I’ve always been intrigued with contrasts, with opposites, the yin-yang, the duality of so many phenomena that propel the universe. And language. Growing up, Pop made admission to nightly television a writing exercise. He would hand out notepads and pencils to us kids assembled in front of the set. For each show we watched, we had to summarize the story in our own words. I found it rather rote, so I quickly began to improvise alternate endings, new characters, and dialogue.
No, this didn’t charge me with some deep appreciation for writing, or composition, or the beauty of the language, or the majesty of metaphor or irony, as much as the value of ripping off Hollywood writers’ plotlines.
Sometime around then, I was sent home early from school for the act presenting an essay which apparently resounded sufficiently among my classmates and teacher that the principal was summoned. Again, I read aloud, from what I don’t remember, other than the subject was ‘responsibility’. The principal wrote a note to my parents and sent me packing with my composition. My first half-day off. With pay(!)
At home, I got to read the same piece again to the singular audience of my mother, at the conclusion of which she hugged me, broke a small glass piggy bank and handed me the proceeds, and followed all with a fat, fresh slice of double-chocolate layer cake from the fridge and a glass of milk. I should have held out for a smartphone. I watched the joy in her face as I ate my reward, counting my coins on the table-top, not at all inspired by the power of the proper arrangement of the written word on fellow human beings as much as the importance of North American Serial Rights, a lesson that would serve me years later as I mined the very lucrative resale market for stuff that I wrote.
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I’ve written for Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Better Homes & Garden; I was a Contributing Editor for Cahners Publishing. All that stuff was from my ‘how to’ days; more recently, I’ve been interested in ‘how come’.
Here’s some of that:
(First published in Loco Magazine, March 23, 2014) Desserts are fun. People love to eat them, and chefs love to make them. But I’m going to go against the grain and tell you that they can wreak havoc on your physiology in ways your cuisinier is not telling you. Take ice cream. …read more
(First published in Thought Catalog, March 14, 2014) Two presidents loved me. Richard Nixon and Barrack Obama. I didn’t even like Nixon. I don’t like Obama. But both of them saved my life. That’s love, right? For the purposes of explaining this theory, I want to say what I mean…read more
(First Published in Thought Catalog, March 5, 2014) Listen to that call sign jingle from WABC Radio New York on a late July afternoon. Close your eyes and take a breath of the hot sand wafting Coppertone and the sweat of Sabretts, Lucky Strikes and flat, warm RC Cola. Gulls…read more
(First published in Thought Catalog February 27, 2014) Now we know what it took to be Phillip Seymour Hoffman. His life. We examine a celebrity entertainer’s death. These are deaths like no other. They are, after all, playing parts. It’s said great actors ‘put everything’ into their roles. He was…read more
(First published in eFiction India, March 2014 Issue) Abandoned, at a former naval shipyard in Green Cove Springs, Florida. Late fall afternoon. Bracketed, layered, shadows and highlights tone-mapped.
An employee motivational meeting was held recently in the lunchroom of a national home improvement supplies retailer. Here’s part of the store manager’s address, secretly recorded on one employee’s phone: Manager: “I’ve had some feedback from corporate about our customer service levels.” (Murmuring from the group.) Manager: “There such a…read more
ISON, party on. Since time began, mankind has sought to explain the events of the cosmos. Comets were feared at first as evidence of an evil animus, then gained acceptance as one of the more benign interventions of extraterrestrial bodies as humans stitched these phenomena into their own mythology. We…read more
In Renovation Raiders, HGTV’s newest show, a crew of high-power remodelers does over a room from top to bottom in the time that the homeowners are out to dinner. How-to television producers know all to well that construction is, well, dull. Like the cooking shows already know, nothing perks up…read more
‘It could be said that the Drowning Book is a path for others to enter your world, rejoice and stay awhile; then leave with a good feeling of what could be. Well done old friend’
The Space Shuttle’s Main Fuel Tank, the “External Tank”, came to our town. It had been floated here on a barge from Cape Canaveral, to continue by land to a permanent home 30 miles inland. At the moment, it is parked unceremoniously on a weedy weathered concrete apron of a…read more
The TV Producer gets it done. Without them, TV shows would not get, well, produced. They are talented, versatile, the true multi-taskers of the small screen. They turn on the lights in the morning, after having picked up the dry cleaning on the way in, run out for Chinese for…read more
JFK Saves the World with an Etch A Sketch That could easily have been the headline in October of 1962. When the drawing toy first arrived in the US, there’d never anything like it. In an age of fingerpainting and Play Doh, and woven summer-school ‘Scooby-Do’ boondoggles, it was precise, instant…read more
Bonzo the Chimp is retired. Government research Chimps are being offered an exit from the workforce, and Bonzo took advantage, too. But this former child star is not ready for ‘Chimp Haven’. One would be hard pressed to find a comparable feel-good story in the news today. Yet there’s a…read more
A ‘Real Life Carbon Footprint Calculator’. Take our test. We factor more than just carbon impact, using some calculations that just aren’t that common. Here’s why you should: no sooner did the ink dry on the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, did online calculators…read more
Cars on Mars. Traffic jams. Off-Road Rage. Fender Benders. Pileups on the Interquad. Chop Shops! Were we asleep at the wheel of these driverless buggies? How, and when, did it get to this? Seems like it was just yesterday you could rove the Northern Lowlands for days without even seeing…read more
A history of texting. A brand-new technology that’s over 170 years old. “What hath God wrought?” was the first message Samuel Morse sent on his spanking new invention, the telegraph. Less is made of the reply he got, which was really just a repeat of his own words, though the…read more
Wildlife has a ways to go to keep their survival skills sharp. Here in Florida, all outdoor animals wake up running. It’s a hard life for most species. Every critter is someone else’s lunch, and they act like it. But with just a step or two more up the evolutionary…read more
Doctors and suicide. An epidemic? How to stop it? Well, break out the Dijon: hara-kiri is harder with a sandwich in your hand. Doctors shouldn’t die. Ever. To learn that 1 of 16 surgeons have or are considering going their own way, something’s got to be done. Mark Twain said,…read more
SETI. Intelligent life is out there, and we’re searching for it. The building blocks for DNA have just been found floating in clouds in space; can ET be far behind? Should we take cover? Stephen Hawking says SETI is dangerous, and we should shut off the lights and hide. It’s…read more
From back in the day. Call sign jingles from WABC New York. Close your eyes and smell the hot sand panting Coppertone, the sweat of Sabretts, Lucky Strikes and flat, warm RC Cola. Gulls squawk as a beach of transistor radios sync into a vast, monphonic consonance of “Up on…read more
The Rolling Stones ruined the fun. We’d been having fun for a long time up until that point. But they ruined it that year. The year they painted it. Black. Was it coincidence that the same year, Ozzie and Harriet signed off television? That ground was broken for the World…read more
From the BBC: ‘The age old question, what came first the chicken or the egg, has been answered. Researchers in England say the answer was in the way the shell is formed. They say a key protein used to make the shell can only be produced inside a chicken. Because…read more
Did the Vikings discover Florida? Imagine that Njord had blown a few L’Anse Aux Meadows-bound Longships off course way south, say, to the mouth of the St. Johns River. The Vikings would have had a 400 year head start on the Spanish, and greeted them with open shields as they…read more
And, the Bio: I’ve written for Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Better Homes & Gardens, and Rodale Press. Most recently, the University of Houston’s ‘Dark Matter Journal’. I live near Jacksonville, Florida with my wife Karla.