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Shaq, John Irving, Meryl, and Me

This is NOT a photo of me and Shaquille O’Neal. However, she’s about my height, so this illustrates the story I’m about to tell you.   SEEING A FAMOUS PERSON is like seeing a mouse run in front of you. It’s startling. Larger than life. Odd, even. It suddenly transforms a routine stroll across the kitchen to...

The Gender of God

THE GENITALIA OF GOD is not a topic open to discussion among, well, almost everybody. It is at once sacrilegious to wonder what lies between God’s legs and heretical to not accept the commonsense dogma that God uses the door marked “Men” when He’s out to dinner and has had three glasses of iced tea....

The New Alpha Male

PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL players are thugs. They are hired to be thugs. If they are not thuggy enough on the field, they are mocked and shamed publicly for bad thuggery. The big business that is the NFL and its many media permutations depends upon the players’ willingness to be thugs. They are not hired to be heroes....

Don’t Wait for the Muse

Every now and then, I’m invited to speak to a group of writers. I prepare my notes and deliver my little speech about inspiration and style and the proper use of the semi-colon, and then someone asks the big question, the one I suspect is the real thing I’ve been invited to talk about:...

The Terrible Responsibility of Words

I am a writer, and words are my tools and my inspiration, my craft and my medium. Still, I do not always know what it is that I think about an issue or a person or a value until I am pressed to speak, and must pause and try to put those ideas into language....

Write Better-er

I teach writing, so it saddens me to report this, but a teacher can make you only a better writer, not a great one. For that, an ineffable something is required—an instinct for language, a voracious appetite for crafting sentences that force previously content humans to break down and weep, and a love for the...