Great Books, No!

Robert Strozier

I recently moved to Tampa from Manhattan and—among other things—joined OLLI. Everyone I know seems to be taking or teaching courses there—the joint’s jumping. I particularly look forward to some of the Great Books courses…well, sort of…

This ambivalence dates back to my undergraduate days at the University of Chicago in the early 60’s. I was a little too young for college then (as many people are, of course). I should have waited 50 or so years—thank heavens for organizations like OLLI.

The concept of the Great Books was deeply embedded in the culture of the U. of C. (Still is, I’m sure)—a legacy of former president Robert Hutchins. Maybe it was the term that was so unnerving: GREAT BOOKS. Taught by GREAT TEACHERS. Meant for GREAT STUDENTS. One was followed everywhere by the ghosts of the past whispering…  (More…)

The Joy of Reading – This Rough Magic

Cindy Knox

I was quite young when I first tried my hand at writing, and I found that descriptions were my Waterloo; I had to draw inadequate pictures instead. Dialogue seemed easy – should I have gone into playwriting? However, any type of description stopped me cold immediately. I’m envious of anyone who can describe a place, a person, a house, a tree – or a dolphin – so clearly that I can visualize it perfectly.

Fortunately for her readers, author Mary Stewart had no such problem, and we are placed in settings that are vivid, colorful, and speak to all the senses. Another plus for a perennial romantic like me is that her heroines are usually young, attractive, brave and educated. They are the highly idealized “me” from decades ago. This sentence from her obituary in The Guardian on May 15, 2014, sums it up: “Stewart’s fans were above all attracted to her wonderful storytelling, which she saw as a skill she was born with – ‘I am first and foremost a teller of tales’– but also by the warmth and vivacity of her characters and the sharply drawn settings.”  (More…)

Taking Life by the Throat

April is National Poetry Month, and we’re celebrating it (again) with another group of poems by OLLI members.  That fellow in the picture is, of course, Robert Frost, one of America’s best known and best loved poets.  He was Poet Laureate of Vermont, though never Poet Laureate of the United States.  He once described poetry as “a way of taking life by the throat”.

We think he would have enjoyed the poetry we have for you today.  And at the end of the post we’ll share some other ways you can enjoy poetry this month.  (More…)

Words That Burn

April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate the awesome things poets can do with just 26 letters and some white spaces.   We asked some famous writers how they’d define poetry.  Here are a few of their responses.

“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn”. –Thomas Gray.  “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance”. –Carl Sandburg.  “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful”. –Rita Dove.  “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat”. –Robert Frost.

And Carol Ann Duffy said “You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart”.  Which is exactly what some of our own OLLI members have done for us here.  (More…)

Haiku! Gesundheit!

Cindy Knox

Reading for Pleasure — Haikus as Book Reviews

Some of us have begun an OLLI-USF class that requires close, critical reading. The morning and afternoon Winter Great Books classes, facilitated by Kevin Chittim and Patrick DeMarco, are just two examples. The selected texts, none of which could be described as easy, are read and then they are discussed in the group using the “shared inquiry” method.

I am in the afternoon Great Books class and, reviewing what I just wrote, I notice a tendency to yawn.  Why, oh why, did I sign up for this class, I wonder? The answers are that I am a long-time fan of Patrick, I know many of the people in the group, and I also need to exercise my brain after two years of absence from OLLI. These group discussions are stimulating, and I come away afterwards feeling exhilarated and also virtuous. However, there comes a time for each of us OLLI members… (More…)

Enjoy the Ride!

Diane Russell

At Busch Gardens Tampa during the holidays, the wait time for Cheetah Hunt was 50 minutes. It was 35 minutes for Cobra’s Curse. The Quick Queue shortens wait times by allowing guests to pay to bypass lines.

What if you could bypass long lines for roller coasters anywhere in the country or world? You can.  The American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) organization exists to find ways for its members to ride roller coasters without waiting in line    (More…)

“A Course is Born” and “A Community of Writers”

Liesse Chable

When I first learned about the OLLI program at USF Tampa, I was amazed at the quantity and quality of courses for older adults. I hear that the 2019 Winter-Spring catalog offers nearly 180 courses and lectures. I think that’s a record.

I was even more amazed when I realized that the majority of classes were taught by my peers, adults like myself over 50, who volunteer for free their time, experience, and passion for teaching. When I was a child in school, I loved the opportunity to participate in peer-to-peer teaching, all the camaraderie and equality of it. Now I have a whole catalog of peer teaching to look over.  I read it each semester with excitement and enthusiasm for what my generation has to offer.        (More…)

Arrival

Raymond Paltoo

The sky was an unbelievable blue with only a lonely, white, drifting cloud to disrupt its absolute rule in the heavens. The sea was a reflection of the blue sky, except near the shore, where the water became a translucent emerald-green.

From the rough planking of the dock Sham watched the ship, which had brought him and more than a few hundred others over the depths of the dark ocean, gently rocking as the small waves washed her hull on their way to the shore. His senses told him that he had never seen anything so lovely and yet so alien as the waters of the Caribbean. Simultaneously, he was conscious only of misery and loss.  (More…)

Reading for Pleasure – The Pickwick Papers

Cindy Knox

Charles Dickens

I have read several sobering articles about the decline in reading for pleasure, not only in America, but also across the world. There are numerous reasons given for this decline, including the rise of electronics and more hours spent in front of the TV. However, I’m not an academic, a statistician or any type of reading specialist. I’m just a person who loves reading for pleasure – and for our purposes here, we will define pleasure as “enjoyment.” The choice of reading that gives you pleasure or enjoyment may be poetry or cookbooks or mysteries or romance novels, or even, as in the case of Mr. Pickwick’s fellow Pickwick Club members, the report titled “Speculations on the Source of the Hampstead Ponds, with some Observations on the Theory of Tittlebats.”    (More…)

What Are Word Clouds? And How Can I Use Them?

Diane White

You’ve probably seen them.  Puffy groups of words that illustrate articles, especially those that you read on the internet. Yes, they have a name – Word Clouds.

Why are they seemingly so prolific? Word clouds are great visual tools because they help to communicate ideas in a very direct way by putting the focus on the most important words in a story. As an added bonus, there are free programs that easily let you create amazing word clouds in minutes!  (More…)