What is this?


    "Any idiot can survive a crisis," Anton Chekhov supposedly once said, though I'll be damned if I can find the original source. "It's this day-to-day living that grinds you down."     
     That's absolutely true. Life is wonderful, in general, but it is not always wonderful in specific, not always wonderful today, and the person hoping to wring from it as much meaning and fun as possible needs to scan each morning anew, like a just-opened present, to see exactly what it is we've got here.
     Sometimes assembly is required. A bit of puzzling over the instructions.
     That's the purpose of this blog — to comment intelligently on the news of the day, to pass along cool stuff, to fan fascination and outrage, to offer a helpful tip, make your life and mine both more interesting and enjoyable. To help put it all together.
     Okay, there's a little more to it than that.
     I once asked Dizzy Gillespie, the great jazz trumpeter, if he still practiced every day.
     He look at me strangely.
     "If I don't play my horn for even one day," he said. "I know it. And if I miss two days, my friends know it. And if I miss three days, the whole world knows it."
     Writing is like that. As with any instrument, if you let it sit too long, you fall out of practice. Like any tool, it rusts. So I created this blog for a dual purpose. To benefit you, certainly, but also to help me, so I would have a reason to write something every day. Every goddamn day, in recognition of the struggle that just getting through the day can be, and because this is supposed to be something with an edge, and not just smarm. (If the word "goddamn" offends you, please see "For the offended" before registering your displeasure).
     So religious fanatics notwithstanding, feel free to jump in, to observe, to complain, to examine. I'm listening. This blog is a one-man-show, without any editor other than myself, so mistakes are inevitable, and I hope you will point them out, with a minimum of self-congratulation please, so I can fix them (if they are indeed mistakes — I've noticed that many people remarking upon what they consider errors are themselves wrong. For instance, many words have more than one definition). 

     I hope this site will be what naturalists call a "symbiosis"—a mutually beneficial arrangement between two organisms. You recall symbiosis from high school biology, right? The clown fish clean the sea anemone, and the sea anemone protect the clown fish. So I write this, and I benefit, and you read it and — my fervent hope — you benefit too. As to which of us is the colorful clown fish, and which the poisonous sea anemone, well, we can argue about that.
     I guess that's a wordy way of saying "thank you for reading."


                                                                         


22 comments:

  1. Looking forward to your future posts. I've been reading you since the Bob Greene days. I don't always agree with your views, but I always respect your opinions and style.

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  2. Glad you're doing this. Hope it isn't too long till your editor at the S-T sees the sense of restoring your column, maybe even every g-d day.

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  3. Breakfast just hasn't been with same with no Neil column on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. This blog will definitely help restore my usual good mood on those days. Just finishing "Warmth of Other Suns" which I read on your recommendation and I have learned so much. Anyone who ever objected to affirmative action should just read a few chapters. I'll add "The Third Coast" to my reading list, but I think the best book you ever recommended (aside from your own, of course) was "Fiddler in the Subway."

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  4. Welcome Back

    Jack &Tricia Kessie

    Glenview, IL

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  5. Just came to your blog....or any blog for that matter. Re your rationale for undertaking it, I seem to remember reading that one of your literary hero's, Mr. Thurber, on being asked what sort of schedule he followed in his writing endeavors, replied "I'm always writing. Even when I'm shaving."

    And reaching back a few centuries, Gibbon, although seldom as funny as Thurber, put the matter well in one of his nicely balanced sentences: "The choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise."

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  6. It's always interesting and thought provoking.

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  7. The Chicago book has a touching ending too. There's something sad about that Russian bath place but the book ends on a note of hope.

    Is there a place where the book can be discussed with the author?

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  8. This may be a minor point (I found the book interesting indeed) but why were you so concerned that your brother marry a Jewish gal(the one in question was Asian) when you aren't that religious? I don't think you are anti Christian per se or in this case Buddhism may have been the point. I didn't want to bother you with this in an email.

    I hope the question is not inappropriate.

    Nice touch with you firing up the cigar while you walk and take in the cities sites and ponder.

    Lady reader

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    1. I'm not sure where you get "so concerned." I list the differences they have in our conversation in the bar. She's older, doesn't speak English, isn't Jewish, etc. I think you're reflecting your own baggage rather than mine.

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  9. Or I should say, perhaps she was Shinto.

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  10. no offense intended

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  11. It was interesting, in your Chicago book, how you seemed to not be sure about marriage at first-then you mention how your intended made good $. lol, no part time workers or stay at home wives for you. You are open indeed.

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    1. I know that isn't how it works in romance novels, but in the living world, most people getting married have a blizzard of conflicting and random thoughts. Interesting that you would find it surprising. I would suggesting reading more.

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    2. Aww, you aren't a romantic then.

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  12. meaning open with your thoughts to the public

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  13. I enjoyed your Wheaton college comments in the book.

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  14. As per your Chicago book, your spouse was right about better schools in the suburbs.

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  15. The practicing quote was Artur Rubenstein.

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