Wednesday, March 29, 2017


A quart is so close to a liter,
Why don't we make them the same?
Conversions would be so much neater,
And we could get rid of one name!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jones on Sweat

The Chicago Tribune has its theater critic, Chris Jones, reporting from New York on current offerings.

'"Sweat" is inarguably a schematic socialist drama — and hardly the first to play at Broadway prices to mostly upper-middle-class urbanites — that clearly decided in advance what it wanted to say about the state of the nation.'

I guess that I'm a member
Of the upper middle class
But if this play comes near me
I'm giving it a pass.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

English of All Things

The English language is a big collision
Of French and German all mixed up pell-mell.
So purists often view it with derision
But for some reason it has spread quite well.
It started on an island. The Atlantic
Surrounds the place and seemed to hem them in.
But then they took to ships. They seemed quite frantic,
And spread their babble everywhere they'd been.
So here we are today and this strange language
Will "get you by" in lands the world round.
Its spelling is a curse, its grammar anguish,
But everywhere you go, it can be found.
I feel some sympathy for those who spurn it,
But lots of babies seem to like to learn it.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Something I realized only yesterday:

These two ten-minute plays of mine - the ones I have coming up in festivals in May and June - have something conspicuous in common: each centers on an interrogation.

The methods of interrogation are actually quite opposite. The genres are deeply dissimilar - realistic police procedural vs. science fiction comedy. The themes of the two festivals are not related: "empathy" vs. "graduation party".

But somehow my under-brain wanted to write about interrogation, apparently. I have no idea why, offhand. I mean, it's a topic I'm interested in, but I don't recall any conscious fascination with it lately.

I let my writing gift me with a puzzle.
Better, I feel, than putting on a muzzle.
The Muse, to be seduced, must be obeyed.
Without her aid, the play does not get made.

Two Ten-Minute Play Festivals

I'm very happy to announce that I've got plays in two upcoming ten-minute play festivals.

The Empathy Festival, from Talif Productions, runs Tuesdays during May, here in Chicago. Facebook page here. Tickets will go on sale here. My play is contemporary, and based on a real incident. My version involves two female cops, engaged in a very tense discussion about a cold murder case. It's called "Fellow Officers". The theme of this festival is, indeed, empathy, and my story illustrates the way empathy can be used as a tool during an interrogation.

The Heartland 10-Minute Play Festival runs weekends during June, 2 hours from Chicago in Normal, Illinois. It's an annual festival, and this year's theme was "Graduation Party". My play is set in my comical science fiction future, when intelligent cats are roaming outer space, and is called "Space Cat Graduation".

I really like the 10-minute play form, which I think is sort of a new form, or sort of a newly popular form perhaps. When I say new, I mean maybe in the last 20 years. At least, a lot of ordinary people my age have never even heard of it. Anyway, the effect is kind of like a extra short story.

You string 8 or so of them together to make an evening's entertainment. Usually that's 8 of them by 8 different authors. And that's the overarching "10 minute play festival" format.

It's an evening of short stories
Through divergent territoties.

Friday, March 24, 2017


Enlightened but impoverished gentleman: woke broke bloke.

Tokyo to Chicago

Flying over Anchorage at night
Staring at a land piled high with snow
I saw the city's streetlights burning bright
And felt the urge to visit them below
To learn what sort of hardy souls reside
In coldness that I'd rather not abide.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Where the Day Starts

He thought the International Date Line
Was a phone number he could dial to call
To ask some foreign women out to dine.
But sad to say, that wasn't it at all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In Hong Kong Harbour

The helicopter, like a dragonfly
Buzzes above the water, black against the sky.
It races past our boat, we raise our heads
To watch this great contraption chop the air to shreds.

Monday, March 20, 2017


I'm in Kowloon, but sad to say,
No cows or loons are here today.

What I find really surprising
Is that no one has sued the place for false advertising.

Kowloon is a part of Hong Kong that's not on the island of Hong Kong. It's on the mainland geographically, but part of Hong Kong politically and economically.

As for crazy lawsuits -
Is that just in the USA?
It's full employment for lawyers -We keep them busy that way.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


If you're angry with a friend
On their natal anniversary
Do make sure to send
Berated wishes, sharp and cursory.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Mysterious East

Now that I've read,
I'll try not to shed.

Monday, March 13, 2017


We were walking through the government section of Tokyo, when my daughter was surprised to notice lots of green-with-a-sword Saudi flags flying. She surmised that some state visit must be happening. So I saw the front page of a newspaper this morning, and sure enough:

"Saudi King brings two golden escalators... for four day trip to Japan"

Apparently the escalators are for getting on and off his jet.

The Saudis sell Japan a lot of oil, but that business is not as profitable as it was, and they are hoping to sell other stuff to Japan. What other things they have to sell... I'm not clear on.

The Saudis are looking to diversify
Now that oil prices are not so high.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Nunchucks in Jpan

Weapons charges reversed:

"On March 8, Judge Kazuo Oizumi of the Hiroshima High Court reversed the weapon concealment conviction of a 48-year-old chiropractor. The previous conviction was handed down after a police officer discovered three pairs of nunchaku in the man's car while questioning him in the parking lot of a convenience store."

A chiropractor would know how to whack
Those wacky sticks all over your back.
I have to admit that the bones in my spine
Were so scared by this story, they jumped into line.

Yesterday In The Air

We fly toward the sunset
At thirty thousand feet.
It hasn't disappeared yet.
Jet travel's quite the feat.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Never Laugh At An Ideograph

Over at Language Log:

"People often ask me questions like these: What's the easiest / hardest language you ever learned?"

Mandarin, he says, is both:
It's easy to learn to speak,
But mastering reading and writing
Will make your brain cells shriek.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


I saw a very bright one, this morning.

Cardinal, how did you get so red,
From the tip of your tail to the top of your head?
I wonder, when you were learning to fly,
Did you happen to dive in a bucket of dye?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Turtle With A Taste For Cold Hard Cash


Turtle That Ate Nearly 1,000 Coins Recovering From Surgery In Thailand

It's a 25-year-old sea turtle whose life was threatened because it kept eating the coins that people were tossing into its pond "for luck".

It wasn't such good luck for the turtle, whose belly shell was starting to crack. Fortunately, a vet seems to have saved the day. Hopefully the turtle will make a full recovery.

The situation's funny
But don't give turtles money!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Entrance to a Tiki Bar

This is part of the decor as you walk down the stairs to Three Dots And A Dash, a Tiki Bar here in Chicago:

I can't explain,
I need to mull:
Outside my brain
There lives a skull.

Somehow or other, my body has grown
A jointed framework made of bone,
And here's a thing that's odder still -
This skeleton generally does my will.

Sunday, March 05, 2017


Today I saw what I believe were huge flocks of crows flying against the grey cotton-candy sky. I didn't get a chance to see any of them land, but they looked like crows, not gulls.

So, what's funny, is that there haven't been a lot of crows around here for years - not since the coming of the West Nile Virus, which was over a decade ago.

I'm guessing they were migrating. It's March. We've had some pretty nice weather. Maybe they think spring is here!

Vast crowd of crows,
Please pass this area by.
Virus-bearing mosquitoes
Here will make you die.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017