Marilyn Myerson leads and mentors creative writing groups, encouraging them to push the envelope of their imaginations while staying in control of the theme. She frequently has them to write short stories that explore a specific idea. And she leads by example.
Today’s two stories are both by Marilyn. One puts a twist on a hoary cliché. The other speculates on what could happen, if the leader of a creative writing group were not quite who she seemed to be. –Editor
Cliché: A Shaggy Dog Story
Myrtle van Crapen, resident of Tampa, Florida, shared her abode with three dogs. Two of her canine housemates were Bucky and Bolty, Heinz 57 mutts who nonetheless spoke quite passable English. (More…)
OLLI Connects is almost three years old, and in its short lifetime, we have shared a wide variety of your fellow OLLI members’ contributions: powerful stories, rich personal experiences, fascinating nuggets of history, and humor. We’ve taken you on trips to other parts of the United States and journeys to other parts of the world. We’ve shared technology, book reviews, poetry and more. We’ve had posts that were all photographs with no more words than were needed for context.
But we’ve not had a post that was almost all video. Until today.
Theresa D’Aiuto Sokol has shared two of her blog posts, and now she shares some of her video work. (More…)
As the Olympics drama unfolds in Tokyo, a lesser known, but still dramatic event is taking place closer to home. Yes, it is the Backyard Squirrel Olympics. I know, you will not find it in your cable guide. Nevertheless, it’s here!
Let me give you some context. When I put up my Covid-19 backyard bird feeder system, I did extensive research about how to deter unwanted critters. What else did I have to do? I read articles. I watched squirrel videos on YouTube where people attempted to deter the acrobatic critters. Based on my research, I measured out distances squirrels can leap with my yellow, Stanley 25’ Lever Lock tape measure. Feeling confident, I installed my feeder system based on expert research.
Now that I’ve reached the age of 80, a milestone year if ever there was one, I thought it’d be a fitting time to revisit some moments from my life as a writer—for better or for worse.
Let’s bypass the rave reviews I received from my parents for a play I wrote and starred in at nine, Detective Dick, and skip along to 1964. I’d just graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Humanities and was living with a friend in Berkeley, California.
I decided to launch my freelance career by writing poems and greeting card ideas—two surefire money makers. Some poems got published, most suffered a less happy fate. As in: “Sorry we won’t be able to use your poem, but we did like parts and particles of it.” The word “the” in the second line of the third stanza, I surmised, the third syllable of the eighth word in the fifth line of the second stanza, the… (More…)
Intro: Pyschotherapy takes many odd twists and turns, but even by those standards the author’s relationship with his therapist in India was—well—a bit wacky.
By shamelessly pulling a lot of strings in 1966, at age 26, I landed a trainee management job with a large philanthropic organization in New Delhi, India, for which I was totally unqualified. To add to my guilt, the job came with a house and four servants: a cook-bearer, a gardener, a sweeper, and a night watchman, who’d sit outside the front door all night guarding my precious, fraudulent being.
I was in over my head big time, not only at work but home as well. My elderly cook-bearer, Chand, usually out-maneuvered me in battles for control, once pointing out—with a wide grin—that I looked like one of the Beach Boys on an album cover. The message was clear: I was a Boy, not a real Sahib. (More…)
Sometimes I’m so consciously aware of how bored I am. The immediate realization is how often I wander to the refrigerator. There I stand in front of the open door pondering what on earth I could eat that would feed the void I’m feeling.
Nothing on Netflix, HBO, or the Hallmark Channel grabs my attention. I feel like I’m wasting time, killing brain cells, or missing opportunities to do something, even though I don’t know what that something is. It is times like this that I think about learning how to knit or crochet.
Now don’t think I have nothing to do. I fill the days of the month with plenty of activities – volunteering, OLLI-USF classes, committees, and board of director meetings, places to go, people to see, and things to do. So what is it that makes me feel so unproductive and bored? (More..)
In 1979 I was hired as a writer by a well-known and flamboyant marketing-and-sales-management consultant named Stanley Arnold, who over a long career had created many a successful promotional campaign for various blue-chip companies, such as: “Win Your Height in Dollar Bills” for Lever Brothers, “Win a Bathtub Full of Cash” for Dove Soap, and “Win a Mattress Full of Money” for Simmons.
One of Arnold’s more memorable promotions helped introduce a new line of specialty foods from General Foods, and the unveiling of the “horse-of-a-different-color” theme to marketing executives featured just that—a white horse dyed a bright blue. Another client of his—a man seeking a high-paid position at an advertising agency—brought a belly dancer along to the job interview…his resume written on her undulating abdomen. The list goes on and on. (More…)
In one of my favorite scenes from the movie, The Lonely Guy, Steve Martin enters a fancy restaurant and requests a table for one. Spotlights from all angles zero in on the lowly intruder as the diners shrink back in shock and distaste.
A long-time bachelor, I know that rebuff well. Once, after I was seated in a restaurant, the waitress asked, “Will we be joined by the missus?” “Highly unlikely,” I said, “I’m single,” and over her face passed a fleeting shadow of pity and mistrust.
I was always eager to get married, I told myself, certain the world would eventually beat a path to my doorway… someone from Publishers Clearing House would ring and—surprise! —present me with the woman of my dreams. Then one day I checked my watch and noticed that five decades had gone by. (More…)
In 1960, during my freshman year at Harvard, I decided after reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road that studying and exams were a waste of time and that I’d take a year off to hitchhike across the country, experiment with drugs and sex, write a novel, and get in touch with my inner self.
Among those who weren’t exactly thrilled by this news was my father, who in an uncalm manner asked such questions as, “And how the hell do you intend to support yourself, may I ask?” Though a little vague on particulars, I assured him that the income from odd jobs and my writing, plus the seizing of various financial opportunities as they arose, should see me through.
The prospect of being drafted for two years by the Army caused me to amend plans, and in the summer of 1960 I enlisted in a military alternative then available: six months active duty followed by six years active reserve. My first stop: Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC, for basic training. (More…)
Growing up in small town America where Route 66 went straight through it and with freedom to do most anything was just too much of a temptation for me. I was never thrown into a juvenile jail or correction facility, but I surely would have been had I grown up in a city. So, what did I do that was so juvenile?
For starters, the local culture was gun friendly, so I wasn’t very old when I acquired a BB gun, a perfect weapon to shoot out street lights and do other nasty things. At age 15, apparently my father thought I was old enough to handle a shot gun, so he bought me a 16-gauge automatic firing Remington, so I could hunt. I also acquired a .22 single shot rifle. (More…)