Thursday, July 1, 2010

Editor's Corner







July 2010


Although this issue marks the beginning of the second half of the calendar year, there are many days left of 2010 to break out your pc (or pen and paper if you prefer the traditional style of writing) and put your thoughts down to share with the world in the pages of  
Pencil Stubs Online

It will be good for you and you will join ranks with many excellent authors who have graced us with their work. 

Everyone knows that Independence Day, the fourth of July, falls on a Sunday this month and thus many will be off work on Monday as well, making a nice four-day weekend. If this is how it is with you, don't forget to be grateful that you have a job from which you get such a respite. To those, we wish merry times. Many within our personal knowledge are searching for a job whether it fits their original career plan or not. To those, we wish good fortune.

A special treat from Mark Crocker awaits you in the Stories section as he introduces his "Rabbo Tales."
Our usual international columnists (except for Gerard Meister) are on board with their choice of material to inform, or entertain you. Besides her column "Consider This," additionally, LC Van Savage explains the benefits of a good 'Glare' in the sole article for July.

John I. Blair in "Always Looking" discusses the reasons for and some methods to consider about nature conservatism; while "Irish Eyes" by Mattie Lennon tells of the latest Listowel competition. The column has one of the most dramatic portraits this editor has ever seen, that of winner John Banville. We must also add congratulations to Lennon for his play "And All his Songs Were Sad" soon to be seen in The Pantagleize Theatre Company, Ft. Worth, Texas.

Thomas F. O'Neill ("Introspective") will be doing summer camp teaching in China; "Eric Shackle ('sColumn") adds a note on the re-Enactment of the Bounty excursion recently accomplished in the original locale; Leo C. Helmer floats a rich version of alFredo in "Cookin' With Leo" which floated to him via his Italian Fairy Godmother, bless her.

Peg Jones illuminates our choices in being grateful with an experience most would think falls on the other side thankfulness. She adds one of her daily channeled messages from her angels which is encouraging for all.

Of the 15 poems this month, Bruce Clifford has four for this combined issue as follows: "Tapes in my Head,"  "What's on Your Mind,"  "Goodbye Mother Goodbye (from 1985, Avatar)," and "Maryann and Lisa (from 1986)." The latter is one of those songs Clifford has done lyrics for published by Avatar Music.

John I. Blair's also shows a half dozen poems: "Edging The Grass," "It Isn’t Rocket Science Any More," "Malas Hierbas," "My White Horse," "You’re Water; I’m Earth," and "Toad Holler." Other poetry this issue is "That Line" by yours truly and the following from MJ Mansfield: "~~Back~~," "~Thunder Walks~," "~SELF Righteous~," and "The Machine."

Don't forget to mention us to your friends, be a fan for us at FaceBook, and limber up those writing muscles for a future issue.  See you in August!







Click  Mary E. Adair   for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Eric Shackle's Column




William Bligh had kidney stones

The Bounty Voyage Re-enactment has just sailed safely past Resolution Island, on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Her four-man crew, led by Tasmanian adventurer Don McIntyre, is being filmed for world TV screening. 

The original Captain Bligh had a short fuse, and swore profusely. Can you visualise him squatting over the side of his small open boat, as he relieved himself while the boat lurched from side to side? 

HMS Resolution was a sloop of the Royal Navy, and the ship in which Captain James Cook made his second and third voyages of exploration in the Pacific. She impressed him enough that he called her "the ship of my choice", and "the fittest for service of any I have seen."
It was probably about the same size as Captain William Bligh's boat, but it carried many more sails.
©May 25, 2010 ERIC SHACKLE at 6:30 PM Tuesday
Editor's Note: See Shackle's May/June story on the ReEnactment of the sailing of The Bounty with full details. The voyage was successfully accomplished and more info can be found in Shackles online blog Life Begins at 80



Click Eric Shackle for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Glares And Other Arts

Well, another Mother’s Day has come and gone. All 3 of our sons paid great homage of course with cards and calls and songs, all making me get sloshily weepy. Isn’t it maddening that as we age those blubberings blubber up easier and faster than ever? That we just can’t control them as we did in our strong other years?
And I got a brunch too, and the weather was perfect, if you like knock-down wind, bright sun and low temps. I mean it was some special kind of day. I’ll never forget it.

But as I sat in my home that night thinking about motherhood and remembering how incredibly lousy I was at it and how our poor dear sons had to actually teach me how to be a mother, I began to recall how I could, with just a little subtle body language, actually control them when mere words were impossible to use at that particular moment. OK, I would have had better results had I used a whip and a chair but that was and is against the law I think, so I had to resort to looks and severe body stances.

Since grandparenthood has happily fallen to me, I find I’ve never actually lost my gift; I use the same tactics on our grandchildren when they’re in my charge, and, I am proud to say, with some modest success, although in the main they mostly look at me with a pretty bored expression when I turn all that bossy body language on them, and say, “What? What??”

Like all parents, I could, or thought I could, control our boys in public, sometimes at home, by turning to face them, widening my eyes, widening my nostrils, inhaling loudly, pushing forward my clenched jaw, pursing my lips and then leaning forward and glaring. Oh the art of The Glare; I doubt it’ll ever be a lost art, I mean not if we practice and make every effort to pass it down to our descendants. Hey, it’s a great gift. Some of us have it, some of us ain’t.

Our kids, just like everyone else’s, were smart and knew well the interpretation of my delivered body language when they screwed up, and they knew to cut it out, whatever “it” was at the moment. OK, they knew to cut it out, but depending on circumstances, they didn’t always. And that’s when The Glare was turned up full volume and delivered like one of those Ninja or James Bond thrown razor things, whatever they are. Were. I could shoot The Glare across a huge, crowded room and stop our sons dead in their erring tracks when I had decided their deportment needed a little tweaking. I could deliver The Glare like a laser.
I dunno. I’ve maybe have lost my edge a bit. When our grandchildren decide to push the envelope in a restaurant and I level The Glare on them, it doesn’t seem to work with the triumph of the old days. It sort of does, but the grandchildren now kind of glare back. Frankly, they don’t have nearly the finesse; that comes with age, time and practice, but they’ll get it. I can see the torch is being passed, and I’m proud, proud, proud.

I knew a woman years ago, actually around 62 years ago, who never had any of-her-loins kids, but she was a teacher and oh my, she had a Glare like a white hot thrown javelin. Her name was Miss Alma Torres and she taught French. She was barely 4’ 11” and most of us in the 5th grade were lots taller than she, so she had to have a very reliable arsenal at the ready. She could pitch a blackboard eraser with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile and managed to nail aberrant students right in the middle of their foreheads or the backs of their skulls if one of them had had the temerity to turn and look behind him or herself. Not allowed today, but it was a sure-fire successful discipline back then. Miss Torres was some wicked accurate at heaving erasers and the occasional piece of chalk, but her Glare was flawless, diamond sharp, and it absolutely never missed. And yes, I’ll confess here that I was a frequent recipient of little grey-haired Alma Torres’s Glare and still have the scars to prove it. I collapsed like a stabbed balloon when her Glare came my way, and remember receiving that far more clearly than getting a piece of chalk ricocheted off the top of my skull for chewing gum in class or forgetting how to correctly conjugate a French verb.

I remember once when I was out in the playground and was preparing to heave a clot of mud in the direction of one of my 5th grade sworn enemies. I had it all squashed into shape and ready to go, when I happened to glance into the shut window of the fifth grade classroom. There, her chin just a few inches above the windowsill stood Mlle Torres, her steel-cut blue eyes shooting The Glare straight at me. Stopped me cold. The mud ball melted and ran through my fingers, puddling next to my oxfords. That woman had talent.

We kids always thought her last name fit perfectly—doesn’t “torres” mean bull? There’s a constellation named “Taurus” which is pronounced exactly the same as “Torres” so we kids just took it to be a perfect fit for our French teacher. To us, she was a tiny, charging, enraged fire-breathing bull with glaring eyeballs she could turn on us and burn on us. Wow, what a woman. She never had any trouble with the kids in her classes. I saw her briefly decades later at a funeral and when she turned to look in my direction, I actually felt my knees go weak. She taught me well. I can still speak enough French today to properly order CafĂ© au Lait, but I never got to be quite as good as Alma Torres at The Glare although it wasn’t for lack of practicing. I do however think if you asked our sons they’d say I was moderately good at it.


I keep it pretty well honed. After 52+ years of our being together, Mongo has become somewhat impervious, although if we’re out at a gathering or in any public place or even at home and he starts to say or do something wrong, as so many, many husbands are wont to do so many, many times, I can toss off a good Glare and still pretty much stop him in mid syllable. I’ve still got it, folks. It’s good to be the Queen.






Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Email LC at lcvs@suscom-maine.net
See her on incredibleMAINE, MPBN,
10:30 AM Saturdays

Angel Whispers

We have So Much to be Grateful for...

There are some days that it is so hard to be thankful for things in our lives. Lately I am hearing we should be grateful for all aspects of our lives. I am grateful for a roof over my head, food at my table. But do I have to be grateful for the fact my tire went flat on the highway at mid day a few weeks ago?. As each car went by I noticed that I thanked our Lord for not letting cars and trucks crash into my car as they drove really fast near me. When I call my husband who is in Boston, at work he says AAA will not accept his father’s card, as it is not ours.


“Should I be thankful for that too? Lord?”

I mean how will I get off this highway safely. AHHH a light bulb moment! I can call 911 and they can help. Thank you for that wonderful idea. Why didn’t you suggest this to me sooner? So I call 911 and they put me through to a place that tows cars. I gave them the information and they came after 25 minutes and I praying each time a car went by at very high speeds. They came and said that my tire is flat. PHEW! Is that all it is? I am so relieved and so grateful the car can still be driven, after the tire is fixed.

Then he asked, “Do you have a spare tire?”

I said, “Yes, I have a spare tire.”

So he got the spare tire.

I ask, “Do I have to get out of the car?”

He said, “No, I can change the tire with you in the car.”

PHEW ANOTHER THING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR!

So I wait while he changes the tire. I pay him and off I go, very grateful that I had a few things to be grateful for.

God is great, yeah, yeah yeah. God is good, yeah, yeah, yeah. As I am driving down the highway to the tire store, I am ever so thankful that I am doing the driving and not paying $100 for the car to be towed. I did get to the tire store safely and I was able to have a new tire installed on my car. But I would have to wait two hours. I said that is fine. At least I am safe and I am really grateful for that . So dear Lord I guess that even when something that is not that great happens to me there are still good points to it, which makes me so grateful.

So in going back to my question at the beginning: do I have to be grateful for things even if they are bad? I believe I would have to say that yes there is good in that too, and sometimes you have to dig really deeply for feeling or knowing what you are grateful for. But there is usually one or two things you can find.

Yes it was a nuisance that my tire went flat on the highway, but I was able to drive to the shoulder of the highway. I was grateful for the man with the tow truck said I had a flat and that I could have my spare put on. I was grateful for saving $100 from not towing. I am grateful for my spare tire. I am grateful being safe once I started driving down the highway. I am grateful I had my phone with me that day. I was grateful that the angels were with me the whole time, keeping me calm through it all.

I find that when I make a list of things I am grateful for even its really hard to see what it is at the time, I find that being grateful for the minor things or things we take for granted are the most important things to acknowledge to our creator and to the universe. I have decided that when I am at a place of becoming very upset about a situation that if make my list I can see the good and what I am grateful for in light of the situation. So thank you, angels, and thank you, my higher power, for helping me to see this, so I can share this with others.

I urge to also do this when making your daily list of things to be grateful. Start from the very basic to the most complex…..It's a wonderful gift to the universe. They love it when we make our list..

Below you will see one of Peg's daily angel messages she receives:

Angel Whispers for Today

Create a time for you to spend in meditation. Create this place to feel at one with your Higher Power. You can put on soft music and light a candle. As you sit in a comfortable chair know that your angels are with you. You can hear their words of wisdom and feel their love for you. Listen for the message you haven't heard. Maybe it's an idea that felt very remote to you and you had heard it again. Know that the angels are validating and are helping you to see the realization of this vision. Be at peace for all is well.

Click Peg Jones for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Consider This

Dream Along With Me

I’ve gotten to the age, I guess, where I want to accomplish a few things in my life before I find I’ve shuffled past the accomplishment point of departure place. OK, that didn’t make much sense to me either. What I mean is that if I’m going to make all the wannabe dreams I’ve had in my life come true, or maybe just a couple of them, well, one maybe, I’d better get up off my arse and get up on the ball and get on with them. Time, she’s a-runnin’ out. Well, she’s a-runnin’ somewhere and it’s gettin’ harder by the year to keep up with it, or with anything for that matter. So today I begin.

I won’t list all my dreams here because I know you’d be bored and wouldn’t much give a rat’s. You’ve got your own dreams to make come true, right? I’d really love to know them, so how’s about this; I’ll tell you mine if you’ll tell me yours, OK? Let’s get started.

Here’s one dream that’s very high on my list; I really want to learn to play the xylophone. Not one of those kiddie things you hold on your lap or pull behind you on a red plastic string, but a real big long table kind you stand up at, with lots and lots of keys and big long mallets. (Are they called keys? Are they called mallets?)

So there it is. Now you know. I think the sound of great xylophone music is about the closet thing to heaven there can be, music-wise. In my opinion, angels play xylophones, not harps. I know, I know—you simply can’t fly about carrying a xylophone with the ease you can a harp, what with those mallets to deal with, but no matter, the xylophone seraphim can stand on the clouds to play their instruments. Or something. And frankly I think that’s probably what they actually do.

Oh, what a joyful sound. Xylophone music can stand alone. Doesn’t need a big orchestra behind it. Maybe a drum, maybe a little bass. But oh boy, being able to stand in front of a big xylophone holding four mallets and playing harmony with myself would send me to the skies and beyond. Well, that is if I could actually hold four mallets in my hands and make each of them play a different tune at the same time. How do those xylomusicians do that anyway?

When my dear husband Mongo and I were courting, (that word wasn’t used even back then. I just like it. I also like to say “parlour,”) well, he wasn’t my dear husband then, he was my dear boyfriend, but anyway, he took me to a big dance at his college, Lafayette (I still have the corsage. Yeah, I’m a sap. Go ahead and say it) and the dance orchestra that night was Lionel Hampton’s. That man could play his huge xylophone as if being conducted by God, and move? Oh, that man moved and jumped and threw himself all over the stage and against the walls and never missed a note. It was a wild and fabulous musical night and we danced our feet off and I’ll tell you, Mr. H. set that xylophone on fire. What an athletic musical genius! I’ll never forget that night. I’d loved the xylophone before that dance, but after, I was completely xylohooked.

Thus, I put the fantasy of learning to play that glorious instrument in my secret dream place with all my other dreams where it has stayed. But I have always planned someday to haul it out and learn to play that instrument of dreams! And who knows? I’m only 72. There’s still time, right? Right?

I knew a woman in her sixties who also had a dream, and her dream was to take tap dance lessons. She didn’t do too well, but she didn’t care a fig; she was dancing her geriatric Fred Astaire imitation and she was lovin’ it! She knew she was more clumping than tapping, but it didn’t matter. She knew she outweighed Astaire by around 100 lbs. but it didn’t matter. She knew she probably looked crazy, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that she was getting her dream thing done, and more importantly, she was getting it done in time.

Another person I know also decided it was time to “realize my dream because the clock’s ticking.” He was a guy who wanted to ride in a camel race. No! Really! He wasn’t from any part of the world where camels are raced or were even seen strolling around for that matter, but he just simply wanted to ride in a camel race. Could not get it out of his mind. I’ll never understand why. So this man saved his money, went to some desert country where they ride and race those great nasty beasts, took some lessons from some guys, picked out the least monstrous and he hoped the least rank of the local ruminants, climbed aboard and galloped across the sands very likely in some amount of pain, and came back to America a satisfied and happy man, a man who will never, ever get anywhere near a camel again, even in a zoo. “Gross,” says he, and “ugh” and “gaggo to the max,” but he smiles most happily.

I guess learning to play the xylophone is a kind of lame dream compared to the dreams other people have. I read of one elderly man getting on stage to dance with Las Vegas showgirls, another quitting a very lucrative job to amble around the north woods in winter to follow and record the tracks of mountain lions. He did it, told me his feet never once got cold and that he’d never known such peace and happiness.

Do you have a special dream? Do you hear a clock ticking somewhere? Will I ever take xylophone lessons? Will you learn to play your own xylophone?


Email LC at lcvs@suscom-maine.net
See her on “incredibleMAINE”
on Saturdays at 10:30 AM on MPBN.
Click By LC Van Savage for bio.

Always Looking


Always Looking; How We Re-made the Face of America, and Why

During my wanderings around books and Websites and libraries in search of family history, many things have struck me. (My wife may think a 2x4 should have been one of them.) Among these is this very obvious observation: America no longer looks much like we found it.

Most places in North America, except for those too remote for settlement, or those very carefully preserved (or restored) to save a bit of the past, would be unrecognizable to the first people who came here from other countries, much less to the Native Americans who lived here for thousands of years before outsiders “discovered” the place. Insofar as we were capable, we have totally rebuilt the place, at incalculable cost in labor, time, and money, and in many cases incalculable cost to the landscape and ecology and our own wellbeing.

Some of this is pretty obvious – New York City, with its miles of solidly built blocks of towering masonry and steel over level after level of subway, railway, and auto tunnels, sewers and aqueducts, has obliterated the rocky, boggy place that was Manhattan Island in the 1600s. Not even Central Park is like the original landscape – it’s a carefully constructed landscape incorporating existing rock formations into a new surface of artificial meadows and woodlands and lakes, roads and paths and gardens.

Perhaps not so obvious, though no less radical, is the change in the typical countryside scene. When Europeans first came to the New World, they found thousands of square miles of primeval forest, swamp, prairie. Now, in most states outside the West, the forest has been leveled, swamps drained, prairies plowed. Typical across most of the eastern and middle parts of the country, plus the fertile valleys of the West Coast, are tended fields, regularly harvested woodlots, managed pastures dotted with hundreds of thousands of artificial ponds for watering livestock. End result: scenes in central Ohio – once a wild, virtually trackless forest – now look not that different from scenes in central Iowa – once a treeless tallgrass prairie. Straight section line roads, clean fields, fences. All the “wild” quite obliterated. And the why? To make the land productive and profitable as farms. Settlers in Ohio and similar areas spent generations cutting down trees and pulling stumps; in Iowa and Kansas and similar areas, they spent generations busting sod, planting trees where needed, building ponds. In Louisiana or Mississippi or Florida – generations draining swamps (and cutting down trees).

Modern generations have an almost impossible time even imagining what the land looked like before. There are no photographs of most of it (although some remain of the virgin prairies, or of the vast forests of the old Northwest Territories of Michigan and Wisconsin and Minnesota).

I look, for example, at a rare old photo [photo 1 here] of my hometown, Wichita, Kansas, in about 1870.


A double row of tents and crude shacks along a wide and muddy “street”, all surrounded by prairie grass and sunflowers. Then a photo of central Wichita today [photo 2 here] –

block after block of concrete, brick, glass and steel, much like any other American city of the 21st century.

Not a shred of the original prairie remains in that part of Wichita, or in any part of Wichita I can recall.

Or I look at side-by-side photos of virgin tallgrass prairie and an irrigated field of soybeans in Kansas. [photos 3 and 4]




Who would guess, looking at the field, that it once also was covered by tall grasses and flowers, growing from sod a foot thick? (The virgin grassland in the first photo, in northern Kansas, has survived because it grows over shallow rock that prevents plowing.)

And like most of us, my ancestors had a great deal to do with this radical transformation of the land. They were proud of turning wilderness into civilization, forest into farms, prairie into plowed fields. We take our present landscape for granted, in large part, because of the incredible amount of work – blood, sweat, and tears – our ancestors expended to make it.

But we also tend to ignore what this change in the land has cost us. Clean air and clean water have been at risk for generations. Myriads of wildlife have vanished, including hundreds of entire species. Many of the natural resources in timber, minerals, food have been severely depleted. Most of us live in crowded circumstances, far different from the spacious “elbow-room” people like Daniel Boone reveled in (and helped to destroy).

So what can we do? Just like we “can’t give it back to the Indians”, we can’t turn it back into wilderness. Too late for that, not while all 300 million plus of us are living here. But we can, individually and in groups, work to improve what we’ve got left. Support the National Parks system and local park systems. Plant trees. Practice greenscaping. Encourage builders who try to preserve or restore natural vegetation. Join conservation groups. (For example, here in Arlington, Texas, my wife and I are members of the Arlington Conservation Council (http://www.arlingtonconservationcouncil.org/) and we try to stay active in national groups such as Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Federation, and the Nature Conservancy. Recycle. Walk or bike when you can. Each of these may seem, in itself, tiny and futile; but collectively, they make a difference.)

Perhaps the heroic, gargantuan tasks our ancestors accomplished to make a home for themselves and their descendants may not have been well-thought-out; but in the end they just meant for us, the children of their future, to be safe and happy. Let’s not disappoint them; instead, let’s improve on their vision by correcting some of the more destructive consequences of past roads to settling the continent. ©2010 John I. Blair


Click John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cookin' With Leo

By Leocthasme

Creamy Fettuccine (Al Fredo?)

A while back, one fine summer day, who should show up but my Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother. Well, I thought, to myself of course, she ought to be on vacation with her pal Aztec Annie someplace down where the Agave grows, wherever. However, here she was fluttering around on my patio, where I go to cool off on those hot Texas summer days, whenever.
She sez, “Hey, I gonna give you new recipe and call dis dish Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo”.
“Hey hold it.” I said, “I don’t know no Al Fredo, whoever he is, and I hope he ain’t one of your Italian Godfathers, so we are going to call it Creamy Fettuccine Al Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother. OK”?
“Well, if you gonna say so, that a good name too an I like it”.
“OK, that’s settled, so tell me all about it”.
Slap, bang, with the magic wand bit, and off she went to parts unknown, but now I and only I have a recipe for---

Creamy Fettuccine ‘Al Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother’ and it’s a once in a lifetime recipe, so grab it while you can. It will never be repeated.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 2 cups Whipping Cream
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan Cheese
  • A one pound box of Fettuccine
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fresh Basil Leaves.

And here is how we do it:

Place the butter in a large heatproof bowl Using a hand mixer on low speed, beat while adding the Cream until you have a very smooth mixture. Stir in the Parmesan Cheese until well blended. Set this aside. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on the box. Drain well and immediately add the pasta to the butter mixture. Using two forks, toss the Fettuccine in the butter mixture to coat well. Chop the basil into shreds and sprinkle over each serving. Serve immediately while hot.

Serves four hungry Italians, or anyone else for that matter. A big jug of Italian Red Wine will top it all off.

Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

Click B Leocthasme for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Introspective


By Thomas F. O'Neill

Education is vital to our national wellbeing

I just volunteered to work at a summer camp in Shanghai, China with a group of Children for the month of July. I am looking forward to the experience. The camp is designed to help the children become more comfortable with speaking English. I will write about my experiences at the camp in one of my future columns.

Since I arrived here in China I learned that Children here go to School for 12 hours a day. Their academic achievements are highly valued here because it will determine what college or University the child will be accepted to in the future.

I learned also that most of the Chinese students who travel abroad to America outperform most Americans academically. The reason being they are better prepared for the Universities than most American students. Their term papers are also better written because they have a greater grasp of formal English. Most American students when they enter Universities will insert improper grammar and slang words in their term papers.

Conversational English after all only comes natural for people born in English speaking countries. The Chinese however study formal English from preschool throughout their University studies. Formal English is what helps them get accepted into our American Universities. When the Chinese arrive in America they quickly discover that there is a huge difference between conversational English and formal English. We Americans rarely use formal English in our conversations. The Chinese when they come to America to study have difficulty understanding us when we speak naturally. They have difficulty understanding our idioms and slang. Our fast pass in our speech patterns is difficult for them to grasp as well.

The Chinese government sees the importance of hiring Americans and teachers from other English speaking nations to teach in China’s Schools. It is to help the students better prepare for studying abroad. It is also to help them gain a better understanding of our western culture.

The Chinese want to learn everything they can about America so that they can market their products to us more effectively. Their grasp of the English language is not enough though in our modern global society. They also seek to understand how we Americans think and how we perceive ourselves in relation to the world around us.

China has opened my eyes to the fact that most Americans are caught up in the superficial glitter of the media. We are inundated with celebrity news stories and fashion.

The western media is also beginning to influence China as well. The Chinese are wearing the western style clothes and listening to western music. The Chinese performers are singing the popular American and British songs. American movies are extremely popular in China. It is the western influence that drives many Chinese to want to study in America and other English speaking countries. They want to experience what the media projects about our western lifestyle. However not all Americans live the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

I have invited a few students that studied abroad to come into my classes to speak to my students. They spoke in my classes the last week of the semester. They said that what you see in American films and read about in western magazines is not the reality they experienced when they came to America.

They also said the course material in American Universities were much easier than what they studied in China to prepare them for America. Listening to those students was an eye opening experience for me. I couldn’t help but think are our Universities doing something wrong or is it the reality of our American education system? In other words is there a dumbing down in our American education system?

In the future will Americans travel to Asia in order to be academically challenged?

That was a question one of my students asked me and I responded by saying only the future will tell.

It does seem however that many bright and well prepared students are coming to America and outperforming their American counterparts. It’s because education is vital for their future well being. I suppose that is something our American Universities and colleges need to instill in our American students.

A holistic education is not just vital for the future and wellbeing of the individual student but it is also vital for our nation’s future wellbeing.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F. O’Neill Thomas F. O’Neill

(800) 272-6464
China Cell: 8615114565945

Skype: thomas_f_oneill

introspective7@hotmail.com

Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.

Link: http://thomasfoneill.blogspot.com

Link: http://www.myspace.com/thomas_f_oneill

Link: http://thomasfoneill.spaces.live.com


Click Thomas F. O'Neill for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Toad Holler

Late last night
When I stepped outside
Into the gardened yard

I heard a croaking love call
Issue from the dark
Next to a flower pot.

In thrall to the artificial wet
Of a plastic pool,
A toad was singing.

No aubade this,
No tale of lovers parting;
Instead a hoarse reproach

To any female toad
Who doubted he's
The best spot in her world

For moist trysts, toad tangos,
Tributes to a future
Filled with little toads,

Simulacra of themselves,
Destined in like kind
(If chance and instinct hold)

To croak future songs by future pots,
Future pools, on future nights
For future me’s to hear.

©2010 John I. Blair



Click John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Rabbo Tales





Birth and rebirth



The doe rabbit lay on her side, her breath labored as she gasped for each little breath of fresh air.
The pain in her tummy was such that her muscle contracted and relaxed pushing whatever it was inside of her downward and out from behind her. With a mighty contraction the first of 7 blobs of goop was expelled from her body. She sat up and turned and looked at the wriggling pinkish brownish mess that she had just expelled from her body. She looked down at it and instinct took over and she leaned down sniffed then licked the pinkish brownish wriggling mess. Then the pain started again and she had to repeat the whole process 6 more times before she was done. The tiny little pinkish brownish blobs nestled their way into the straw. 

It was not until dark that she pushed her nose back into the straw to wake the tiny little rabbit kittens from their sleep and where they had been hiding. They wriggled though the straw to her exposed stomach to be fed. After 8 sleeps the 7 tiny pinkish brownish blobs started to grow tiny fine fur all over their tiny little bodies. After 42 sleeps the eyes of the tiny rabbit kittens started to open their eyes and they started to wriggle and half hop following their mother to the bowl that special food had been placed in her hutch. It was over 126 sleeps when the doe rabbit noticed that there were less rabbit kittens in fact there was only the one now. 

The little rabbit kitten lay snuggled close to the doe rabbit that was his mother. As far as the little rabbit kitten knew it had always been just him and his mother and never any sisters or brothers. The fact that three sleeps before there had been 3 sisters and 3 brothers was something the little rabbit kitten had forgotten after his second sleep. The doe and the little rabbit kitten lived in a hutch in a corner of a bright white room with long metal tables white cabinets and very bright lights. But this did not matter to the does nor to the little rabbit kitten. Well not much anyway. 

The hutch itself was made of wood and looked very out of place inside the room. That might have been the reason that it was in the corner of the room where it was darkest. That is if there could be a dark spot in a very well lit room. None the less the doe and the little rabbit kitten were well taken care of and did not have to worry about much other than the few days that their human was not around. 

The little rabbit kitten was snuggled close to his mother and was just barely awake after a nice sleep when a hand reached in wearing a white hand cover. The hand grabbed the half asleep little rabbit kitten and pulled him quickly yet gentle away from his mother. The little rabbit kitten was so shaken with fear that his little fur covered body shook so badly that a second hand appeared to hold him tight. With such fear at the second hand the little rabbit kitten struggled to break free from the fearful hands that held him so tight. Then gently the second hand moved up and down his fur making him feel less fearful and relaxing him. There was something about the feeling of the hand covers that felt good on his fur and helped to make the little rabbit kitten relax. After some moments the hand moved away and rabbit kitten lay still in the one hand with the hand cover hold him firmly yet gentle. 

Then without warning there was a blinding pain in his right hind rump. The pain was such that has much as he struggled it would not stop or go way. In fact the pain was so great that his heart felt like it would explode. Then the pain stopped and the little rabbit kitten felt himself being moved though the air back to the safety of his hutch and his mother. Once back in the hutch the hand let him go and the opening that he had been pulled through and then returned through was closed once again making hutch nice and dark. 

The little rabbit kitten sniffed the air and smelt his mother. Weakly he limped over and pushed his nose against her fur for comfort. The doe turned and sniffed the little rabbit kitten and started to lick his fur clean giving him a total tongue bath from head to toe to make sure he was clean.  Then she returned to her feeding from the round metal dish that the human put their chunks of food in.
The little rabbit kitten awoke from a sleep and sniffed the air. His mother was at the tube that the water came from and there was fresh straw for bedding near by. It had been many sleeps since the human had taken him away from his mother and hurt his right hind rump. In fact it had been so many sleeps that the little rabbit kitten had forgotten that he had ever been hurt by the human. 

A hand reached in and gently grabbed the little rabbit kitten and held him gently yet firmly.Once again he was pulled from his hutch and the second hand placed over him to calm him. Then the second hand was removed and such pain was sudden in his right hind rump. Oh such pain that the little rabbit kitten kicked and struggled to get away from the pain. Yet the hand held him firm.Then the pain stopped and gentle sounds could be heard that helped to calm him. The second hand returned and gently slid up and down his fur making him feel calm and relaxed. Then he felt himself being lifted up and warm air being blown across his nose, mouth, eyes and ears. He then felt the grip of the hand loosen yet he felt no fear. Instead he rolled onto his back and looked up at the human. 

The human looked down at the small little rabbit kitten and smiled. Reaching down, the human rubbed the little rabbit kittens tummy that had been fully exposed when he had rolled onto his back.Then he felt himself moving though the air and returned to his hutch. His mother sniffed him again and started to give him a full tongue bath from head to toe. 

The little rabbit kitten woke from a sleep and found that there was something about his neck. He lifted his head up to try and look but could not see what it was as he could not turn his head due to the thing around his neck. What was more his head hurt and itched. The little rabbit kitten sat back and looked around as best as he could. His head itched and he brought his hind leg up to scratch his head where it itched but something was blocking his foot from reaching his head. Again the little rabbit kitten looked around and his time he could not see his mother. 

Panic, fear fright! 

The little rabbit kitten looked around again. He sniffed the air and could smell his mother near by. Again he looked around and could not see her. Again he sniffed the air and could smell her near by. Again panic, fear, fright! His head itched and he brought his hind leg up to scratch the itch but something blocked his leg from scratching the itch. 

The little rabbit kitten looked around again and noticed that this was a new place. Like where he and his mother were but the ground was harder and smelt different. He sniffed the air again and smelt his mother. She was near and that is all that mattered. Alone and scared the little kitten rabbit hopped around his hutch sniffing the new wood, the water tube that the water came from, the bowl that his food was put in and finally the straw that was his bedding.

He hopped over to where the opening was that the hand would come through and the little rabbit kitten saw through the wire mesh his mother looking at him from a small rabbits length. He pushed his face as close to the wire mesh as he could and squealed so that his mother would hear him. She looked up from her bowl that the food was in and pushed her face against the wire mesh of her hutch. There was a strange sound and the little rabbit kitten felt his hutch move towards his mother so that now they were nose to nose. Mother and the little rabbit kitten sniffed each other and the rabbit kitten felt much better. 

The little rabbit kitten hopped over to the tube that water came from and licked it. But there was no water coming from it. Again he licked the tube and still nothing came from the tube. The little rabbit kitten looked around confused and then heard a sound from outside his hutch that meant something was happening to the tube that the water came from. He licked the tube again and this time there was water. But the water did not taste like water but it tasted nice. 

Suddenly the little rabbit kitten felt tired so he hopped over to the straw and tried lie down but the big white thing around his neck made it hard to find a comfortable spot to lie down and sleep. In the end he put his paw forward and rested the white thing on his paws. 

After his sleep he hopped over to the bowl his food was in and looked at it. He placed the huge white thing over the bowl and found that he could eat from the bowl as long as he kept the huge white thing in place. His head itched worse than it had the sleep before and he tried to get his paw up to dig at the pain. But the huge white thing got in the way of his paw. The little rabbit kitten hopped over to his food bowl and placed his head over the bowl with the huge white thing and ate his food then he hopped over to the water tube and took a drink. The water from the tube tasted different than from the sleep before and instead of feeling sleepy he felt like he could stay awake for a long time. Maybe as long the bright lights outside his hutch were bright? 

He hopped over to where he could see his mother and sniffed though the wire mesh. Then he made a soft squeal and his mother hopped to the wire mesh and sniffed him. They sat there some time sniffing at each other until his mother hopped away to sleep. But the little rabbit kitten felt like he did not need sleep so he hopped around his hutch until he heard a sound in the area outside of his hutch. 

The door opened and the hand reached in and gently pulled him out of his hutch. He felt himself gently float though the air and then cradled gently in the crook of a humans arm. The little rabbit kitten looked up and he could see a face with long brownish blond hair, greenish blue eyes with long beautiful eye lashes and a wicked playful smile. The little rabbit kitten looked up and felt safe, relaxed and very comfortable enfolded in the crook of her arm.
“Safe” the little rabbit kitten thought.
“Thought” he thought. “Strange” he thought.
The young woman’s hand reached down and gently rubbed his belly making him feel even more relaxed in her arm. He looked up and felt that she was kind gentle and loving. But he did not understand what was happening to him? He tried to think again put all he could do was look up at her and feel safe relaxed and happy. An odor drifted past his nose and he smelt his mother near by. He turned his head to look for her and he noticed that he could see more of where he was. 

He could see across to the other side of the room. He could see the tables, the hutches the windows and the door. Through the window he could see green growing things and huge green growing things with long things that looked like the same stuff as his hutch was made from. And things in the huge blue thing that had white fluff things moving around. 

The young woman made a sound that felt soothing that made him look up at her. He could see her mouth moving yet what was coming from her mouth he could not understand. So he just looked up at her and watched her mouth moving and forming strange sounds that he just could not understand. After that she sat him down on one of the tables and gently removed the huge white thing around his neck. It felt strange and he brought his right hind leg up to scratch the itch on his head. 

But before he could she reached down and held him so that he could not bring his paw up to scratch the itch. The young woman made a loud sound from her mouth that startled him so badly that he started to shake from head to toe. She looked down at the poor scared little rabbit kitten and started to slide her hand up and down his fur until he felt relaxed again. Then she picked him up and put him back in the crook of her arm so that he was safe and relaxed again. 

She gently rocked him back and forth. Again the soft gentle sound came from her mouth. The sound made him even more relaxed and if he could of he would have fallen asleep but the water he had drunk from before she had taken him out of his hutch would not let him sleep. 

A second human moved into his view and he noticed that the second human looked like the female human but taller with hair under his nose. He also had funny things in front of his eyes that were like round things that he could see the human’s eyes though. Sounds were made between the two humans and he felt himself being turned onto his side while the female human held him tightly. He knew that she would not drop him and that what ever she was having done to him, it was safe, and that she would not let harm befall him. 

Again he heard sounds coming from the female human but this time they went up in sound and down in sound in a musical way. To the little rabbit kitten it was like the sound of his mother when she would be happy when he was snuggled next to her, feeding. The musical sound stopped and sound went back and forth between the female human and the male human. 

He then felt something on his head that stopped the itch. Then there was blinding pain which stopped as sudden as it started. He felt strange for a moment and then he could see even better than he had before. Things were much clearer than they had been before. He could make out things better and he turned his head to look at both humans. He could hear the sounds they were making and their lips were moving yet he could not understand what the sounds meant if they meant anything at all. 

The young woman placed him down on the cold metal table and he just sat there for a moment trying to understand what this new surface was? It was totally new to him and he did not like the cold feeling on his paws. He tried to hop and all his paws slid out from under him so that he landed hard on his tail. This made him slide across the table top. And it was so much fun. 

The little rabbit kitten tried to pull himself forward by his front paws and he found that he could slide with great ease. In fact he could slide very fast down the length of the table. Then he noticed that there was no more table and that if he did not stop soon he would fall off into nothing and that scared him. He tried to use his front paws to push himself backward but nothing happened and he continued to slide across the cold surface. 

Just as he was about to slip totally off the end of the table the male human reached out and caught him so that he would not fall. He looked up at the male human and saw the same smile that he had seen on the human female. A smile of amusement and kindness. The male human handed him back to the female human and again there was sound that passed backwards and forwards between them. The female held him safely in the crook of her arm and rubbed his tummy as her lips moved and she looked at the male human. 

The male human moved out of view and he could feel something between his ears and the feeling was nice and he felt relaxed even more than he had before. Then he felt himself moving though the air as the female human moved. He looked around watching what was going on as he moved towards his hutch. Then there was a loud banging sound that made him scared yet at the same time he had to see what that sound was. He wriggled in the females arm and moved so that he could see what was happening. 

He saw that something large was being put between his hutch and his mother’s hutch. The male human was between the hutches with a long thing that had a wire mesh frame. Inside the wire mesh frame was this long patch of what looked like straw but was finer and a different color. As he looked at the long thing with the strange unlike straw he noticed that there was a hole in the side of his hutch that had not been there before and something that looked like it could cover the new hole. 

He looked at it and again he thought “an opening for me to go through. Strange things in my head. What is happening”? As he looked at the long thing with the unlike straw on the bottom he felt himself being lowered down so that he could go back into his hutch. Once inside his hutch he hopped over to the new opening and looked through. He could see the unlike straw and it looked like something he should investigate closely so that he could know what it was. 

Placing one front paw on the unlike straw carefully he felt it through the pad of the paw. Then he placed his other paw on the unlike straw and it felt so good that he just had to hop out and feel it on his hind paws too. He sat on the short unlike straw and it felt good on his rump too. He then laid down on it and that felt good too. Then he just gave up on all control and rolled in it and wriggled and sniffed it and looked at it.
He then heard more sounds come from the female and male humans who were looking at him he noticed that their heads were thrown back and their whole body seemed to be shaking for some reason. But he did not care what the two humans did as the unlike straw felt so nice. He stopped wriggling and rolling in the unlike straw and started to hop up and down on it. In fact he found that he could get going very fast before he had to stop and turn around. 

As he hopped as fast as he could he noticed that at the far end of the long thing there was another door that slid up like the one at the end where his hutch was. He stopped and sniffed it and he could smell his mother though the closed off opening. So he touched the closed off opening with his paw. He pushed it and then tried to push it up as he knew his mother was on the other side and he wanted to see her and sniff her and snuggle next to her. 

But as hard as he tried he could not get the thing that blocked the opening to move. But he knew that his mother was on the other side and he so wanted to see her. He ran down to the other end of the long thing and raced back up and throw himself against the closed off opening. But that did not make it open either. So he sat down outside the closed off opening. Then his head started to itch again and he brought his hind paw up and scratched. At first it stopped the itching then it made it itch more and then it hurt. In fact it hurt so much that it made him squeal in pain. 

The female human came over and opened the top of the long thing and reached down and picked him up. She held him in her arm and with her other hand she did something that took away the pain and itch. Then he saw the huge white thing and he tried to move away from it to get a better look but the female human was putting it around his neck. He was then put back down on the unlike straw and the top was closed. Looking around he noticed that the huge thing around his neck was not as huge as it seemed before. He still could not get his paw up to his head but with his front paws he could touch his nose and mouth. 

Slowly he hopped up and down the long thing with the unlike straw under his paws and it was fun. He could hop slowly or he could hop fast but he could hop and hop where as in his hutch he could not do much as it was not that big. So he hopped up and down it fast. Then not so fast. Then he hopped slowly up and down a few times. Then he hopped slowly and half way up the long thing he hopped as fast as he could.
Then he started to feel sleepy and the unlike straw felt good and he could of slept there but there was no dark and he could not sleep without the dark and the smell of the straw. “Hmm” he thought to himself “the unlike straw does not smell like straw. It must be something like the straw but is not”. So he hopped back to his hutch and went and looked at the straw. He sat in the straw and then, resting his head on his paws as the thing around his neck was in the way, he went to sleep. 

Once in his sleep he started to dream. But there was something odd about the dream as it felt real. Not just real but like it was happening to him. He could feel being moved, he could feel something being put between his ears he could feel the thing being stuck into his skin. And it all felt real in his dream. He awoke from his dream and it felt as if he had not slept at all. But now things felt different. 

He hopped over to his food bowl and ate slowly. The huge thing around his neck did not get in his way as much as something was missing from the underside of the huge thing. He then went to the new opening and saw that there was a wire mesh in the way but on the other side was his mother and she was looking into his hutch and sniffing the air. He leaned into the mesh and sniffed his mother who was busy sniffing him. She tried to lick him though the wire mesh and she just reach his nose that was pressed hard against the mesh. His mother cleaned his face and his ears as best she could but the mesh stopped most of the cleaning. But he felt happy that he had smelt and seen his mother. And he knew that she felt happy as she had smelt and seen him too. 

His mother hopped away and half way down the long thing she stopped and started to eat the unlike straw. She sat and cropped at the unlike straw munching on it. Looking closer he saw that the unlike straw was longer and that it covered his mothers paws, whereas before his sleep it had been about half way up his paws. In fact it seemed much longer than it had before his sleep.
“Odd” he thought.
“Sounds in my head where sounds were not before. I think instead of doing. Something is happening to me” he thought. 

As he sat thinking his mother hopped back up and placed her paws on the wire mesh and started to sniff all around. She then suddenly looked up and backed away from the wire mesh. The wire meshed moved up and his mother hopped into his hutch and looked around. She then hopped over and sniffed him before she started to give him a tongue bath. She cleaned him from his neck down his body. The little rabbit kitten felt so good and relaxed that he rolled on his back and kicked wildly in the air with his paws. His mother placed a paw on his chest to stop him wriggling while she cleaned the rest of his body. 

Once she had finished cleaning him she hopped over to his bowl and looked at the food in his bowl. Then she hopped over and sniffed the water tube and she pulled away from the water tube as if it smelt bad. Then she sniffed it again and pulled away again. He hopped over to the water tube and sniffed it. It did not smell bad to him just different and not like it had before his sleep.He licked at it and water came from it but it tasted different yet again. He licked and licked until he had his fill. 

Then he hopped out of his hutch and followed his mother to her hutch. It looked just the same other than it had new straw and smelt fresh. He looked around and liked his mother’s hutch better than his own. But his hutch was his hutch. He then noticed that it seemed smaller or the roof had been moved down. Or something had happened to him and had made him bigger. 

He then hopped back out to the long thing and started to hop as fast as he could up and down the long thing.Then he remembered seeing his mother eating the unlike straw so he tasted it. And it did taste good. So he ate some and then he ate some more and liked how it felt in his mouth. He rolled it around in his mouth and enjoyed its juices running down his throat. As he ate the unlike straw he heard the humans near by. He could hear them making sounds but he could not see them. He stood up on his hind legs and could see the head of the female human and she was looking over at him. 

The human female walked over and leaned down and looked at him. Her mouth started to move and a soft gentle musical sound came from her mouth. He looked up and watched and felt himself start to sway with the musical sound that was coming from her mouth. He closed his eyes and swayed back and forth as such a sweet sound coming from the human female. He heard the top of the long thing being opened and then he felt her hand around him and then being lifted gently out of the long thing. Again he felt himself in the crook of her arm. So relaxed and happy was he that he did not open his eyes. And then when he did he was in a new place. He sat up in her arm and looked around. 

The room was darker and had things that looked like tables but lower to the ground and they had backs to them so the humans could rest in them. Around the room there were what looked like small short long tables that went along one wall and half way along another wall. There was also an opening that was human size and from there came a bright light. In one of the tables with a back to it sat the male human. His head was to one side and his mouth was open and it seemed that his eyes were closed. The little rabbit kitten looked at the male human and knew that human males slept like rabbits slept. 

The female human carried him across to another table with a back to it and the human female sat down with him still in the crook of her arm. She rubbed his tummy and stroked his ears and that made he feel relaxed and happy. He thought for a moment and felt that he liked her a lot. In fact he liked her as almost as much as he liked his mother. 

The little rabbit kitten snuggled into the crook of her arm and dozed off to sleep.
©6/1/2010 Mark Crocker






Click Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Maryann and Lisa (from 1986)



(These lyrics were written on 2/9/86, and recently were re-edited with the addition of the wonderful picture of my amazing friends & sisters, Maryann and Lisa. Thank you for coming back into my life after so many years. Love, Bruce)


Lisa, whatever became of Lisa
She was a girl I used to know
Lisa , what happened to Lisa


She was a girl I used to know
Where is she now, I just don't know
I remember how she used to glow
Where is she now, I just don't know

Yes it's true we were too young
But there was something about her when she would lay in the sun
Will I ever see her again
I wonder if she would still call me her friend

Lisa, whatever became of Lisa
Lisa, where did she go
Does anyone know

Lisa, I will always wonder about Lisa
Lisa, What's in your dreams
What do they mean

Maryann, whatever became of Maryann
She was a girl I used to know
Maryann, what happened to Maryann

She was a girl I used to know
Where is she now I just don't know
I remember how she used to laugh and cry
I thought I knew all the reasons why


We were too young to understand why
We never had the chance to say goodbye
Will I ever see her again
I wonder if she would still call me her friend

Maryann, whatever became of Maryannn
Maryann, does anyone know
Where did she go

Maryann, I will always wonder about Maryann
Maryann, what's in your dreams
What do they mean

Lisa, I will always wonder about you and Maryann
Maryann, I will always wonder about you and Lisa
We were too young to understand why
We never had the chance to say goodbye
Will I ever see them again
I wonder if they would still call me their friend

Where did they go
Does anyone know
What did we do
One day I will find you

(and on 2/17/10 we all found each other after 30 years of being apart)

By: Avatar Music
Lyrics By: Bruce Clifford
Music By: Avatar Music and Modern Record
Copyright: 2/9/86

Irish Eyes

The Fortieth Year

On Wednesday 02nd June the 40th Writers’ Week was opened in Listowel by Judge Brian Mc Mahon. The judge is a native of the town and was appointed a Judge of the High Court in 2007. He has co-authored several legal texts. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Abbey Theatre. The “week” (which runs from Wednesday to Sunday night) consists, apart from fringe proceedings, of 57 events. Space prevents me from giving anything but a very brief account of the action packed festival.

Competition winners were presented with their prizes on opening night and literary talent, Irish and international, was very much in evidence. The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award went to John Banville.

John Banville

On Thursday the Seamus Wilmot Memorial lecture was given by Robert Lacy, a British journalist and author of the bestselling book, “Majesty Ford” and “The Men and the Machine” among others. His books “The Kingdom” and “Inside the Kingdom” looks at every level of Saudi Arabia. His lecture based on the two periods that he lived in Saudi was most enlightening.

Readings by Jennifer Johnston and Roddy Doyle were a tonic for anyone with a literary bent.

“The Aran Islands Dramatic Recital” by Tegalin Knowlead and Sean Coyne gave a flavour of the works of John Millington Synge. And Joseph O’ Connor’s reading from his latest book, “Ghost Light” gave a deep insight into the private life of Synge.

The Dublin Shakespeare Society gave a sterling performance of George Fitzmaurice’s, “The Magic Glasses,” In Saint John’s Arts Centre. Before the performance “Vicar” Joe Murphy introduced Kerry T.D. Jimmy Deenihan who introduced the legendry Ulick O’Connor. Ulick, who seems to be getting younger, gave a comprehensive and witty talk about George Fitzmaurice and his many works.

Eddie Hobbs spoke on money, investments etc which don’t concern me.

Anthony Cronin, Ann Haverty and Paul Durcan were some of the celebrities present and there were sixteen workshops. These included, Writing for screen, Songwriting, Novel - advanced, Short Fiction and Poetry- Getting started.

The final of the Eamon Kelly International story-telling competition was held in the Listowel Arms Hotel on the Saturday night. I was one of the finalists and it was won, deservedly, by Pat Lynch, from Youghal. As the date was getting nearer I found that I was missing a very significant and important part of the essential costume of the Irish storyteller, the waistcoat. Essex Waistcoats came to the rescue and, at very short notice, tailored one for me. Pipes (necessary props) were supplied by Petersons and Knockcroghery Clay Pipe Centre.

The grand finale of Writers’ Week is “The Healing Session”, a marathon open Mic session in John B. Keane’s on the Sunday. For eighteen years George Rowley has been Master- of- Ceremonies. This year George was made Grand Master of The Healing Session by proprietor, Billy Keane. Yours truly was M.C. and George is a hard act to follow.


George - Hard act to follow

At the end of Writers' Week I got a bit of good news. The Pantagleize Theatre Company, in Fort Worth, Texas have now got their very own theatre, at Henderson Avenue. And they are opening their season on 11th September with my play, "And All his Songs Were Sad."
See pic below:


"And All his Songs Were Sad."

See you in August


Click Mattie Lennon for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.