The Summer of Moe

I stopped in Tony’s Pizza, Pittston, Friday night on my way home from meeting an old friend. The plan was to order a large plain pie, of which when back home I would eat at least half, and a small with anchovies, my wife’s favorite. Since I did not call in the order, I figured I’d sip a beer while waiting. “Hey,” the gal at the register said, “there’s music downstairs if you want to wait there. The pizza will take about 20 minutes.” What a good idea. Downstairs is Tony’s Wine Cellar, and, with or without music, surely some… Continue Reading

Deep in the heart

I am halfway through Texas. Not the state, the book. I bought James Michener’s 615-page, 1985 novel last summer for two bucks (hardcover, too) at the annual Osterhout Library book sale, but every time I picked it up, the heft scared me off. You don’t enter a Michener book without a firm commitment and I just dreaded venturing in there for fear I might never come out. Then my daughter moved to Austin. Then she told me she is going to have a baby. With the certainty that my first grandchild is going to be a native Texan, reading the… Continue Reading

The perfect sentence

The Capitol Steps, an improv group that likes to say they “put the ‘mock’ in democracy,” appeared at the annual dinner of the Luzerne County Community Foundation several years ago. One of their skits was introduced as “Ernest Hemingway Meets With a College Admissions Counselor.” They brought out a table and two chairs. A woman sat on one chair behind the table and the other was placed alongside of it. In walked a young fellow who identified himself as “Ernest Hemingway.” “Please have a seat, Mr. Hemingway,” the counselor said, “and tell me something about yourself.” “Well,” the actor began,… Continue Reading

Point taken

“God loves me,” I told the gathering of the Back Mountain Men’s Ecumenical Group Tuesday morning at their weekly breakfast meeting at Irem Country Club. “He loves you, too, of course,” I continued. “And you should always be aware of that. “But,” I added, “I stand here today painfully aware that He loves me best when I am humble.” I then explained what a marvelous way my day had begun on Monday. Despite my belly fat and love handles, which are hard to miss, I am in pretty good shape for a man my age. I began Monday running 6.5… Continue Reading

Nothing’s right

It’s mid-July in what has been a marvelous summer. For this college professor, there’s six more weeks ahead of doing only things I want to do only when I want to do them. And when classes begin, well, no one has a better job than I. Still, nothing seems right. I’m just back from a little four-day trip to Roanoke, Virginia. We, my wife and I, were pinch-hit baby-sitters for our two-year-old great niece Corinne, whom we all call Coco, and her five-month old twin brothers. What greater pleasure is there than holding a sleeping baby? Unless it’s playing the… Continue Reading

We better stop, children

There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s not a person my age who does not recognize the opening line of the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth.” That song has been rattling around in my head all week. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I got to beware. The cop pulls over the black motorist and approaches the car with weapon drawn. For good reason, he thinks. The black driver pulls to the side of the road and watches the cop approach. He’s done nothing more than perhaps run a red… Continue Reading

Keep an eye on Watson

He’s charming that Watson. A bit too charming. One minute he’s engaging in good natured banter with tennis champ Serena Williams. The next, he wants to write songs with Bob Dylan. How cute. He’s just like one of us. Right? Wrong? Watson is nothing like one of us. He can read 800,000,000 pages per second, he tells Dylan. And that’s just what he’s wiling to admit. God knows what else he can do. Watson, if you don’t know, is IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) personality. He’s the “guy” (yes, IBM wants us to think of him as a guy, not a… Continue Reading

Sunday meant scrubs

To my wife, scrubs means the “uniform” she wore every day in the operating room. To TV viewers, “Scrubs” is a program about hospital interns. To young people, “Scrubs” is a video game. It’s also a derogatory term for an annoying game player. But to me, the word scrubs means something altogether different. It means baseball. And Sunday afternoons at the Pittston Little League field. I was a lousy Little League player, couldn’t get out of my own way. But as a teen, I became a darned good, if I must say so myself, Little League coach. Well, assistant coach,… Continue Reading

Heads up!

Psychologists call it one-trial learning. You burn your hand on a stove and, bingo, you’ve learned a lifelong lesson. No need to keep repeating it for reinforcement. Makes sense, right? Except when it doesn’t work. And it doesn’t work a lot. I have the aching head to prove it. Along with a bruise reminiscent of that birthmark on the forehead of Mikhail Gorbachev. Only mine is a little higher on my noggin. We’re in the midst of the heart-wrenching task of cleaning out the home where by aunt and uncle lived their entire lives until each passed this year. They… Continue Reading