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September 2022

The Last Typepad Post

Following some gentle nudges from my brother and sister I’ve decided to start posting my occasional essays to substack.  It makes it easier to be sure I’m getting my stuff in front of people who might be interested in it and I’m hoping it’ll enable me to expand the readership some.  Here’s the link.  If you subscribe (it’s free), you get an email every time I post something, which I’m hoping will be every two or three weeks.  Given my level of productivity over the last few years that might be a stretch, but I’m optimistic.  In May I finished up the last of my (semi-)professional obligations, so there isn’t anything distracting me from my life-long pursuit of one good essay.

I started with Typepad on October 16, 2004.  In these eighteen years I’ve posted 670 pieces.  Over the years the frequency declined, but I think the quality of the writing improved.  Although I’m changing platforms I’m not changing my approach.  Same eclectic mix of subjects, depending on what’s on my mind when I sit at the keyboard.  (No matter what topics I covered, though, the most popular posts have always been stories about my beloved granddaughter, who was not born when I started the blog, is now a senior in high school, and is doing very well, thank you for asking).

The goal has always been to take what I’m feeling or thinking and craft it into sentences that satisfy my sense of what a good sentence should be.  Since I don’t have a very concrete notion of what I mean by “a good sentence” the process remains mysterious.  I put down some words.  I take some out.  I try some different ones.  I move things around.  I read it and re-read and re-read and tinker and polish and eventually get to a point where I think I’ve done that piece as well as I can for now.  I think every one of those 670 has at least a couple of sentences that I’m really happy with and there are even a couple that I think work all the way through.

Lynn and I were having Zoom cocktails with Mr. TomCat last night.  At one point we were talking about the mysteries of writing (my essays, his songs) and I brought up that Randall Jarrell quote that’s been a touchstone for me since I was in my teens: “A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.”

Here I go, back out into the rain.

Politics in America

Ladies & gentlemen, time to place your bets!  Or make your investments, if you’d rather think of it that way.  Have you got a bit of spare change to spend on protecting American democracy?  Every bit helps, and in the digital age, giving could hardly be easier.

I’d love to get your recommendations.

Outside of local races (which Democrats & Independents have got to start paying more attention to) it’s the US Senate that is most important.  I’m focusing on a handful of races that could make the difference. 

Many of the political prognosticators claim that without Georgia, the Republicans cannot flip the Senate.  So it’s no surprise that the more Herschel Walker’s unfitness for the office becomes apparent the louder the choruses of support (and the big money that goes with them) from the Republican establishment.  Sending money to Warnock’s campaign is top of the list.

Arizona is looking good, but certainly not to be taken for granted, so Mark Kelly’s on my list.  And in my home state of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes has a decent shot at getting the increasingly lunatic Ron Johnson out of the Senate (which would be high on my list of goals even if the balance of the Senate weren’t at issue).

And then there’s Pennsylvania, where Fetterman ought to be doing better against Dr. Oz.  But Oz has built a fabulously lucrative career selling snake oil in seemingly infinite variety and what more qualification does a Republican Senator need? So Fetterman gets some of my cash.

I’m committed to $5,000.  So with $1,000 to each of those races I’ve got a thousand left.  Suggestions?  I could double up on Fetterman or split it between Fetterman & Barnes.  Or is there another Senate race I should be trying to nudge?  There are important governor’s races and some scary races for Secretaries of State, but I’m trying to set strategic priorities and the thought of the Tortoise as Majority Leader in the Senate again is too horrifying.  (On the other hand, I’m almost looking forward to watching hapless Kevin McCarthy get pummeled by the radical factions of his party if he finally achieves his dream of becoming Speaker of the House).

Now’s the time!  If you’ve ever shared a Facebook post expressing your frustration with the state of the nation, now do something positive!  Pick a candidate in your state who’s got a shot, or pick one in another state who needs a nudge.  Send a dollar, send five.  The next month is going to be all about getting the message out and inspiring people to vote where it matters.  Don’t sit this one out.  Every nickel helps.  That’s politics in America.