A recent survey showed that the majority of Americans in forty-nine states (with Vermont being the exception) would fail—not even get a D—answering U.S. citizenship test questions. Another reason to support immigration: The naturalized immigrant knows more than the native-born citizen. Is it surprising to you that the most solid red states scored lowest?


Why does the Academy Awards have separate male and female acting categories? Isn’t good acting good acting no matter the gender of the performer?  Should the Academy also give gender-based awards for directing and writing?


“He knew the story because he had heard it said that really there are only two kinds: one in which a hero goes on a journey, the other in which a stranger comes to town.” Kevin Powers, A Shout in the Ruins.


The open satchel carried by the middle-aged man was filled. I spied a top hat and a Miss Piggy wig with luxurious hair. I wondered. . . .


The appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow stated that the item came from “circa about” 1906.  Surely, she should have known better.


I was on a park bench. Off to my left a man was ranting. Police were around the apparently mentally ill person dealing with him patiently. On the next park bench to my right were people who panhandled in the park and seemed to know the ranter. One of the them looked at the police, saw a blonde woman, and said, “Look at her. She doesn’t look like a cop. Why did she become a cop? She should have been, uh, uh, uh, a chemist, or something.”


I was sitting with David, a 68-year-old with a childlike mind, who had been convicted of a double homicide in Florida. The jury had determined that he should be executed. We sat next to each other waiting for a post-trial hearing to start. I had played only a minor role in the case, but he smiled and seemed pleased to see me. He started joking with me, as he had done during the trial, and wanted to make sure my tie was of high quality. I asked how he was being treated, and he said fine, except that right after the verdict he was put in isolation and had to wear a straitjacket for a few days. During the subsequent court hearing, he got upset, and I had to calm him down. When the hearing concluded, and he was about to be led out of the courtroom, I told him that at the end of the week I was going back to New York indicating that I would not see him again. He said, “Have a safe trip.” Then after a beat he smiled and said, “I wish I were going with you.”


“She did not recall how they had agreed that one can be anything but dead, that the two words together created an antimony.” Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky.

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