fair, his teammates seem to support him when he said that one play did not cost the Panthers the Super Bowl, and he’s right. But the whole thing immediately brought to mind an old tale about late New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio. The story goes that DiMaggio… Continue Reading

Lovable Lena

Sammy Parente was named Mr. Pennsylvania. What was it, 30 years ago? 40? I suppose I could look it up, but does it really matter? Kenny Feeney and I swung into action as soon as we heard the news. Kenny was the Sunday Dispatch photographer, I the chief writer. We loved stories like this. On the way, I told Kenny about seeing an article on soccer legend Pele in Esquire magazine, I believe, in which they pictured Pele’s thigh actual size. “We should do that with Sammy’s bicep,” I said. I could see little kids (and not so little kids)… Continue Reading

His old friends called him ‘Mock’

Greater Pittston Progress editor Patti Houston sent me a message around noon Monday alerting me that Tom Tigue, the beloved, I think it’s fair to say, Tom Tigue, had died. She wanted to be sure I knew in case I wanted to write my weekly column about him. She knows I usually write the “Optimist” on Monday nights. I had received a couple of text messages earlier and already knew of Tom’s passing and had already rejected the notion of writing about him. And reconsidered it, and rejected it, and reconsidered it. The problem was not that I could not… Continue Reading

His old friends called him ‘Mock’

Greater Pittston Progress editor Patti Houston sent me a message around noon Monday alerting me that Tom Tigue, the beloved, I think it’s fair to say, Tom Tigue, had died. She wanted to be sure I knew in case I wanted to write my weekly column about him. She knows I usually write the “Optimist” on Monday nights. I had received a couple of text messages earlier and already knew of Tom’s passing and had already rejected the notion of writing about him. And reconsidered it, and rejected it, and reconsidered it. The problem was not that I could not… Continue Reading