Recently by Jerry DeNuccio:

 

“But it is pretty to see what money will do.” So says London diarist Samuel Pepys in his March 21 1666, entry. And he’s right. Money can “answereth all things” according to Ecclesiastes; it “doesn’t talk, it swears” according to Bob Dylan; it’s “good for bribing yourself through the inconveniences of life” according to Gottfried Reinhardt; it’s that “clinking, clanking sound” that makes the world go round” according to the Cabaret emcee; “it’s better than poverty, if only for financial reasons” according to Woody Allen. Money can even purchase the wherewithal for a personal credo: “I believe in meditating in the tub with some very nice bath products,” Oprah declares. “Origins Ginger Bath is one I use a lot.” Well, I suppose meditating is a fine and centering thing, as long as one meditates with rather than on… More…

   

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see,” the poet Theodore Roethke says. For me, a moment of seeing occurred in the pale half light just before dawn one morning toward the end of July. Waiting for the carafe of the Mr. Coffee machine to fill with just enough coffee to banish the last vestiges of drowsiness, I happened to glance out the backyard windows into the garden and saw, as if conjured from that auroral seam between night and morning, a fully-mature, antlered buck nibbling on some sedum. I knew deer were paying calls to the garden. They had left their visiting cards: Cropped day lilies, gnawed hostas, and cloven, heart-shaped hoof prints. Neighbors had spoken of seeing deer in their yards, but, until this particular morning, they had been only trace presences in mine…. More…

   

As it has every year since 1976, Lake Superior State University has released its latest “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness.” The annual list, the impish brainchild of LSSU’s Public Relations Office, contains the twelve most nominated words among the thousands sent mostly by folks from the United States and Canada. The 2012 list of unfriended words includes the following: amazing (the most nominated), baby bump (a close second), shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance. 

Of more interest than the list, however, are the comments that accompany the nominations, for they reveal a rather flinty linguistic conservatism, a curmudgeonly sense that words have gone wild, have wrinkled proper discourse beyond the smoothing ministrations of even… More…

Exactly one day after the Fall 2010 semester ended, a student in my technical writing class appeared at my office door to explain why he had not submitted a major assignment. He had tried to start writing it, he told me, but, for some inexplicable reason, he found he “couldn’t be in the moment.”

   

Be in the moment! Now, I could have lectured him on the myth of writerly inspiration, that “one fell swoop” ideology created by the 18th-century romantics whereby the entire work descends, like a tongue of fire, upon an especially sensitive soul, a mystification of the writing process designed to elevate themselves to the level of the wealthy patrons upon whom they depended and to efface the self-abjection they felt because of that dependence.

But I did not lecture him, for I… More…

Everything I know about cutting grass I learned from my father. He had three rules and one quasi-rule. The three rules undoubtedly reflected his occupation as a systems analyst. Rule 1: To maximize efficiency and, thus, save energy, plot the yard into squares and mow inward from the outer edge. Rule 2: To prevent the engine from overworking and, thus, save gas, always position the discharge chute away from the square. Rule 3: To extend the life of the mower and, thus, save money, always service the machine according to the manufacturer’s specifications. The quasi-rule, however, was prompted not by occupational mindset but, rather, to reward himself for performing the tiresome chore he found cutting grass to be: Have a cold beer afterward.  I follow these rules today, though I confess I do occasionally fail to observe the letter of the quasi-rule by having more than the one cold… More…