ReBirth – An Excerpt

Raymond Paltoo

The box rested on the sand in front of the little cabin.

As the world became dark, he knew the time had come. Their defenses were down, lulled by the opiate of restful sleep. He entered their minds one by one, giving each of them the dreams of their deep desires, awakening in them the basic primitive desire for reproduction and propagation of their species. It did not matter to him that they had mutated and certain functions had been lost. He tweaked their bodies, opening one tube here, closing another that was not needed, making them whole again and reassuring their sleeping bodies that everything would be all right again. He entered their bodies, giving them the ecstasy and pleasure they had not known for ages.

He re-entered his chamber that was now his coffin and lay down. His physical body deteriorated into a fine dust. The Essence of his being escaped into the void of space, joining the vast expanse of the Cosmos. He left behind all the knowledge he had accumulated in his millennia of Being; seven, small, shining discs for his children to learn. They had to learn, or the race would die, and his death would have been in vain.  (More…)

High School: the Misery Years

Robert Strozier

The first girl I fell in love with was a horse.

Charlene Atkins, circa third grade, was a worshipper of anything equine, and, meeting me in the hallway, she’d rear and haughtily paw the air, whinny and snort, then gallop off—taking my heart with her.

Charlene and I attended a small, protective private school on the South Side of Chicago, and our class stayed together from kindergarten to graduation from high school (in 1957).  Although my crush on her never faded, I did explore other options over the years. In seventh grade, for instance, my best friend Keith Hudson and I worked up the nerve to ask the Korman twins, Harriet and Louise, to a movie at the Picadilly Theater. I don’t remember who made the call—perhaps we asked them out in unison. Because it wasn’t clear what pairings-off we had in mind, the twins ended up seated to Keith’s right, I to his left. I bought two bags of popcorn, and they shared one, he and I the other, and the only hand I touched that afternoon was his.

Finally I reached high school—The Big Time. Renewing my pursuit of Charlene, I managed to  (More…)

Chapbooks

Morrey Grimes

At a meeting today, I was asked about chapbooks and also about self-publishing. I have reconciled with my mistress, Valentina, and we are again on the same page (no pun intended), speaking the same language,

Valentina is my PC. I have personalized my PC, and provided it (her) with a gender. I like the mercurial energy of women better than the static energy of men.  Valentina is my muse and inspiration, but also my critic.

Let me tell you about Valentina:  she is smarter than I am, but I will be the first to admit that that is not too difficult of a place to be. She does not correct my mistakes, but only points them out for me to correct. Not only is she in a perpetual state of learning, but she also is constantly is teaching me something. She keeps me entertained and  (More…)

The Children of Green Knowe

Lucinda Knox

A Review of The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston

When I was growing up, there was nothing more magical than the season before Christmas. I loved everything about it, and I believed in Santa Claus far longer than any of my friends. After my two sons were born, I happily read Christmas books to them, sharing the joy and sense of magic I’ve always felt during this time of year. (However, I should add that, as for anyone, joy is mixed with sadness as loved ones die or life’s circumstances change. Magic, mystery, and the feeling that there is something greater than myself and that almost anything can happen, especially on Christmas Eve, is a belief that I hold.)

During this holiday season, I re-read stories and books that I’ve collected over the years, each having something to do with Christmas or the spirit thereof. One of these books is Lucy M. Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe, one of six books that she wrote after the age of 60.  All of them were inspired by (More…)

Creating a “Familyiography”

Neil Cosentino

Over 50 years have passed since I flew combat missions over North Vietnam.  I wrote a book of short stories about flying that includes a few of these missions.  It was my oldest sister who slowly drew out the stories and then encouraged me to include them in a book that is now in our local public library system.

The book’s title is Letters from the Cockpit. I encourage friends not to buy the book, but instead to request it from the library so the demand keeps the book in the system. I enjoyed writing the book and found that if the stories you write are true, you will enjoy reading them again. A repeat of what was exciting once is still an enjoyment, and there is a simple good in that.  (More…)

New Car, New Husband

Diane Russell

In the summer of 1992, my red 1988 Toyota Tercel started costing hundreds of dollars a month to maintain. Fortunately, I could walk or ride my bike 1.5 miles each way from Oak Ramble Village, my apartment complex, to my job as a Human Resources Coordinator at the University of South Florida (USF). I also was a new part-time graduate student in Counselor Education at USF and could walk to those evening classes.

However, my continued membership and choir participation at St. Mark United Church UCC in Valrico was in question. St. Mark was over 20 miles away from Oak Ramble Village, so it was a 40-mile roundtrip drive. I had two options:  1) leave St. Mark and attend another church or 2) buy a new car and continue worshipping at St. Mark.

I had been a member of St. Mark for five years and was good friends with Rev. Garry and Carolyn Scheuer, the minister and his wife, who also served my hometown church, the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines, Illinois. I had made some friends in the choir and felt comfortable. It would be a tough decision to make.  (More…)

The Stranger Diaries

Cindy Knox

‘If you permit me,’ said the Stranger, ‘I’d like to tell you a story. After all, it’s been a long journey and, by the look of those skies, we’re not going to be leaving this carriage for some time. So, why not pass the hours with some story-telling? The perfect thing for a late October evening.’

‘Are you quite comfortable there? Don’t worry about Herbert. He won’t hurt you, It’s just this weather that makes him nervous. Now, where was I? What about some brandy to keep the chill out? You don’t mind a hip flask, do you?

‘Well, this is a story that actually happened. Those are the best kind, don’t you think? Better still, it happened to me when I was a young man. About your age.’

The Stranger Diaries is Elly Griffiths’ delightful homage to Gothic novels. It’s a book within a book, containing a gratifying mix of mystery, suspense, gloomy settings, horror, deaths, supernatural events, a damsel in distress,  (More...)

The Sin That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Robert Strozier

When I was a boy growing up in Hyde Park, a community on the South Side of Chicago, our family belonged to the Trinity Episcopal Church.  Father Anderson, the rector, was handsome, generous-hearted and kindly, and I wanted more than anything to win his approval. His wife, Elizabeth, was warm and gracious too. My own parents were okay, but they were—you know—parents.

Father Anderson “believed” in me and hoped I’d become a priest one day. He seemed to like my sense of humor too, not that his standards were too high—his favorite comedian was George Gobel of “Well, I’ll be a dirty bird!” fame.

I was both a choirboy and an acolyte, depending on the occasion, and I’m sure I looked positively angelic in my black cassock and white surplice. But I knew I was a pious phony and unworthy to   (More…)

My Novel is Wonderful!

Creativity surges through the veins of OLLI-USF members! Especially those who read OLLI Connects.  Who among us has not had our most sublime creative work reviled and rejected by some soi disant critic whose own creativity could be measured in, at most, milliliters?  But some of us vigorously respond in defense of our work, as our colleague, Derek Burke, does here.

To the Editor:

I am writing to protest your publication’s review of my last novel.  Of the many criticisms Mr. Mitchell levels at me, none merit reply, and space unfortunately forbids me from addressing more than those that time will allow.

“The novel’s numerous flaws,” pronounces Mr. Mitchell, “Include clumsy writing, embarrassing dialog, awkward pacing, and ludicrous plot resolutions. Almost every page is seriously marred by  (More…)

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…)